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Firefox Hacks by Nigel McFarlane

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Hack #98. Survive Bugzilla

Survive and thrive in the scary world of Mozilla's Bugzilla database.

Bugzilla, like Firefox, is a product of the efforts of the Mozilla Foundation and, before that, of Netscape Communications. Its home page is http://www.bugzilla.org. Within the Mozilla community, the Bugzilla installation at http://bugzilla.mozilla.org contains a great deal of the workflow, history, current status, and collective memory associated with Mozilla technology. This hack provides a brief introduction.

Landing on Planet Bugzilla

Anyone can contribute to Mozilla's Bugzilla database, but it is a place of work, not a place of play. Marc Prensky's Digital Game-Based Learning (McGraw Hill) describes a related concept called "hard fun." Bugzilla requires systematic rather than spontaneous participation, so any hard fun only comes through hard preparation. Spontaneous participation is poorly received in Bugzilla.

Differences between labor and work

In a normal workplace, such as an office, you might be accustomed to a workflow that involves several people. When you hand tasks to those after you, you expect them to be done. When people before you hand tasks to you, they expect you to take them on. This is all based on an obligation that you incurred. You agreed to supply labor in return for money from the workplace. You can't meet your obligation without assistance from your coworkers.

Bugzilla does not operate like that. Most participants are volunteers or have solved the money problem. ...

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