Linden Lab close public JIRA, launch Bug Tracker

Linden Lab today reported that they’ve effectively closed the Public JIRA system to users, and are launching a new “bug reporting project”.

The announcement, made in the Technology blog, reads:

User-submitted bug reports help improve the Second Life experience for all Residents, so we greatly appreciate all of you who take the time to provide this invaluable information to us. 

Because we want to make it even easier to report bugs, today we are making some changes that will streamline the bug reporting process, allowing us to more quickly collect information and respond to issues.

Following is a summary of the JIRA changes:

  • All bugs should now be filed in the new BUG project, using the more streamlined submission form.
  • Second Life users will only see their own reported issues.  When a Bug reaches the “Been Triaged” status, they will no longer be able to add comments to their issue.
  • Once a Bug reaches the “Accepted” or “Closed” status, it will not be updated. You can watch the Release Notes to see when and if a fix has been released for your issue.
  • Existing JIRAs will remain publicly visible. We will continue to review and work through these.

To those of you who have taken the time to alert us to bugs and provided the information we need to fix them — thank you! We hope that you will continue to help us improve Second Life, and this new process should make it easier for all of us. Ideas about how we can continue to improve the bug reporting process can be shared here.

For more information, visit:
How to report a BUG (Knowledge Base Article): 
Bug Tracker (wiki page):
Bug Tracker Status/Resolutions (wiki page)

As a part of this change the public JIRA is still browsable, but it appears the ability to comment on specific JIRA items has been turned off.

It’s hard to fathom why this has been done – and the stated reason actually makes little sense. If nothing else, the fact that users can only see the bugs they report will inevitably means that the system is liable to get flooded with duplicate entries  – far more so  than is was the case with the JIRA system. Beyond this are other aspects which seem to make this move counter-productive:

  • Users are often a part of the triage process. They can confirm when and how issues are occurring; they can test different hardware and different viewer options and ascertain if the problem is at all localised, or possible an artefact unique to the reporter’s system
  • Developers can similarly – and vastly – help the triage / resolution process, bringing their own knowledge and skills to bear on user-reported problems
  • Both users and TPV developers can speed the process on duplicate JIRA identification and cross-referencing, reducing the amount of work LL have to initially undertake.

All this move appears to do is further break another means of productive collaboration between Linden Labs and TPV developers / the user community, leaving everyone the worse off, and that in itself is hardly positive.

While there has been frustration within LL – and among those who do invest time and effort in trying to help LL deal with raised JIRAs – over the amount of (often pointless) feedback,  bickering than can occur with a particularly emotive JIRA (comments like THIS IS BAD!!!!!!! FIX IT NOW!!!!!!! certainly don’t help anyone), this move can hardly be called a proportional response to preventing such problems.

Unless there is more to come, such as TPVs at least being allowed to engage in the bug / issue reporting / triage / resolution process, there is potentially only one adjective which some might opt to apply to this move.

Asinine.

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46 thoughts on “Linden Lab close public JIRA, launch Bug Tracker

  1. Actually, it is still JIRA, it’s just an upgrade from the previous version. This one allows for linking outside the JIRA environment, something the Phoenix/Firestorm team have been doing manually for quite some time.

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    1. JIRA 5, yes.

      Providing the means is found for TPVs to link / use it, as mentioned in the article, that’s better than nothing. However, given that the current system has comments disabled, it is effectively closed.

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  2. This is a terrible decision by LL.. As you’ve explained it has the effect of removing a meaningful communication path between LL and the larger SL community and undermines community development and community support efforts.

    I don’t see how LL can possibly put a good spin on: “We don’t want our own users, outside developers, and paying customers to be able to search platform issues.”

    Shameful

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  3. This move makes no sense. Just another indicator of the level of competence of the people managing internal development process at Linden Lab. I really wish I knew who was pushing for this change. To me it smells of Oz Linden who’s infamous for writing GTFO comments on Jira, but I have now way of knowing.

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  4. No, it makes perfect sense. JIRA was never designed as a public issue-reporting tracker, as I recall, it’s really more of an internal tool (and LL’s methods of using it not quite what one would expect sometimes). A more straightforward ‘bug tracker’ would seem logical, and only seems illogical in that by now the hardcore are USED to JIRA.

