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2 When to submit a problem report

There are many types of problems, and not all of them should engender a problem report. Of course, nobody is perfect, and there will be times when you are convinced you have found a bug in a program when in fact you have misunderstood the syntax for a command or made a typo in a configuration file (though that in itself may sometimes be indicative of poor documentation or poor error handling in the application). There are still many cases where submitting a problem report is clearly not the right course of action, and will only serve to frustrate you and the developers. Conversely, there are cases where it might be appropriate to submit a problem report about something else than a bug--an enhancement or a feature request, for instance.

So how do you determine what is a bug and what is not? As a simple rule of thumb your problem is not a bug if it can be expressed as a question (usually of the form ``How do I do X?'' or ``Where can I find Y?''). It is not always quite so black and white, but the question rule covers a large majority of cases. If you are looking for an answer, consider posing your question to the FreeBSD general questions mailing list .

Some cases where it may be appropriate to submit a problem report about something that is not a bug are:

Another thing is that if the system on which you experienced the bug is not fairly up-to-date, you should seriously consider upgrading and trying to reproduce the problem on an up-to-date system before submitting a problem report. There are few things that will annoy a developer more than receiving a problem report about a bug she has already fixed.

Finally, a bug that can not be reproduced can rarely be fixed. If the bug only occurred once and you can not reproduce it, and it does not seem to happen to anybody else, chances are none of the developers will be able to reproduce it or figure out what is wrong. That does not mean it did not happen, but it does mean that the chances of your problem report ever leading to a bug fix are very slim, and you should consider letting the matter drop.

This, and other documents, can be downloaded from

For questions about FreeBSD, read the documentation before contacting <>.
For questions about this documentation, e-mail <>.

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