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Software Testers in the Wild

  • 01/09/2010
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  • Posted by EuroSTAR

We Testers are a strange bunch. I’m convinced that we never fully switch off that part of our brain that likes to find flaws in other people’s work, even away from the office on a night out.

The Test Team and I recently headed out for a night on the town. As we haven’t been out on a night out in a while, I thought I would do the honours of organising a well deserved night out and the make the most of the weather we were having at the time. As it happens, the place in mind that would have been perfect got called off due to bad weather. Not a total surprise if you’re English or follow cricket!


One of the main problems I had found with organising a night out is that some of the testers have more of a disposable income than others. Some people want to go to a fairly nice restaurant with pricey beers, whereas others are more reluctant and want to go to a cheap and cheerful pub with proper pub grub and reasonably prices Ales. Some people won’t come if we go to the pricey place, and some people won’t come if we go to the cheap place.

Equivalence Partitioning:

The difficulty in this was trying to strike a balance and ensure that enough people are pleased with the decision without annoying others too much. One method I used to try and find a happy medium was using Equivalence Partitioning. I placed the number of testers who wouldn’t go to the really fancy or really cheap place and placed those in invalid partitions. I then placed everyone else into two valid partitions, about 50% towards the fancy end, and 50% in the cheaper end. I then made a scale of pubs from cheap to fancy and placed those underneath the partitions and picked a pub that was roughly in the middle. The majority of people were happy with the decision; a pub chain selling fancy burgers with both reasonably priced and expensive Ales!

On the night out/Testing in the Wild

A number of issues can crop up during the course of the evening, however.

Requirements issues:

The food or drink does not meet the specification, or does not match the user’s expectations. For example, the menu states that the salad comes with olives, where in reality the salad only contains one olive. A regular diner would probably have not even noticed the amount of olives buried within the salad, and have probably already forgotten what the menu said as soon as they put it back into the menu holder.

Performance Issues:

There is usually a gripe about how the waiter/waitress isn’t performing as expected. These never get logged or raised with management, so they’re never aware of them, however testers readily express their discontent with other testers.
As the evening progresses, the restaurant becomes more and more busy, and the once attentive waiter/waitress is now rushed off their feet serving other customers.

Load Issues:

Someone always eats or drinks way too much *Ahem*

Poor management and leadership:

Unfortunately in this instance, as I was the organiser, I was also the leader. You can see above that I had done my best to decide on a place that suits most people, however, once you decide to leave that place it’s a free for all. I don’t think you can plan a night out too much and it should be up to the group to decide where to go. As it happens though, there’s always someone who looks at you and wants you to make a decision.

Moans, gripes and jokes aside, it was actually a good night and everyone seemed to have a good time. We have a few more nights out planned in the coming weeks and months which should be a good laugh.

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