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    1. The problem is – when it comes to bug reporting, it is a very collaborative effort given the complexity of SL, and while the JIRA did get abused comments-wise, it provided a resource that inward reporting alone doesn’t match.

      Leave us not forget, LL by their own admission don’t understand how SL can be used. the JIRA has therefore been a valuable tool for ensuring issues are properly and fully understood.

      Unless a mechanism is put in place that emulates that capability, there is a risk that more is being lost than gained.

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      1. Another thing that is important to remember: I found workarounds for literally dozens of problems by searching Jira and reading comments where someone would point out a way to do something without crashing, or something similar. All that valuable knowledge sharing is killed with this.

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      2. It is important that LL (Rod?) realize that Second Life is far more of a cooperative effort between the residents and LL than almost any other platform. Some at LL have always had the attitude that SL was *their toy* and the residents a necessary inconvenience. That has not been true since the day Stellar Sunshine built the Beanstalk!

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    2. I’m half-agreeing with you. It makes some sense to use the JIRA engine all the way through, but the design exposed us ordinary users to some seriously jargon-ridden programmer-speak. Given better presentation of the user-facing interface, I think it could have worked well, What we got was, frankly intimidating.

      And then we get the problem of how the system reacts to abusive behaviour, and a lot of that is down the sense of community which can emerge. Looked at as a means for users to communicate about bugs, it was poorly run. Where was the moderator, stamping on the trollishness? Was there anyone besides Alexa Linden?

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  5. If it isn’t broken..smash it to bits with a Hammer. If it works well with minor imperfections..replace it altogether. If it requires thought..dumb it down.

    “Your World. Your Imagination.”….If only that were still true.

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    1. It’s not a surprise (given the move has actually been on the cards for a while, if only known in outline – that LL would be moving to JIRA 5 – and to a few) so much as a disappointment. It’s compound by the fact that by their own admission, LL “don’t know” how they are going to address potential problems such as multiple bug reports on the same subject (the new form is free-format, so they can’t rely on subject headings or descriptions to try and ring related reports).

      That said, I don’t agree that they “don’t care” and “don’t listen”. If nothing else, the positive steps Oz has implemented to ensure viewer issues and support to users on TPVs is better managed is proof of that. The problem is the company is increasingly prone to taking actions which appear based on narrow thinking / lack of understanding of their own product / knee-jerk reactions.

      Taken together, these two moves tend to point towards a company lacking in clarity of thought in terms of managing its own product.

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      1. I really don’t know what positive steps you’re talking about here. Several TPV developers brought up the issue of Linden support closing tickets and hanging up on people just because they were using a TPV. Oz reacted by basically calling us liars “I’m looking at your customer service record now, and it there is no field to indicate which viewer you’re using”, was the gist of what he said. The support could not possibly have been doing what we were telling him they were doing.

        After being confronted with numerous documented examples of support doing exactly that, his first suggestion was to ask people seeking support not to tell what viewer they were using, and a vague promise to try to talk to them so people are not automatically dismissed. Given that some 70% of SL users don’t use the official viewer what else is the sensible thing to do. I have personally experienced chatting with support regarding one of my estate sims where Linden support person told me that I was using a TPV and they don’t offer support with that My pleas to listen to me reporting a simulator problem experienced by users on any viewer went unnoticed.

        I don’t understand where you see evidence of LL listening to their users. Read your own post on the popularity of TPVs and you’ll find proof enough that they don’t.

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      2. I see this as a continuation of LL’s “Three Monkeys” policy, which they have already implemented in their own forums and other areas, where LL’s been steadily reducing ways to enable direct, critical feedback from their own users. These efforts by LL have the result of discouraging overall levels of community participation and dialog. A good company shouldn’t be afraid of feedback, they should thrive on it. People participate because they care. See https://jira.secondlife.com/browse/SVC-7125 as an example.

        The hypocrisy for me is that LL’s products rely on the power and positive network effects of social networking.. Yet when it comes to LL’s own internal decisions and development, they throw up more and more communication barriers, and go out of their way to discourage the social network effects they market so passionately.

        There’s a reason (more than one!) why SLUniverse’s forums about Second Life topics have become more popular than SL’s own forums.

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        1. No argument on that from me; feed back into the fractured approach.

          Curious you touch on the social networking – I’ve literally just made a similar point in an article I’m drafting at the moment!

