Skip to main content

Writing Negative User stories

Last post 03:11 am October 7, 2015 by Ramsay Ashby
4 replies
03:00 am September 30, 2015

Hello Pro Scrummers, I'm a BA transitioning from traditional waterfall to Agile scrum implementation in my software projects. My project is currently in discovery phase and i'm in the process of writing User stories. As part of this process, I had the following questions :

1. Can a user story be documented in a negative format. If yes, what is the best way to draft it and also what kind of value does a negative user story add from a client perspective ?

Ex - As an Admin user, i do not want to display the win rates on the client IO page as this information is not considered valuable.

2. How do we represent a math formula/calculation in a user story ?

Ex - Client requirement - As a connect user, i want to see revenue as: Budget spend (app nexus is revenue) + % of the total budget

Appreciate your inputs.


05:29 am October 1, 2015

I suggest you always formulate User Stories in positive wordings, in order to focus on the value that is generated by using with the system.

In your examples the negative aspects / formula can be part of the Condition of Satisfaction.

1) As an Admin user, I can see the client IO information, so <generated value>
Condition of Satisfaction: win rates are not displayed

2) As a connect user, I want to see revenue, so <generated value>
Condition of Satisfaction: Budget spend = <form>ula>

07:57 am October 1, 2015

Think about how acceptance criteria would have to be written for a negative story. It can be very difficult to conclusively prove a negative in all conditions that might hold.

02:42 pm October 6, 2015

How to write a positive user story when you want the system to be automated?

The user does not want to do something, instesd the system should do it instead.

as a user a do not want to...
as a system I want to...

sometimes the stories will not fit. Be creative, be fexible, be agile and do what ever helps you building up the system. It is more about collaboration then of writing the perfect story. And when you have no problem with negative user stories, use them why not. Otherwise you will recognize soon, then you can adapt it.

03:11 am October 7, 2015

Posted By Benjamin Korth on 06 Oct 2015 02:42 PM
How to write a positive user story when you want the system to be automated?

The user does not want to do something, instesd the system should do it instead.

I think that most of these situations can still be focussed around the end-user, and the value that they are getting from the system being better/more efficient/automated.

As a supermarket till operator I want the POS system to calculate the savings that a customer has made through 'buy-one-get-one-free' offers so that the process is faster and less error prone.

As a data inputter I want the xyz field to be calculated based on my other inputs so that I can focus my efforts on less repeatable parts of the process, thus increasing my daily efficiency.

But as Benjamin says, ultimately the story is a placeholder for much wider conversations so I wouldn't get too caught up in the exact wording, but if some small changes can make them clearer then it's probably worth doing.

By posting on our forums you are agreeing to our Terms of Use.

Please note that the first and last name from your member profile will be displayed next to any topic or comment you post on the forums. For privacy concerns, we cannot allow you to post email addresses. All user-submitted content on our Forums may be subject to deletion if it is found to be in violation of our Terms of Use. does not endorse user-submitted content or the content of links to any third-party websites.

Terms of Use may, at its discretion, remove any post that it deems unsuitable for these forums. Unsuitable post content includes, but is not limited to, Professional-level assessment questions and answers, profanity, insults, racism or sexually explicit content. Using our forum as a platform for the marketing and solicitation of products or services is also prohibited. Forum members who post content deemed unsuitable by may have their access revoked at any time, without warning. may, but is not obliged to, monitor submissions.