Too Busy For Words - the PaulWay Blog

Thu 2nd Jul, 2009

Look Mum, no bugs!

I recently encountered a bug in RhythmBox where, if you rename a directory, it thinks that all the files in the old directory have disappeared and there's a whole bunch of new files. You lose all the metadata - and for me that was hours of ratings as I worked my way through my time-shiftings of the chillout stream of Digitally Imported. Worse, if RhythmBox was running during the rename, when you try to play one of those files that has 'gone missing' it will just say "output error"; when you restart it because (naturally) you think it's borked its codecs or something, it then removes all those previous entries (giving you no chance to fix the problem if you'd just renamed the directory in error).

I decided to try to be good, so I found the GNOME bugzilla and tried to search for "directory", or "rhythmbox", or anything. Every time it would spend a lot of time waiting and then just finish with a blank page. Deciding that their Bugzilla was hosed, I went and got a Launchpad account and logged it there. Then, in a fit of "but I might have just got something wrong", I went back to the Bugzilla and tried to drill down instead of typing in a keyword.

Lo and behold, when I looked for bugs relating to "Rhythmbox", it turned up in the search bar as product:rhythmbox. Sure enough, if I typed in product:rhythmbox summary:directory then it came up with bugs that mentioned 'directory' in their summary line. If you don't get one of those keywords right, it just returns the blank screen as a mute way of saying "I don't know how to deal with your search terms".

So it would seem that the GNOME bugzilla has hit that classic problem: developer blindness. The developers all know how to use it, and therefore they don't believe anyone could possibly use it any differently. This extends to asserting that anyone using it wrong is "obviously" not worth listening to, and therefore the blank page serves as a neat way of excluding anyone who doesn't know the 'right' way to log a bug. And then they wonder why they get called iconoclastic, exclusive and annoying...

Sadly, the fix is easy. If you can't find any search terms you recognise, at least warn the user. Better still, assume that all terms that aren't tagged appropriately search the summary line. But maybe they're all waiting for a patch or something...

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