Crowdsourcing QA: Building a Community

CrowdOne of the cool (and sometimes overwhelming) things about being a Developer Evangelist is keeping up with what the developer and technical communities are doing, both inside and outside of Microsoft.   As Windows Azure has evolved and now gone live, I’ve been spending more time wrapping my head around cloud computing, including participating in the very thought-provoking Boston Cloud Services Meetup over the past few months.  It’s one of the more diverse and interactive groups I’ve been a part of, and it’s really helped me go beyond the hype and technical details of the cloud into the business realities and challenges.

Tonight was no exception, as Matt Johnston of uTest in Southboro, MA, presented on their crowdsourcing QA marketplace.  The business model combines the idea of technology with community by essentially matching testers withuTest companies that need their software tested.   The software vendor benefits by getting a potentially huge pool of testers at a lower cost than internal QA or outsourcing, and the testers benefit by getting paid per bug.  Think of it like StackOverflow, but you get paid hard cash :)

But I think there’s actually more than that; intentionally or not, uTest has been a catalyst for building community among folks scattered across the globe.  They’ve taken a perhaps mundane task – software testing – and transformed it into an opportunity for anyone to participate in, regardless of geography, culture, and physical limitations, and that to me just struck a chord that I had to share.  uTest is probably not the only ones that have latched on to (or will in the future) this crowdsourcing model, but they are certainly the ones that opened my eyes to how it may transform our traditional notions of software development.

Footnote:   Microsoft contracted with uTest to test Security Essentials, which launched a few months ago.  Check out their case-study here.

Footnote 2: (and shameless plug)  I’ll be one of the presenters at the February meetup where I’ll try to cover everything about Azure in 30 minutes!