v3.7 – Test Team Lead

Over the past few years some seriously amazing testers have joined the uTest community, and today we have one of the most talented and diverse testing communities in the world. Some of our testers have taken us by surprise with their skills in areas like load automation, usability testing, and even general leadership. It’s that last area that has us most excited and is the reason behind today’s release of the uTest platform.

Test Team Lead
For a while, we have experimented with giving select and trusted members of our community additional privileges to help make our projects run more smoothly. Testers have been quietly helping our project managers with tasks like answering questions on projects, keeping testers focused and in scope, and making sure bugs match the customer’s expectations. With version 3.7 of the uTest platform, we have formalized that experiment into a new role within the community – the Test Team Lead (or TTL for short).

The TTL is not a replacement for a uTest project manager and their role will be mostly behind the scenes from a customer point of view. However, their contributions will be instrumental in helping to deliver high-quality testing results. Project managers will rely on the TTL to handle background tasks necessary to keeping a diverse community of testers in-line and on-task. This will free up the project managers to better help customers manage their test cycles, understand their bugs, and get the most from the uTest community.

Test Team Leads are select members of the uTest community who undergo an extensive training process. Among our best testers they are the best, but it is more than just their testing skills that qualify them as a TTL. They must also demonstrate leadership, communicate clearly, and be effective at organizing and motivating other testers.

Changes in 3.7
Starting in v3.7 of our platform, uTest project managers will be able to invite a Test Team Lead to projects of their choosing. The Test Team Lead will join the project just like any other uTest project, but their role will be different. Instead of reporting bugs or completing test cases, they will be helping other testers, answering questions, and keeping the project in scope.

TTLs will have a greater degree of privilege within the uTest platform, including the ability to use Tester Messenger to communicate with other testers and the ability to use Customer Notes to leave comments for project managers and customers. A TTL will not be able to approve or reject bugs, and project managers will still be responsible for the overall success of a test cycle as well as be the primary point of customer contact. Not every test cycle will require a TTL, and project managers will use their discretion to decide when a TTL will be needed.

While version 3.7 enables this new role, this is a much bigger evolution for our crowdsourced testing platform. We’re excited that our community will be taking a more active role in organizing itself, and we think this is a great way to inspire and deliver excellence.

Wrapup
While we have some good ideas in our product pipeline, we’re always looking for more. Do you have an idea for future product releases? uTest community members can join our tester forums and check out our Platform Feedback section. Customers can contact their project manager directly or drop us a line.

And Action! uTest Hits The Road: Boston to NYC to San Diego & Back

Whoever said “things slow down in the summertime” does not know uTest! Over the next couple of weeks, uTest is hitting the road again — trekking from the E2.0 Conference in Boston to the Venture Summit in NYC to Red Herring in San Diego and back!

Today @ 3:30pm: Matt Johnston will speak at the prolific Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston on the topic of — “You Say Social Media, I Say Community: Does It Matter?”

Panelists and community experts Eran Barak (Thomson Reuters), Michael Petillo (W.L. Gore), Megan Murray (Booz Allen Hamilton), Matt from uTest (of course!) and Moderator Rachel Happe (The Community Roundtable) will discuss the important distinctions between ‘social media’ and ‘community,’ and how they approach the challenges of utilizing social media and online communities in different types of organizations.

Thurs, June 17th @ 10:00am: Doron Reuveni will present at the exclusive 2010 New York Venture Summit. He will also be accepting — for the second year in a row — a “Top Innovator Award” by youngStartup Ventures, which recognizes cutting-edge private companies driving the future of innovation, especially in the tech sector. This event will be held at The Hotel Penn in New York City.

Stay tuned for next week’s adventures to San Diego and more from Boston!

1,000 Twitter Followers & 500 Facebook Likes Later…

Today I read a story about a woman who, while following Google Maps’ directions, was run over and is now suing Google for damages. So, my question to you is: Who are you following — and why?

At uTest, we’re just scratching the surface of  what’s possible in our “social media” efforts, but we’re excited that this past weekend we passed 1,000 Twitter Followers and 500 Facebook Likes!

