Thursday, November 11, 2010

LinkedIn – Error message is valid but unhelpful

Today I started to test forgot password functionality of a CMS (content management system) driven portal. I now wanted to relate the existing functionality of 'forgot password' with popular portals to understand its behavior. Why I wanted to relate with the existing system is because we don’t have reliable functional specification of the portal I test on the whole and more particularly on 'forgot password' module. I truly believe that functional specification won’t be sufficient enough for me to create new test ideas so as to add value to the software products I test. Thus I have chosen LinkedIn portal to understand its ‘forgot password’ module. LinkedIn is the world's largest professional network portal has over 80 million members in over 200 countries. When I started to map the behaviour of LinkedIn with the portal I wanted to test a bug started to dance in my screen. That text field validation bug is not in the portal I wanted to test but in LinkedIn. If you are curious to know what the bug is? Read through my bug report.

Bug Title: LinkedIn – Forgot Password's error message is valid but unhelpful.

Defect Module: Password Reset.
Severity: Medium.
Priority: Medium.
Tested Environment: Mozilla Firefox V3.0 & Google Chrome V7.0 on Windows XP professional V5.1 Service Pack 2 operating system.

Steps to reproduce:
  1. Enter this url in any browser. 
  2. Click on Sign In link from menu or from 'Join LinkedIn Today' form at right navigation to get redirected to secured hypertext transfer protocol i.e.  
  3. Now, click on Forgot password? Link, adjacent to Password text filed.
  4. I see a very sensible user friendly instruction from LinkedIn, for LinkedIn users like me. I appreciate it i.e. “Please enter the email address you used to create your LinkedIn account, and we will send you a link to reset your password”. Thanks to LinkedIn for that.
  5. Now, do not wait to hit the ‘Submit Address’ button leaving the text field blank.
Screen shot of the defect area:
    LinkedIn - Forgot Password?
    Observed Result:
    I see a warning message stating 'Please correct the marked field(s) below.'
    along with "Please enter a value." field level validation error message as soon I hit 'submit address' button. Following questions struck me to continue retrieving my new password from LinkedIn.

    Heuristic questions to LinkedIn:
    1. What VALUE do you expect your user to enter to get new password?
    2.  If you question me, Hey Shiva Mathivanan: Don't you consider email address as a value? I have an answer for you from wikipedia. The word 'value' is ambiguous
    3. As soon I enter some value example'123' (this value struck my mind instantly when I read "Please enter a value", not sure why I did that instead of entering special characters like !@#$%^&*()~`, ASCII character, Time & Date or QWERTY Keyboard strings, ) and when hit ‘Submit Address’ button I get “Please enter a valid email address” error message. Why don’t you wish to ask me this for the first time, when I hit Submit button leaving the text box empty?
      Extra Informations:  
      1. Reproducibility - 100%
      2. Can the user get some helpful error message like" Please enter a valid email address" instead of "Please enter a value"?
      3. "Please enter a value" field level validation error message may be hard coded. Maybe a curious developer who wanted to see his functional code gets working has done without considering who the end user are?
      Note: Extra informations can be used to ascertain expected results.
        Thanks for spending valuable time,
        Shiva Mathivanan.

        PS: Maybe next time I will post a serious bug, if you consider this issue as 'not so serious' bug. I never wait to post defects after bug investigation as soon I uncover, that's how I work and coach to my co-testers. I have started reporting this bug to communicate LinkedIn & the software world that creates less user friendly products with valid but unhelpful error messages.

        As a tester get to know what questions can a tester generate from Million questions a tester should ask by Pradeep Soundararajan. I'm sure you won't question any more that why tester's want to question? :)


        1. Shiva.. Kindly change the colour.. white text in red background is really hurting my eyes.. ;)


        2. @Hezedgodson I will surely do that if I happen to see the same complaint from many blog readers or at least from few readers!

          I appreciate the time you took to comment. Thank you!

        3. Good one.. Though that one school of thought may be that "What and why do you want to warn a user who wants to submit an empty form"

          But aren't there more severe issues? For instance, why should I click on "Sign in" to reach the "Forgot password" link? The right place for it is on the homepage, just below "Sign in".

          Also, try submitting a single character in that forgot password box and see what you get..