New bugs

New reports should be handled as they come in:

Triagers should reply to the original report, so that all others can see that the bug has been dealt with. One can use the new Control: syntax instead of separate messages to the control server.

Going through the backlog

The first - and hardest - task is to go through the backlog. We basically want to clear that list. Most of those bugs are very old, and have might have been answered over the years.

Several classes of bugs probably require different handling:

Package not in Debian anymore

These should probably just be closed with a short message to -done and the version that was last in Debian

Generic template for the message to be sent to NNNNNN-done

Version: <last version number present in Debian>

Some (long) time ago you filed this bug against the <package> package.
In the meantime the package has been removed, which is why this bug
is being closed. 

Please note that further information sent to this bug is likely to 
remain unread, because the bug is currently not assigned to any existing 
package.


Thank you for taking time to report bugs found in Debian packages.

Kind regards,
...

Package renamed or forked

Actions:

Generic template for the message to be sent to NNNNNN-done:

Version: <last version number with that name>

Hello,

Some (long) time ago you filed this bug against <package> or a related 
package. In the meantime the <package> package has been renamed to <new-pkg> and 
this bug was "lost". Since the bug is already quite old now it is being 
closed.

If the issue you encountered is still present in recent <new-pkg> packages 
(as released with Debian 7.0 wheezy for example) the maintainers 
would very much appreciate a fresh report using:

    reportbug <new-package-name>

You should also mention the number of this bug if you think it contains 
valuable information.

Please note that further information sent to this bug is likely to 
remain unread, because the bug is currently not assigned to any existing 
package.


Thank you for for trying to improve Debian by reporting bugs.

Kind regards,
... (with no relation to <package> maintenance)

Packages:

Wrong package name

Sometimes bugs are just reported against packages that don't exist.

Old bugs should probably be closed with a short explanation and pointer to Debian support channels.

Package not in Debian yet

There are also a few cases where the bug really cannot be closed, because - for example - it is a translation for a package that is not yet in Debian, but an ITP exists for it. These should probably be ignored, they will point to the correct package as soon as it is uploaded to Debian (and most would be closed by the upload anyway).