||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (October 2011)|
Crowdsourced testing is an emerging trend in software testing which exploits the benefits, effectiveness, and efficiency of crowdsourcing and the cloud platform. It differs from traditional testing methods in that the testing is carried out by a number of different testers from different places, and not by hired consultants and professionals. The software is put to test under diverse realistic platforms which makes it more reliable, cost-effective, fast, and bug-free. In addition, crowdsource testing allows for remote usability testing because specific target groups can be recruited through the crowd.
This method of testing is considered when the software is more user-centric: i.e., software whose success is determined by its user feedback and which has a diverse user space. It is frequently implemented with gaming, mobile applications, when experts who may be difficult to find in one place are required for specific testing, or when the company lacks the resources or time to carry out the testing internally.
Crowdsource testing companies provide the platform for the testing cycles, generally free of charge to the companies whose products are being tested. They then crowdsource the product to a community of testers, who register for testing the software voluntarily. These testers are generally paid per bug, depending upon the type of bug and its market price. The crowdsource testing team is usually in addition to the in-house quality assurance team, not a replacement. Depending on the task, some platforms offer access to their crowd through a self-service model, a managed service by the provider, or both.
Advantages of crowdsource testing
There are several advantages to crowdsource testing:
- The core testing team may not have all the resources to test the software in different environments and in different situations (e.g. different Internet bandwidths, devices, etc.), as it may not be possible to have all the resources to create different environments in which the software should be tested.
- It is cost effective, as the product company pays only for the valid bugs reported. Usually time to test the software is comparably lesser, so it leads to better productivity and thus is cheaper than hiring engineers, designers, and specialists.
- Testers performing this form of testing are unbiased towards the internal concerns of the company.
- The pool of testers is diverse with variations in languages as well as locales. This helps in testing applications which are based on localization.
- As there are large number of testers testing a software simultaneously, testing can be done quickly, resulting in less time to market.
Disadvantages of crowdsource testing
There are several disadvantages to crowdsource testing:
- Confidentiality must be managed closely as the number of non-internal individuals looking at the system under test increases.
- Immediate and prompt communication with a group of crowdsource testers can be difficult.
- Crowdsource testers who are compensated based on the number of bugs detected may detect a larger number of less impactful bugs while skipping over more critical or harder to replicate bugs.
- Crowdsource testing will result in increased need for management oversight due to differences in testers' time zones and locations, languages, and cultures.
- Ensuring test coverage in crowdsource testing can be difficult as testing is not planned or tracked the same way as traditional waterfall or Agile test efforts.
Crowdsource testing vs. outsource testing
The main difference between crowdsource testing and Software testing outsourcing is that, in crowdsource testing, testers may belong to different workplaces. In outsource testing, the testers are from the same company or workplace that is responsible for outsourcing. In crowdsource testing, people voluntarily test a software with the possibility of not being paid (if no bugs are discovered). Outsource testers always get paid for their work.
While for some projects it may be possible to get away with only using one approach or the other, a more thorough approach would use a holistic software testing method, which uses both a dedicated testing team in addition to the crowd. Crowdsource testing is best for things like beta and compatibility testing, which are necessary final steps for testing; however, most software is far too complex for late-stage testing like this to cover all of the possible issues. A dedicated outsourced or in-house testing team will give a better idea of the software's possible defects, but will not give anywhere near the scope of crowdtesting. Therefore, a good solution is to integrate multiple test teams into any development project (and also to develop with the principles of testability in mind from the very beginning.)
In-the-Wild Testing.com, a resource compiled by crowdsource testing company uTest, agrees that crowdsourcing alone may not give the best feedback on applications, and speaks out in favor of a diverse testing approach that pools both crowdsource testing and a dedicated testing team, saying that "Having this diversity of staffing allows you to scale your resources up and down in a fluid manner, meeting tight deadlines during peak periods of development and testing, while controlling costs during slow periods."
Many software companies have ventured into Crowdsource testing in the recent past.
- Steinhauser, Markus. "Two Approaches to Crowdsourced Software Testing". Retrieved 13 November 2013.
- Noel, Wurst. "Implementing Innovative Crowdsourced Testing: An Interview with Rajini Padmanaban". Retrieved 12 April 2013.