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July 2011 | | No: 5                                                                              ...
2                                                                                                              July 2011 |...
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Combating Tester Apathy


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There are three danger signs that testers need to look out for; Ignorance, Stupidity and Apathy. All three can derail us and keep us from learning and progressing, but Apathy is the most insidious and dangerous. Don't accept it, fight it! Here are some ideas as to how.

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Combating Tester Apathy

  1. 1. July 2011 | | No: 5 £5 The Evil Tester Question Time The Evil Tester dishes out more provocative advice for testers who don’t know what to do - see page 9 Building a community, STC style $ % & ( ) 0 1 2 0 3 3 % The Software Testing Club keeps me quite busy these days. There is a lot that goes on be- hind the scenes to maintain the spam free environment we are committed to. It didn’t start out this way and nor did I predict the amount of work that would be required to maintain a great level of service. The original in-   ¡ ¢ £ ¤ ¥ ¦ § ¨ © £ ¤ ¡ ¨ ¤ ¨ ¨ £ £ £ ¤ £ £ £ § ¦ ¨ ¡ ¡ ¦ ! § £ § © ¡ ¡ ! ¡ ¨ ¤ ¡ ¢ ¨ £ # tention was to create and main- tain a *quality* community for testers. It didn’t take me thatCombating “Tester Apathy” long to realise that there was a good reason why there was a lack of *quality* online com- munities for software testers. twitter, that there were very few people in my pursuit of continued knowledge Our biggest battle is in the Bay Area dedicated to testing, and learning. I’d like to believe I am not spam. The type of spam I’mI participated in a discussion on Twitter Michael Bolton suggested that I change just going through the motions and that talking about is not the obviousa while back, in regards to a colleague the words “Bay Area” to read “Entire I am actually seeing progress in my skill wonder drugs. The spam I’mand friend who had said that he had Planet” and I’d be closer to the mark. and technique. I also know that all of talking about are attempts tointerviewed 60 testers, and there was Gang, I’m sorry, but that’s depressing! this is subjective, and it’s predicated on take as much advantage of thenot a “thoughtful, engaged tester in the Of course, I only have to go my own individual bias. I may not be as community as possible withoutbunch”. Many people commented on back about two years to stare very awesome as I like to believe I am… or considering the wider implica-this statement, as did I, and I lamented clearly into the face of one of those less maybe I’m better than I believe I am. tions and community at large.the fact that in the Bay Area, by my than thoughtful, apathetic testers. All First, let’s think about why testers It’s kind of like a stranger walk-own experiences, I likewise had seen I had to do is look in the mirror. To be ing into a room, house or villagefew motivated and enthusiastic tes- fair, I believe I am many things. I like fond of a book written by Larry and vandalising your property.ters. They exist, but they are small in to believe I am engaged in the work of To give you a taste, herenumber. As I shared this comment on testing. I like to believe that I am active are a list of things that Software Testing Club need to ‘deal with’ on a daily basis. Obviously the examples are exaggerated. “I’m too busy to read group guidelines to realise self promotional stuff is not allowed 4 here. What? People don’t want to read a forum post about a link
  2. 2. 2 July 2011 | | Use #testingclub hashtag ourselves doing the least we can get away with, and is to delete the word “tomorrow’ from my vocabu- taking on the easier or more enjoyable challenges, lary. If I realize a goal has to be met, it is best to doWinget back in 1998 called “That Makes Me Sick”, if they can be called that, because we want the most something about it right then and there, not wait untilwhere he spells out three “conditions” that make for for our efforts while investing the least. In short, “tomorrow” to deal with it. If every tester wouldpeople who underperform. He spells these condi- we are where we want to be because we want to be commit to doing exactly this, the level of improve-tions out as “Stupidity, Laziness, and Apathy”. He where we are. If we didn’t want to be there, we’d ment for each tester would be remarkable.actually uses more colorful phrasing, but for this change our situation. The fact so few actually do So what are some goals testers can set topurpose, those descriptions I think are apt. means that they really want to be where they are. conquer apathy? This brings us to the condition that I thinkfairer, let’s use the word Ignorance, meaning “I don’t Larry didn’t cover in his book, but I think it has Find a testing book and commit to readingknow what I need to know”. This is actually one of to be faced before Apathy can be transformed into it (many of which can be downloaded to athe easiest conditions to remedy. We are all igno- action and success, and that condition is Fear. It’s Kindle or other E-reader, or as a PDF within minutes, so no need to wait for a physical - ourselves stuck in a rut and not really caring about book to arrive).cies in infants and their causes, effects and treatments why we are there, the base reason for not getting Download a tool framework (Selenium, Watir.than I ever will. The reason is that his livelihood and out of that rut is fear. It’s fear of effort. It’s fear of Ruby w/ RSpec and Cucumber, Robot Frame-profession depends on his knowing those details. rejection. It’s fear of struggling with something that work, take your pick) and learn how to workMine does not. I can remain blissfully ignorant of with it.most of those details and my life will not be impact- as we’d like to believe we are. I think that many Find a Meetup group in your area and commited. So ignorance is all around us, and it’s situational. people fail in large scale projects not always be- to attending its next meeting. cause they are afraid to fail, but often because they Check the calendar for the next Weekend Test-reality, though, is that we do know enough. We are ing session in your area and commit to attend-not as ignorant or stupid as we might believe we are. ing and participating.Which leads us to the next condition… change in thinking. Part of me resists learning how Laziness! Let’s face it, people are by to accomplish a goal, because I’m afraid I’ll have to Do any or all of these, and start NOW. Commit tonature lazy. If we weren’t we wouldn’t be such spend most of my time doing that activity, and not making the changes you want to see, get past the doing the things I actually like doing, such as testingadvances. Most of those advances were driven by and writing. That’s laziness, pure and simple. To get down the fear stage. If you do all that, you will getlaziness, wanting to do something more easily. To beyond it, I have to confront the laziness directly. In past the Apathy stage, and once you do that, theget to that point, though, we have to go through my opinion, the best way to deal with this situation sky’s the limit!periods of very solid application of the knowledgewe learn. Like it or not, this is hard work, and weareas that require us to work, or if we succeed,will require us to do even more work! 4 The last condition is Apathy, or better 4stated, “I don’t really care”. Sadly, this is oftenthe end point for a lot of aspirations and talents.Dreams and ambitions don’t really “die” because 4we aren’t good enough or determined enough. They website. You will regret this. I will now attack your asking for recommendations about the type of prod- site with my really bad security hacks.” uct that we just happen to make and sell. I’ll justto my fabulously exciting blog post on ISEB questions?” “Here is an article I would like to submit to jump in and recommend our tool.” “How dare you delete the post I made. I put The Testing Planet. I have copied it from someone “Hello. Please outsource your work to us. Wea lot of effort into it. It is unfair. You have no right else’s blog, but no one will notice or mind.” can’t be bothered to create a proper business relation-to delete stuff on the community you have spent “I’m not a sales person for my wonderful ship. But that’s ok, because we can do work for youyears building up. How rude can you be? Please put testing company. But we can solve your problem. now cheaper than anyone else. 5 cents per test case.”it back now before I call the police.” Come check us out on our website...” “Online communities and groups are “I think I will leave a comment on this “I tried posting this marketing spam before. designed for marketers like us. Isn’t it great howarticle saying ‘I agree’. This will show people I think I will try again. Maybe the community will we can spread our message across the web? Peoplehow truly interested I am in the actual content. It see how great we are this time around.” don’t listen to us or click on the links, who cares?has nothing to do with me not giving a damn and “I only have time to respond to posts We don’t listen to them either.”just needing to leave as many comments and links where I can leave a marketing and spammy link So as you can see the team behind The Soft-leading back to my wonderful product that you back to my organisation and their wonderful ware Testing Club work very hard, every day, to keepmust buy. What? Not bought our product? You’ve overpriced junk. Conversation? Relationships? the quality high, the content relevant and the spam-never heard of us? But we can automate your test- Debate? Sorry don’t have time for that. Just give mers out. We hope you enjoy the fruits of our without the need for coding. It is magical.” me your link love, oh and money.” “I really don’t know what functional test- “The best way to make friends in a commu-ing is. I’ve searched Google without any luck. It is nity is to leave the same comment on lots of peo-really important I know this information for a job ple’s pages. They love being asked stupid questionsinterview I have tomorrow. Plz cn u answr to my and they really want to give strangers a job”.email id.” “I’ve been testing for 1.2383957 years. “I am upset that you have removed my Here is my CV. Don’t Google it as you will seeboring and duplicate content. I have been very rude many people have copied it. Give me a job.”to you and you have now banned me from your “Oh goody. There is another forum post