Why shouldn’t I assign bugs to "Active"?

 For those of you who have used the Team Foundation work item tracking system, you know there is an option called "Active" in the "Assigned to" field. Now, this option is usually used by a tester filing the bug when she does not know which developer to assign the bug to. You know, sometimes we do hit those borderline issues or we file bugs in feature areas that we do not own. The "Active" option is selected by default while creating a new bug which means that we expect this to be an oft used option.

But I have heard of suggestions given to testers saying bugs must not be assigned to "Active". Instead if in doubt who to assign this to, testers can assign this to the triage team. For the uninitiated, triage team is usually a 3 person team consisting of a dev, tester and PM that meets regularly and looks at every bug filed and evaluates if the bug should be fixed or not or whether this is a duplicate or something that we will fix later etc. You can notice the "Triage" field (highlighted in green) in the work item form too. Now, this team will have a group alias and testers are advised to assign bugs in the above category to triage team which will later assign this to the respective developer/PM. To me, this seems like a very strange suggestion, since it automatically redundates the "Active" option in the bug form. In a conversation with Gautam, one of the Team Build triage members, I was told that assigning to Active could be discouraged since there is no formal owner of the bug. Hence, if you want to query on the status of a bug, you have nowhere to go. Assigning to the triage team will help the enquirer in sending mail to the triage team to ask for details.

Well, that leads to 2 things:

1. Why would anyone have to send mail to enquire status of a bug? A "good" bug is always up-to date with the latest status and details on the bug. Of course, you can argue that someone might want to discuss root cause of the bug or bug impact, but stuff like this should form part of the bug investigation details.

2. Ok - sometimes we have less than perfect bugs that lack detail. But if these are assigned to Active, it can only mean one thing - the triage team has not looked at it yet. So the obvious thing to do would be to send mail to the triage team. And typically the gap in which the triage team does not look at a bug is less than 24 hours.

So, it still seems to me that by discouraging testers to assign bugs to "Active", we are probably just discarding a fair option in the bug form. What do you think?

Comments (5)

  1. Ognjen Bajic says:

    I agree.

    The idea with the mail is plainly wrong as you have said yourself. There SHOULD be no need (and there is no need, in my opinion) for additional communication channel, since everything about the bug should be stated inside the bug.

    Assigning to „Active“ is the right solution if the tester (or whoever has found the bug) isn’t sure who the right addressee should be. And apart of setting the priority for the bugs that is also one reason why there are triage teams after all: they consist of team members from various parts of the team in order to be able to have different prospectives and possibly be able to conclusively triage the bug (set its prio, assign it to an appropriate dev etc.).

  2. Steven says:

    Today you lose a reader for your blog! Tell me, is this really that important an issue to actually BLOG about it. To me its very trivial and it would depend on the process that your organisation follows. Why do I feel that you just want to pick up a topic to blog to become a blogger or simply to flame your team or team members. Grow up buddy !

  3. Sorry you felt so Steven – but if you were a tester, you would probably empathize with the way I feel about issues like these.

    And as far as being a blogger is concerned, I wonder which real guy would actually imagine doing something just for the sake of being a blogger! 🙂 I would love to read your blogs though!

  4. AdityaJ says:

    Just because Anuthara has blogged about it, means it matters to him. It is because of trolls like Steven with a big ego that organizations still follow process that only cause problems to testers.

    I have used VSTS work items and find many such small features in it that are either very helpful or sometimes not helpful. Is there a way to use VSTS work item tracking only with plugging in my own source control?

  5. Hi – You could probably use only work item tracking first in VSTS and incrementally adopt the rest of TFS – but you will not have the benefit of integration features like associating changesets with work items etc. Here is a post that might help you – http://forums.microsoft.com/MSDN/ShowPost.aspx?PostID=171216&SiteID=1

    BTW, I am a "her", not "him" 🙂

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