The "Not My Problem" Problem with Bugs
Vicky Harp Mar 13 '17
One of the best ways to progress as a developer is to man the bug queue. There's nothing quite like a stream of edge and corner cases to exercise your grasp of technology at large and your codebase in particular. Cheerful problem solving builds goodwill within your project team and helps you build bridges in the broader technological community. There's really nothing else that pays such dividends so fast and so well.
Sadly, over time a complacency can set in, and worse: a "not my problem" attitude. Developers reach a certain level of comfort and begin feeling their time is better spent on more visible feature work. It creeps in innocently enough under the heading of "I can't work on this without a reproduction scenario" but often it becomes nearly confrontational: bugs assigned to this team member are either closed under shady circumstances, swapped over to languish as a "feature request," pushed back to the reporter for more details, or tossed over the fence to either more junior or more senior team members who "have more time."
To the developer who has fallen into this habit, it's a way to protect their time to work on what they consider important. But being a reliable contributor who is willing to solve problems is valuable, and a project culture where bug reports are a battleground is toxic.
What can projects do to keep defect queues from becoming a low-reward backwater? What can senior team members do to foster a problem-solving culture? Let me know in the comments.