In my past few Parrot4Newbies posts, I mentioned several times that new users should do tests and report problems. However, one helpful commenter pointed out to me that I didn't mention precisely how to make those reports. Today I'm going to talk about precisely that.
There are a few good ways to get in touch with the Parrot developers when you have a problem, or an issue, or a suggestion, or even random comments. There is the mailing list, the IRC chatroom, and the Issue Tracker. Each of these are useful for various things, and people from one may direct you to another if your message would be better there.
The Parrot Mailing List
The Parrot mailing list, parrot-dev AT parrot.org, is a great way to get in touch with the Parrot community as a whole with important issues. However, as with any mailing list, there will be a delay in receiving a response. I don't remember all the rules, but you might need to subscribe to the list before you can post to it. You will definitely want to subscribe if you want to read any responses.
When sending an email to the list make sure to use a descriptive subject line, like "test failure on amd64 in packfile.t" instead of something general like "test failure". Describe whatever issue you are seeing and definitely include any log files that help give more information.
Mailing lists are aren't always reliable, so if you send a message you may not receive a reply in a reasonable amount of time. This is just a fact of the medium and shouldn't be taken as any kind of insult or offense. If you're looking for more immediate responses, use the IRC chatroom. If you don't need an immediate response, but don't want your issue to be lost in the sands of the mailing list archive, use the issue tracker instead.
#parrot IRC Chatroom
The Parrot team maintains an IRC chatroom #parrot on the irc://irc.parrot.org network. If you've never used IRC before and don't know what this means, I'm sorry but it's beyond the scope of this post to teach you. However, you want to send me a quick comment or a personal message through some other venue, I would be happy to teach you how to access it.
The IRC chatroom is a great place to go to get immediate responses, but only a small subset of the Parrot team would be online at any given time. Some times of day there are very few developers on at all. If you find a problem that is very small, report it on the IRC chatroom and you may be lucky enough to get an immediate fix for it. If the people online at the time cannot help you immediately they will probably direct to to the issue tracker or to the mailing list in order to get a larger number of eyes looking at your report.
On IRC you can use the nopaste service to post logfiles and backtraces and programs and any other information you have. Just make sure you specify the IRC channel as "#parrot" so people in the chatroom can see it.
IRC is a great medium for immediate communications, and allows a higher bandwidth then either the issue tracker or the mailing list. However, there is a definite lack of persistence and if your issue isn't answered immediately you can't expect people will backlog and answer your question later. There are Logs for the IRC channel, but most conversations are too long, rambling, and interleaved for people to be able to follow after the fact without some specific direction. Again, it's just a fact of the medium. If you don't need an immediate response (or don't expect anybody to have one ready), it may be better to post your issue to the mailing list or the issue tracker instead. If you don't know where to post an issue, ask on IRC and somebody will tell you where to go.
IRC is probably the best place to go if you need help or have questions, because people there can usually answer your questions quickly or point you to the proper documentation. The mailing list may be better for more complicated questions, or questions that the people on IRC cannot answer.
Parrot Issue Tracker
If you have a bug or a report, the best place to go is probably the issue tracker. Creating a bug report on Trac automatically generates an email to the Parrot mailinglist too, so everybody will see it at least once. Plus, all open bugs will stay visible in the tracker until they are resolved.
This is a pretty good system although there are some logistical issues that can prevent older tickets from getting the attention they need. There are also problems where duplicate issues can be take up multiple active tickets, and information isn't always updated in tickets in a timely manner.
If you have an issue and really need it dealt with quickly, make sure to set the priorities appropriately and try to assign the ticket to a specific developer. Choosing the right developer to assign a ticket to can be tricky, so it's probably best to ask on IRC or the mailing list first to find out who is interested in the issue and is capable of fixing it. Keep in mind that developers are very busy people and all have long lists of other tasks that they are working on, so you can't expect overnight results.
To create and be able to edit tickets you will probably want to create an account on Trac. Creating an account is free, quick, and easy, and doesn't require too much information from you.
So there are the three ways to get in touch with the Parrot development team when you need help or have an issue to report. If people need any more details then I have provided here please ask and I will be happy to point you in the right directions.