By now I’ve found and filed a number of bugs, and it’s been very gratifying (not to mention fun), but finding bugs is not the only way of contributing to a testing team, or even the most important. It’s equally important to help add to the group’s understanding of existing bugs. The more precisely we can diagnose a problem, the easier it will be for development team to locate the part of the code that’s creating it. You can see this collaborative investigation going on for virtually every item on our work board; go to any task page and you will find, beneath the bug description, a comment section where others check in to report their additional test results and observations.
Last week I got a taste of how hard you can work without having a bug to show for it at the end! One of my mentors suggested I do a little investigative work on several possibly interrelated bugs, all having to do with the way math formulas are rendered (or NOT rendered, as the case may be). I went deep into the weeds on one particular bug, laboriously comparing the HTML output for different machine translations of a particular block of source material. Although it hasn’t led anywhere definite yet, it does add to our knowledge. We know that something different is happening to what we might expect, and we know what parameter (machine translation engine!) causes the something to occur. Stay tuned!
Toward the middle of the week, my mentor guided me to a task that at one and the same time rescued me from the migraine-inducing, HTML-comparison work I’d been doing AND dovetailed with it perfectly. She showed me a math formula bug in which the original reporter (an actual user involved in translating math-related articles from English to Portuguese) had listed ten different pages on which he’d encountered a particular problem, and she asked me to go back to those pages and check the status of the bug. This is an important part of bug list maintenance! The mediawiki code changes literally every week, and as time goes by, you need to periodically verify whether a particular bug is still present and whether it is behaving the same as originally reported. So again, this isn’t as “glamorous” as discovering a brand new bug, but it is important to the team effort.
“No member of a crew is praised for the rugged individuality of his rowing.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
Yep! That about sums it up.