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Triaging of issues

Triage provides an important way to contribute to an open source project. Triage helps ensure issues resolve quickly by:

  • Describing the issue's intent and purpose is conveyed precisely. This is necessary because it can be difficult for an issue to explain how an end user experiences a problem and what actions they took.
  • Giving a contributor the information they need before they commit to resolving an issue.
  • Lowering the issue count by preventing duplicate issues.
  • Streamlining the development process by preventing duplicate discussions.

If you don't have time to code, consider helping with triage. The community will thank you for saving them time by spending some of yours.

1. Ensure the issue contains basic information

Before triaging an issue very far, make sure that the issue's author provided the standard issue information. This will help you make an educated recommendation on how this to categorize the issue. Standard information that must be included in most issues are things such as:

  • the output of docker version
  • the output of docker info
  • the output of uname -a
  • a reproducible case if this is a bug, Dockerfiles FTW
  • host distribution and version ( ubuntu 14.04, RHEL, fedora 23 )
  • page URL if this is a docs issue or the name of a man page

Depending on the issue, you might not feel all this information is needed. Use your best judgement. If you cannot triage an issue using what its author provided, explain kindly to the author that they must provide the above information to clarify the problem.

If the author provides the standard information but you are still unable to triage the issue, request additional information. Do this kindly and politely because you are asking for more of the author's time.

If the author does not respond requested information within the timespan of a week, close the issue with a kind note stating that the author can request for the issue to be reopened when the necessary information is provided.

2. Classify the Issue

An issue can have multiple of the following labels. Typically, a properly classified issue should have:

  • One label identifying its kind (kind/*).
  • One or multiple labels identifying the functional areas of interest (area/*).
  • Where applicable, one label categorizing its difficulty (exp/*).

Issue kind

Kind Description
kind/bug Bugs are bugs. The cause may or may not be known at triage time so debugging should be taken account into the time estimate.
kind/regression Regression is an issue which is known not to exist previously and breaks things which are expected to work.
kind/enhancement Enhancements are not bugs or new features but can drastically improve usability or performance of a project component.
kind/feature Functionality or other elements that the project does not currently support. Features are new and shiny.
kind/question Contains a user or contributor question requiring a response.

Functional area




Experience level

Experience level is a way for a contributor to find an issue based on their skill set. Experience types are applied to the issue or pull request using labels.

Level Experience level guideline
exp/beginner New to Docker, and possibly Golang, and is looking to help while learning the basics.
exp/intermediate Comfortable with golang and understands the core concepts of Docker and looking to dive deeper into the project.
exp/expert Proficient with Docker and Golang and has been following, and active in, the community to understand the rationale behind design decisions and where the project is headed.

As the table states, these labels are meant as guidelines. You might have written a whole plugin for Docker in a personal project and never contributed to Docker. With that kind of experience, you could take on an exp/expert level task.

Triage status

To communicate the triage status with other collaborators, you can apply status labels to issues. These labels prevent duplicating effort.

Status Description
status/confirmed You triaged the issue, and were able to reproduce the issue. Always leave a comment how you reproduced, so that the person working on resolving the issue has a way to set up a test-case.
status/accepted Apply to enhancements / feature requests that we think are good to have. Adding this label helps contributors find things to work on.
status/more-info-needed Apply this to issues that are missing information (e.g. no docker version or docker info output, or no steps to reproduce), or require feedback from the reporter. If the issue is not updated after a week, it can generally be closed.
status/needs-attention Apply this label if an issue (or PR) needs more eyes.

3. Prioritizing issue

When, and only when, an issue is attached to a specific milestone, the issue can be labeled with the following labels to indicate their degree of priority (from more urgent to less urgent).

Priority Description
priority/P0 Urgent: Security, critical bugs, blocking issues. P0 basically means drop everything you are doing until this issue is addressed.
priority/P1 Important: P1 issues are a top priority and a must-have for the next release.
priority/P2 Normal priority: default priority applied.
priority/P3 Best effort: those are nice to have / minor issues.

And that's it. That should be all the information required for a new or existing contributor to come in a resolve an issue.