Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


Optimizing acceptable bugs?

In a recent comment, Pete Lindstrom asks:

So do you think this can be modeled using a version of the El Farol’s Bar you post about in the future? Maybe we can optimize the number of acceptable bugs… How does/should the policies of Microsoft and Oracle affect this model?

I’ve been thinking about this, and think that the term ‘acceptable bugs’ is off. Bugs acceptance is highly localized. There are some bugs that matter deeply to me and matter little to others. (MS Word’s failure as a multi-level outline tool springs to mind.) There are probably bugs that matter to you that I don’t care about at all.

There’s a relationship here to pricing and utility functions. Maybe software would be better if companies ran public bug trackers, and auctioned off bugfixing. (Not an original idea, but I can’t recall who suggested it first.)