Apple developer boycott of Feedback Assistant

By admin

Apple
ORG

developer boycott of Feedback Assistant


November 6 2023
DATE

I’m organizing a boycott of

Apple
ORG

‘s Feedback Assistant, starting immediately, and I encourage all

Apple
ORG

developers to join me. Here’s how I propose that each of us can effectively participate in the boycott and let

Apple
ORG

know that we’re boycotting Feedback Assistant:

File a new Feedback about Feedback Assistant (in

Developer Tools & Resources
ORG

) that lists the issues below and states that you’re boycotting Feedback Assistant until the issues are addressed. Don’t file any other new Feedbacks unless and until

Apple
ORG

addresses the issues. If

Apple
ORG

requests a response to a previously filed Feedback, respond only by saying that you’re boycotting Feedback Assistant, and refer to your Feedback number from step

1
CARDINAL

.

Ideally, I think you should make your Feedback from step

1
CARDINAL

as unique as possible. The point is to flood

Apple
ORG

with new Feedbacks about the boycott and force

Apple
ORG

to do some work to handle them, to take notice of the boycott, and to recognize that we’re serious about it.

Boycotting Feedback Assistant does not preclude talking about your bugs on social media, on your blogs, and on your podcasts. Nor does it preclude filing reports with

Apple
ORG

‘s other public bug reporting systems, such as those for WebKit and various open source projects on GitHub. Those other bug reporting systems are superior to Feedback Assistant in a number of ways. The primary goal of the boycott is to bring about changes specifically in Feedback Assistant, the most hostile bug reporter I’ve ever seen.

After consulting with fellow developers, I’ve composed a list of issues with Feedback Assistant that

Apple
ORG

needs to address in order to end the boycott. I’ll number the issues for ease of reference, but the order doesn’t necessarily reflect their relative importance.


Apple
ORG

neglects or refuses to say whether or not they can reproduce reported bugs, even when we give them precise steps to reproduce and sample Xcode projects. This is crucial for us to determine whether

Apple
ORG

is taking our Feedbacks seriously or just lazily, bureaucratically stringing us along.

Apple
ORG

closes Feedbacks with the status "Investigation complete – Unable to diagnose with current information" without asking us for more information or even notifying us that the Feedback has been closed.

Apple
ORG

closes Feedbacks without the agreement of the person who filed the Feedback, and apparently it’s now a "feature" of their bug reporting system that closed Feedbacks cannot be reopened, even by

Apple
ORG

employees. (It wasn’t always this way, I believe.) When

Apple
ORG

mistakenly closes a Feedback for a bug that isn’t fixed,

Apple
ORG

demands that we open a new Feedback for the same bug, instead of just opening a new one themselves and giving us the new Feedback number.

Apple
ORG

demands that developers "verify" Feedbacks with the latest betas despite the fact that

Apple
ORG

has not fixed the bugs, attempted to fix the bugs, or even attempted to reproduce the bugs with the steps given by us. This is a giant waste of our time. And

Apple
ORG

closes the Feedbacks if we don’t "verify" them.

Apple
ORG

doesn’t always notify us of changes to the status of the original Feedback when our Feedbacks are closed as duplicates.

Apple
ORG

constantly demands invasive

sysdiagnose
GPE

reports, often unnecessarily, and refuses to look at Feedbacks without them. Many developers work on their own personal devices, and sysdiagnoses are gross violations of our privacy, which

Apple
ORG

claims is a fundamental human right.

Apple
ORG

has avoided or abandoned creating smaller, more targeted and less intrusive methods of collecting information and diagnosing bugs. Feedbacks can no longer be filed from the web.

Apple
ORG

now requires that all Feedbacks be filed from the native Feedback Assistant app on

macOS
ORG

or iOS. This is a very recent setback: I’ve been filing Feedbacks via the web app for

years
DATE

, the last one on

October 26
DATE

. Note the passive-aggressive question "Where would you like to start your feedback?" and the "recommendation" to use the native app, as if there were a choice.

We can’t search Feedback Assistant for bugs.

Apple
ORG

employees can search the database, but I can see only the Feedbacks that I personally filed. Of course we acknowledge that some Feedbacks need to remain secret, especially for products that haven’t yet been announced by

Apple
ORG

, but countless Feedbacks require no such protection, and an opt-in searchable bug database would help external developers immensely, improving the overall quality of the software on

Apple
ORG

‘s platforms, to the benefit of

Apple
ORG

, developers, and users alike.

