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Galina Mitricheva
Galina Mitricheva

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Feature devaluation: issue tracker case

This is a story about an internal product for corporate usage — as opposed to free market customer product. This is a story about an issue tracker, much like your favorite Jira, Trello etc, a product for tracking tickets.

We know that a tracker is there not only to write into it, but also to read from it, as a convenient instrument for asynchronous info distribution aka notification. You write an update in your ticket, and everybody can access your comment, take it into consideration or answer the question if there is any.

In order to not constantly monitor all the tickets you’re interested in, you can subscribe to notifications and receive an update every time there’s something new. By default the author of the ticket, the assignee and all those added to watch the ticket are considered interested and subscribed to notifications.

That’s where the problem begins. We’re all so busy these days, so busy that our inboxes are bursting with new emails as well as our messengers are bursting with new personal messages and chats. So some people admit: ‘I cannot read through all the tracker notifications, I filter them all into a separate folder and sometimes try to read but rarely succeed, so I don’t know what’s going on — I’ll ask’

Acknowledging this problem, the product decides to introduce a new feature: you can now ‘call’ a specific persons or persons to a specific comment in your ticket to let them know that this exact comment requires their attention and involvement. Notifications about these ‘calls’ are not filtered out by the basic rule. Okay, so now we have two types of comments: ‘ones I was called to’ and ‘ones I wasn’t called to = ones I have all the right to ignore’.

Time passes by, the busiest people declare publicly: ‘I ignore all the comments but those I am called to’.

Some more time passes by, new people join the company — they’ve never seen what it was like before, and what they see now is ‘people don’t know about comments they were not called to’. For them it’s not two types of comments, they consider comments without calls as something written straight to dev/null.

What do we have now? Every comment now calls somebody, even if it’s a comment like ‘thank you’. As an oldfag I feel overwhelmed and irritated every time, because it’s like somebody came up to me, said ‘hello’ and after I turned to them to start a conversation they instead start to shake me to attract my attention — like not even suspecting that I am already paying attention. If I am watching the ticket, I read all the comments and notifications, and what’s the use to additionally call me to do that?

But that’s the new reality: a feature intended for a high-priority notifications became the new normal level of priority, and the previously normal level is now considered nothing. It’s been devalued.

Why I found it necessary to point out that our product is a corporate instrument? I think that in their non-working life people are already good at unsubscribing, muting, banning and otherwise switching off annoying notifications of all kinds. While at work one cannot publicly say ‘I’m not interested in my tasks’ and unsubscribe (although somehow saying ‘I don’t have enought time to read my tasks’ is legal). So the product tries to find workarounds and will have to indefinitely raise the priority, thus devaluating all the previous way to do things.

All that instead of some self-discipline and sinserity. Pity.

Top comments (1)

jeremyf profile image
Jeremy Friesen

Wow, this has turned my thinking. All changes tug, pull, and push the current mental state of things.