Improving the handling of PR:s

Peter Schuller peter.schuller at
Sat Jan 12 10:23:54 PST 2008

[not sure whether to remove -current from cc; keeping it for now]

> So far it hasn't happened.  We've set up the freebsd-bugbusters@ mailing
> list and the #freebsd-bugbusters IRC channel on EFNet (and please join
> us!) and the latter is where our last 2 bugathons took place.

That's interesting. I'll try to get in on it. Perhaps this could use some more 
publicitly? Though I cannot claim I have gone out of my way to find exactly 
this, I was unaware of it in spite of spending quite a lot of time following 
FreeBSD mailinglists.

> Adding the second metric would cure one problem that you don't mention --
> which is that few people have the interest and patience to plow through
> N-thousand PRs.  It's not humanly possible to look at them all -- even
> the new ones as they come in.  There's simply too many.  So, you create
> an expectation "why bother, there's so many anyways".  We need to break
> that chain of expectation.  A good fix is a good fix.  The PR count will
> never get to zero; I (with bugmaster hat on) would be thrilled if we can
> get to the point of just steady-state.

Perhaps if there was a good way to be sent a particular subset of PR:s?

Unfortuantely the PR categories are not very granular. Something as simple as 
being able to subscribe to PR:s that match a regexp could work.

My experience (albeight with a smaller bug database) is that generally, as 
soon as you expect people to manually poll some web site, things move more 
slowly. If you can manage a system where all the user has to do is process is 
mailbox, it becomes easier for all parties to get things done. In order for 
that to work, some method is need to minimize the amount of incoming E-Mail 
that the potential contributor is not interested in (otherwise you just get 
tired of weeding through it all).

Also related to this: it may just be me, but how does GNATS even handle 
mailouts to begin with? I always get the initial response from GNATS that a 
PR has been registered, but mostly I never see any automatic mailouts in 
response to PR updates. I have not identifier exactly what is going on, but 
if other people are having this problem it might contribute to difficulty 
getting feedback from users. Once again I tend to like the system where all I 
have to do is read my inbox, instead of manually keeping track of a list of 
PR:s I am somehow interested in. (This goes both from the POV of being an 
original submitter, and from the POV of trying to process PR:s.)

Also, individual users being able to add themselves as an interested party (cc 
in bugzilla speak, nosy in roundup speak, etc) to PR:s and such would help, 
or configure per-user settings for mailout, etc.

I really don't want to start some kind of holy war on bug management software, 
but I have to say that from the submitter POV I have always felt GNATS does 
not seem to be the most flexible system around (except for what seems to be 
very good E-Mail integration).

> I think most get committed because a committer sees a PR come in on the
> mailing list and grabs it.  Much less often do committers go through the
> database looking for things to fix.  Again, the lousy "search/browse"
> capabilities of the existing tool let us down here.

That is exactly consistent with my experience in similar situations, and what 
I refer to above.

/ Peter Schuller

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