Notes from Inflectra's Hackathon - Social Testing Competition

March 15th, 2018 by inflectra

On March 14, 2018 Inflectra hosted its inaugural software testing event (hackathon) called Social Testing Competition at WeWork Manhattan Laundry in Washington, DC.  

The event drew enthusiasm from the local software tester community with around 25 guest-testers. The group used a simplified version of Inflectra’s award-wining test management software -  SpiraTest  and tested a mobile app called Sickweather. The group was tasked with logging “technical bugs” and “usability issues” as two separate categories of incidents. (Technical bugs were worth 2 points and identified (reproducible) errors in the functioning of the application, whereas usability issues were worth 1 point and noted strange or confusing app behaviors.)

After about two hours of testing the app, the group collectively logged close to 250 issues into Spiratest’s centralized databank. (The unified test report will be delivered to the app owner for review and follow up).

By the end of the night, three winners were selected based on the points scored for the issues uncovered in the app.

We would like to take a moment here to recognize all women technologists who showed up, tested hard and walked away with prizes! Pleased to have you participate.

Lessons Learned

1. Get the word out early - Start talking to like-minded groups and individual’s well in advance. Start your marketing campaign at least a month ahead. Post the announcements on Eventbrite and meet-up, send regular reminders on social media and use email marketing to spread the word.

2. Get other local tech groups on board – in this age of instant communication and sharing, there's no lack of ways of getting to know other group in your niche. In the tech space, there are many great meet-up groups operating in the DC metro area. All we had to do is to find a few tech/testing meet-ups and post the event announcement in the group forums. It does not hurt to have harnessed connections and partnerships with said meetup groups beforehand. A big Thank You to DC Agile Software Testing Group (DCAST) and DCTech meet-up groups for support.

3. Where/when/how – choose a location that is easily accessible by public transportation; make it a 3-hour event on a workday evening and find a place with charm and uniqueness (THANK YOU for hosting us WeWork!)

4. Have a simplified version of your tool for faster onboarding – competition events are not good places to teach your guests about advanced features and complicated techniques of your software testing tool. Keep the tool simple, demo the key testing related functions for a few minutes and let the testers go wild. That’s what we did with Spiratest:


A post shared by Inflectra ( on

(Adam explaining SpiraTest to a gathering of software testers during Social Testing Competition)

5. Have a plenty of technical advice available during the event – We are all proud of our testing software. We all think it is flawless, straightforward and intuitive. After all, we’ve spent years developing and refining the thing. But make no mistake - there will be issues to walk your testers through and technical questions to answer because learning on the fly while in a competition is not easy. So, have enough technical support present at the event to cover all eventualities. We had three software engineers and a non-tech helper present and we all got to help someone.

6. Select an app that’s fresh – keep things interesting by finding an app that is new and conceptually interesting. Watch real humans use it and uncover its truth! For our social testing competition, we chose sickweather – a free health-related app available both for iOS and Android devices. A shout-out to our friends at Technology Rivers for matching us with sickweather team.

7. Make scoring transparent – people everywhere value being treated fairly. For this competition, we set up SpiraTest scoreboard, that updated bug information in the system in real time and displayed it on the scoreboard on the projected screen. Two judges verified the accuracy of all bugs and usability issues recorded in SpiraTest before displaying the results on the scoreboard. Everyone could observe how scores changed over time during the event. The transparency of the whole process re-enforced the credibility of the final outcome!  Also, we had the best judges! 😊


8. Giving people an opportunity to win something valuable – We chose an iPad and wireless bluetooth speakers as big prizes. Winners were happy. Congratulations to all three of you!


#teaminflectra giving out prizes to winners of #socialtesting #hackathon in DC.

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(Adam awarding the winners of Social Testing Competition)


Key areas for improvement

1. Have a spokesperson for the app present to explain its unique beauty – No one can advocate for your app/software better than you – the owner/developer. So, find time to demo your tool/app/software in person and to steer the conversation towards your goals. Added benefit - you will get to hear tester’s opinions on app usability and convert those to action points later on. You may even find a tester you'd like to work with in the future. Win-win!

2. Allow teams to compete – for simplicity’s sake, we chose to run this first competition as an individual contest. What we learned is that once the software testing competition started, it really was not so much a “social testing”, as much as “anti-social” testing. Everyone was focused on the task at hand and wasted little time on being social and enjoying the community of peers. We are considering allowing small teams of testers to band together in our future testing events (which fits the spirit of Software Testing World Cup (STWC) – a global event in software testing). 

3. Find a location with ample parking – the oldest truth, this one…. We will be taking our own advice and finding a location with easy (and hopefully free) parking as well as metro/bus-accessibility.

4. Optimize your testing tool for a limited functionality – We know SpiraTest rocks – it’s indeed a testing and test management powerhouse. But all that functionality would have been too much for newcomers to handle, we thought. So, we optimized it to have a limited functionality during the competition. However, working in this limited view elucidated some small annoyances in the usability of our own testing software! Obviously, they’ve since been fixed!

5. Get more co-sponsorship – You cannot always go it alone, norshould you. This hackathon was supported by CloudSploit, for which we are grateful. For our next testing competition, we promise to find more co-sponsors and get bigger prizes.


If you attended the event, let us know what you think.

If you would like to attend the next one, tentatively scheduled for late May 2018 in Tyson’s Corner, VA, stay tuned!


If you are running a meet-up group in DC/MD/VA on software testing, test automation or agile software management, we have a offer for you - we sponsor meet-ups like yours! Read more here: Inflectra Gives Back - Meet-Up Sponsorship in DC/MD/VA


And happy testing, everyone!



hackathon software testing software testing competition social testing wework technology rivers cloudsploit sickweather event DCtech

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