It Will Never Work in Theory

What makes a good bug report?

Posted Aug 30, 2011 by Jorge Aranda

| Open Source | Quality | Survey |

Nicolas Bettenburg, Sascha Just, Adrian Schröter, Cathrin Weiss, Rahul Premraj, and Thomas Zimmermann. What Makes a Good Bug Report? FSE 2008.

In software development, bug reports provide crucial information to developers. However, these reports widely differ in their quality. We conducted a survey among developers and users of APACHE, ECLIPSE, and MOZILLA to find out what makes a good bug report. The analysis of the 466 responses revealed an information mismatch between what developers need and what users supply. Most developers consider steps to reproduce, stack traces, and test cases as helpful, which are at the same time most difficult to provide for users. Such insight is helpful for designing new bug tracking tools that guide users at collecting and providing more helpful information. Our CUEZILLA prototype is such a tool and measures the quality of new bug reports; it also recommends which elements should be added to improve the quality. We trained CUEZILLA on a sample of 289 bug reports, rated by developers as part of the survey. In our experiments, CUEZILLA was able to predict the quality of 31%--48% of bug reports accurately.

The information that users supply when they file a bug report tends not to be that which the relevant developers need the most, and most importantly, it differs in fairly predictable ways and for understandable reasons. As Bettenburg et al. discuss in their paper, this means that efforts at steering users towards providing information that is most useful (by telling them how to get it, for instance, or by providing a score on the usefulness of the bug report as it stands) should yield significant benefits.

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