We have a new mantra on my team.

“Don’t fix bugs unless users want them fixed.”

When testers found bugs that were already in production, we used to just fix them. Soon we realized, fixing them may do more harm than good. For example, we have a time control in one of our apps that accepts input in a format like HH:MM:SS. We noticed inconsistent behavior across instances of these controls in the app; things like some control instances would force leading zero while others would not, some would allow double-clicking-to-select time units while others would not.

We logged a bug to standardize these time controls throughout our app. When the bits went to prod the users screamed bloody murder. They hated the change and complained about disruptions. It turns out the users didn’t even know the inconsistency existed in the first place. As devs, BAs, and testers, we’re in and out of said time controls all over the app. But in production, users tend to only work in one of about 10 different modules based on their jobs. They could care less how the time control worked in neighboring modules.

“Don’t fix bugs unless users want them fixed.”

This mantra also applies to larger problems testers find. A room full of devs and testers can pat themselves on the back, thinking users will love them for certain bug fixes, only to find the users had adjusted to the broken code and want it back. And the danger increases the longer your app has been in production.

What’s your definition of a bug? My favorite is one I learned at Michael Bolton’s Rapid Software Testing class.

A bug is something that bugs someone who matters.

Keep that in mind the next time your team starts fixing bugs the users haven’t complained about.


  1. Jesper L. Ottosen said...

    Great angle on the "A bug is something that bugs someone who matters" definition!

  2. tstroudqa said...

    It is always best when possible to review any planned "fixes" with the customer or customer representative prior to making any changes. The customer should always know what they're getting and not have any surprises while using their app.

  3. Yaniv said...

    I agree with the mantra, but in many cases you (we) have bugs that some of our clients want them to be fixed, the others like them the way it is.
    In this case I would say : just fix them. Help the others that got used to the bug workaround the new problem you've created, but fix the original bug.

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