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HCI, Tech

Response to [Communication, collaboration, …] by Bertram et al.


In this paper the authors conducted a qualitative study on the issue tracking system by questionnaire and interviewing 15 people from 4 software teams. The focus is to understand and explore the social nature of the issue tracking system, including the conventional definition, using it as  a knowledge repository, as a boundary object, as communication and coordination hub and as a communication channel. Further more, the paper spotted some contrasting perspectives on issue tracking that might lead to more design ideas in future. These ideas include a role-oriented interface, lightweightness of bug severity and detail filling, personalized prioritization, multi-level issue ownership, distinct facets and flexibility in information exposure, etc.


I try to read it from the perspective of learning how they conducted the interviews and drew them to conclusions.

  • The sample size is medium, but the coverage is quite considerable (4 software teams X 3 different roles);
  • The underlying breakdown is systematic and thorough (interpreting the system from various aspects, revealing multi-fold contrasting perspectives);
  • What’s behind this is a very thorough and organized design, record and interpretation of the interview (and its data).
  • Unfortunately the interview process is not included in the paper.
  • Excepts of interviews are cited to reinforce the conclusion or claims;


I really like the breath of the results drawn from the study. As software engineering is primarily a social process (arguably), thinking in breath is important in any research related to this field.


About Xiang 'Anthony' Chen

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