If you’ve ever reported a bug, you’ll have seen the dreaded response “works on my machine.”
So, I was using a small open source project (I’ll leave it anonymous for now) when I noticed a bug. Not a show-stopper, but one which would affect and annoy lots of users.
I wrote as detailed a bug report as I could:
Scroll Bars Always Showing In Browser
In browsers X and Y on platform Z, I notice that the scroll bars are always showing, even when the content doesn’t require it.
This is confusing to new users (like me) who will try to scroll when it isn’t possible and think that the app is broken. It also trains users not to scroll even when there is overflowed content.
Here are screenshots showing the problem [image].
I think that the problem is in
layout.scss, but I’m not able to test it.
Ok, not the best bug report in the world, but it provides documentary evidence of the problem, why it is a problem, and a route for fixing.
The answer I got back from the developer was, you guessed it…
I’ve tried this on OSX and it works fine.
Well… ok… good for you, I guess?
Another user chimed in.
I’ve tested this on Windows 7. Here are screenshots showing the problem in 3 different browsers. I also found this a bit confusing.
Again, came the reply:
It works for me. Not really sure it’s worth fixing.
You can see how frustrating it is, right?
Along came another user:
This is also affecting me on Windows 10 – see screenshots. The fix is pretty simple – on
layout.scssline 123 change
The developers’ response was predictable:
The original works for me. I don’t see any issues with the layout. I’m reluctant to make a change which doesn’t help me. It may introduce problems later on. Besides, I’m not sure if anyone really needs it.
And with that, he closed the issue as WONTFIX.
I don’t know about you, but I find that infuriating! When people give you a well described issue, evidence of the problem, and a fix – to turn round and say “it’s not a problem; you are wrong” is a huge slap in the face and intellectually dishonest.
STOP. THIS. MADNESS!
Ah, my faithful readers, while the above tale is mostly true – it is also an allegory for something much more serious…
Your positive experience does not negate my negative experience.
People can have views and experiences that come from places that aren't readily accessible to you.
They don't undermine yours by existing.
— Jessica Rose (@jesslynnrose) December 27, 2015
You don’t get to tell people that the way they feel is objectively incorrect.
If various ppl of a given minority you're not in are telling you you screwed up on something, even if you're unsure how, chances are you did
— Tacky Festive Elainovision (@scattermoon) December 27, 2015
If something never happened to you – that doesn’t mean it never happened.
Ignoring thousands of “bug reports” and claiming that the users shouldn’t be so sensitive is to fundamentally misunderstand the nature of the human experience.
Women don't come forward with their stories because we know what happens. An outpouring of support, but then attacks of ability & character.
— needlessly obscenity-laced (@randileeharper) January 1, 2016
Whether people are patient or exasperated in their explanations, try shutting up and listening.
— Melissa 💫 (@0xabad1dea) January 2, 2016
Waving away problems as “drama” means that you can’t conceive of other people being in pain when you are not. That’s just childish.
"Not all men"–men defending their bruised egos instead of accepting that something might be a legitimate issue for women.
— Sarah Andersen (@SarahCAndersen) January 2, 2016
Saying “well I am not like that” is no different to saying “works on my machine – what’s your problem?”
Denying that an issue is “real” because it doesn’t affect you or your friends is logically indefensible.
Refusing to make changes when other people can demonstrate the problems they face is unkind.
Wilful blindness to reported problems makes you a quisling.
If you get angry when other developers say “works on my machine” then you should be angry at yourself for saying “doesn’t reflect my experiences.”
There is a happy ending to my (somewhat fictionalised) story. A few days before I posted this, the dev had a change of heart and accepted the change saying:
Seeing your screenshots and hearing how it affected specific devices forced me to action when it Worked On My Machine.
It’s not hard. Listen to people. Accept their experiences even when they’re different to yours. Make changes where you can to help fix things.
Your personal experiences are not the objective source of all truth!