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Burden of Proof

Posted by Mike Longin on January 6, 2011

Came across this article today

In it the author comments “But the burden of proof is on those claiming a bug exists.”  Which to me leads to an interesting question.

Does the burden of proof lie on those claiming a bug exists or on the company to prove a bug does NOT exist?

To me the burden lies with the company not the user.  To a user the bug exists, even if the company has not seen it.  As Josh Rynne (@jrynne) pointed out “good business practice would suggest that the company should prove that the bug does not exist…. otherwise you’re basically saying you don’t believe your customers by forcing them to prove it”.  Case in point is the antenna gate scandal where Apple placed the onus on the consumer and not on the company.  It cost quite a bit in bad publicity when Apple had to retract its denials and accept responsibility.

However I believe we can take this idea one step further.  While discussing this with Chris Taylor (@agiletester) his comments were “In reality, in good design, there is no such thing as user error.  There may be dumb users, but you are not going to make money saying it.”  A truly good design should not allow users to make user errors.  Relating back to this article, if the issue really was user error in how they were switching between conversations, the design should have helped users avoid input mistakes in that sort of scenario.

So to answer my own question, the burden of proof for any bug truly lies on the creator not the user.  It is only the users responsibility to alert the company to the issue and the company has to determine if the bug is in the working of the application or the use.


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