Sentiment Overflow in the Testing Stack

Analysing Sentimental Testing Posts on Stack Overflow

Published in Journal of Systems and Software (Vol, 205)

 · Mark Swillus  · Andy Zaidman

Software testing is an integral part of modern software engineering practice. Past research has not only underlined its significance, but also revealed its multi-faceted nature. The practice of software testing and its adoption is influenced by many factors that go beyond tools or technology. This paper sets out to investigate the context of software testing from the practitioners' point of view by mining and analyzing sentimental posts on the widely used question and answer website Stack Overflow. By qualitatively analyzing sentimental expressions of practitioners, which we extract from the Stack Overflow dataset using sentiment analysis tools, we discern factors that help us to better understand the lived experience of software engineers with regard to software testing. Grounded in the data that we have analysed, we argue that sentiments like insecurity, despair and aspiration, have an impact on practitioners' attitude towards testing. We suggest that they are connected to concrete factors like the level of complexity of projects in which software testing is practiced.

Download this paper