A Contest that Tests Crowdsourcing

Is there a fine difference between outsourcing and crowdsourcing?  If you believe what you read in Wikipedia, they say the difference between crowdsourcing and ordinary outsourcing is that “a task or problem is outsourced to an undefined public rather than a specific other body.”

But what if the ‘undefined’ public is actually a well-shaped and defined body? The body can stay anonymous, but its members could share the same baseline skills.

A power in numbers is undeniable. If you have a problem, two heads are better than one. That may not apply to cooks in a kitchen, but to software development teams it certainly applies. The 16th-century poet John Heywood said, “Many hands make light work.”

Define your crowd as a lobby of people who share the same talent, and you can seriously leverage the power of crowdsourcing. And that’s exactly what 99tests has done. The Bangalore startup has 2500 testers at its disposal ready to service your debugging needs. Their numbers keep increasing. Last week they had 1800 of them. This town of testers has solved more than 12,000 QA issues. That’s power in numbers that delivers power to the customer.

The company’s website is simple in a Netflix kind of simplicity. Testers are awarded “prizes” for their work. On their user forum, someone asked (in January) if testers get paid money for their work. Good question. The answer has not been answered yet.

To get the word out, 99tests.com has teamed up with tools maker QASymphony to offer two contests worth $600 in real cash awards. It sounds like a lot of fun, since testers can dig and poke around on certain public websites in jazz and bluegrass music as well as city government sites of New York, San Francisco and Chicago. 

The music sites include the New Orleans Jazz Festival , a bluegrass festival in San Francisco, and the ear-bleeding ruckus of Lollapalooza.

Participants must discover and report using the qTrace tool by QASymphony.  qTrace is a software defect documentation and reporting tool that captures and records your screen movements as well as system information. It’s an unobtrusive thing; it just follows you and saves your annotations to PDF or Word.

Report a bug and you get to keep the qTrace tool, a $49 value.

Contestants with the highest number of severity defects submitted wins. Each validated bug will be prioritized and weighed against the criticality of fixing it.  Evaluation of ranking will be done using the 99tests testing infrastructure and bug tracking system.

There will be two contests with the first starting on March 12 and the second on March 15. They are limiting the time to 48 hours and the number of entrants to 50. 

Contests offer a safe environment for testers to improve and learn new strategies in bug detection and reporting. Says Parimala Shankaraiah, blogger for Curious Tester, “Contests offer a fault-safe setup where one can exercise individual skills without rebuke. Success in contests is not about winning alone, but the journey one goes through to reach the destination. Testers should cash in on their knowledge and enhance their skills on such platforms.” 

To enter you need to register at www.99tests.com.


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