Once again thanks to Dan Ariely’ blog we have the concept of ‘the identifiable victim effect’ (which amazingly doesn’t seem to have a wikipedia entry). He describes this as the effect of one individual, identifiable, victim who is known in full detail can evoke a much deeper feelings, emotions and sympathy than a large group of anonymous individuals.
This has potentially huge ramifications for when we write bug reports. I’ve been saying for awhile that a large part of what we do is marketing (and thus the increase of marketing-esque posts). And I’m not alone on this. The slides for the BBST Bug Advocacy section includes a section on ‘motivating the bug fix’. Here is a line from slide 21 of the course notes:
You may or may not have found the best example of a failure that can be caused by the underlying fault.
I’m pretty sure in this case they mean example to be ‘a reproducible thing you could call a bug’, but example could also be read as ‘a story which conveys the nature or intent of the bug report’. In other words, have you started writing a report which is written in very fuzzy, vague ways or one that is specific to a person (or an identifiable group of persons)?
More on the identifiable victim effect can be found in:
- Running Head: Learning about the Identifiable Victim Effect by Deborah A. Small, George Loewenstein and Paul Slovic
- Crisis Mentality – Why sudden emergencies attract more funds than do chronic conditions, and how nonprofits can change that by Keith Epstein
(both are big articles and I didn’t actually read them, but they were referenced a couple times when looking up the topic)