IMVU: The Final Chapter

Perusing my Blogger page, I suddenly realize that I never posted this final wrap-up to my original observations on IMVU and its 50-deployments-a-day approach, plus the comments here, here, here, and here.

In addition to his Quality is Dead article, James has added his perspective on IMVU specifically.

Is there a problem at IMVU? As an outsider, is this any of my business anyway? I think so, at least to some degree.

  • I wouldn’t use the service myself. That’s reasonable; it’s not my thing. My stepson might be inclined to use the service at some point, and might be inclined to buy special services or other stuff from them, at which point he’d ask me to pay for it. With my credit card. And then we’d have a problem, because I don’t have sufficient trust in IMVU to give them my credit card information, based on everything I’ve seen so far.
  • IMVU is a service that seems to appeal mostly to kids. I wonder about the ethics of deploying what seems to be some pretty shoddy software to kids, and thereby teaching them that software doesn’t have to work, that their complaints can go unresolved, and that it’s routine and tolerable for their accounts to be vulnerable to hacking, as long as the programmers are deploying 50 times a day. As a person involved in developing software, that makes me sad, and I think, in a small way, it tarnishes all of our reputations.
  • In particular, it stands a good chance of tarnishing the reputation of the Agile community. The Agile Manifesto is a beautiful thing, and I believe in it. But agility, in the dictionary sense, isn’t merely about quick movement; it’s also about being in control, responding to what’s happening in your environment, and keeping your balance. If 50 deployments a day of this stuff is seen as an exemplar of Agile methods, we haven’t crossed the chasm; we’ve dived into it.
  • IMVU and its issues are one thing, but what really freaks me about this whole business is the oblivion about testing from the respondents to Timothy Fitz’s post, and the notion that automation makes testing passé. To me and to my colleagues—people who think seriously about testing, and who study testing—this whole 50-deployments-a-day and a million-automated-tests-a-day thing isn’t testing at all. I repeat, from an earlier post: at best, it’s checking, and it’s checking done almost entirely without inquiry. That, to me, is a corruption of the idea of testing, which is questioning a product in order to evaluate it (Bach), gathering information with the goal of informing a decision (Weinberg), or (deep breath here, but worth it) an empirical technical investigation of a product, done on behalf of stakeholders, with the intention of revealing quality-related information of the kind that they seek (Kaner).

It’s IMVU’s business; it’s their call. I hope it’s not contagious, but I fear that it might be, for a while.

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