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FogBUGZ' Google PageRank

I accidently surfed into the Google's directory "Bug Tracking" section:

to discover that FogBUGZ has the highest PageRank order. I remember that a short time back, it was listed
at the end with absolutely zero PageRank.

I think the reason is that Joel added a notice to the "Joel on Software" site pages, that reads:

My company, Fog Creek Software, has just released <link>FogBUGZ
3.0</link>, the latest
version of our innovative system for managing the software development
process. Check it out now!
And since many of the pages have a high PageRank, it eventually, made
FogBUGZ very high too. It's also one of the first hits now in a search for "bug tracker".

You could say it is a direct (albeit perfectly honest and perhaps
innocent) Google poisoning.

There's an ongoing discussion of it (which I started) in the Hackers-IL mailing list, where Googleology is a commonly discussed topic:

This may be a topic for Google Watch...

Shlomi Fish
Sunday, April 6, 2003

Hmm... notice that the link to the Google directory category has been cut due to its excessive length. You have been warned.

Shlomi Fish
Sunday, April 6, 2003

I don't think it's fair to call it "poisoning". Joel was just advertising a relatively major upgrade to his software on his web site. So Google likes him, and gives his links weight. There's no way he can avoid that. *shrug*

Blogs broke Google's relationship system. It'll take some time before they fix it.

Brad (
Sunday, April 6, 2003

I called it "poisoning" because it is a deliberate act that modifies everything. I did not meant it was (necessarily) bad or anything. It's like "memory poisoning" or "mail poisoning" or other types of poisonings.

If you'll go up the thread, you'll see we discussed Advogato ( as a Google Bomb. In any case, you can say that this is a Google bug (or at least misbehaviour), because regardless of the importance of the "Joel on Software" site, FogBUGZ is not the most prominent bug tracker out there. (no offence, Joel!)

Shlomi Fish
Sunday, April 6, 2003


Didn't think of the Google PageRank Technology - I think it is a cool idea, gives your product a lot of mileage...

Prakash S
Monday, April 7, 2003

"FogBUGZ is not the most prominent bug tracker out there"

I don't know about that. I've heard more about FogBUGZ in the last three months than any other system out there.

Obviously, it isn't as prominent as home grown systems, but for commercial solutions it is quickly gaining steam.

I know a number of people who have left Bugzilla for FogBugz recently (I'm one of them).

Monday, April 7, 2003

And Google PageRank isn't necessarily a gauge of prominence.

Monday, April 7, 2003

This is a message regarding FogBUGZ' Prominence. (in answer to Marc). First of all, Marc, if you found FogBUGZ to be better than Bugzilla, and switched from it, then good for you. Being a Perl guy, I worry more about the net number of users and their quality than about marketshare.

That put aside, I still think FogBUGZ has become known primarily because of its author and the fact he maintains the "Joel on Software" site. (which every Slashdot lurker and his mother know) I find it believe that it is actually better than bugzilla in every regards. A good friend of mine (who like me is an avid reader of Joel's material and helped translate some of his articles) said that she tried FogBUGZ and was unimpressed from it. She was too used to Mercury Interactive's solution (Test Director), where she said it is possible to write triggers for bugs in VBA.

I worked a bit with Bugzilla and with SourceForge's rudimentary bug tracker. Bugzilla's has an excellent integration with E-mail (and I think SF's as well), but has a too crowded query page. SF's one is basic and nice, but not as powerful as Bugzilla. There are other open source solutions which may be worth looking at.

For some people, FogBUGZ would be dead on arrival, due to the fact it runs on IIS, uses ASP, and requires MS SQL Server. Deploying it on an environment dominated by UNIX servers, would not be trivial. Bugzilla is written in Perl, uses MySQL, and is otherwise very cross-platform. It can run on any UNIX, and perhaps on NTs as well. It is probably harder to install (or so I've heard), but that can be fixed. If I were in your position, I would prefer to customize Bugzilla or whatever Bugtracker I like best, than use FogBUGZ.

I think the Joel on Software site is an excellent way for Joel to promote FogCreek software. It's lucky that he is not too blant about it, and does not make the site feel like one of these cheesy promotion portals. Joel on Software site is free of annoying animations, screen-wasting commercials, and other annoying bells and whistles. I don't hold it against Joel for including an ad about FogBUGZ 3.0. By all means, it was something that was very legitimitate to do.

Instead, I believe it is a bug on Google's part. If you search for pages that link to FogBUGZ on Google, you'll see that most of them are the Joel on Software pages, and Google should have detected that this was the fact and reduced the page rank accordingly. I'm not sure if it is a bug, or something that is expected or Google, or some other kind of an anomaly. But if Joel removes this ad in due time, he might be able to expect the Page Rank to drop considerably.
Google has started a culture of its own which I cannot remember being present in the Lycos days or Altavista days. There are some interesting links about it in its dmoz category as well.

Shlomi Fish
Monday, April 7, 2003

Most bug tracking packages are written for enterprise issue tracking. That makes them huge, lethargic, difficult to configure and a pain in the ass to use.

FogBUGZ is one of the only bug tracking packages I know that NAILS the mid-market need for bugs. It's the right level of simple and flexible. It took me minutes to set up, and I didn't have to read a manual or have a training session to use it. "VB triggers" isn't something I would even have the remotest use for, because we're not an enterprise level customer. We use it daily, and I've made but one simple enhancement request that I could live without if they don't do.

Even my CEO, who started one of the earliest and most successful enterprise bug tracking systems is coming around to appreciate the simplicity and ease of use of FogBUGZ.

(By the way, FogBUGZ does require Microsoft infrastructure -- IIS and ASP -- but doesn't require MS SQL Server. It'll work with any ODBC compatible database.)

Brad (
Monday, April 7, 2003

Brad: OK so FogBUGZ is cool. From your description it seems that the SourceForge (or now GForge) bug tracker should be suitable for mid-range businesses as well, albeit FogBUGZ may still be a bit more polished. (and there may be other UNIXish solutions as well)

Note that even setting up an IIS and ASP with ODBC that connects to a PostgreSQL server, is usually something a UNIX-dominated environemnt administrator cannot afford to do. NT servers do not manage themselves, and having a dedicated server for hosting a bu g trcaker, is not a good idea. There's also the question of ideology and relying on Microsoft and other proprietary software, but that is less rare.

In any case, we digress. I'm still sure Google raise the Page rank of FogBUGZ, because of the notices Joel put in the JoS site. Look at the Google query:


And I'm sure that if Joel removes them now, it will drop considerably in the next Google update. Googlology is fun.

Shlomi Fish
Tuesday, April 8, 2003

I realize you're trying to say that you work in a Unix shop, but lots of the world doesn't. ;)

Brad (
Tuesday, April 8, 2003

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