Reflections from TestBash Brighton – Being Brave

I’ve been a member of the online testing community for a long time, initially though Twitter by following some testing ‘names’ and then through the Ministry of Testing. A lot has been written about how welcoming the Ministry is and how they put inclusion and diversity at the forefront of their thinking and planning and I can only echo that. They have not only helped me improve as a tester, they have helped me improve as a person and had a massive and unexpected impact on me. They helped me be braver!

I’ve written poetry and parody lyrics to songs since I was young. These were always for me, with a couple of minor exceptions to my partner! You know, valentines and other mushy stuff… But something happened along the way and posting my first foray into testing related output (https://www.thebigtesttheory.com/blog/2017/11/26/if-ady-stokes-2017) in the club as well as my blog (which was also for me, never expected anyone else to read it) was a very big step for me. It took a long time for me to decide to share, then even longer to hit the Create Topic button. Fortunately there are some very kind people in our community who enjoyed it and encouraged me to do more.

At Brighton in my talk, Test all the Things with the Periodic Table of Testing, I had an irrational idea to create a song for people to join in and hopefully remember my table. I always get nervous before talking but it was several levels raised above normal thinking about singing (well, what I call singing) in public. Again I was encouraged by many but I need to shout out to Gem Hill and Emma Keaveny (our brilliant Essentials host) for their encouragement. To quote Emma;

Yes my friend, be brave! It’s the best place to be brave.

And it was! Despite my shaky voice, messing up the last chorus and going out of rhythm I did it! With more help from the amazing Gwen Diagram and João Proença through a Twitter request I had my support and the whole crown joined in. Warning, if you play this, you will hear my truly awful singing. No excuses, but it is a bit out of sync… honest… 😊

https://twitter.com/ministryoftest/status/1113369481596801025

Lyrics below if you want to see but the story isn’t quite finished…

Two days later I was even braver in the 99 second talks at TestBash. I read out my poem, Does it Work. The very first time I have ever read out one of my poems. I was shaking badly throughout to the point I nearly dropped the mic (not in a cool at the end way like Vern Richards (love him) suggested).

Being brave can sometimes have its rewards and mine was incredible. I’ve been a long-time admirer of Angie Jones and was fortunate to sit on the same table of her for TestBash. It literally made my week when I collapsed in my chair, stunned by the reaction and that I had actually beaten my fears, and Angie high fived me and said, ‘good job’. I have had it confirmed that despite being a 52 year old the correct label for my reaction was that I had a complete ‘fanboy moment’! I make no apologies for this, Angie is a legend, period.

If you take anything away from my ramblings please let it be, be brave. I am very confident in saying that whatever it is, whatever you want to try, we got you. Me, Ministry of Testing, the whole community. No judgement, just love. Be brave.

We Will Test You (music by Queen; lyrics by Ady Stokes)

Buddy you’re a visual heuristic

Describing the breath of the testing universe

You got elements in place

Paths you can trace

It’s something you can use all over the place, Singin’

We will we will test you (come on)

We will we will test you

Buddy you have different elements

Covering how you can test all the things

You now have a place

You can embrace

You can use this table all over the place

We will we will test you (with the periodic table!)

We will we will test you

Buddy you can scope your projects

Listing all the things that you want to test some day

No mud on your face

It’s no disgrace

To help you test the things give it pride of place

We will we will test you

We will we will test you

Reflections from TestBash Brighton - Testing is?

For my talk at TestBash Brighton Essentials (see ref below for slides and more) one of the things I covered was what I believe testing is. Over the last 6-months or so I have been mentoring a new tester on their journey and to start that journey, I had to explain what testing is.

There are a many, many attempts to explain testing and I even referenced one of my favourite descriptions in my presentation.

Testing is the infinite process of comparing the invisible to the ambiguous so as to avoid the unthinkable happening to the anonymous.

James Bach

Over time, the more I looked at how different people went to great lengths to explain the craft, the techniques, the mind set and from other perspectives. I though, there must be a simpler way of beginning the conversation as it is my opinion that when trying to explain what ‘testing is…’ we do ourselves a disservice and answer instead, ‘what testers do…’ or a close variation.

My belief is when we do this, we confuse ourselves and others and we would really help our craft and each other if we simply said;

Testing is part of risk mitigation for the product or system.

Now I know that might sound overly simplistic when we are sometimes put in the position of defending our profession and craft. But, we should follow up with;

And we do that by…

This way, when we talk about critical thinking, observation, problem identification and solving; explain why automation helps but isn’t a solution in of itself; offer advice about bias, empathy and inclusion; offer opinions on observability and testability and ask unexpected questions from the, ‘but that would never happen’ category, there would be a clear concept that all these things help us identify and reduce risk for the product or system we are helping develop.

I would be really happy to hear others opinions on this way of thinking. Please let me know in the comments or follow up on Twitter @CricketRulz

Refs:

https://www.ministryoftesting.com/events/testbash-essentials-brighton-2019

https://www.slideshare.net/adystokes/test-all-the-things-with-the-periodic-table-140052297

Talk link to be added later, may be Pro or attendees only, to be confirmed