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A user, following obviously incorrect documentation, uses a piece of hardware incorrectly, which triggers a software bug and causes an expensive hardware failure. Who's at fault?

Survey period: 29 Aug 2022 to 5 Sep 2022

OptionVotes% 
The user184.28
The documentation writer for writing incorrect instructions5713.54
The software developer for writing bad code255.94
The hardware manufacturer for making hardware that isn't resilient to, or catches, bad code317.36
The hardware/software integration and system tester for missing the multiple issues4811.40
All of the above20047.51
None of the above. It was an accident194.51
Something else (please comment)235.46



 
GeneralThe hardware developer for making hardware that isn't resilient to, or catches, bad code Pin
11917640 Member 4-Sep-22 0:52
11917640 Member 4-Sep-22 0:52 
GeneralThe vendor of the system Pin
Alois Kraus3-Sep-22 8:28
Alois Kraus3-Sep-22 8:28 
GeneralFailed on every level Pin
Wendelius2-Sep-22 21:06
mentorWendelius2-Sep-22 21:06 
GeneralWhether or not it's user's fault is debatable, complexity of hardware determines how critical it is to mandate reading manuals Pin
Prahlad Yeri1-Sep-22 21:53
Prahlad Yeri1-Sep-22 21:53 
GeneralThe software developer needs to write robust code Pin
SkysTheLimit31-Aug-22 8:33
SkysTheLimit31-Aug-22 8:33 
Generalthe critical question is "Why?", not "what?", "who?", or "how?" Pin
BryanFazekas31-Aug-22 5:50
BryanFazekas31-Aug-22 5:50 
GeneralNot enough information to assign blame. Pin
Fueled By Decaff30-Aug-22 23:53
Fueled By Decaff30-Aug-22 23:53 
GeneralNot the user ... Pin
Richard MacCutchan30-Aug-22 23:03
mveRichard MacCutchan30-Aug-22 23:03 
GeneralRe: Not the user ... Pin
trønderen1-Sep-22 5:45
trønderen1-Sep-22 5:45 
GeneralRe: Not the user ... Pin
Richard MacCutchan2-Sep-22 6:25
mveRichard MacCutchan2-Sep-22 6:25 
GeneralRe: Not the user ... Pin
trønderen2-Sep-22 9:44
trønderen2-Sep-22 9:44 
GeneralRe: Not the user ... Pin
Dan Neely2-Sep-22 7:27
Dan Neely2-Sep-22 7:27 
GeneralDoes it matter? Pin
David P Nguyen30-Aug-22 22:06
professionalDavid P Nguyen30-Aug-22 22:06 
GeneralCommon Mess Pin
Bernhard Hiller30-Aug-22 21:00
Bernhard Hiller30-Aug-22 21:00 
GeneralThe question itself is ambiguous in it's current form. Pin
alan@1st-straw.com30-Aug-22 4:15
alan@1st-straw.com30-Aug-22 4:15 
GeneralRe: The question itself is ambiguous in it's current form. Pin
Amit Joshi CP31-Aug-22 21:36
Amit Joshi CP31-Aug-22 21:36 
GeneralWhy isn't "marketing" in there? Pin
PIEBALDconsult29-Aug-22 15:05
mvePIEBALDconsult29-Aug-22 15:05 
GeneralRe: Why isn't "marketing" in there? Pin
Daniel Pfeffer29-Aug-22 22:47
professionalDaniel Pfeffer29-Aug-22 22:47 
GeneralOne with worst legal team Pin
dan!sh 29-Aug-22 10:40
professional dan!sh 29-Aug-22 10:40 
GeneralRe: One with worst legal team Pin
Daniel Pfeffer29-Aug-22 22:49
professionalDaniel Pfeffer29-Aug-22 22:49 
GeneralThe sound of one hand clapping Pin
Marc Clifton29-Aug-22 9:26
mvaMarc Clifton29-Aug-22 9:26 
GeneralThe software is at fault. Pin
Gerry Schmitz29-Aug-22 8:58
mveGerry Schmitz29-Aug-22 8:58 
GeneralRe: The software is at fault. Pin
Daniel Pfeffer29-Aug-22 22:53
professionalDaniel Pfeffer29-Aug-22 22:53 
GeneralRe: The software is at fault. Pin
Member 1330167930-Aug-22 20:57
Member 1330167930-Aug-22 20:57 
As an embedded dev of 24 years or so, who worked on detonation systems, financial systems and medical research systems, I disagree.

Quote:

The user followed instructions that should have been obvious (to the user) were wrong

So? If you buy a TV and wire it up wrong do you expect the house to burn down? No, because of things like breakers in the mains circuit, one-time fuses in the TV, diodes in the power supply, earthing in the enclosure (for a metal TV). A device which results in an expensive incident when used incorrectly is not fit for the market, and the manufacturer will sooner or later be sued.

There are limits, of course. If you buy a TV, pour petrol all over it and turn it on, you can't expect to win a lawsuit when the house eventually burns down.

Quote:

The documentation writer wrote these instructions

Documentation authors only write what is specified. If they put an instruction of the form "Do action $FOO", they didn't make that up - someone, somewhere informed them that that action is supported by the device. Of all the people in this scenario, documentation authors are the least culpable, because they don't get to decide what the product can do, they are only told what the product can do.
Quote:

The software developer wrote code that had a bug in it

Definitely the software developers. After all, the bug is the thing that was created by the developers in the first place. It is unreasonable to expect that a bug will never be triggered.
Quote:

The hardware developer built hardware that failed when the wrong instructions were passed to it

Not so culpable. Hardware is built to within a certain spec with specified tolerances, and since the bug put the hardware out of spec all bets are off. It's up to the product designers (including the software devteam) to ensure that they choose products with failure modes they are comfortable. If a product had a rotor that will destroy everything if rotated backwards, it's up to the team to choose a motor driver that cannot change rotational direction. If they choose a driver that allows rotating in both directions, then that's their fault when the bug causes the rotor to reverse direction.

Quote:

The QA / integration testers / whatever failed to catch any or all of the above


Testing cannot assure the absence of bugs, testing only detects the presence of bugs. The test for the action $FOO must have passed in the test jig, after all, because every single thing that the devteam says the product can do is tested.

Ultimately, it's only the software dev team that is responsible because it originates with them and them alone. After all, they produced the product and said "Performing action $FOO is safe".

Testers tested the action $FOO, it passed.

Documentation writers were told by devteam to put $FOO into the documentation, they were told by the QA team that $FOO was tested, so they put that into the docs. Did you expect the documentation authors to test it too?

User read the documentation, then tried to do $FOO. Why do you think it's their fault too?

The hardware vendor sold hardware that did exactly what it said it will do. You can't blame them if the bug sent what the hardware considers to be a valid command. I'm sure the vendor, or a competing vendor, would have sold a product with a reduced set of valid inputs. The devteam should have chosen *that* product.
GeneralAll are at fault, but lawyers will be the big winners Pin
Fred Kreppert29-Aug-22 7:59
Fred Kreppert29-Aug-22 7:59 

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