Writing useful bug reports

In the spirit of Eric S. Raymond’s How To Ask Questions The Smart Way, here is my (very) brief guide to reporting problems or giving feedback related to someone’s web site.

GOOD: “the part where it says who the creator is, is smaller, and kinda faded, in comparison to everything else.”

This report is not great, but it’s decent. She’s reporting a simple problem, so a simple explanation is fine.

BAD: “a lot of your images aren’t loading…just thought you would like to know.”

Of course I would like to know, but I’d also like to know what you’re doing when it doesn’t work. What pages you’re having trouble with, and what browser and OS combination you’re using (including version numbers).

A better way of phrasing that would be “The images on /path/whatever.html aren’t loading for me. I’m using IE5 on Windows 2000″.

Also, exact error messages are good. Screenshots are good. Saying “a lot of your images aren’t loading” is completely useless if I don’t know what software and environment you’re reading the site in.


shadyl says:

Ahhhh… It may be a different company, but the customers are always the same when you get right down to it. Good luck with that. ;)