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    2. I think it’s telling that you find Oz’s attempt to instruct the support staff not to be complete jerks such a revolutionary improvement in Linden Lab communications and treatment of their users as to consider this Jira move mixed signals.

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      1. I find it equally telling that you’re unprepared to give even the slightest acknowledgement that LL have for once moved in the right direction in order to correct a problem of their own making. So I guess we balance each other out ;-).

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        1. Even a minimal improvement of support is certainly a good thing (provided it actually happens in practice). But do you really think that move is of the same order of magnitude as closing down collaborative problem fixing? I know you don’t 😉

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          1. My comment was in response to a sweeping statement that LL “don’t listen” to users, when clearly there are times they do. I picked the first line support situation simply because it is the most recent public demonstration of this.

            No order of magnitude was stated or implied; that was simply your interpretation.

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        2. The TPV support problem, and its solution, is, on the whole, pretty obvious. Ask if the customer can duplicate the problem with the current Lab viewer. How that solution is implemented depends on a lot of different parts of the Linden Labs operation, including support staff procedures and training, reporting of faults within Linden labs, and the design of the website where contact is made with support staff.

          There is one very obvious website element. Do the instructions make it easy for somebody to get the latest viewer. Having a link to the download page from the Live Chat page and the support-ticket page would make a difference.

          It will be a test of the implementation of the new policy if clear instructions and links appear. Direct links and clear words, not “Have you checked the Wiki?” hand-waves.

          I am not optimistic on this. You never get told the date of the “current version”, and there’s nothing in that link on you Dashboard page to tell you whether it has changed. The most you see is a long and rather obscure version number.

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    1. I didn’t agree with that premise when Feline posted it, and despite this, I still don’t. If nothing else, I’d say that the forthcoming link-up with Steam is indicative that the assumption is incorrect, for the reasons I’ve previously outlined, but will summarise here: they are focusing on trying to bring people into SL who are just like the customers they have – people like you and me, who will recognise the appeal of SL as a place to create and build, explore and enjoy.

      There was certainly a time (2008) when it was very true that The Powers That Be in LL’s board weren’t keen in having us around. That was made clear in Mitch Kapor’s pointed SL5B address. However, at that time, the board felt warranted as all the signs from 2006/07 apparently pointed to “big business” ready and willing to invest and engage in SL providing LL established the right framework.

      Clearly, that wasn’t the case (as many of us tried to tell them at the time), and really, nothing has changed since they to suggest that there is any audience anywhere which is waiting in the wings, ready to leap into SL find the company just sets the right conditions. As such, trying to simply push us all out of SL right now – and while not doubting that some at LL do regard us as little more than those “damned pesky kids” getting in the way of things – would be pretty much a suicidal move for the company.

      Right now, as well all know, they depend on us for all of their revenue, be it through tier payments, SL Marketplace commissions or commissions on L$ transaction in / out of SL (I discount Premium, simply because so much of what we give comes back in terms of stipend). As such, trying to force their current user base out in lieu of having anyone else to turn to, or any alternative source of revenue, would be completely idiotic. And I don’t for a minute believe that anyone who has sunk a significant investment into SL is that stupid.

      To me, and as stated above, this move again speaks of a company that is lacking clarity of thought in how to manage its own mainstay product. There seems to be conflicting initiatives they’re trying to complete; almost is if there is a high-level plan: increased capabilities within the platform, new options for encouraging people into SL, more direction and thought as to the kind of people that want to attract to SL and have “stick” – but there is no overall structure to the plan, no real cohesive strategy.

      This leaves the “plan” becoming fragmented and apparently implemented as a series of half-baked or contradictory tactical moves (vis, on the one hand, trying to smooth the way viewer / TPV support is handled and advising people to “use the JIRA” on the one hand, then introducing a new system of bug reporting that can end up hurting LL as much as anyone else for the reasons stated in this article). It also leaves us, the users, confused, upset and feeling both increasingly alienated and with the perception that LL “don’t want us”.

      And that’s the real tragedy here, and why Linden Lab – from Rod Humble on down – is fundamentally wrong in how they address communications with the user community. Because they have now shut all the doors and windows and appear to no longer be listening, we’re left with the perception they don’t want us around. And that’s potentially as dangerous as them actually not wanting us around.

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      1. I agree with many of your ideas, as always. However, perhaps I have to disagree on one point, perhaps I’m extending on your “communications with the user community” idea.