So this post is simply to ask YOU — our terrific community, friends and readers — a few questions about what makes a company worth following or more interesting to you in the realm of social media:

  1. What type of content do you like most? Is it breaking news; thoughts from industry gurus; inside info from the company; jokes and funny stories; special promotions; or other?
  2. What makes you want to follow or “like” a company — particularly a B2B brand?
  3. Are there other B2B or SaaS companies who are doing cool stuff and making all the right moves?  Give ‘em some love and tell the world about them in the comments!

We would love to hear your thoughts, ideas and insights around this topic. And if you have a moment, please follow us (we promise we won’t run you over!).

To Crowdsourcing Friends, Foes & Fanatics: Just How Loyal Is Your Community?

Depending upon who you ask, crowdsourcing is either evil, revolutionary, or a next gen of internships.

But one thing that ALL crowdsourcing companies like to preach is how loyal and trustworthy and professional their community is. I know because I’ve read it in 100 different sites. Hell, I’ve written it a 100 different times here at uTest. So why do crowdsourcing companies insist upon telling the world how loyal and earnest their community is?  Maybe it’s to assuage the fears of prospective customers about entrusting their logo design, app development, content production or marketing to a community of strangers. Maybe it’s because if marketers say it enough times, we hope it’ll come true.

The more pessimistic view is that people — cloaked in the anonymity of the web — often act in greedy, selfish, mean-spirited ways (this perspective didn’t make it into the crowdsourcing brochure, by the way). Such dark behavior is well-documented and takes the form of flame wars on message boards, bullying via social media and online fraud.

So which is it — are people good-natured and honest?  Or are they money-hungry malcontents who will do anything to get ahead, as long as they don’t get caught?  Obviously it depends on the people, but I learned the truth about our community this week — and it was a lesson we learned the hard way.

A little background:  At uTest, we pay our testers twice per month via PayPal or Payoneer. And at this point in our growth, each pay cycle involves a non-trivial amount of cash — pretty deep into the five-figure range.  Now, it’s not easy or flattering to admit this, but in our most recent pay cycle, we experienced a glitch that caused us to pay our testers twice. That’s right folks, it was double payday here at uTest!

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Join Us @ QUEST — Quality & Software Testing Conference (April 19-23)

QUEST, one of the top software testing conferences, will be held in Dallas this year (April 19-23).  And uTest is getting geared up and is thrilled to be a part of this conference.

In addition to inviting Doron to be a keynote presenter, QUEST features a week-long agenda packed with more than 100 opportunities for attendees to build new skills and prepare for the testing professions of the future.

From exploratory testing to test automation to security audits to crowdsourced testing,  QUEST will cover a wide range of testing topics that give attendees insight into the latest best practices and innovative approaches to testing today. To learn more, here’s a sneak peek at the QUEST Magazine.

Special Note: Members of the uTest community interested in registering for QUEST are eligible for

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Social Networks Pose Security Threats (& An Intro to Tina Fey’s YouFace)

It’s no surprise to our community that social networks have the potential to pose big security threats this year. During the “Battle of the Social Networks,” uTesters found a combined 718 bugs in Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn; and an additional 300+ bugs were discovered in the top five Twitter desktop apps during the Q2 bug battle.

To add more fuel to the fire, today the company Sophos, which surveyed 500+ organizations, came out with a new report stating that in the past year:

  • 57% of users report they have been spammed via social networking sites
  • 36% of users claim they’ve been sent malware via social networking sites
  • 72% of survey respondents think social networks are a danger for their companies (see Mashable article)

What’s the solution? Tina Fey, in her show “30 Rock,” recently spoofed social networks with her creation of “YouFace” (combo of Facebook & MySpace). Terms such as “finger-tagged,” “weirdsie,” and “pho-lo” (for photo and hello) had many ROFL. See video clip after the bump!

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Vote For uTest – Discover The Keys to Crowdsourcing @ E2.0 Conference #e2conf

E2.0_vote_test3 copyYou may have noticed that many top reporters and bloggers included “crowdsourcing” as a top trend of 2009. In fact, The New York Times named it 2009’s verb of the year!

