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Beta Testing 101: How to write a good bug report on the forums

Anne Stickney

If you're in the Mists of Pandaria beta, chances are good that you've encountered a few bugs by now. As a beta tester, it's not just your job to sit there and play through the game. You're also expected to report the bugs you happen upon in your travels through Pandaria. Blizzard has provided beta forums for feedback and bug reporting, so you've got a place to jot those bugs down. Once you've found and identified a bug, you should write up a brief report so Blizzard knows that there's a problem and can fix the problem before release.

Before you scamper off to the beta forums, however, there's a proper way to write these bug reports so that Blizzard knows what you're talking about and can take appropriate action. If you write a bug report incorrectly, you're not helping matters any -- and in some cases, you can even confuse the situation and make it worse. So how do you write a good bug report on the beta forums?

What makes a bug worth reporting First off, before you even head to the forums, you'll want to make sure you can repeat the bug you've found. If it's a one-time glitch or something you can't recreate, Blizzard's not going to be able to recreate it either. And if the devs can't recreate the bug, they can't pinpoint what's causing it, and they can't fix it. So test any bugs thoroughly and make sure that repeating the same steps will make that bug happen again.

Before you report a bug Always, always, always check the forums to see if the bug you found has already been reported. Multiple threads reporting the same bug do nothing but clog up the forums. If you've got more information to add to someone's bug report, simply make a post in their thread.

Who, what, when You don't want to just say what happened; you want to give as much information as possible. Make a note of the time and the place that the bug occurred and what you were doing when the bug happened. Note what class, spec, level and race you are playing -- believe it or not, sometimes it's just one particular class, spec or race that is affected, rather than everyone. Let Blizzard know what exactly the bug did. Did it cause an error message? Did it make your character fall through the world? Did it make a quest inaccessible or unable to be completed?

Additional information You also want to make a note of what beta build you're using. The beta build number can be found in the lower left of the login screen; it's the five-digit number in brackets. This number changes as the beta goes on, so knowing what version of the beta you were using is very helpful. If you're experiencing issues with graphics, crashes, or other computer-related issues, include your computer's information as well -- what type of video card you're using, what drivers, etc.

How If this is a bug that can be reproduced (and if you're writing a good bug report, it should be), note the steps needed to recreate the bug. If it was only when using a particular spell, note the spell name. If it was when walking over a particular piece of terrain, note the location. If it was when interacting with a particular quest NPC or object, note the name of the quest, NPC, and item you were interacting with. This is so that the developers can recreate the bug for themselves and see what happens first-hand.

Spelling is important Proper spelling is really important when reporting a bug. If the developers can't understand what you've written, they won't be able to do anything about the issue. Before you submit that report, make sure you've spelled everything correctly and what you've written reads clearly.

Length is not important Don't ramble on when you're reporting a bug. If a developer has to read through six paragraphs of how you were feeling that day, what your cat was doing and what you had for breakfast before they get to the bit where you fell through the world, you're just wasting their time. Being concise means that issues get addressed faster.

One bug per thread There's a particular way that the bug forums work. Each thread is categorized as a separate bug. So if you find multiple bugs, you'll want to make one thread for each bug you find. Creating a big list of bugs and posting it all on one thread just makes it harder for the developers and increases the chances that a bug might be overlooked.

Tag your threads The subject line of your thread should concisely state the nature of the bug. If it's a quest bug, tag it with brackets and the name of the quest like so: [Quest Bug] Fetch Me A Coffee Causing game crash. If you're uncertain how to format your thread, take a look at the bug report forums and use the other reports already there as an example. As with any thread on the official forums, using all caps, calling for a blue, or using inappropriate language isn't appropriate.

Well-written bug reports are reports that can be read quickly, easily understood, and be reproduced even by someone who is playing the beta client for the first time. Taking the right steps to writing a good bug report makes it that much easier to get the bugs fixed in as timely a manner as possible. Have fun while you're playing, but remember to report the bugs you find while you're at it!

It's open warfare between Alliance and Horde in Mists of Pandaria, World of Warcraft's next expansion. Jump into five new levels with new talents and class mechanics, try the new monk class, and create a pandaren character to ally with either Horde or Alliance. Look for expansion basics in our Mists FAQ, or dig into our spring press event coverage for more details!

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