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Draft email to maintainers regarding Priority / Severity in Bugzilla

Here's my draft of my proposed email to fedora-devel-list concerning the
possibility of us adding Priority and Severity as part of the triage
process. Please send your feedback before I send it to that list :)

Feedback request: Priority / Severity use on Bugzilla

Hi, folks. We in the QA and Bugzappers groups have recently been
discussing the use of the Priority and Severity fields in Bugzilla.

At present, the status is that these are more or less ignored by
Bugzappers and most maintainers; some maintainers use and set them for
their own packages according to their own system. The reason for their
neglect, as I see it, is that there's been no convention for their use,
and no overall responsibility in setting them - they're usually set
arbitrarily by reporters, and thus convey no useful information.

We think it may be useful for the Bugzappers group to start setting
these fields as part of the triage process. To address one potential
issue right off the top - this would be *entirely* advisory, like all
the other work of the Bugzappers: it's intended to provide a service to
maintainers, nothing more. It would not be in any way prescriptive - we
don't want any other group to be able to tell maintainers what they
should work on. We simply think that setting these fields consistently
as part of triage might prove useful to some, or all, maintainers.

We have a draft convention for how these fields should be set here:
http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/User:Beland/Bugzilla_Legend#Severity_and_Priority . As you can see, it basically suggests that the severity field be used to rate the importance of the issue in the context only of the affected package, and priority be used to rate the importance of the issue in the context of the distribution as a whole.

In our proposal, triagers would set these fields in as consistent a
manner as possible as part of the initial triage process. They wouldn't
take any regard of the value initially set by the reporter - so it
wouldn't matter if the reporter set it as Urgent or Low, the triager
would simply evaluate the issue him/herself and re-set both values as
per the policy. That would be it, really. There's no action required or
even suggested of any maintainer for any value of either field - it's
simply there to provide information. We feel that maintainers might then
find it useful to organize their bugs by severity or priority to make it
easier to identify the most urgent issues to address.

A few specifics: the system would happily accommodate maintainers who
have their own systems for using these fields. Triagers would be
specifically instructed not to touch these fields if they had been
previously touched by the maintainer - effectively, maintainer's
decision on these fields is final. So if you disagree with the triager's
opinion, or you have your own system for using these fields, you could
simply set them to whatever you like and the Bugzappers will not change
them back.

Some people raised the possibility that reporters could interfere with
the setting of these fields - they might disagree with a triager who set
their issue to Medium or Low, and set it higher. I've implemented
similar systems before and that hasn't been my experience - I've found
that reporters will often over-rate an issue on initial filing, but few
of them will ever re-rate it once it's been set by a triager or
maintainer. However, if this did prove to be a problem, there's a fairly
simple solution: just restrict the fields, so that only Bugzappers and
maintainers (and other usually empowered folks) can set them. That would
solve that issue, if necessary.

So, really, we just want your feedback: do you think this system might
prove useful to you as a maintainer? Can you see any problems with it,
or potential refinements or improvements? Bugzappers' mission is to ease
the lives of maintainers, so we don't want to put this in place unless
it's seen as beneficial by at least some maintainers. Thanks!
Adam Williamson
Fedora QA Community Monkey
IRC: adamw | Fedora Talk: adamwill AT fedoraproject DOT org

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