Linux, musical road-dogging, and daily life by Paul W. Frields
Don’t shoot the piano player.

Don’t shoot the piano player.

Overnight on the fedora-devel-list, from a hapless non-native English speaker:


Our country, Nicaragua, recently changed from a fixed CST time to a CDT time. The patch seems to be ready here:

[URL deleted]

Is posible to see a patch for FC3 and include it in the next FC4 release?

This was followed immediately by the terse but accurate response by one of the overworked developers:

Request it in Bugzilla.


Apparently the original poster had never really used Bugzilla before, or at least without any gleaning of how it works:

Thanks! Can you provide the bug number? I have problems using the Redhat bugzilla system. Trying to search for tzdata, nicaragua or managua it always retuns “zarro bugs”. :-(

Note that the purpose of Bugzilla is to allow users to enter bug information. When they do, the bug is assigned a number. Unfortunately, the user had no experience actually doing this, and didn’t understand that the list wasn’t just a dropoff for Other People to Enter Your Bugs. More unfortunately, the developer in question either didn’t pick up on this (?!), or more likely, decided he was too busy to reply with more than the minimum number of words:

That’s because you need to create an account and log the request yourself.

Oh really? Is it because he has no account that his searches don’t turn up any bugs? Or could it be that maybe he just doesn’t know what to search for? And why is that to be held against him, when he’s trying to Do the Right Thing by reporting an important bug that affects a whole country of potential users? Why would anyone jump to this kind of wacky conclusion? And what’s with “log the request”? That doesn’t make much sense to the user. Why not just say clearly, “enter a new bug”—which has exactly the same number of keystrokes, and is more easily understood by the user? Situation not improving:

I have one and used it to do the search. :-)

Please send me the bug number. ;-)

It doesn’t take a genius to realize the user is trying hard to stay upbeat even though he is no closer to understanding what to do now than he was when he first wrote in. I decided to defuse the situation before the list created another “jumper,” what I call people who either move off the forums where people actually know things, or leave the distribution entirely for one they feel will be nicer about giving them advice. My response:

I’m afraid you misunderstand—there is no bug report yet. You must create a NEW bug report yourself. Then the new bug will get a number.


Note that no smileys were required to get the point across that I was trying to be helpful, and not assuming the guy couldn’t learn what to do. I provided him the link to the form, so he knew where to start. Problem solved, and a minimum of effort expended. There are two lessons here for the FDP and the whole Fedora community:

  1. If you don’t have time to respond courteously and fully, you don’t have time to respond at all—so don’t. Let someone else do it.
  2. Use clear terms that match the interface to which you’re giving directions. It’s a forum, and not a race to see who can give the most obtuse answer first.

The response from the user:

Yep. you are right! I thought there is already a report of this! I am really sorry for spamming the list!

Thanks for pointing out my error. Next time I will try to read more carefully. It clear english is not my first language. ;-)

I am going to fill a bugzilla report. :-)