Originally posted by dandari
Hey Guys, What's A Beta Tester?
A beta tester is someone who devotes an enourmous amount of time to test out software, which is very different then simply using the software. This means he/she tries stuff which normal people wouldn't try (or wouldn't try that much or in that way). It is his/her job to find bugs and mistakes in the program before it is released to the public so that the public gets a decent piece of software and not some half-baked or overcooked product.
This brings with it that you need to have at least some good basic computer skills so you know what you're doing and/or that you can deduct and even predict certain bugs.
Beta testers are people who are trusted with private and often delicate information. Information which isn't suppose to be known by the public. Thus they also recieve beta software of course (software which isn't completely finished yet).
There are also risks involved. Software being tested might still contain severe bugs which could damage other software or, for example, even make it so that he/she who runs it will loose data on his harddisk and all...
But all in all, beta testing is something you dedicate to do, not something because you want some piece software. The main goal of wanting to be beta tester is to activly help to make the software bug-free, not to simply have the software. This is often what people these days forget, they simple want to be beta tester for the sake of having the software.
Beta tester are normaly choosen in private circles, choosen among the people which the developer knows and/or trusts.
Of course, beta testing isn't always closed and private. Something which many companies do these days (to keep ahead of their competitors) is releasing a beta software to the public so "the public can test it". This has advantages, but in early stages of software development it has far more disadvantages. It also requires a very big support team behind the beta which put all their time into sifting thru bug reports which are quite often already known or simply don't have anything todo with the software or what not.
PS: then there is also something like Alpha testing. This is even a stage before the beta testing and sometimes requires even more technical skills from the testers, but other than that it is roughly the same with the same principles though.