Ex Bibliotheca

The life and times of Zack Weinberg.

Saturday, 29 June 2002

# 12:25 AM

In my mail today was a response to a trouble ticket I'd filed with my DSL provider. At the top was a lengthy block of boilerplate, containing this passage:

Members: Please DO NOT reply to this email, as we will not be able to respond to it or provide additional support.

We will update this with status or resolution via the Customer Support tool in TAC. If you need to make updates or close your support request, please go to [web page].

This strikes me as sheer laziness on their tracking system's designer's part. How fscking hard is it to set up a robot that adds e-mailed responses to the relevant trouble ticket's logs?

But it's not just that tracking system; every fscking bug tracker I have ever used has the exact same anti-feature, except for Debian's. Now let me outline the series of steps involved in responding to a request for feedback, with and without the ability to send responses by mail.

With Without
1. Receive query by e-mail. 1. Receive query by e-mail.
2. Hit "reply" key. 2. Launch web browser.
3. Write response in favorite text editor. 3. Wait for web browser to start.
4. Save message and hit "send". 4. Navigate to relevant web page.
5. Write response in itty bitty form box.
6. Push "submit" button.

I think it's quite obvious that responses by e-mail are better. So why on earth is it that only one bug tracker on the face of the planet supports them?

(To be fair, some other trackers, such as GNATS, claim to support responses by e-mail, but in practice it doesn't work reliably enough to be usable.)