Global Bug Jam - Retrospective

WOW! We had people in twelve nations and in 20+ locations meeting for this event and I’m proud of each and everyone who organised and parcitipated in this. That’s amazing.

Thanks a lot Nicolas Deschildre for whipping up the script to generate this image.

846 bugs. That’s quite a lot of bugs, especially if you consider that lots of newcomers attended the bug jams, but to quote Emmet Hikory who put it so well: “Even if the attendants just touched one single bug, if they enjoyed the bug jam and learned something that’s more important than the raw number of bugs.”

And it seems that everybody thoroughly enjoyed the event. (Check out GlobalBugJam/Stories for more stories.)

Here are my thoughts why events like this are so important, why we should have more of them and what we need to improve.

If you’re a bit more experienced in Bug Triage, try to dive into your memory and find out how it felt when you looked at the first bugs and thought “I want to improve them and contribute to the discussion.” My exact feelings were “This is awful, how can we fix this?”, “I have no idea where to start.”, “The technical debate by the maintainers intimidates me - will I look stupid?” - not exactly in this order, but all at once.

That was after months of thinking “I’m not an opensource hacker, how could I possibly help out?”

The most important lesson you have to learn from there on is patience. It takes quite some time reading other bug reports, checking the facts and chatting with fellow bug squad members or maintainers until you get a feeling for a certain class of problems or a specific package. Every useful question to the bug reporter you find in another bug or little piece of information you found in the DebuggingProcedures will improve your detective skills, and that’s what bug triage is all about. This “diving into it”, this active “learning the ropes”, this “finding a place to start” takes some patience and insistence.

This is why meeting with friends is so important. The “pat on the back” or the “Well done - good catch!” is what people need to stay patient and stay persistent. Also the atmosphere is far more inviting: with friends you feel less embarassed to ask a question. Having a few experienced people in the sessions gets other team members up to speed really quickly. Do I need to mention the feeling of “We achieved something as a team!” and having a beer together afterwards?

Whatever we can do to improve the situation for newcomers to make them feel more comfortable, make them learn the ropes more quickly and get better at soliciting feedback we should definitely do.

I was very happy with the feedback we got for the Global Bug Jam in the posts up until now:

  • Generally everybody was very happy with the turnout and the atmosphere in the event.
  • 5-a-day could be easier to set up. (I’ll put some work into this.)
  • There could have been a “link-kit”. (The GlobalBugJam page and the cheatsheet was supposed to do this. If we can fix the pages to be better, we should definitely do this.)
  • Better Marketing! (I agree, I started a discussion on loco-contacts about it, but it didn’t gain much traction yet.)
  • IRC event preparation sessions useful. (Noted, let’s keep them in.)

As I said before: I’d really love to have regular bug jams in Berlin - I’m convinced that those sessions will soon generate their own dynamics in the team. Expect an announce soon. :-)

Rock on everybody! This was just the first Global Bug Jam! :-)

If you have any more feedback, either as an organiser or an attendant, please send it my way.

My 5 today: #257313, #256619, #256584, #256355, #257316 Do 5 a day - every day!


648 Words

2008-08-13 11:48 +0200

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