2006-08-05

The plague of mailing lists

Open source is plagued by mailing lists. If you want to report a bug, how do you do it - well, in most cases it boils down to sending a mail to the project's mailing list. It gets worse: you have to subscribe before you're allowed to post anything. Subscribing/unsubscribing to a mailing list just to report a bug is a major hassle. Recently I've reported bugs for two different projects[1] directly to authors, and haven't received any reply. Maybe they received it, maybe got eaten by their spam filtering, maybe they just don't have time. Bottom line: I don't care. If they want to receive bug reports from their users, they'd better find some more convenient way. For example, take a look at how gentoo handles it. Reporting a bug to the gentoo project was very easy, painles and I didn't experience it as a hassle at all.

[1] One of the projects is Ingo Molnar's linux realtime preemption patch.

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3 comments:

Senko said...

Most decent projects these days use bug/ticketing system such as Bugzilla or Trac anyways.

zvrba said...

So linux is not "decent" or does not belong to "most"? And by which research did you conclude that your statement holds for "most" projects?

Anonymous said...

The subscribing requirement is an attempt to fight spam which otherwise completely destroys the list, or alternatively requires a volunteer to moderate it.

The Wget mailing list solves this problem by sending a confirmation request for the post. It's still annoying to have to confirm the bug report, but at least it avoids the hassle of having to subscribe to a mailing list (and receive traffic you're not at all interested in) merely to send a bug report.