User acceptance testing

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User acceptance testing”, or “UAT”, is the process whereby an IT department experiments on its workforce the way scientists experiment on mice. It is designed to make sure new software it would like to impose on the workforce but which users do not want, understand or care about, will not be so disruptive, annoying or useless that users rise up in outright rebellion.

The optimal response of UAT is acquiescence. Ideally, indentured servants mutely accept the technology, ploughing meekly onward in an anaesthetised haze, the way cattle eventually accept branding or Winston Smith comes to love Big Brother.

There is a reason it is not called “user enjoyment”, or “user appreciation”, or “user validation”.

It is not about the user.

“Acceptance” implies tolerance, not enjoyment. Forbearance. Sufferance. Coming to terms with a generally unsatisfactory circumstance that, having played your cards, is the best you can reasonably now expect. Sacrificing individual freedom and preference for a “greater good”. When one says “I have accepted my fate” one does not necessarily mean one is happy about it. Socrates accepted his fate. Jack did, in Titanic, when he let Rose have the wooden pallet to lie on. So it is with user acceptance testing.

All care no responsibility

Note what UAT engenders: consent, and therefore responsibility.

COO: Good news! We are bringing in a new document management system! It will be flexible, powerful set of tools to give you control of your data!
Legal eagle: Great! What's the catch?
COO: There’s no catch.[1] Isn’t it brilliant? Can I get your feedback on your use cases?
Legal eagle: Sure. Could we have dynamic indexing across the organisation?
COO: No.
Legal eagle: How about virtual folder structure based on Boolean search algorithms?
COO: No.
Legal eagle: Flexibility to opt out of irrelevant metadata field entry?
COO: No.
Legal eagle: Can we create our own metadata files and hierarchies?
COO: No.


Different Legal eagle: This document management system is rubbish. Whose idea was this?
COO: Legal users. Idiots.

See also


  1. There is a catch.