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Beta Testing - The Other Side of The Fence

I know, against the rules, but two questions - I've never been very good at rules.

1) What are your "Top Twelve Tips for Beta Testers."?

2) Why would I drop what I am doing to beta test your product - for free (ignoring the fact that if I spam you enough with valid bugs, I might, win the big prize) - or - Why do so many people seem to jump at the chance to work the bugs out of someone else’s product.

Perpetual Newbie II
Sunday, March 07, 2004

Some people just find it fun to play with new software and see what it does.

Some people use the previous version extensively and are willing to do some early testing in hopes that their ideas will get into future versions of the product.

Some people rely so much on the program working right that they are willing to beta test to reduce the chance that the final version of the product will ship and leave them High and Dry with some critical feature their lives depends on broken.

Others just love to make things break.

Joel Spolsky
Fog Creek Software
Sunday, March 07, 2004

I think it's time to pull out the 1999 Blog Buzzword of the year.

Shadenfreude.

Nigel
Sunday, March 07, 2004

<sigh>, serves me right for asking two questions.

I think an article on "Top Twelve Tips for Beta Testers." would be an excellent read and the follow-up, in JOS, even better.

I test my stuff on a buddy, he hates computers (but uses them - a lot) and falls in the "love to make things break" category. He'll usually crash a program in minutes. I'll ask, what did you do. Well, I did this, this and this then clicked on that, he'll reply. But why would anyone ever consider doing that in this type of program, I'll ask. Just wanted to see what would happen are always his final words and it's off to the repair shop - again. The language is always a lot more colourful than this, the conversation has a lot more personal threats in it and most people would think we’re on the verge of violence - but you get the idea. I think he enjoys it. Usually if he can’t crash it, it’s pretty much there.

Perpetual Newbie II
Monday, March 08, 2004

I've been a beta tester for every CityDesk release.

For me, I like getting access to the new features early. Each release has had improved scripting and other neat features that make my work easier. Why wait?

I also like Fog Creek and the way they do business, so I'm happy to help them. And I like having the opportunity to get input into the direction the product is taking. I know that they need feedback from real customers to make their product better, and a better product is good for me, so I'm happy to provide it.

Darren Collins
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

"But why would anyone ever consider doing that in this type of program, I'll ask. Just wanted to see what would happen are always his final words..."

One of the things I like to do when testing interactive software is just whack on the keyboard randomly with open hands.  It's kind of amazing how many bugs this will reveal. (No, I don't expect it to do anything useful, but it shouldn't *crash*.)

Vociferous Mole
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

I'm pretty much in the same boat but far from the power user you are. My use of CD is more intermittent and a bit off the beaten track, so I'm not certain my feed-back would be of significant value. If that's the case, I'd rather not make that type of commitment to FC and spend the time on other things.

Perpetual Newbie II
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

> whack on the keyboard randomly ...

I'd expect that's a lot of what this friend of mine is doing - or so it would seem.

Perpetual Newbie II
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

I'm another one who loves finding mistakes. I think it comes from the fact that I've suffered so much frustration at when production software finds the bugs for me all on its own, and just before a deadline. At least if I'm beta testing I can pretend I'm in control :)

Some programs of course are easier to beta test than others. I was on the commitee that tested our college database. After the first couple of meetings the MIS department and app vendor went along to the chairman and insisted I be thrown off the commitee "because I was uncooperative and continued finding things wrong". To their credit the rest of the committee said they would resign if I was made to leave, so near the vacation MIS and the DB arranged to dissolve the commitee and set up a new one, with me not on it! We're still suffering loads of the original bugs a year and a half later, including the complete absence of custom based error messages or any help files.

Stephen Jones
Thursday, March 11, 2004

After the first couple of meetings the MIS department and app vendor went along to the chairman and insisted I be thrown off the commitee "because I was uncooperative and continued finding things wrong".

It always amazes me when people say Dilbert is excessively cynical and unrealistic. How could anyone make up stupidity of that magnitude?


Monday, March 15, 2004

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