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Motivational Factors in Crowdtesting
© Image: Testbirds

Motivational Factors in Crowdtesting

Editor's Note: The following is a guest post from Markus Steinhauser, co-founder and marketing & PR manager at Testbirds, a crowdtesting company. Steinhauser writes in to describe the results of a survey that the platform sent out to its crowd workers. As always, guest contributors' opinions are their own and do not necessarily reflect the view of

People become part of crowdsourcing communities for different reasons, depending on their interests and possible rewards. One form of crowdsourcing in the software testing industry is called crowdtesting: consumers as well as professionals test apps and websites on their own devices to find bugs. They also provide feedback regarding the usability of an application.

- Two Approaches to Crowdsourced Software Testing

In order to both create the best possible circumstances for high-quality results and to foster tester activity, we recently asked our community what motivates them to contribute to crowdtesting.

In general, scholars distinguish between motivation that comes from within (intrinsic) or from an external source (extrinsic). For crowdtesting, the monetary reward can be considered the main extrinsic motivator. However, there are also intrinsic factors at work, such as altruism and autonomy. From previous exchanges with the Testbirds crowd, we know that the opportunity to contribute towards a better product/software, or the possibility to work flexibly, are considered important factors for many people, as well.

Thus, the survey focused on twelve motivational factors (compare table below), comprising 29 individual questions in total.

Altogether, 505 people participated. On average, participants were 29 years old, comprising 64 percent men and 35.6 percent women between 14 and 72 years. The majority of the participants are located in Europe. Although a high number of participants work in the IT industry professionally (41.2 percent), there is no significant association between previous testing experience and the number of tests they have participated in.

All testers mainly driven by money

The results indicate that all testers are driven by monetary rewards, regardless of their background. Typically, testers are paid a fixed amount of money for completing a test as well as a variable amount for each bug they find. Testers who have participated in more than five tests tend to rate the monetary aspect slightly higher than those with only one test completed. As is the case with test participation, the effects of previous affiliations with the IT industry on the motivational factors are only marginal.

A total of six individual factors were found to impact the likelihood that people participate in tests for Testbirds. Three of them were extrinsic motivational factors all focusing on earning money, which also had the strongest predictive ability. The other motivational factors included benefitting others who will ultimately use the application (altruism), being able to choose whether to participate in a test or not (autonomy), and advance own interests (individual advancement).

Overall, the motivational factors that drive testers to contribute to crowdtesting, in order of their predictive ability, are to:

  1. Make money
  2. Benefit others who will ultimately use the application
  3. Be able to choose whether to participate in a test or not
  4. Advance their own interests


The testers in this sample are not willing to contribute to crowdtesting in the absence of monetary rewards. Research shows that extrinsic rewards like money can have an undermining effect on intrinsic factors, which has to be taken into account. From the beginning, it has been a common practice in the crowdtesting industry to pay testers for their work. However, highlighting the contribution testers make, enabling them to advance themselves outside of testing projects, and allowing them to work flexibly are likely increase motivation even more.

Examples of this could be the implementation e-learning components to actively accumulating knowledge or showing how the test results were used to improve the application.

Interestingly, there was almost no significant difference between testers with previous experience in the IT industry and those without. This supports the basic concept of crowdtesting to utilize consumers as well as professionals in order to test software. While consumers can provide valuable feedback, professionals come into action mainly for functional testing.

Although the results for this particular sample of testers cannot be generalized to the entire community, it gives an indication how important both extrinsic and intrinsic incentives can be and that both should be made available to the crowd.

Markus Steinhauser is Marketing & PR Manager at Testbirds and one of the founding members. He studied Media & Communications at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland and is responsible for corporate communications as well as the European crowd expansion of Testbirds.

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  • Kelly Fisher Kelly Fisher Aug 01, 2014 01:19 pm GMT

    Hi, I am an MBA student at Cardiff University, currently carrying out my dissertation. I am studying the experiences of crowdsourcees and how this relates to the experiences of telecommuters. I would very much appreciate if you took the time to complete the survey, or shared the survey with others who could complete the survey. The link is:

    Thank you,
    Kelly Fisher

  • Michael Gebert Michael Gebert Aug 07, 2014 05:04 am GMT

    Hi - thanks for sharing great insights. I am looking forward to your attendance at this years Crowd Dialog conference on Nov 20th!

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