Hixie's Natural Log

2002-05-11 15:20 UTC Maybe we should have a pref: Be (o) usable, ( ) hard to use, ( ) very hard to use.

I have noticed a very disturbing trend while browsing. through Mozilla's Bugzilla.

What happens is that a user finds a feature is slightly unlike what they want, and so they file a bug describing their change. When the module owner, or someone acting on their behalf, then WONTFIXes the bug (usually with detailed reasons), the user immediately files a new bug, asking that the behaviour be controlled by a pref! Thankfully, the majority of these bugs are also subsequently being WONTFIXed.

What is surprising, though, is that this usually causes the bug filer to become angry, and to say that the Mozilla project is not listening to its users. In cases where a dozen or more users have found themselves in one of these pref requests, usually because they each filed a duplicate, they will start claiming that "the majority" of users want the feature, or at least the pref, and that since there are so many votes for the pref, the module owner is somehow morally bound to change their mind and accept a patch to implement the pref (or worse, some actually expect the module owner to spend time implementing it themselves!).

This is all very confusing, since I don't remember anyone saying that Mozilla was a democracy. (That is what they call a political system where the people who make most noise wins, right?) Mozilla has always been a bunch of dictatorships: small modules with module owners that have the final word. (Of course, mozilla.org's Web site is such a mess that finding that explicitly written anywhere is nigh on impossible.) If people don't like the module owner system, they are free to take the source and start their own democratically run Mozilla.

I shudder to think what the result would look like, though, if it ended up with prefs like these!