Works for Me

Want to stop productive bug reporting in its tracks? Want to get the trolling rolling? Toss a flaming “Works for me!” into the mix and stand back.  

I’ve often described the title of this piece as the most devastating insult one techie can inflict on another.  It’s surely one of the more popular. And while in many (maybe most) cases it’s dropped in perfect innocence, this little innocuous phrase tends to land with the force of a nuclear bomb.

Bug triage is a progressive process.  After the initial report, others join in to share their experience and a living, breathing, sometimes-viral organism develops.  Those afflicted with the bug take co-ownership of the report, as do those working to resolve it.  They may see anyone poking in to coo a cavalier “works for me!” as an affront.  A theft of discourse and productivity.  And a blatant example of trolling.

It’s especially an issue in open source communities, where much if not all of the work involved is strictly volunteer.  Pointless infringements on precious time are not taken lightly.  And unless the poster is a sociopath, they surely don’t want to develop a troll’s reputation.

But what if the alleged agent provocateur really is innocent?  There’s actually value in the remark if it’s sincere.  A valid “works for me” becomes a control, an example of an environment or set of conditions where the bug has failed to manifest.  A bug-free control can aid in troubleshooting by enabling investigators to better identify critical environmental differences.  In fact the more “works for me” contributions there are, the quicker the culprit can be identified.  It lurks in the unique shadows of the bug originator’s domain… and can often be something really simple.

Obviously bug triage depends on collaboration and, to some extent, healthy competition.  But successful bug resolution is best accomplished by avoiding ego-driven contributions on either side.  That means no taunting, and no rash assumptions.  Consider your words carefully.  If you have no stake in the bug, just observe from the sidelines if at all.  And if personality conflicts emerge, they’re best taken out of the bug stream and handled between the adversaries.

Keep on (de)bugging!

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10 responses to “Works for Me

  1. I don’t see this happening in bug reports. The system works fine for me.

  2. I don’t see the problem here, the usual process works for me.
    ;-)

  3. Some bug reports are indeed caused by something outside of the application’s (bug tracker’s) responsibility area, or they are uninformed feature requests. Downloads are slow? Maybe your ISP is employing bandwidth shaping – there’s nothing a certain app can do about it.

    You want to have a certain feature? What do you really want to do? Ah, that – for that you don’t need that feature – you can use the other feature that is already included in the application. Works for me!

    I’ve closed many bugs as “Works for me”, and the original reporters were usually happy when I explained the reasons for it and how they can accomplish the feature they want or where else they need to ask to get that issue fixed.

  4. There is only one thing worse than “works for me”… It’s “Fixed in Fremantle”!

  5. Any remaining open issues are RESOLVED FIXED IN HARMATTAN anyway. No bugs left anymore! ;-)

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