Who said that?


Whisper and the supposed sources of knowledge.

First off let me apologise for the vast length between posts.

I’ve recently been using the app Whisper. I don’t want to talk about anything to do with it’s levels of anonymity. Instead, something much simpler.

Whisper is buggy as hell and has some of the worst UX traits I’ve seen.

Now that’s out the way we can proceed.

I seem to always bring work home with me and commonly have bug reports flying back and forth. Whisper is the same. I really like the concept of the app but it is executed poorly.

I’ve sent emails detailing the issues I’ve discovered. The first reply I received was a standard;

  • have you tried clearing data?
  • have you tried to reinstall the app?

This made it clear that my email had not been read. I’d detailed all my actions in making sure these were firm, repeatable issues. After more back and forth I informed Whisper that I was a software tester and suddenly my emails were escalated to the dev team.

This annoyed me!

The issues I’d found were being seen by all users. The users were using the app to bitch about the problems. This email could have come from any of them and been as valid.

People generally don’t report bugs.

In fact it’s the bane of the OSS community that more people don’t actively report bugs. A user that has taken the effort to email through a bug is worth listening to IMO.

There is the assumption; that those who are not trained appropriately can have no valid input. This seems to be less and less true but it is questionable whether it ever really was.

Within Sociology there have been occasions where the supposed ignorant have been capable of insight greater than the Sociologists involved. My favourite example of this is,

Learning to Labour by Paul Willis

This is a landmark study in Sociology for various reasons and I would highly recommend reading it.

In very brief summary; Paul Willis uses the participant observation technique to spend time with “troublesome” kids of a class in 1970s Britiain. The premise is to investigate the way in which there is little social mobility out of the working class.

There is an assumption that the kids are unaware of the processes at work which dictate their life-chances. Yet Willis discovers that the boys are all too aware of their own abilities and situation,

  • Eddie – The teachers think they’re high and mighty because they’re teachers, but they’re nobody really, they’re just ordinary people ain’t they?
  • (…)
  • PW – I mean you say they’re higher. Do you accept at all that they know better about things?
  • Joey – Yes, but that doesn’t rank them above us, just because they are slightly more intelligent.
  • Bill – They ought to treat us how they’d like us to treat them

There is even lamentation from the group when pondering their time in school,

  • Joey – ….something should have been done with us, I mean there was so much talent there that it was all fuckin’ wasted. I mean X, he was as thick as pigshit really, but if someone took him and tutored him…he’d got so much imagination.

Before this study; working class kids expressing these concepts seemed unlikely. Yet here they are, expressing how all are capable given the correct time and effort. This is evidence that those seen as stupid, clearly aren’t.

A user doing something stupid doesn’t equal a stupid user. Ignore your users at your own peril.


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