Writing “As a User” does not make it a user story

This post is from gojko.net by Gojko Adzik.

I got a question from one of the blog readers on how I would describe a spec with examples for a user-interface specific user story, such as “As a user, I want to register in order to log in”. The reader challenged the value of doing a Cucumber test for the registration, because it’s obvious and mostly UI-heavy. First of all, there is nothing obvious about that story. In fact, that is the problem! I wouldn’t even try to describe the spec for it, because that would just be continuing a garbage-in-garbage-out queue. A good user story is a necessary input for a spec workshop. A good user story is one that helps the delivery team reach a shared understanding on what it is about, and that helps the team discuss the needs with their business stakeholders. “As a user, I want to register …” fails miserably there, because it is a lie.

The lie starts with the whole premise. “As a user, I want to register”…. No I don’t. As a user I don’t want to give my private information to another site, have to argue with some arbitrary fascist filter about which combination of letters and numbers is strong enough, try to guess what’s written on some random distorted image, and then have to remember another set of fake privacy answers. That sentence might be in a user story format, but it’s far far from a user story. It’s grammatically correct, but completely false, just like saying “As a citizen of Greece I want to pay my tax so that the EU stops giving us free money”.

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