Thursday, August 16, 2012

Quality Perceptions Survey Results

A couple Fridays ago I asked for feedback on how quality and the ubuntu QA team this cycle. That survey has now been completed and I have some results to share with everyone. Before I dive into the numbers, let me take a moment to say thank you to all of you who responded. Thank you! I read all of the comments left as well, and all were helpful feedback. Remember the survey was anonymous, so I cannot respond individually to anything written. Feel free to contact me if you wish to discuss anything further or to receive a response.

The second question on the survey asked rather simply, "What does quality mean to you?".

As it turns out, the largest answers mirrored those of a later question, in which I asked "What's the biggest problem with quality in ubuntu right now?".
Note, I read all of the "other" responses and categorized them into some new categories to display here for general consumption.
So there is some agreement amongst those who were polled both about what quality means, and about where ubuntu's biggest problems lie. The respondents indicated the largest issue with quality in ubuntu, according to them, was also the definition of what "quality" is!

Now I asked this question for a specific reason. "Quality" is a subjective term! Perhaps I'll get some disagreement on this, but hear me out. All of the answers for the question in my mind are valid with respect to quality. As an example, let's say, I asked you to recommend software to balance my checkbook. If I specified I wanted a quality piece of software, would you not recommend to me a stable (works without crashing), mature (good development/bug workflow), and easy to use (just works) piece of software that has a nice feature set (latest and greatest)? It's easy to see that "quality" can refer to all of this and more.

Still, in my mind, when I speak to wanting a "quality" release of ubuntu, I tend to focus on the stability and ease of use aspects. As the graphs indicate, the respondents seemed to echo this idea. In other words, it's really important to the idea of quality that things "just work". In the context of ubuntu this means applications run without crashing, and the operating system runs on your hardware. If things don't "just work", even if all the other indications of quality are true, you aren't likely to describe or perceive the product as having "good quality".

Let's ponder that thought for a moment and look at some more results. The survey captured about a 50/50 split of folks who run the development release, and over 70% run it or intend to run it before the final release.
So among those 50-70% who run or will run the development release, how many have participated in ubuntu qa?
Yikes! Only about a third. Just under half have no idea a ubuntu QA team existed. There's some clear evangelizing work to be done here. Let me take pause here just for a moment to say the team does exist, and would love to have you!

Ok, now onto the last multiple-guess multiple-choice question.
I'm happy to see people desire to help! That's wonderful. The responses regrading time, being technically able, or where to start are all very solvable. I would encourage you to watch this space for invitations to help test. QA work comes in all shapes and sizes, sometimes it's as little as 15 minutes, and the ability to install/uninstall a package and reboot a machine. If this sounds like something you would be able to do, please start by having a look at our wiki page. Send us an email and introduce yourself. There's no requirements or forced participation and we welcome everyone. And who knows, you might even learn something about ubuntu :-)

Ok, so I've shared the hard numbers from the survey, but I'd like to leave you with a few takeaway thoughts. First, while quality is subjective, our focus in ubuntu QA should be to have things "just work". That doesn't mean we shouldn't also help improve our development and bug processes, or continue to push for new applications and features, but rather that we ensure that our efforts help forward this cause.

I've said it before, but I want to help deliver good computing experiences. That story I shared when I introduced myself was close to home. My first interaction with the ubuntu community came via the forums, and yes, getting a printer to work. The community undertook work to change what was once a nightmare not for the feint of heart to child's play. The execution of this work is what defines the experience. This is where QA fits. We aren't just testing; we're delivering the result of the entirety of the ubuntu community's labor.

Judging from the survey results, many of you share this same vision. So won't you join us? QA transcends across teams and the ubuntu community. I would encourage you to get involved and be a part of making it happen. The list of "problems with quality" reach many areas. Would you be part of the solution?


  1. An excellent QA Questionaire. I echo your thoughts and look forward to working on things!



  2. You should install QA on the default Ubuntu install to get more recognition and input. We could be tracking problems, involving users directly and providing much easier installation mechanisms for the betas.

    I would have given you guys some designs at UDS, but I've been a little busy this year to attend.

    1. An excellent idea! Others have mentioned similar ideas, but I would love to see a design. Life can get in the way of best made plans -- I understand :-) Seriously though, if you do draft a design let me know. I would be happy to have a look and help try and bring it to fruition.

    2. Here’s a design I prepared earlier:

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