The Beta Fallacy

Frank Kelly disparages releasing your software as “beta”:

In the past few years it’s become more and more acceptable to release “Beta” software to the public – almost as if it was a production release.

The reasons for that I believe are manifold but boil down to
1) Gain user feedback
2) Release early to gain “mindshare” and/or get first to market.
3) Your QA process or team isn’t that great (or your unwilling to spend money on them) and you’d rather have users do your testing for you.
4) You need to gain the confidence of your customers / investors in what you’re building.

You know which I suspect, hey? Yeah, number 3.

Of course, it could be #2, too; I recently talked to a company who built a lot of sites, rapidly, without QA, so that it could be first to market. If the sites got users, then the company would fix the sites up. For future efforts, the company was looking for an automated tester to be the solution. Which will lead me to a longer post one of these days.

Kelly ends up with a quote from this piece which explains why, culturally, IT is defining quality down and managing users’ expectations to IT’s benefit, not the users’:

I’m mostly tired about the fact that it seems that we all have given up. Tired because . . . . in reality, it’s laziness and a poor job on the manufacturer part that we have accepted without questioning. Instead of calling foul play and refusing to participate, we keep buying.

We haven’t all given up. The remaining squeaky wheels get the ignored.

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