No User Would Ever Do That

“No user would ever do that!”
“No user would ever try that!”
“No user would ever need that feature!”
“That’s a cool idea, but no user would ever want it.”

When developers say, “No user would ever do that,” what they really mean is “No user that I’ve thought of, and that I like, would do that on purpose. In the Rapid Software Testing course, James and I have been encouraging testers to probe that statement for users that the developer didn’t think of, for users that the developer doesn’t like (like hackers or inexperienced users), or for things that legitimate, likable users might do by accident.

It recently occurred to me, though, that developers often say this after a tester has done something that has surprised the developer. “No user would ever do that!” “Well, I’m a user, and I just did it.” “Yeah, but… you’re not a real user.”

One implication from this exchange is that testers aren’t real users. Another is that testers’ questions, actions, requirements, needs, and tactics don’t matter. Fair enough–but let’s keep that idea in mind, and maybe revisit it, when we hear another common software development question: “Why did it take you so long to find that bug?”

4 replies to “No User Would Ever Do That”

  1. when we hear another common software development question: “Why did it take you so long to find that bug?”

    >> I have seen testers some ocasions being asked — A typical PM question

    “Why did you miss that bug” – it was so obvious?”

    I have also seen people making references to that fact that tester missed the bug because there was not test case related to that bug – meaning requirement traceability was incomplete. A few enlightened souls go the the extent of saying – “requirements were vague and confusing AND there was no test case too hence (poor) tester missed the bug”

    Michael – it will be great if you can write about “Missed bugs from test” and reactions of “non tester” community about this


  2. Last week a tester who reports to me said, “No user who has common sense would do that” when I showed her a bug that I found while testing. The reason why I was shocked is, I had shown her a crash of the application!

    I had to say, “No user who in your opinion lack common sense and yet pays for the testing you do, matter ,and hence we need to take this into consideration”

    I am not sure if that convinced her but what *might* have convinced her is, “You must understand that there are many people like your manager who might lack common sense but are paying you for the work you do and want to pay you more if you could spot such no-common sense resultant bugs”

    I think that’s working!

  3. Comments such as “No user would do that” are seen leading to some kind of rupture among developers and testers and once such differences creep up,lot of time is lost filling the gaps between them.
    I beleive total isolation of testers and developers from each other will help solving such situations. Keeping aside whether an enduser would ever do that or not,its more important to curtail such arguments/comments (though there could be some situations which a developer might be able to Justify),I have seen that only ONE point of contact between developers and testers will allow for better and effective moderation.


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