Below is a screenshot of

one
CARDINAL

of my old reports that epitomizes the absurdity of

Apple
ORG

‘s bug reporting system.

Apple
ORG

claimed in their response that "much has changed", but to

this day
DATE

, nothing has really changed. I’ve seen no evidence that

Apple
ORG

sincerely appreciates our input.

Apple
ORG

‘s Feedback Assistant, formerly known as

Radar
PRODUCT

, has remained unreasonably terrible for a very long time, much too long, so now we’re demanding change.

In defense of

Apple
ORG

, some people assert that

Apple
ORG

doesn’t have the time to properly respond to Feedbacks. I don’t find this argument convincing, because

Apple
ORG

‘s priorities, schedules, and staffing are determined by

Apple
ORG

itself, via the decisions of the company’s leadership.

Apple
ORG

values its own time over the time of external developers and seems to have no guilt over wasting endless amounts of our time. We are not happy, though, to sacrifice ourselves for a corporation worth

trillions of dollars
MONEY

. Needless to say, my net worth and income are microscopic in comparison. If

Apple
ORG

can decide that it doesn’t have the time to respond to our Feedbacks, then we can decide that we don’t have the time to file them;

Apple
ORG

‘s problems with lack of time are thereby solved. Frankly, as a longtime

Apple
ORG

user, I could do without the relentless

annual
DATE

OS updates, and many of us look back fondly to the era of

Mac OS X Snow Leopard
PRODUCT

when the updates were

around two years
DATE

apart, leaving more time for bug fixes.

This is not a boycott against individual

Apple
ORG

engineers, many of whom also want Feedback Assistant to be improved. Indeed, the improvement of Feedback Assistant would enhance rather than detract from the relationship between

Apple
ORG

engineers and external developers. This is a boycott against the bug reporting system, intended to force

Apple
ORG

leadership to recognize and respond to the persistent problems with the system.

Although I call it a boycott, it could also be termed a labor strike.

Apple
ORG

utilizes developers for vast amounts of unpaid

QA
LOC

labor. Both

Apple
ORG

and developers know the crucial role that developers play in testing and refining

Apple
ORG

‘s software and products.

Apple
ORG

needs our bug reports, our labor, often hours or even days of labor for a single Feedback. Nonetheless,

Apple
ORG

acts as if it were entitled to our Feedbacks, treating developers kind of like indentured servants. No respect or basic human courtesy is afforded by

Apple
ORG

to developers in the bug reporting system. We’ve been indoctrinated into believing that it’s simply our duty to file Feedbacks, for the sake of the platforms. However,

Apple
ORG

‘s platforms are not charity cases. To the contrary, they’ve made

Apple
ORG

the most profitable company in the world. We developers are not

Apple
ORG

employees, and our unpaid labor should not be taken for granted. Henceforth, it will not be taken for granted.

In my view the boycott, or strike, has

two
CARDINAL

goals.

First
ORDINAL

, obviously, is to pressure

Apple
ORG

into improving Feedback Assistant by showing

Apple
ORG

that it needs us to file bug reports and would suffer without them. The

second
ORDINAL

goal is to show ourselves that we don’t actually need to file bug reports with

Apple
ORG

. My feeling is that

Apple
ORG

has a lot more to lose here than we do. After all, the majority of bugs that I file never get fixed anyway, and even the fixes usually come later rather than sooner, not in time to avoid the consequences of the bug. Do

Apple
ORG

bugs affect our apps? Yes, of course. But we typically have to ship workarounds for the bugs in our apps, because we can’t count on

Apple
ORG

to fix our reported bugs in a timely manner. With a workaround for a bug in place, we no longer need

Apple
ORG

to fix the bug, so reporting the bug becomes more an act of charity than urgency.

This situation is often misunderstood by the public and even by

Apple
ORG

employees. Feedback Assistant does not provide customer service to developers. We developers are the ones who are providing the service to Feedback Assistant, and now we’re choosing to withhold our services until the system is improved. I hope that

Apple
ORG

chooses to address the problems with Feedback Assistant, but if

Apple
ORG

happens to choose otherwise, and improvements never arrive, then my intention is to boycott forever. Regardless of whether

Apple
ORG

responds positively, I will consider the boycott to be a success if many developers participate, and we show ourselves that Feedback Assistant is not essential to our work and our livelihood.

Addendum

November 7, 2023
DATE

The Feedback Assistant boycott now has an official web page, along with an email address,

RSS
ORG

feed, and

Mastodon
ORG

account. I’m also compiling a public list of boycott participants. See the page for more info.