How Crowdtesting Works: Testing for Anti-patterns

September 7, 2016

I wrote an article for CMSWire with the self-consciously clickbaity concept that crowdtesting is like sex, for product quality. Rather than summarizing the sex analogy here on our blog, I’ll let you read it in its original glory.

To atone for the clickbaity-ness of that article, let me summarize it in engineer-friendly terms here.

Software engineers are familiar with the concept of an anti-pattern -- a commonly used solution to a problem that ends up making the software worse. Some anti-patterns are hard to spot when you’re using the product, but painfully obvious if you’re dealing with the code.

Other anti-patterns are visible to testers, and therefore to users.

And one of the benefits of having smart testers testing lots of different pieces of software is that they spot anti-patterns. We don’t know what went on in the code, but we see common effects. For example:

  • After Android 4.3 was released, one tester found crashes in three different Android applications.
  • A second tester found similar problems zooming and flyout menus in five companies’ apps after Windows began supporting touchevents.
  • A third tester tests every app that connects to Facebook ensure that they don’t crash when users have restrictive settings on their Facebook profiles, since he’s seen this problem at least five times in different companies’ apps.

Smart testers zero in on these kinds of issues because, as one of them put it, “From my point of view it’s great, as I’ll get paid for the same issues” over and over.

Software QA testing of this kind is not mind-numbing clickwork, like running through scripted test cases. It’s skilled work that requires experience. Moreover, it’s the kind of exploratory testing that in-house testers typically won’t do as successfully, because they don’t test as many applications.

This is one reason crowdtesting works.

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