How To File a Bug

Software “bugs” (aka “things that don’t work correctly”) are unfortunately part of life for any web company. I’ve been dealing with bugs since 2005 when I started working at a little company you may have heard of by now, Zillow — and unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get away from them as long as I work for internet companies. Obviously, minimizing bugs that make it to production from test environments is always the goal of any web company – but inevitably, they slip through the cracks every now and then and end users notice something broken. It goes without saying that finding those bugs and getting them fixed promptly is one of our top priorities here at Virtual Results.

It’s important for you to understand that there are literally thousands of variables that cause software bugs; browsers (IE/Chrome/Safari/Firefox), operating systems (OS X vs Windows), ISPs, desktop applications running in the background, browser extensions, or even hardware. Just because something is not working for you does not mean it’s a system wide issue seen by everyone — it could very well be something only you are seeing or only people using Internet Explorer are seeing.

Before we get to the specific process of filing a bug, three things to remember:

  1. “Bugs” are NOT suggested improvements or new features
  2. Before you file a bug, please test to see if the particular problem you are experiencing is only seen on your computer by going through the repro steps on another computer
  3. When it comes to software bugs, unless we can consistently reproduce the computer on a machine of ours – we likely can’t fix the problem. It’s extremely hard for developers to fix coding issues they can’t reproduce.

That said, if you do indeed run into something that’s broken, here is the exact process for clients on our predesigned platform to file a bug:

1. Navigate to the “Bug Reporting” section of the Geek Estate forum

2. Create a new thread that includes the following information:

  • The title of the thread should be short description of the problem you are experiencing
  • EXACT steps that will reproduce the issue every single time. For instance, if you can’t open a specific URL, make sure to provide steps to how you got to that URL rather than just telling us “this URL doesn’t open”.
  • Your browser and version number (for instance, I use Safari Version 5.0.5 5533.21.1)
  • Operating system
  • Any other details you think we should know – such as when you started seeing the issue, any changes you made to your site leading up to the bug

As you can tell from the fact that I wrote this blog post, detailed bug reports are greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance for your help!