As a (relatively) long time Ubuntu user, occasional bug reporter and support analyst, I often deal with bug reporting and I feel your pain about bug reporting, Matt. This happens in many other free software projects, but I think Ubuntu’s popularity gives its problems more exposure, an opportunity to refine the process and maybe inspire others to learn from its mistakes and success.
Generally speaking it’s always nice if you can dedicate a few dozen minutes (around an hour I would say) to familiarize yourself with how bugs are reported in the project you’re participating with. In Ubuntu it’s the Bug Squad team - perhaps even join it. I view Bug Squad members as the little bee-workers that are front-line organizers and helpers in the fight against bugs.
Think about it. An hour or so is not that much to dedicate to learning and understanding how your contributions will (or not) affect Ubuntu. It will also give you tools and guidance to become helpful and efficient in any bug reporting. I am not saying everyone should join! But those of you who don’t join need to at least understand how a bug report is treated on the receiving end.