A serious problem with bugzilla for Firefox/Mozilla when I exited the community in 2004 was the profusion of duplicate bugs in the system. Bugzilla’s just not easy to search for an end-user among other issues.
To lighten this load, and encourage more feedback, the mozilla team built Hendrix in early ‘05. It’s a simple feedback form. Gerv recently reported on his efforts at data analysis and makes a call for ideas to improve the utility of this data. It sounds like the community’s on track to some of the computational techniques for analyzing free text data, so I’ll propose a richer way to collect the feedback.
Taking the best of HCI work, the critical incident method, and the power of the XUL DOM, we could create a feedback stream tagged with the user actions that lead up to the feedback event.
So here’s what I’m imagining:
- The feedback button is located in chrome, redirecting to hendrix.m.org. This is the critical incident idea — give the users a panic button.
- An optional extension, perhaps bundled with the talkback agent, records the ID of the last 10 elements interacted with to facilitate subsequent grouping.
- When the user hits feedback, the event trace is serialized, the hendrix form loaded, and the event stream appended to a hidden field.
For the event trace, clicks are probably sufficient but for each click you need the ID + class path from the element clicked to the root item of the window. This allows aggregation around the toolbar, sidebar, prefs, etc (as documented in Edmonds, 2004 Behavior Research Methods).
Update: Read more on the DOM based identification mechanism at: Edmonds, A., White, R., Morris, D., Drucker, S.
Instrumenting the Dynamic Web. Journal of Web
Engineering (JWE), Vol. 6, No. 3 (2007), 243-260.