Thinking out loud here... this isn't a new idea but maybe here's a solid workflow...
"Distributed" as in the project's existing DVCS.
- Check a TODO.org orgmode file right into your project's git repo
- Accept additions/adjustments to TODO.org via patches on your mailing list
- As soon as a bug is "accepted", it's committed to the project.
- When a bug is finished, it's closed and archived.
- Contributors are encouraged to submit closing tasks in the orgmode tree as part of their patch.
- Bug commentary happens on-list, but if users have useful information to contribute to someone working on a bug, they can submit that as a patch.
I think this would be a reasonably complete but very emacs user oriented bugtracker solution, so maybe in addition:
- A script can be provided which renders a static html copy for browsing open/closed bugs.
- A "form" can be provided on that page to email the list about new discovered bugs, and formats the submission as an orgmode TODO subsection. This way maintainers can easily file the bug into the tracker file if they deem appropriate.
I think this would work. Lately I've been hacking on a project that's mostly just me so far, so I just have an orgmode file bundled with the repo, but I must say that it's rather nice to just hack an orgmode file and have your mini-bugtracker distributed with your project. I've done this a few times but as soon as the project grows to multiple contributors, I move everything over to some web based bugtracker UI. But why not distribute all bugs with the project itself? My main thinking is that there's a tool-oriented barrier to entry, but maybe the web page render can help with that.
I've been spending more time working on more oldschool projects that just take bugs submitted on mailing lists as a contribution project. They seem to do just fine. So I guess it entirely depends on the type of project, but this may work well for some.
And yes, there are a lot of obvious downsides to this too; paultag points out a few :)