The Bug-Reporting Attitude

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

There is a common behavior among people in software geek forums, that whenever a software is crashing or behaving badly, they respond in the manner of a edict: “go file a bug report”, as if it is the duty of software consumers. (these traits are particularly observed in Mac forums and Linux related forums, but almost never in forums about Microsoft products.)

When a software is ostensibly incorrect, and if it is likely in connection to egregious irresponsibility as most software companies are thru their irresponsible licensing, the thing one should not do is to fawn up to their ass as in filing a bug report, and that is also the least effective in correcting the software.

The common attitude of bug-reporting is one reason that contributed to the tremendous egregious irresponsible faakups in computer software industry that each of us have to endure daily all the time. (For example, software A clashed, software B can't do this, C can't do that, D i don't know how to use, E download location broken, F i need to join discussion group to find a work-around, G is all pretty and dysfunctional… )

When a software is ostensibly incorrect and when the organization behind it is irresponsible with its licensing, the most effective and moral attitude is to do legal harm to the legal entity. This one can do by filing a law suit or spreading the fact. Filing a law suit is appropriate in severe and serious cases, and provided you have such devotion to the cause. For most cases, we should just spread the fact. When the organization sees facts flying about its incompetence or irresponsibility, it will immediately mend the problem source, or cease to exist.

Another harm sprang from the bug-reporting attitude rampant among IT morons is the multiplication of pop-ups that bug users for bug-reporting, complete with their privacy legalese infomercial.

Bug-Report Solicitation Gallery

Apple Safari Browser

Safari spider
Mac OS X Safari browser (2003 to ~2004)'s bug-report spider-button.

In the early days of OS X's Safari browser (2003 to ~2004), it has a spider-button on the top-right corner, so that Mac users are psychologically made to help Apple do quality assurance. As late as in Safari 2.0.2, the spider-button does not appear by default. It is moved into the toolbar customization panel as a option.

Apple Mac OS X

OS X springy @ feedback icon on Dock
Mac OS X's springy “@” feedback icon on Dock

In the early days of Mac OS X (2001 to ~2003), every Mac OS X's desktop tool bar has a “Springy @” button. When clicked, it sends users to Apple feedback site ( Mac fanatics are fanatical about reporting bugs back to Apple. Machines sold in 2005 still has the Springy@ button, but now points to Apple's OS X homepage. The Springy@ icon is otherwise used as the icon for bookmarked sites.

Windows XP

Windows XP send report prompt Windows XP error report files
Windows XP bug report panel, .

In 2005, Microsoft Windows XP will pop-up a dialogue box when a program crashed, and will ask the user about whether she wants to report to Microsoft, with detail about data collection policy.


Mozilla Talkback screenshot
Open Sourced Netscape/Firefox browser bug report panel, .

In 2005, the Open Sourced Netscape/Firefox browser will auto-start a separate bug-report program whenever it crashed, and will bother the user about whether to report the bug with three glorious panes.

more screenshots at Mozilla Quality Feedback Agent Screenshots (Year 2005)


OpenOffice bug report solicitation panel
Bug-reporting solicitation panel from the OpenOffice application of Sun Microsystems. (screen captured on ).
OpenOffice bug panel2
OpenOffice bug panel, page 2

Mac Colloquy

Colloquy bug report solicitation
Bug-reporting solicitation panels from the IRC chat program Colloquy (on OS X). (screenshot captured on )

Mac Adium

Adium crash screenshot
Bug-reporting solicitation panel from Adium, a multi-protocol chat client (on OS X). (screenshot captured )

Mac Os X

OSX GraphicConverter1 OS X bug reporting panel 2
bug reporting solicitation panels from Apple in OS X. In this case, it is reporting a crash of the image editing app GraphicConverter. This panel would come up for any program that crash. (image captured on ).

Mac GraphicConverter

OS X bug reporting panel 3
GraphicConverter's own bug-report solicitation panel, .

Much of these harassment come with technical notices and or privacy legalese, that assure the user nothing personal will be sent or collected. Some will also contain a option to turn this auto-solicitation off for good, but not most.

This bug-reporting phenomenon didn't start until early 21st century. Such direct user intrusion was unknown or unthinkable in 1990s, and software problems were to be ashamed of. The reasons of its rise can be attributed by a few factors:

Group (2) and (3) are largely mutually hostile, but each sect live in their utopian vision.


As of 2012, the bug-reporting solicitation fad has subsided. Some apps still pop-up such panel when crashed, but not as much in-your-face.