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Everything here is my personal opinion. I do not speak for my employer.
October 2007
November 2007

2007-10-23 »

(I'm not crazy. You're crazy.)

AMSE Sucks Part 4: All my crash reports are belong to you

Here you go reinventing the wheel again. You had to write your own installer; did you really have to write your own Quality Feedback Agent too? Do you know there are whole companies dedicated to doing this? Do you honestly think you can do better in your spare time? Well, I've got news for your ego: it's too big. Ouch! Oh yeah. Take that.

I have one major gripe with the way you report errors. It's the way you do it silently. In AMSE, the only way the user knows he's reporting things to Versabanq is if he leaves the checkbox checked. Everybody always leaves the checkbox checked, because nobody ever reads error dialogs, and you know it. That means people are unintentionally sending possibly private information to you when they have an error.

Sure, it might be legal, because you give them a checkbox (which nobody reads) to let them opt out. Sure, you probably protect their anonymity as part of the submission script and never store any personal information in a database. Sure, the information you send is probably carefully generated so it doesn't include any private data. Yeah, great. Do you think that'll matter when the feds finally come?

Plus, there are times when you shouldn't get feedback about errors. What if it was my fault? How are you going to fix your program if the error was caused by me doing something wrong? I suppose you're going to tell me that no matter what caused the problem, if your program didn't avoid it, then it's the developer's fault. Good grief. Don't try to be a hero, loser, it'll only lead to tragedy in the end.

There's one more big problem with this whole thing: an anonymous bug report is a bug report you can't reply to. Users are doing you a favour by sending you crash report information. Some of them don't care, but some of them are really interested in whether their bug gets fixed. How will you tell them when it is? If you don't ask for their email address, you can't send a reply. And furthermore, if they're not even willing to provide an email address, why do you care about their experience anyway? After all, they obviously don't care about you. Software development is a two-way street.

Sheesh, have you ever done software before? You're obviously a head-in-the-clouds idealist who is about to smack facefirst into the real world. When you finally do, maybe then you'll understand.

And I don't like all those stupid web applications that silently collect error logs in the background either. It's exactly the same kind of slimy privacy invasion.

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