Tuesday, April 10, 2012

So what? It’s not as if someone’s life depends on a rare bug in a stupid game.

In “Draw Something? Impossible” I wrote how a Draw Something bug made it impossible for my friend Smudgy to guess my word. Even as I wrote that, I could hear you thinking: “So what? It’s just a stupid bug in a stupid game. Who cares?”

If it could save a life…

To paraphrase an old Steve Jobs tale on how he encouraged an engineer to make the Macintosh boot just ten seconds faster: “If it could save a life, would you care about this bug?”

Math, Yea!

Pulling some estimates from my nethers:
  • If today there are 50 million people playing Draw Something, making an average of 3 moves against 5 friends, then today there were (50million*3*5=) 750 million games played.
  • If this rare rare bug happens in only 1 out of 1000 games, then this bug occurred (750million/1000=) 750 thousand times today.
  • If, as in my friend Smudgy’s case, this bug results in someone spending 2 minutes trying the impossible, then showing it to their boyfriend who spends an additional two minutes trying the impossible, then (750,000*(2+2)=) 3 million minutes were lost to this bug today. That’s (3million/60/24/365=) 5.7 years lost to this bug today.
  • So (5.7*31=) 177 years of life will be lost to this bug this month.

In Summary:
In April, over two lives will be lost due to this one bug in Draw Something.

    A stitch in time saves 2 lives

    Maybe it will take a developer a few hours or even a few days to fix this bug. Is it worth spending a few developer-days on a rare bug like this?

    Yes, it is worth a few days of developer time if it can save many years of user time.

    But don’t worry, developers, it is our goal at ProblemsSolvingProblems to develop the techniques and tools to shorten time required to create bug-free software. Stay tuned.

    Today's Takeaway: Show some respect for your users and their time, even if it is “just a game”. Your customers' time is a precious thing to lose.

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