Thanks for your feedback mpt. I always enjoy reading your take on things.
I understand what you’re saying about the risk of turning bug reports into support forums. That’s a pet peeve of mine as well, both as someone who subscribes frequently to bug activity and as someone who sympathizes with the plight of those responsible for bug reports. I understand that putting people in touch with package devs and maintainers could be a major annoyance, and I don’t think I adequately expressed my trepidation at the idea. Of course there’d have to be many safeguards. It’s not a mature idea.
I do think however that it could be valuable to have IRC channels devoted to a bug. I can imagine a scenario where two or more people who are affected by a bug would find it productive to talk about their symptoms and potentially arrive at a better diagnosis or a workaround themselves. If anything I think something like that could help alleviate the bug-report-as-forum problem. Not to mention a simultaneous search on actual support forums. Again, these ideas are not fully fleshed-out.
Launchpad is in my opinion one of the better bug trackers there is, so I appreciate your involvement there. I’m not sure I agree with you however that it shouldn’t be easy to report bugs. Surely it shouldn’t be easy to report duplicate bugs, or detail-starved ones. But provided that all bug reports are new and well-articulated, how can that be a bad thing?
A GUI wouldn’t help as much, of course, if Launchpad were the only bug tracker (or if any single bug tracker were, in fact), but it’s not. A universal interface to all varieties of bug trackers would, I think, be an enormous boon to people who would like to help out by filing bugs.
Another thing you didn’t address — something that I think is one of the most valuable parts of the idea — is that a desktop GUI can know far more about your OS than a website. It’s not uncommon that I see a conversation taking place within a bug report wherein devs are asking users for more info, info that could be more effortlessly provided through a desktop application. I remember in particular a bug I was reporting with Miro — (a) whose package is at lp.net/democracy (I remember Miro from the days when it was called “Democracy Player,” but who else does?), and (b) whose bug tracker is at pculture.org (???) — and this bug actually came down to a bug with libtorrent. Surely it would have been easier to identify that the problem was with a dependency rather than with the Miro package itself if people reporting on the bug had thought to include their version of libtorrent — but of course most don’t.
Also if you’ve never read my blog before, please excuse the cranky tone. I exaggerate.