This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (October 2011) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
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, and can be fast. In addition, crowdsource testing can allow 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 either by time, per action, or per bug, depending upon the type of bug and its market price. The crowdsourced testing team can be in addition to the in-house quality assurance team, or a replacement.
Depending on the platform and provider, the method of access varies. The most common are:
- Self-service, where the customer directly interact with testers
- Managed, where the customer interacts with a dedicated person, rather than directly with testers
- API, where the customer requests tests to run via an API, and does not directly interact with testers
- Mixed, where it is a combination of the above.
Advantages of crowdsource testing
This section does not cite any sources. (March 2015) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
There are several advantages to crowdsourced testing:
- It's possible, and generally easier than hiring, to get 24x7 coverage and be able to test at anytime.
- The internal testing team may not have the needed setup or hardware to test the software in different environments and in different situations. e.g. different Internet bandwidths, devices, etc.
- If paid per bug, it is can be cost effective, as the product company pays only for the valid bugs reported.
- Testers performing the work are unbiased from knowing much about the software under test. This can help them notice things that may otherwise be missed, but does require more detailed test cases.
- Crowdsourcing can find testers with diverse languages as well as locales. This helps in testing applications which require localization testing.
- Most platforms let you scale from a team of zero to the number you need on demand. This is a benefit to the customer as the more testers testing software simultaneously, the quicker testing can be done.
- Testers performing tests of different applications will identify common anti-patterns.
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. This can increase the risk of innovation and new features being leaked to competitors. Some companies require testers to sign a Non-disclosure_agreement.
- Immediate and prompt communication with a group of crowdsource testers can be difficult, or impossible depending on the method of management.
- Crowdsourced testers who are compensated by the number of bugs detected may find a larger number of less impactful bugs, creating noise for the customer, whilst skipping over more harder to replicate bugs. This is due to the principal-agent problem.
- If directly managing a crowd, crowdsourced testing will result in increased need for management oversight due to differences in testers' time zones and locations, languages, and cultures. This can be mitigated by managed, or API based services, as the customer does not directly manage testers.
- Ensuring test coverage in crowdsource testing can be difficult, as some platforms do not support good reporting. This means testing is not planned or tracked the same way as traditional waterfall or Agile test efforts.
Crowdsourced testing vs. Outsourced testing
Crowdsourced testing may be considered to be a sub-type of software testing outsourcing.
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 more diverse 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.)
Crowdsourcing alone may not give the best feedback on applications. A diverse testing approach that pools both crowdsource testing and a dedicated testing team may be favorable. "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."
- Soffer, Phil. "Think Crowdtesting, Think Sex: It's All About DNA". Retrieved 9 September 2016.
- Noel, Wurst. "Implementing Innovative Crowdsourced Testing: An Interview with Rajini Padmanaban". Retrieved 12 April 2013.
- "Benefits of Holistic Software Testing - QualiTest Group". qualitestgroup.com. Archived from the original on 2014-08-06. Retrieved 2014-03-12.
- "Reduce Testing Time by Designing for Testability". qualitestgroup.com. Archived from the original on 2013-10-09. Retrieved 2014-03-12.
- "Benefits of Holistic Software Testing - QualiTest Group". qualitestgroup.com. Archived from the original on 2015-09-19. Retrieved 2015-01-20.