Ok well I’m having to improvise here because Inara Pey has basically hit me with some sort of psychic rays and stolen my planned blog post! Inara’s post of Ebbe: the promise of better communications and a more open JIRA is basically the post I had planned, obviously far more polished and eloquent in Inara’s format, but that’s the post I had planned, including the Innula Zenovka citation too, I will still use that.
So I’ll just concentrate on the Jira aspect here. In a forum response to Second Life builder Pamela Galli regarding the nerfing of the Jira, Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg responds with:
Funny, both engineering and product heads here also didn’t like that jira was closed and want to open it up again. Proposal for how is in the works! I hope we can figure out how to do that in a way that works/scales soon.
This isn’t funny really, it’s quite alarming. However let’s jump into the history machine, which shouldn’t be confused with the mystery machine, we’re not taking Fred or Daphne with us on this journey and there will be no doggy snacks. I am so easily sidetracked, where was I? Oh yes, back in time to examine when Jira’s go bad.
First of all let’s look back at what the Jira was and in many ways still is. The Jira was the place to report bugs and issues. People could also suggest new features there. The problem was that the Jira had a voting system and wasn’t exclusively used for bug reports and new feature suggestions. People would report their pet policy peeve on the Jira and gather a lot of votes. Now although people thought votes were important, the reality was that votes were not important in action being taken, although issues with high votes would obviously attract the attention of Linden Lab.
Then there were the Jira wars where people with admin rights would close a Jira and someone else would re-open it, a lot of commentary would be about opening and closing the Jira, people trading insults, in short there was a lot of off topic commentary. On top of that the Jira was, and remains, a clunky platform for people to use in general, although the more you use it, the easier it becomes to get your head around.
Despite all these issues, the Jira was a bloody useful resource. I used it as an official knowledge base when I ran into technical issues because it was far more informative on technical issues than the knowledge base is. I would also try and search for my issue before reporting it. The Jira worked well in this capacity. However some Lindens appeared to be tired of the off topic commentary, flame wars and lack of efficiency of the Jira. Now here’s where it gets interesting and a tad worrying, in a blog post in February 2011 entitled Improving our Lines of Communication with the Community Linden Lab announced that voting would be removed from The Jira :
Submit Bug Reports in JIRA: For those that aren’t familiar with JIRA, it is our public bug tracking system and it’s the best place to go to let us know about bugs or suggest new features that are proposed in User Group meetings or outside of those sessions.
Our development teams actively review the bugs that you submit in JIRA and do one of several things: place the item onto a development team backlog to address, ask the submitter to contact Support or provide more information if the developer cannot reproduce the bug, or close it and explain why we aren’t going to tackle this particular bug or idea.
It’s also important to note that we are going to remove the “voting” feature in JIRA in one month. Today, we do not use voting to triage or to make product decisions and the last thing that we want to do is set false expectations. So, when you are interested in what action we will take on a particular JIRA, use the JIRA “Watch” feature so that you will be immediately updated in email when there are new comments on that particular JIRA issue. We will continue to use the number of Watchers as an indication of the level of interest.
This was foolhardy for two reasons, the first that people started to watch instead of vote, under the false belief that the number of watchers would mean action would be taken. The second reason it was foolhardy was because it turned out that it wasn’t possible to remove voting from the Jira. The reason I said earlier that this is troubling is that Ebbe is looking at improving Linden Lab’s lines of communication, stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
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