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Blog site of  a volunteer activist

  • Writer's pictureIan Wells

Fake crowds of testers

Here is a common testing problem. I am testing a beta or live release of software. Now I need to create 2 or more fake users to login, all with different email addresses, each with different roles.  I want to monitor those fake email addresses to make sure the system is sending emails correctly. Shall I create fake gmail accounts for each one? ugh, too much work.

A service like mailinator is a great way to address this . The free version gives you real free email addresses to use. Note your emails are in the public domain. You can upgrade to the paid version to get privacy and real inboxes.

Some of us also use  email subaddressing.   For example,   create 3 users, each with an email address of , will all be aliases to and  they all send  to the email server. Using subaddresses you will see all the emails coming to your email address. Looks like a handy way to create fake user emails on the fly.

What I find is that email subaddressing becomes a  good test in itself and can be added to your system test plan. How exactly are you handling subaddressing? ( I have used one major computer product that handles subaddressing so inconsistently my account was unusable and I had to delete my account and start again). Do you recognise the "+" as subaddressing? How do you deal with subaddressed emails both in the "email" field and in the "username" field? Do you handle them as aliases or as distinct? Are you consistent?

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