Nothing to fix here, move along

keep calmOnce again, I got one of those bugs that can be quickly resolved. The bug description matches precisely what the team meant when we wrote that piece of code. We did that on purpose, and there is a resolution for that in your favorite bug tracker: WONTFIX. It will only take a few seconds of my time, and my bug count will go down.

Not only my bug count will go down, but also my pride will go up, because somebody attacked our precious code and I successfully deflected the attack! We win, and that bug reporter loses!

That bug reporter is probably one of the users of the product we work so hard on. And given that most users don’t take the time to report bugs, this user cares enough about our product to spend the time it takes to file a bug report rather than silently running away to some other product. The user is not the enemy, in general. And certainly not the user who cares about the product as much as we do.

Even if we agree that this bug reporter is on our side, and we take away that dose of pride, we can still enjoy the pleasure of closing a bug without much effort, can’t we? We are scoring easy points here!

Since this bug reporter is now on our side, let’s use some empathy. No, not the mind reading stuff, that’s telepathy (although it is close). Let’s walk in this user’s shoes for a minute. Let’s pretend I don’t know how the product is implemented. I try to use it with the limited information that is available to me, and I create a mental model of the product as I use it. Now I am using it, and at some point the product behavior doesn’t match my model, so I file a bug.

Ok, so the product behavior doesn’t match this user’s mental model of the product. We (the engineers) don’t have that problem when using the product. We have the right mental model, and this user created the wrong one. It is the user’s fault, and I have already wasted enough time with a WONTFIX issue, right?

Wrong.

It is easy for the engineers to have the right mental model, we have the mental model of the code. Unless we force our users to read and understand the product code, they will have a mental model that emerges from the UI, as well as their custom experience with ours and similar products.

Next time you are about to close a bug as WONTFIX, put yourself in the shoes of that user for a minute, ask yourself how likely is that the behavior is also confusing to others, and consider improving the UI instead of closing the bug right away.

Thanks to Ricardo Rodríguez and Silvia Izquierdo for reviewing this article!

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Acerca de Rubén L.

Software Engineer
Esta entrada fue publicada en engineering, English y etiquetada , , . Guarda el enlace permanente.

3 respuestas a Nothing to fix here, move along

  1. jtaibo dijo:

    Nice article. Don Norman would be proud of you 😉

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