Yes Ash. I agree with pretty much everything you said
An agreed upon method of submitting bugfixes, which can later be reviewed by the devs and utilized as is, edited, or at the very least, used to find the source of a bug.
There can be minimum guidelines for commenting, and of course for the methods of submission.
Any contributions would be submitted with no implied promise of either an acceleration in development, or a response from the developers.
Those lines I wanted to emphasize. I would imagine it's disheartening to look at the bug tracker in it's current state when you have almost no time time to work on it. Having an extra set of expectations for "helpers" wouldn't really be helping you.
I don't have much time to work on this, either. But I would gladly do some of it; at the very minimum, anything I've already found. And I can take a peek from time to time on the bug tracker to see if there's anything I might be able to take a look at. I'm not sure what kind of time the other plugin devs have, but between the 4 or 5 of us, I think it could really add up.
I think it's important we make very clear guidelines for commenting, so there isn't additional time wasted deciphering our code and what it's supposed to do. When submitting the code there should also be guidelines for how to submit, and what to include- for instance, a small report that states the filename and line number where the relevant code is located, why we think it doesn't work, and if the solution is not obvious, a suggestion for a change in code.
Also, I think when having trouble finding a particular bug, we can post to the plugin forum, and help eachother out. I think this could end up being very constructive.
and yes I did that on purpose