SNL and user requirements

I came across a certain blog post while I was tag surfing, and I just want to share it here (unedited) just in case the original post gets lost or something. It offers a comic example of NOT understanding requirements.

Testing Outside Software: SNL

A lot of times I notice things in other industries, mostly entertainment, that can reflect or articulate some testing practices it’s easy to forget.

For example, the other night I saw a Saturday Night Live skit that takes place in the safety center of a nuclear power plant (think Homer Simpson). Before the supervisor leaves, he gives the instructions “Remember, the most important thing is that you can never add too much water.”

The remainder of the skit goes on to have the safety workers debate over what exactly this means:

  • It’s safe to add as much water as you want, so ‘you can never add too much water’
  • The reactor will explode if you add water, and that’s why ‘you can never add too much water’
  • There’s not enough water in the world to make a difference, so since it’s impossible, ‘you can never add too much water’, etc.

I thought this was interesting take on not understanding requirements, especially with a nuclear reactor on the line. With testing, it’s easy to generalize a bug as anything that violates the agreed upon requirements. This shows us that just because we have the requirements given to us or written down somewhere, it doesn’t mean we understand them. And without understanding the requirements, you can’t understand what violates them; before you know it the test plan is thrown off completely.

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