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How testers can practice bug advocacy with developers

Testers can encourage developers to fix bugs they've found using some well-established techniques. Expert Mike Kelly explains how testers should practice bug advocacy, which is ultimately to the benefit of testers and programmers alike.

What do you do when you find a defect and send it to the developer, but he will not accept that it is a defect? How can we prove that it is a defect?

Getting developers to fix your bugs can be a difficult task. There are a lot of reasons why a developer may not...

want to fix your bugs. One of those reasons may that they may not agree with you that it's a defect. Others can include: They disagree on the priority, they don't have enough information or can't reproduce it, and sometimes it can even be something as simple as they just don't like you. Not that the last one has ever happened to me of course. Ahem, where were we...

The problem of getting developers to want to fix your bugs is an area of testing that has a lot of existing research. The problem of getting developers to respond to your issues is known as bug advocacy. It's an important topic. I won't pretend to be one of the ground-breakers in this area. I've got my own fun stories of some interesting ways of getting developers to fix my problems, but for a more credible analysis, I recommend you turn to the pros.

The Association for Software Testing has a course on bug advocacy you can take for free as a member. In a recent blog post on the topic, Jon Bach provided some links to some of the updated course materials. Look at the slides and what some of the videos in the links he provides. There's a ton of great information in there even if you're just doing self-study.

Software testing resources:
Software bugs, errors and defects: What's the difference?

Educating developers about testing

Embedded Debugging Methods Revealed -- Chapter 1, Debugging Other People's Code, Fast

For full disclosure, I'm a director in the Association for Software Testing. But, like I said, the videos and lecture criteria are freely available to non-members as well. You can get a lot out of those materials. I suggest you start there and see if any of those techniques can get your defects worked.

This was last published in June 2008

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