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What is the best way to inform users that there has been a bug found in some software they used?

For example, let's say a user finds a bug in some software and reports it to the development team who decide that fixing this bug will be done in an upcoming release (rather than a one off patch) due to it being low risk (very rarely happens and has minimal, although some negative impact)

What is the best way to inform other users who may be affected by the same bug that we know of a bug and offer them a workaround?

We would like to be pro-active in notifying users in order to minimise the occurance of the bug.

A colleague suggested having a bug log on the landing page of the software although I feel like this clutters the homepage with information the users are unlikely to read, my argument also was that when I log onto Amazon / Ebay etc, none of them force a bug list on me.

Perhaps a happy middle ground is to have a notification of a new bug when the user opens the software which the user then acknowledges and once acknowledged, the notification will stop appearing?

Thoughts would be appreciated

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    While your intentions are admirable, if you actively tell your users about each bug discovered they will likely lose trust in your software. – Dan Pichelman Feb 14 '18 at 14:23
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    If the bug is really as rare as you think, then there's little if any chance of anyone else stumbling into it by accident. – Dan Pichelman Feb 14 '18 at 14:24
  • both very good points which provide some food for thought. Thanks – SEarle1986 Feb 14 '18 at 14:34
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    If you want to be open about the problems that exist in your product, make it easy to find the bug-tracker software for those users that are interested, rather than annoying all of them about problems they usually won't encounter at all. – Bart van Ingen Schenau Feb 14 '18 at 14:37
  • Maybe have an internet/intranet site, linked from the application (under Help), which includes all known workarounds for problems. – Simon B Feb 14 '18 at 14:45
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This depends very much on the kind of software, the kind of bug and the possible impact of not telling your users about it.

For the majority of bugs, the only reasonable place where users need to be informed is IMHO the changelog of the latest update or patch, after the bug was fixed in there. That actually shows your customers or users you are not just delivering bugs, but solutions to problems.

There is only one kind of situation where you should inform your users pro-actively before deploying a fix or update:

  • the bug has a certain severity, maybe some security issue, or it could cause some real (financial, physical, legal) damage
  • the information about the bug will help to protect your customers from the damage (ideally you can tell them a workaround, but if nothing else helps, you could recommend not to use certain features in your software as long as there is no fix)
  • you cannot deliver a fix ASAP, or you expect your customers not be able to install the fix ASAP

Of course, there is a certain class of bugs which don't cause such damage, but can be annoying to your users if they don't know the right workaround (which is hopefully not annoying as well). In case you cannot or don't want to fix them quickly for some reason, your product's documentation is the right place for describing the workaround. These could be also part of the FAQ on your product's web site, or just some other place where your users can find the information easily when they really need it.

Be aware that informing your users actively beforehand, about any bug and available workaround for features they may never have used in the past, or are not going to use in the future, will probably annoy them more than the bug itself.

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