Is the world full of bugs or do QA professionals live in their own buggy world?

Developer Advocate Vitaly Sharovatov ponders the tendency for QA professionals to discover bugs everywhere they look.

Ask any QA specialist, and they will tell you countless stories of how they uncover bugs everywhere, not just in the products they develop, but in all aspects of life. It’s a common belief among QA engineers: the world is teeming with bugs.

Could this be due to the availability heuristic where QA professionals believe they encounter more bugs, glitches, and defects than others? The availability heuristic is a mental shortcut that relies on immediate examples that come to mind when evaluating a specific topic, concept, method, or decision. Testers, focusing professionally on finding bugs, might recall bug instances more readily, giving the impression these are more frequent or significant than they are.

Or is it QA’s occupational psychosis or déformation professionnelle, where their professional habits lead QA folks to subconsciously seek out negative or edge case scenarios?

Here’s a recent incident that made me reflect on this. I was planning a simple bus journey from Berlin to Paris. The process seemed straightforward: visit an aggregator website, select a bus, and purchase the ticket. Soon enough, I had my e-ticket.

Screenshots of booking confirmation "Operated by: Virtual Carrier European intercity bus"

But one detail caught my eye — the carrier was named “Virtual Carrier European intercity bus.” The term ‘virtual’ was unusual, prompting further investigation. A quick search led me to the distribusion API documentation, explaining:

For API testing and carrier onboarding purposes, Distribusion provides a dedicated demo environment, accessible through unique credentials. The demo environment provides full access to production schedules and meta data for marketing carriers and stations.
For general testing purposes, Distribusion has introduced the notion of virtual carriers, which simulate the different carrier types available on the platform and for which the full search, booking, ticketing, and cancellation / amendment flow can be conducted coherently in the demo environment.

I realized I had inadvertently booked a ticket for a non-existent bus through the test environment appearing on the live site. Intriguingly, the fully functional payment system, separate from the booking system, did not differentiate between the test and live tickets and charged my card real money for a virtual ticket.

Upon realizing the payment system couldn’t distinguish between the test and live tickets, I understood I hadn’t lost money — I just needed to cancel the ticket. The cancellation was successful, and the payment system initiated a refund.

Inadvertently, I had become an unpaid QA consultant. This experience left me pondering: How often do we, as QA professionals, find ourselves unwittingly testing the world around us?

I told my mom the story about the ticket and asked her what she would do. She said she would call the bus company and, if that didn’t solve the problem, she would call the bank to cancel the transaction.

Thinking more about this, I believe the world is the same for everyone, whether QA or non-QA; it's just that non-QA people tend to find ways around bugs and defects, while QA folks, having an eye for bugs and the proficiency to discover them, are accustomed to the exploratory process. 

Maybe it’s our fate, but I believe we can enjoy it and learn a lot from it. After all, exploration is at the heart of science, and curiosity and interest are our innate, powerful motivators.


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