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Re: proposal: drop bugzilla@jessica.w3.org emails from public-html human lists

From: Lachlan Hunt <lachlan.hunt@lachy.id.au>
Date: Mon, 06 Dec 2010 13:16:10 +0100
Message-ID: <4CFCD40A.7030805@lachy.id.au>
To: Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>
CC: public-html@w3.org
Sorry for chiming in late to this thread, but I've been a bit too busy 
to write this earlier.

On 2010-11-16 00:11, Maciej Stachowiak wrote:
> When we first set up the bug notification, we wanted to watch how it
> works out and gather feedback. I'd be interested in hearing more
> input on how it's working out.

FWIW, I really dislike what this list has changed into with all 
technical discussion going on in bugzilla, rather than in regular 
e-mails where it belongs.

The major problems with bugzilla is that it lacks proper threading, so I 
can't easily identify which message is being responded to; it doesn't 
identify the sender of the mail in the e-mail 'From' field, and it makes 
the discussions overall that much harder to follow than they used to be.

When bugzilla was set up, my impression was that it's original intention 
was for it to be a place for mostly trivial bugs that the editor could 
deal with, without too much hassle, and for keeping an overview of more 
significant ongoing discussions from the list.

That is, fixing typos, mistakes in algorithms, and other largely 
uncontroversial changes would be filed and dealt with there by the 
editor.  More significant issues would continue to be discussed on the 
list, with a bug created to keep track of significant points.

But then, over time as we introduced the current insane and overly 
bureaucratic decision process, suddenly every issue gets raised and 
discussed in bugzilla, making it much harder to distinguish the trivial 
issues from the significant ones.

As a result, this mailing list is now effectively regarded as secondary 
to bugzilla, despite this being a much better system for discussion than 
a bug tracker, and bugzilla has morphed from being a bug tracker into an 
adhoc discussion forum, for which it is poorly suited.  So we now have 
the worst of all possible setups, with the firehose of forum threads 
being CC'd to public-html and public-html-bugzilla, with all of the 
benefits of e-mail lost in the process.

In general, forums suck for technical discussion. The poor integration 
with e-mail and lack of proper threading makes following discussions in 
an e-mail client extremely difficult.  They way they are set up, the 
only way to really read them is sequentially from beginning to end. 
Without proper threading, it's not easy to follow a subset of a given 
discussion, but are instead forced to read interwoven lines of 
discussion in date order.

One thing we could do to fix this is find a way to avoid having trivial 
spec bugs being sent to this list.  Those are typically filed from the 
comment form in the spec and more often than not, don't require much 
input from the majority people on this list.  Those are the things that 
the editor can deal with quickly.  If these bugs could be tagged 
specially or put into a separate category that isn't sent to the list at 
all, then that would reduce a lot of the noise, particularly the spam.

The other thing we could do is revert back to a more sensible model 
where only trivial editorial issues are filed and dealt with in 
bugzilla, and all discussion of more significant issues should primarily 
take place on the mailing list and not on bugzilla.  Then we could turn 
off the majority of the spam from bugzilla being sent to public-html, 
and finally restore public-html to a useful mailing list.

> My personal perspectives:
> B. I think adding notifications for all new bugs has on net added
> value. More WG members are aware of incoming issues. When I follow
> the links in bug notification emails (which I often do), I nowadays
> often see that there are already multiple useful comments in
> relatively new bugs. I expect even more people are reading bugs of
> interest than just the people commenting. I think this has had two
> significant benefits:

This isn't helpful when notifications of both significant and trivial 
issues get treated the same, making it much harder to triage the 
incoming list.  It's basically caused me to get a continually increasing 
backlog of mails with no easy way to deal with them.  The new system 
basically screwed up my existing process that worked well, and 
effectively substituted it with a forum.

> 1. WG members are much more aware of what is going on with the group.
> Empirically, even the most active and engaged WG members were not
> able to follow what was going on nearly as well, solely using
> bugzilla and opt-in tools.

The fact that we have to manually opt-in to bugzilla threads is a net 
loss because only the first entry is posted to public-html.  This means 
that we have to manually go to the bug in bugzilla to see if there was 
any new discussion, rather than simply seeing the replies in the email 

Lachlan Hunt - Opera Software
Received on Monday, 6 December 2010 12:16:43 UTC

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