Ana Balica

Hi, I'm Ana.

I'm a software developer. I mostly do Python. This blog is about my adventures with code, travel experiences and relevant life events. I try not to take myself too seriously.

Here's what I'm doing now.

Occasionally I give talks.

Please don't take my words for granted, because Internet is full of bad advice, and I might be part of it inadvertently.

Empathetic bug report

“Feature X doesn’t work”.

Sigh, take a deep breath, pause for a bit… start asking questions: what exactly doesn’t work, what do you see on screen, do you have a URL or screenshots, what environment are you on, are you logged in, what permissions your user has, etc. I get it, sometimes it’s hard to know what additional information is relevant, especially for people who have had less experience interacting with developers. But even we (engineers, product owners, designers) make this mistake every so often.

That’s not the biggest issue though. What matters more is phrasing. The assentive tone of the sentence sends a subtle message. It somewhat implies that the feature X doesn’t work regardless of circumstances, for all users and the whole team managed to spend a couple days work and ship nothing.

“Feature X doesn’t work for me”.

By focusing on your personal experience with the app, it’s possible to approach the bug report in a more humble way, admitting that it might be “you”, “your settings”, “your machine” that are causing the app to act in a weird way. At the end of the day, the quite blunt obvious defect is often a cause of misconfiguration, wrong environment, misunderstanding of the feature (which admittedly can be a bug, but should have been caught during early discussions and refinement).

Next time at work when you’re raging over a feature that doesn’t work, don’t forget to add “for me”.