Google marks bugs it doesn’t want to deal with as ‘obsolete’

Apparently Google has a habit of marking bugs it doesn’t want to deal with as obsolete. According to Google’s own Life of a Bug explainer, a bug categorized as “Obsolete” means,

Obsolete: Similar to Unreproducible, but with a reasonable certainty that the bug did exist in the reported version but was already fixed in a later release.

…which is a lie. I give two pieces of solid evidence for why this is a lie.

Exhibit A. An egregious bug with the Media Transfer Protocol (MTP) on Android that has been reproducible by hundreds, if not thousands of users, on practically all Android phones, and has been reported since late 2012, and which still exists to this day in the latest Android Marshmallow, has been marked as “Obsolete” in 2014. Now you tell me if this bug is either “unreproducible” or “with a reasonable certainty … fixed in a later release”? Persistent users have filed a new bug report that is now “Assigned.” Let’s see what life outcome this incarnation of a bug has.

Exhibit B. According to Reddit, Google closed 11889 bugs (actually 11879) within a couple of days with the status “Obsolete” in December 2014, the above-mentioned bug among them. In comparison, the total number of bugs closed in the same period was only 11988, so this was a massive purge. Now, it is not humanly possible to evaluate nearly twelve thousand bugs in two days to determine whether “with a reasonable certainty … the bug did exist … but was already fixed.” The logical conclusion is therefore nobody bothered to look at these bugs and nobody bothered to triage when they reached potential end-of-life. Sounds like a broken bug handling system to me.

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