Are definitions contextual?

Today when I went thru the latest post from Shrini Kulkarni, Shrini’s question is this a bug? Made me recollect James and Michael's definition of a bug, I had always liked this definition because it’s simple, catchy, crisp and makes a lot of sense “A bug is something that bugs somebody who matters”.


I have a game in my cell phone called “Krish Cricket PRO Challenge” in the game cricket greats like even Lara, Gilchrist bat right handed – is this is a bug?. Well, I am confused because though they are right handed the game is a lot of fun to play and I do not mind them batting right handed or in other words it does not bug me. So is this a bug?

The game came bundled with other applications when I bought the cell phone. Initially I felt very odd to see Lara play right handed, and I cursed the team who built this game. Could the code be simple if all batsmen in the game are right handed? May be the team who built the game did not invest enough in the software since it would be bundled free? But, what if I had to buy the game and in the demo Lara bats right handed, I would have never bought it. So is this a bug?

Lara batting right handed definitely does threaten the value of the product and so I feel this definition by James Bach and Michael Bolton “A bug is anything about the product that threatens its value” (I came across this definition in Bug Advocacy Slides from BBST) suits this context. So my next question to you all is – are definitions contextual? Or have I have failed in understanding the first definition by James & Michael?


Michael said...

Here's an exercise for you: ask youself if the answers that you get to your question might be influenced by the fact that they're responding to your blog post, rather than to someone's senior manager. :)

There's a thing that I made up called the Relative Rule: whenever we're talking about some X that is abstract--a concept, a construct, a model, an idea--X is X to some person. Bugs definitely fall into that; bugs are bugs to some person. That's because quality is value to some person; a bug is something that threatens that value.

The other thing to remember about quality is that it's subjective and multidimensional. There are things about the product that bug you, but there are other things that you value about the product. In other words, the right-handed Lara is a bug. It bugs you. It threatens the value of the product for you. Yet it also isn't a big enough problem to prevent you from (mostly) enjoying the game. It doesn't, on its own, reduce the value of the game to zero.

Since definitions are invented and used by different people for different purposes, then, yes, they are contextual.

Do you disagree? If so, you must be in a different context. :)

---Michael B.

Sharath Byregowda said...


Thanks for "the Relative Rule", - I could use this at times when I found difficult to share/express at discussions and meetings.

Since definitions are invented and used by different people for different purposes, then, yes, they are contextual.Yes, I agree with you on the above quote, I guess I am in the same context :)


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