What is a false positive software bug?

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The false positive refers to a software behavior that does not seem correct at first glance, but, once you analyze what you’ve done, you begin to realize that the software behavior is correct, and you made a logical mistake somewhere along the way.

How frequently do you run into situation?

1. This depends on a user experience level of a QA team who finds the bug.
2. People who do not have a time and patience to analyze the bug run into this quiet often.
3. This is usually the case when dealing with complex or totally new part of software program.
4. If a software team rushes to get the product out the door, then QA team may report a quite a large number of false positive bugs.
5. In some cases, a software behavior may be very confusing which causes QA team to misinterpret a software behavior in incorrect way
6. There are cases when a false positive behavior has nothing to do with a software program but rather factors outside the program which a software development cannot control. I am referring to cases using a third-part libraries or tools outside of a software program.

What is the effect of reporting a false positive bug?

Software development team needs to keep in mind if someone runs into a false positive bug on the team, then actual users will also run into the same false positive bug with some exceptions made.

Therefore, software development team will need to take a proactive action to prevent users from running this false positive situation which could be:
1. Nothing if a user makes a silly mistake that no one will make
2. Change text on screen controls
3. Add a user note on a screen
4. Change something internally which may be costly and take a lot of time
5. Change external library or tool altogether or try to find something more stable in a long term which may be costly and take a lot of time

How you do confirm whether you found a false positive bug?

1. Start looking at a task you wanted to accomplish at a high level.
2. Analyze parameters used
3. Analyze input values
4. Analyze screen controls used like a button, checkbox, radio button, dropdown list value selection, etc.
5. Analyze a program logic meaning what a program is expected to do given parameters, input values, and screen controls used
6. A false positive bug usually occurs when a user misunderstands the program logic flow. Therefore, create a detailed list of steps and actions.
7. Try to repeat the same steps a few times and see if you run into into the same issue again.
8. If you find yourself constantly running into this issue, then you may found a real bug or something in a logic that causes you to misinterpret the final result. In this case, you need to address this behavior with a team.

Thank You For Reading

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Senior Software QA Analyst — 19 yrs experience (B.A. Mathematics Temple University 1998)

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Dmitri Kozlov

Dmitri Kozlov

Senior Software QA Analyst — 19 yrs experience (B.A. Mathematics Temple University 1998)

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