Software Quality Insights

May 11 2011   1:30PM GMT

uTest takes crowdsourcing to the next level: Community management

Yvette Francino Yvette Francino Profile: Yvette Francino

Crowdsource test group uTest announced Wednesday three new programs that will both provide opportunities for leaders and for those who want to enhance their professional development skills: Sandbox, Crash Courses and Test Team Lead. These initiatives are available for those who are part of the uTest community — a community whose members currently number 40,000 from 175 countries.

Sandbox
This program allows for new members to participate in a simulated testing project, getting their feet wet with processes and tools used for test. This also allows uTest to evaluate the skills of new community members, ensuring they are well-trained on how to uncover bugs and write clear bug reports. Sandbox projects will be offered weekly and sandbox graduates with high grades will be placed higher in the queue for upcoming paid testing opportunities.
 
Crash Courses
The cry for training amongst test professionals is loud and clear. With ever-changing technologies and testing techniques, it can be difficult to stay up-to-date. uTest is solving that problem by providing “crash courses” on topics ranging from basic functional testing of iPhone apps to advanced topics such as performing security audits or performance engineering. Any member from the uTest community can request a topic, which will then be voted on by the community. uTest will approach experts to produce a Crash Course for those topics with the highest demand. There are already over 50 Crash Courses freely available to anyone in the uTest community.
 
Test Team Lead
The Test Team Lead program allows for uTest members to have the opportunity for paid leadership roles, either as Sandbox Team Leads or Test Team Project Leads. Test Team Sandbox leaders moderate the Sandbox training sessions, and help to mentor and evaluate testers. Test Team Project leads are graduates of the Sandbox Team Lead program, and they support the uTest project managers by communicating with the testers, ensuring the bugs and reports are high-quality.

It’s interesting to see how crowdsourcing is evolving in this organization, now allowing for these leadership opportunities. uTest CMO Matt Johnston says,

We found inspiration in seeing the enthusiasm and personal pride that resulted from members advising, supporting and training other members in our tester forums. From then on, uTest adopted a new vision of community management, one focusing on the development of tools and systems that enable learning, professional mentoring and peer-to-peer sharing to happen naturally. 

However, what about attrition? Much of the community is comprised of testers who have some extra time on their hands and want to develop their skills, but rarely is the job their primary source of income. How much time will be required of leaders to be effective and will they be paid enough to stick around? Johnston answers:

We’ve built depth into our initial group of Test Team Leads, which ensures that if someone can’t participate, isn’t performing as expected, or needs to take some time away from this program, we have more than enough skilled Test Team Leads to draw from. And as this program expands, we have a great pipeline of other uTesters who have expressed interest in this new role.

Over time, Test Team Leads will build performance-based reputations in this role, just like we do for uTesters for their hands-on testing work. This new TTL role offers select members of our community with more responsibility, higher payouts, and the opportunity to contribute in more of a management/leadership role.

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