But what will separate crowdsourcing’s winners and losers in 2010?  We believe that crowdsourcing success lies in a company’s ability to engage its community in unique and meaningful ways. These are the crowdsourcing companies that are changing the way work is done today — transforming professional services like software testing forever. But how does a company go beyond building a “mob” or a “crowd” and develop a community?

VOTE HERE to learn more about how crowdsourcing is changing the way work is done.

We’d love the opportunity to share our hard-earned keys to building a successful crowdsourcing business at this year’s Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston. But first, we need your help! (Very quick registration required.)

You can see a snapshot of uTest’s proposed presentation on the voting site. Voting opens today and closes on January 20th. As always, thanks for your continued support. All of our success stems from our amazing community!

Quick Update: If you’re posting online, #e2conf is the official tag! To track votes, click here.

Crowdsourcing Reaches New Heights

DARPA BalloonUp there — it’s a bird… it’s a plane… Nope, it’s just the latest experiment to measure the ability of crowdsourcing to organize, mobilize, collaborate and compete.

DARPA (who along with Al Gore, invented the Internet), announced that it will place a large, red balloon at 10 different locations around the U.S.   The DARPA Network Challenge calls on groups to locate each of 10 red weather balloons scattered around the country — with $40,000 in prize money being awarded to the first team to accurately identify them all.

The purpose of this contest is to discover how social networking, crowdsourcing and other technologies can help accomplish a large-scale, time-critical task.  Already teams are forming, money is being spent, and the social media universe is abuzz about the competition, which launches on Saturday, December 5th.

Want to know more?  Check out what CNN, CNET, the Wall Street Journal and Scientific American have to say about the competition.

So if you see a big red orb tomorrow morning, call me!  And if nothing else, at least a Google search for the term “balloon” will return something other than another article on the plight of Balloon Boy!

Check Out Mass Innovation Night — Wed, Oct 14th

Mass Innovation NightsCalling all Massachusetts-based startups, entrepreneurs and innovators! Tonight is October’s Mass Innovation Night down at the Charles River Museum of Industry & Innovation (Moody Street, Waltham).

If you’re in the area, it’s a good event.  We’ll be there, so if you see a uTest name tag, tap us on the shoulder and introduce yourself.  These monthly launch parties are great because they’re FREE for everyone and connect innovators & entrepreneurs with the media, the marketplace and each other using social media. So help spread the word!

The Twitter hashtag is #MIN7, and twitterville is already buzzing with news and cool attendees. Tonight, startups and larger companies alike will showcase new products to a live audience. Check out tonight’s October innovators.

Networking starts at 6:00 p.m. and the main event runs from 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.  And if you find you just can’t pull yourself away, there’s an after-party at Biagio’s, 123 Moody Street, upstairs in the Plush Lounge.

Shoot us a note if you’d like to meet up!

Major Milestone: uTest Tops 20,000 Tester Mark!

Earlier this week, uTest blew past the 20,000 tester mark in our humble “little” community. As we’ve all witnessed onMarty the Tester Forums, the uTest community continues to grow – not only in sheer size, diversity and coverage – but also in the level of testing skill, engagement and collaboration.

In light of this big news, we wanted to share some other community milestones from 2009:

  • Tester Forums:  launched in May, our new testers-only forums are engaging software testers from all over the world with varying testing and industry experience (more than 1,200 members participating already!)
  • Three Bug Battles:  So far in 2009, we’ve awarded more than $11,000 in prize money for our quarterly competitions: Social Networks (Facebook/MySpace/LinkedIn), Twitter Applications (top six Twitter desktop apps), Search Engines (Bing/Google/Yahoo)
  • Guest Blogger Series:  Top testers within our community are not just active on the forums, but also invited to contribute their hard-earned knowledge on the uTest Blog
  • Tester Case Studies:  We shine our spotlight on a wide range of testers who have interesting, informative or inspiring story – from novice to expert, and from Boston to Berlin to Bangalore
  • Revamped tester re-profiling system:  To better match testers with relevant projects

For me personally, it is exciting to watch the community grow, not just in number but also in maturity. Aside from the milestones mentioned above, we have also nominated our first three forums moderators (thanks Joseph, Bernard and Bryan!), and plan to increase this number as we see more leaders step up to the task of mentoring and sharing knowledge.

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