        I can’t put my finger on exactly what’s wrong, but in general we don’t have a Visionary at the Lab who actually cares about the _actual_ people who built SL and who pay the bills.

        Our future continues to come from the LL boardroom, and I can picture the boys delighting each other with “big ideas” about the future of virtual worlds; ideas that are influanced less and less by … us.

        I got a dose of the big ideas of Will Wright in a vid earlier this year ( http://wp.me/p1o47F-8T ) and I haven’t felt quite the same ever since. NO, this is not about Second Life, but it’s an insight into Will’s thinking (Will is on the LL board and former boss of Rodvic). I listen and hear a guy interested only in technolology, processing and simulation. And I hear nothing that inspires me to beleive he cares about the actual social engagement and development of virtual worlds (e.g. Second Life). Actually, I find Will refreshing compared to Mitch Kapor though. /me chuckles

        Then came SL9B and the Lab wanted nothing to do with SLCC 2012. Oh, and now JIRA is santitized of user engagement.

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        1. As an aside, ever since his appointment to the board, I wonder in Will Wright would have joined them had Rod Humble not been involved…

          With regards the video – interesting viewing. I agree, that it is not about SL – but depending upon how actively involved he is with the actual running of the company, it could go a long way to explaining why things appear to be so adrift with regards to SL – and might be tied to a deeper meaning of Rod Humble’s statements from earlier in the year about “putting the Lab back into Linden Lab” and other directions the Lab might be looking towards – which again could feed back into the fragmented approach to “managing” SL.

          YI don’t think you and I are that far apart in our thinking, overall; I’m just not convinced that SL needs another Rosedale-style “visionary” (if that’s what your referring to). What we do need is assurance that there is still real intent to development SL positively, that there is a roadmap and there is a destination – or at least, waypoints that we can understand. Right now, there doesn’t seem to be a “big picture” – and that’s unsettling.

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    2. That’s undoubtedly true, but their platform isn’t ready for the customers they *are* looking for, and hiding the evidence won’t make the problems go away.

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  6. I’m a cheerleader for the Lab when they do useful and thoughtful. I like being a cheerleader. I’m also a fan of Rodvik. I’ve felt that Rod would recognize what Second Life is and why it works.

    Then there’s stuff like this JIRA maneuver. It seems obvious the Lab wants to push the engaged SL users out of the Lab’s development process. I gave up on JIRA early on. I didn’t want to become involved in that agony, but I know peeps who keep SL working and they interact and engaged through JIRA.

    There’s a trend here. It is becoming clearer and clearer that Linden Lab doesn’t care what their users want or need. They have obviously got some roadmap to somewhere and aren’t going to take their eye off their objective.

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  7. A random germ of a thought:
    Would it be practical or advisable to start a resident run jira outside LL. Would it make a difference? I think the Lindens who actually fix things would read it for resident suggestions if nothing else. It would require funding (crowd source?, advertising?); moderators; skilled advisers; etc.
    Of course it would be another instance of the residents picking up after the Lindens, but do we really have a choice?

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  8. A friend of mine, Marley Petrov, suggested that part of this decision might be to deal with the “Java Exploit”. this is the first i’ve heard about the hack, so just wondering.

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    1. Not heard of it…which isn’t saying a lot! :).

      I’d known about an upcoming switch to JIRA 5 for the last couple of weeks; many had, but I think this caught everyone off-guard. Although according to at least one blogger, it’s our own fault…

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      1. I think the news about the Java Exploit started appearing in Computerworld, PC World around 8/30. I’ve gone ahead and uninstalled Java for now. I’ll see how this plays out.

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      1. I have seen reports that the latest version of Java, which has the patch, has other serious unpatched security-affecting bugs.

        http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/08/31/critical_flaw_found_in_patched_java/

        Also, Apple updates don’t have even that Java update.

        For most of us, outside of corporate firewalls, it is very likely that we don’t need Java. And, since at least one rootkit has been exploiting these bugs, there’s a very strong general argument for uninstalling Java.

        Yes, a rootkit. Such fun.

        http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/09/03/java_cleanup/

        That page does at least tell you exactly what attack was made, and how to clear it up. Shug, you know whether or not you need Java. For the rest of us, on the current evidence, we don’t need it and it is horribly dangerous. And Auto-update for Java is solidly in chocolate teapot territory

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