Last week, the Chasten team collectively read Fuzzing: Breaking Things with Random Inputs from The Fuzzing Book. Three of us were tasked with reviewing the articles written by our peers in order to synthesize it and publish on this website; however, due to sickness and other unforeseen circumstances, we found ourselves split up, confined to working remotely to review these. By the established deadline we were not able to publish our summary because we set ourselves up for failure.
We attribute this failure — as individuals and as a class-wide team — to a few issues:
- Rare circumstances prevented us from meeting in person.
- Not all team members were aware of the deadlines we have for the summaries.
- There are varying levels of background on our writing team, meaning that some of us may not produce a summary that sufficiently describes the technical subject we are reviewing, making significant revisions often needed.
Needless to say, sickness and personal circumstances will always “throw a wrench” in the collaborative writing process. Given that we are currently working to put our team policies on our website, we may see the issue regarding the lack of informed team members disappear in the following weeks. Lastly, as long as we continue to meet together and read these articles, the general technical literacy of each team member will consequentially improve.
Considering the amount of time that this weekly process requires, we (meaning the student authors of this article) advocate to halt our weekly review of these articles. Our primary focus is to develop software. While we can still seek to improve our technical literacy and learn, we have created a considerable overhead for ourselves. Doing away with this weekly responsibility will mitigate problems such as this. Additionally, this will yield more time that can be dedicated to developing software.
Finally, it is worth noting that such a circumstance as was documented in this incident report can easily happen again if a team is not willing to devote their personal time to working on review. We, as a team, need to own up to managing our time and balancing it with the task of developing software tools!