Good Problem Reports

I was reminded of this post in 2003 by Brent Simmons (NetNewsWire’s developer) about good bug reports. It’s also echoed in this note from Joel Spolsky.

I’m going to add to Brent’s just a bit, but this should be shared far and wide. Especially among the IT staff. IT staff are the absolute worst (pot, kettle, black) when it comes to bug reports. Worse even than faculty ;-). Smart people seem to turn their brains off with problem reports. Which they never would tolerate in the own discipline or support area.

Effective bug reports should include:

  1. What you did. This should include as much detail as possible. And for web applications — please include the URL where the problem occurred and your operating system and browser/client software!
  2. What you expected.
  3. What actually happened.