Spreading the Word – Being the Sociable Tester

For me, testing is a mindset rather than just a role and sometimes that can and does affect other aspects of life. The amount of times I have gone to try and break something intentionally, just to check that it can handle error cases. That would be fine, but doing it to the TV while my wife is trying to watch it may not be the best idea (just for the record, the TV didn’t break) or even worse than that, ‘testing’ one of my 9 month old sons interactive toys!  🙂 It’s a habit that is sometimes, difficult to avoid…

It is sometimes easy to forget that not everyone has the same attitude towards testing, I was recently asked by someone who is not technical atall:

“Why do you test?” What needs testing?”

I tried to suggest the usual examples:

“Would you be a passenger on a plane if you thought they hadn’t tested that it worked properly?”

“Would you put your child in a car seat if it hadn’t been safety tested?”

Then I suggested software is no different and that everything on a PC/Mac/Phone/Tablet SHOULD be tested in some form before it being deemed good enough to release to its intended audience.

Having this discussion got me thinking of ways I could help improve the attitude towards testing, especially from people who aren’t testers and also improve my own skillset at the same time.

The first place to start  for me was at work, with my colleagues, aside from doing my job to the best of my ability, I have also done the following:

  • I have printed out James Bach’s blog on ‘A Testers Commitments’ (http://www.satisfice.com/blog/archives/652) and put it up next to my desk.
  • I have my software testing books on show so anyone can come and read/borrow/discuss parts of them
  • Not being afraid to talk about testing and suggest ideas to developers on how to make their code more testable, hopefully raising the awareness that they need to think about this before they develop their code
  • I have started putting together mindmaps of how testing could improve projects that currently don’t have the resource
  • Attempted at starting an internal community where anyone who wants to discuss testing, has somewhere that they can share ideas with.

Then there is the external testing community:

  • Joined online communities such as the Software Testing Club
  • Attend conferences, there are plenty of these all year round, some are testing specific, some are software or even IT specific but it’s the people present that make the conferences.
  • read blogs (James Bach’s as mentioned earlier or look on ‘my favourite blogs’ in the menu bar at the top and listen to podcasts (“Testing in the Pub” or “Let’s Talk about Tests, Baby ” to name a couple that I have listened to recently)
  • Started a local tester gathering where people from all around the area can join and share ideas, and not limiting it to just testers but anyone who has an interest with testing (https://priorsworld.wordpress.com/aylesbury-tester-gathering)

Obviously, not everyone want’s to be sociable but I genuinely believe that my skillset and my people skills have improved no end since I started being more open to discussing/asking questions and sharing ideas and stories with other like minded people.

So what’s the next step with non-like minded people? How do we raise the profile of testing so people understand the importance of the job we do?  Some thoughts:

  • Holding some kind of event were non-testing people get chance to try and find problems in a buggy piece of software?
  • Getting out into schools and teaching testing alongside programming in the new curriculum?

Any other thoughts? Would love to hear some ideas. 
Next stop… The world! 😜