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Testing what's appropriate

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It’s a fine line between appropriate, and not. But in today’s open society, how do you draw that line? After all, what is funny to one person is offensive to another.

I was talking to our testing expert Gerie Owen about this the other day. Gerie’s seen it all in her years of testing, and she told me an interesting story about a development and testing dilemma that really happened. It seems that a tester discovered a rather troubling “bug,” which in this case was the use of the F-word in a mobile app. When the tester approached the developers, he was told the word was “used in a playful way,” Gerie said. In fact, they told the tester to back off and that it was a creative decision and most assuredly not a bug.

The tester was troubled by this and wondered what to do, and whether or not to escalate this issue.

Gerie didn’t mince any words in response: “No, no responsible company can do this. I’m sorry, your developers are dead wrong. You cannot use that word, or any other word that is not in a G-rated dictionary, in your app. It doesn’t matter who is using it, or for what purpose. This is completely disrespectful of your users, despite what your developers may think. Furthermore, no app store is likely to accept an application that contains inappropriate language.”

And she didn’t stop there. She said that of course the matter should be brought to the attention of management because of the risk to the company’s reputation. And that the tester really needed to not just advocate for quality, but also be an advocate for the users.

We already knew testing was a tough, and under-appreciated, job, but add in arbitrating moral dilemmas and wow, that’s taking it to the whole next level.

Has this kind of thing happened to you? And if it has, what did you do? Email me because I’d like to hear all about it!