Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Bug - The One Word and Mulitple Incorrect Alternatives!?


What is Your Word?

I love to meet and collaborate with testers and learn what they are doing and how they are practicing Software Testing, Automation, and solving problems.  When I collaborate, I see testers using different words for communicating what we do.  For example, one will use the word "bug" and few others will use the words "issue", "defect", etc.  What word do you use when you talk about the bug and information you find with help of your testing?

The Word and Alternatives Used

These words are common in the Software Development team when referring to a bug:

  • Anamoly: which means abnormality
  • Defect: a legal perspective for the unexpected or not wanted or false promise
  • Error: a condition due to user input or/and program execution
  • Issue: a concern
  • Problem: the difference between expected and reality (actual)
  • Risk: a potential problem in near time
  • Bug: ?

  • The abnormal growth of bone
  • The defective electronic equipment that is used where people are involved
  • Error on saving a file with no name
  • The team has an issue with the time available
  • I have a problem in sharing this report with the customer
  • If we do not publish the app today we risk losing users in this season sale
  • What's bugging you these days?

If observed, to an extent all the above words have something in common.  That is -- relationship, loss, cost, experience, emotions, expectations, compared to something and evaluated, feeling, and more.

But, that does not mean I can use them casually and interchangeably.  The one thing that is not so common to all is CONTEXT.  All of these have their own context and are different.

Is it a welcoming practice to equate and assign the word "bug" to all the above words?

Bug - Annoyance to whom?

The people and practitioners have different definitions tagged to the word -- Bug.  One word which looks non-technical and asks for attention in addressing it on evaluation is -- annoyance.  I won't bug you anymore!

The bug can be related to annoyance for one who has a relationship with the product or service or company.  The bug is the outcome of my experience when I look for what I need.  The bug is also the relationship that I carry with the product or service that I use.  Since I have a relationship, I feel the experience of annoyance.

I see the bug is not a word of tester or programmer or product owner or anyone in the software development team.  We use the word "bug" to communicate and document the annoyance that a user experiences in using the service we provide.  To extend the view, I can also include the business here.  If it annoys the business in delivering, giving, and making the benefits, it is a bug.  What do you say?

If my annoyance is also the same as the annoyance of an actual user and business, it carries a weightage and importance in the team.  When I say the bug report, we talk on behalf of the product, user, company that is offering service, and the team building the software.

To Sum Up the Word

It is not termed as Anamoly Advocacy, or Defect Advocacy, or Issue Advocacy, or Problem Advocacy, or Risk Advocacy.

It is termed "Bug Advocacy"!

We are trying to avoid or prevent:
  • A defective product in the market that can be sued
  • A problem with loss and cost for using a product or service
  • A problem to business, and
  • A user to be away from the [risk of] cost and annoyance for using product or service
It is up to one as a practitioner to use the appropriate word to context.  And, it must start from we Test Engineers / SDETs.  

What word to use is your choice now!  Bug?

Blog Post Update - 23rd August 2021

ISRO declared the mission of GSLV-F10 launch could not be accomplished as intended due to the technical anomaly in Cryogenic upper stage ignition.  Refer to the below image which is a tweet from ISRO mentioning the same.

Why is the word "technical anomaly" used?  And, not a bug, issue, error, or defect?  Instead, the word "anomaly" is used?  

If the word anomaly is considered as
  • irregular
  • not expected
  • deviation from the expected
  • abnormal
  • something different
  • deviation from commonly accepted rules or readings, and
  • more...

If closely observed,
  • It is a consistent output or outcome that is observed for a time period for a set of input and factors
  • Any change in this outcome or output, is treated as a peculiar case?
    • Or as abnormal?
    • Or as deviation from what is usually observed and recorded?

Why don't we consider this as a bug, then?
  • When spoken about the bug
    • In the first impression, it is the emotions and experience captured or heard, or recorded
    • Necessarily the root cause analysis or initial debug is not done at the time of calling out an experience as a bug

Whereas spoken about anomoly, I learn
  • A set of analysis and experiments are done and the outcome is recorded
  • This outcome might have shown the consistent behavior for a set of input and factors
  • Anything deviation from this outcome for the same set of input and factors is considered as an anomaly?!
    • Though it is unexpected, the context i.e. pre-run tests and rational experiments do not let it be treated and term it as a bug in the communication
    • Instead, the word anomaly is used in communication

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