I wrote earlier about my initial experience with triaging frequent intermittent test failures. I was happy to find that most of the most-frequent test failures were under active investigation, but that also meant that finding important bugs in need of triage was a frustrating and time consuming process.

Thankfully, :ekyle provided me with a script to identify “neglected oranges”: Frequent intermittent test failure bugs with no recent comments. The neglected oranges script provides search results not unlike the default search on Orange Factor, but filters out bugs with recent comments from non-robots. It also shows the bug age and how long it has been since the last comment:


This has provided a treasure trove of bugs for triage.

So, now that I can find bugs for frequent intermittent failures that don’t have anyone actively working on them, can I instigate action? Does this type of triage lead to bug resolution and a reduction in Orange Factor (average number of failures per push)? Here’s one way of looking at it: If I look at the bugs I’ve recently triaged and look at the time those bugs were open before I commented on them, I find that, on average, those bugs were open for 65 days before my triage comment. Typically I tried to find someone familiar with the bug and pointed out that it was a frequently failing test; sometimes I offered some insight, or suggested some action (“this is a timeout in a long-running test; if it cannot be optimized or split up, requestLongerTimeout() should avoid the timeout”). On average, those bugs were resolved within 3 days of my triage comment. Wow!

I offer this evidence that triage of neglected oranges makes a difference, but also caution not to expect that much of a difference over time: I’ve chosen bugs that were open for months and with continued triage, we may quickly eliminate these long-neglected bugs (let’s hope!). I’ve also likely chosen “easy” bugs – bugs with an obvious, or at least apparent, resolution. There will also be intractable bugs, surely, and bugs without any apparent owner, or where interested parties cannot agree on a solution.

It is similarly difficult to draw conclusions from Orange Factor failure rates, but let’s look at those anyway, roughly for the time period I have been triaging:


That’s encouraging, isn’t it? I don’t know how much of that improvement was instigated by my triage comments, but I like to think I have contributed to the improvement, and that this type of action can continue to drive down failure rates. I’ll keep spending at least a few hours each week on neglected oranges, and see how that goes for the next couple of months. Can we bring Orange Factor under 10? Under 5?