"Some birds aren't meant to be caged, their feathers are just too bright"- Morgan Freeman, Shawshank Redemption. This blog is from one such bird who couldn't be caged by organizations who mandate scripted software testing. Pradeep Soundararajan welcomes you to this blog and wishes you a good time here and even otherwise.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Testing to avoid being sued or embarrased

North American, European Union and some Asian countries laws and law enforcements are much stricter than those in India. Most testers in India who have not known much about it, tend to ignore that fact while they test. I too didn't know till I actively kept reading. The value of reading is - I know to focus on problems that matter to my clients in countries like North America.

You might want to know that the cost of being sued is heavy on the organizations. All investment on a product and estimated profits go for a toss on that single day of verdict. Organizations like Microsoft, Apple, Sony and a lot of them have suffered losses by being sued or have withdrew released products on the fear of being sued.

As usual, I was browsing through Orkut today [ 8th August 2008 at 14:00 hours ] and recognized a problem. Please go through the following screen shot carefully before you read further.





One of the newly introduced feature from Orkut is an option to let friends know what I am updating in my profile and vice versa. A friend of mine hadn't added his gender in his orkut profile since he created the profile . He probably decided to do it yesterday.

What I ( and you ) see as an update is "XYZ updated gender". Well, he just added his gender and nothing else.

An update of Gender column could mean, "I have changed my gender" - which sounds absurd or might offend people to know that their friends are thinking that he changed his gender or their friends are thinking that she changed her gender.

This might invite trouble to Orkut or Google if there exists a law in any country that organizations should not mislead or misinform about one's gender. If there exists such a law in any country then they might be susceptible to be sued for showing something that mentally hurt one's gender status amongst their friends and other society members to whom the profile is visible. It also causes a lot of embarassment to someone whose friends make a joke of him/her updating "gender".

Orkut has been in news all over India after people claimed it responsible for being a channel for pranksters who even ended up killing for money and a lot of other cases. What if someone attempts a suicide attempt and blames it on Orkut saying "I could not withstand the embarrassment
of my friends asking about my gender".

Do you think its worth Google's time to fight such cases?

Do you also think such problems can be found by test case base approach?

Minutes before I was planning to post this, I thought of getting this post tested from Ben Simo and Jonathan Kohl. Ben Simo shared with me that Facebook came out with some gender issues recently.

A lot of other testers might have seen the problem that I highlighted in this post while they were browsing Orkut, why didn't they find it?

Answer Ben's question to find out the answer to above question : Will you recognize a problem if you see it?

--
Pradeep Soundararajan - http://testertested.blogspot.com - pradeep.srajan@gmail.com

12 comments:

Roshni said...

Hi Pradeep,
One more fantastic post!!
You are right...many times we come across such issues on numerous websites that we surf. The story about 'Adnan' made me cry. Many a times I have also dismissed such problems thinking that 'Its none of my business'...but now I really feel sorry & ashamed of myself of behaving in such a way. I strongly feel Google should take action for such cases.

We have ourselves come across so many filthy & cheap profiles or communities on orkut that disgrace Hindu gods & others as well. Why is google not taking any action against such people who creates such communities or profiles?

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@Roshni,

You are right...many times we come across such issues on numerous websites that we surf. The story about 'Adnan' made me cry. Many a times I have also dismissed such problems thinking that 'Its none of my business'...but now I really feel sorry & ashamed of myself of behaving in such a way.

If you are feeling guilty then you would not want to repeat the guilt happening to you and you test one step better than what you were doing.

We have ourselves come across so many filthy & cheap profiles or communities on orkut that disgrace Hindu gods & others as well. Why is google not taking any action against such people who creates such communities or profiles?

It's none of the software problem, its problem with humans who create such communities.

We are software testers, the more we bother about things that are not in our control, we have lesser time to do things that are within our control.

Lets control the control we have and not spend time controlling things that are not under our control.

dsfsf said...

If Google will resolve this issue:

Then wt if somebody finds "If you update your gender in Orkut it will not reflect to your friends"?? Cool bug ;-)

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

Then wt if somebody finds "If you update your gender in Orkut it will not reflect to your friends"?? Cool bug ;-)

Wouldn't it be good if they don't allow you to update your gender and force you to create a new profile if you have "updated" your gender?

Roshni said...

I think the best way is that they should keep "gender" as mandatory field.
So that when any user creates his/her profile it'll throw an error message saying - Please fill the mandatory fields. This way user will be forced to fill in the "gender" field during the registration process only.

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@Roshni,

The gender field is mandatory, already. What they might want to do is after a person selects it and creates a profile, they might not want to allow a person to change it.

Shaham said...

Hi Pradeep,
It is a good post.
In this context please correct the spelling in the title description of your blog.
"Shawshank Redemption on Andy Dufrense"
It is ‘Dufresne’ and not ‘Dufrense’… Timothy Francis Robbins may mind if he came across this.

Regards,
`Shaham

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@Shaham,

Thanks. It's fixed now.

tejasonnet said...

Hi Pradeep;
Really nice post. I just want to know that who is responsible for such ERRORS. Whether Tester is whole responsible as he miss that one or It is relate with quality process of the company. I think quality process not testing team only.
Please brief your idea on the same.

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@Tejas Shah,

A speeding bus met with an accident. Who is responsible for the accident - the human who drove the bus or the bus?

There is no set way of quality processes to achieve great quality and if it existed all organizations would be following the same.

This post is not to make a tester responsible for missing such stuff but an example of how specification/requirements can be of almost no help to catch such burning issues.

Your product might meet the requirement but how much does the requirement capture?

If it has to say all details then it would have to be a million pages. Is it million pages?

Suing and Embarrassing are two oracles that I have when I test and it helps me find such issues. If I find such issues that traditional testers don't find because they just follow specification and think process will take care of the quality, I am paid a lot more than them.

Would you want to be paid as equal to other traditional testers or more?

Jaanvi said...

Hi Pradeep
Nice post. But I think the kind of profiles people come up with on orkut is not an issue with the organization or something its the people who are filthy and you can't just get to clean everyone's mind until they want to so focus should be on what is in our hands.

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@Jaanvi,

The point of this post is not about people who post their profiles but about what software does to the changes people make with their profile and how it appears to the viewer.

I haven't seen a Specifications and Requirements talking about "XYZ things should avoid us in getting sued or make our users to feel bad" .

It's a testers responsibility to see the spec as one of the oracle and not THE oracle.

An oracle is a principle or mechanism by which we humans identify problems.

If you learn to think of more oracles than specification:

a) You wouldn't find yourself blank when there exists no specification

b) You would find more problems than other testers that matter to your stakeholders

c) You could demonstrate better testing and could also make more money than other testers.