What Is A Beta Tester?
Put simply, a beta tester is typically a volunteer member of the public who receives free copies of a new product and puts it through its paces in real-life scenarios while trying to locate any parts of it that don't work either as stated or as expected.
The software testing method known as bug testing was not only the first-used method of refining software and electronic designs but continues to be the most reliable in the long run. Directly along these lines, an alpha test of a system was originally also referred to as a flame test, so named because it was possible the first time you turned on a prototype and started using it was the most likely time it would literally catch on fire. After a design had been tested and measured several times, it could be said to be ready for more extensive pre-release testing, otherwise known as beta testing.
In most contemporary cases, alpha testing is still performed, albeit much more safely, on products while they are in the lab, and those tests tend to be very specific with the purpose of assuring they match their written definitions and specifications. However, even in times when something has been tested using multiple formal alpha strategies, the only sure-fire way to eliminate unexpected bugs is typically to put it through as many informal, unexpected, and random processes as possible, then to subsequently fix anything that comes up. That second stage is what is known today as beta testing.
Those informal, unexpected, and random scenarios encountered in beta testing usually help more than any other method to get the product ready for the real world because issues that can emerge only in informal situations can be the most difficult issues for the original software developers to find. Because the developers have been directly exposed to the design itself, they suffer a cognitive bias of knowing exactly what the product is expected to do then generally only following the logic expected path again and again, never to run into various issues that might exist just off to the side.
During the beta level of testing, willing members of the public are invited to test the software using their own usage styles, methods, and purposes. Since the software is not yet ready to be considered reliable by the publisher, free fully functional copies of the software are often provided to the volunteers in exchange for their evaluation and any possible bug reports or feature requests. Members of this testing group are cautioned that they should not rely on the reliability of the current version for production uses. However, the closer the product gets to a release version, the more reliable its various features become.
During its journey from prototype to commercial product, the beta testing phase of a product cyclically visits the following states.