2011 has certainly started with a bang (or a Bing!) Of the most talked about topic on the web in the recent history is Google accusing Microsoft of Copying its Search results. Refer this Google post for more details.
To give a brief background of this, am quoting the above blog-
It all started with tarsorrhaphy. Really. As it happens, tarsorrhaphy is a rare surgical procedure on eyelids. And in the summer of 2010, we were looking at the search results for an unusual misspelled query [torsorophy]. Google returned the correct spelling—tarsorrhaphy—along with results for the corrected query. At that time, Bing had no results for the misspelling. Later in the summer, Bing started returning our first result to their users without offering the spell correction (see screenshots below).
Once Google got a Sniff (Suspicion) of this, they started detailed investigation into this and even inserted some sort of Pseudo-results while Searching using some unusual parameters and to their surprise they found Bing results to be exactly the same. Now, that’s something! There are several thoughts and terms that comes to mind when talking about Investigation of this magnitude and its relation with Software Testing.
Is it similar to Competitor Analysis ?
In a typical Software Product Testing setup, when one organization is competing with other- Testing serves many additional purposes and one of which is Competitor Analysis. In this Analysis, a tester tests the product vis-à-vis the features in the Competitor’s products with a primary intent to figure out what we lack and what we are good at. For example- Comparing the how long it takes to access and use a certain feature (Performance Test) with Competitor product is a common practice. The data that we get after such analysis is very useful for the Product Management and even the Sales teams to help prove a point to the Customers.
Is it similar to Patent Infringement Test ?
Its well-known that Organizations reaps great rewards on the Employees who help Organization develop a Technology or an Innovation that could be Patented. One of the lesser known facts is that the same Organizations reaps even greater rewards if their Employees can help and find that their Patents or Patented Technology is being used by a Competitor. This is something that can help Organizations prove Patent Infringements, which not only gets hefty sums in winning Lawsuits but also help to pull down a reputation of customers. The Tests done to prove Patent Infringements require In-depth skills and Technical Orientation and it is usual that these are found accidently than in an Structured manner.
Is it similar to Hacking ?
Hacking may be an extreme term to describe Google-Microsoft Saga but the underlying principles of hacking remains the same i.e. You start Investigating with an Intention to prove something- it may be your Technical prowess, gain competitive advantage, damage reputation etc.
Whatever it may be, under each of these similarities and even more like these- there is one common theme- Investigation or in other words Detective Testing . Have you ever seen a Detective TV serial or a movie ? The way Detective goes about doing his or her job is by gathering the facts, gaining access to the Clues, finding the ways to establish the complex correlation between different events, form some hit and trial stories to solve the mystery and finally nailing the culprit.
The nature of testing that Google exhibited is nothing less than Detective Testing. Once they had a sniff of something fishy in Bing (Gaining access to the Clues), They formed a team of Detectives (20 Testers), Gave them laptop with IE8 installed with Bing toolbar, Created dummy test data, checked the results in the Bing (finding the ways to establish the complex correlation between different events), Tried more data (form some hit and trial stories) and then finally arrived at a conclusion.
This is an interesting correlation. Probably is true for situations when we test fully aware of what the end result we want to achieve. Suspicion may be thought of as a negative emotion in many a situations but when it comes to Testing such situations, it may prove to be a boon.
What’s your take on Testing based on Suspicion?