uTest is preparing to launch its pilot program for community-based software testing. Tester hopefuls can sign up now to be included in the first round of application testing. Tester profiles will include information on the tester’s education, experience, specialization, and available hardware.

Software vendors can use these criteria to hand-pick testers or release their product for the community to review. Companies pay only for unique, verified bugs which begs the question of how testers will avoid working out a bug only to find another tester has beat them to the report. Vendors who participate in the pilot will have those projects tested at 75% off uTest’s standard rates.

uTest has been putting its money where its mouth is by paying testers who report bugs in its own registration process. I made it halfway through the sign-up only to find that I could not complete the forms. Sadly, someone has already submitted the bug so I neither completed registration nor got paid for finding the error.

A social networking component of the system allows testers to rate each other’s performance, influencing the price-per-bug that testers can command and effectively allowing competitors to determine each other’s value.

This seems like a pretty clever application of crowd-sourcing, but the company’s site leaves many questions about implementation unanswered. How will vendors verify the resum├ęs provided by the network of testers? Will testers spend valuable time testing applications only to find that others have already claimed the prize? How will honesty in the performance rating system be guaranteed? How do I finish my registration so that I can get paid?

Read more on uTest’s blog.