Time to step back…

If you align yourself with the Context-Driven Testing (CDT) community, or you’ve been a part of it in the past, then you’ve likely seen the flame wars on Twitter recently. If you haven’t, lucky you… don’t bother looking. Instead, just worry about doing good testing… whatever that means to you and your organisation.

I’ve remained silent for a few reasons:

  • In my opinion Twitter is absolutely awful for discussion/conversation, especially when there are more than two people involved.
  • I think many of the Tweets carry hatred due to personal issues/personality conflicts.
  • I think many of the Tweets are simply childish, like throwing the first punch and watching all your ‘mates’ deal with the aftermath.

I’ve seen awful words like:

  • Bullies
  • Asshats
  • Cowards

While these were not directed at me personally, they were directed at members of the CDT community in a very general and broad way. I therefore have included myself within their general and broad target. Rightly or wrongly, this is what happens when you label a community in such a negative way… the self-identified members take it personally (shocker).

This is me now raising my voice because I’m sick of being labelled in such a generalised way.

There are members of both ‘sides’ (I feel dirty even writing that word in this context) that simply need to grow up. If I witnessed my 9 year old daughter partaking in such rubbish I would educate her on how to handle it in a far more mature way. In fact, I’d be surprised if my daughter was even that bad in the first place.

Drop the elementary/primary school stuff folks, you just look silly.

What follows is a very personal story/experience report. I would like it known up front that I may also use generalisations, and if I offend anyone while doing do, I apologise.

When I first started out in testing I worked for a large organisation for many years. If you were to label their approach to testing then you may call it ‘factory’, or perhaps ‘traditional’. Whatever you label it, it was pretty damn wasteful for the most part. I spent 8 years learning how to test with that organisation and toward the end I began discovering that the way they tested could have been so much better. The turning point for me was reading Lessons Learned in Software Testing. This was my introduction to the CDT approach to testing (not the community – an entirely different beast).

After reading the book I then began to research more. I found more books, blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. I was then beginning to get introduced to the CDT community. After 8 years of ‘factory’ testing and no interaction outside of my organisation it was very refreshing. I met people (most virtually) that were making the same discoveries I was, other people that had called themselves CDT for years, and others that were ‘kind of’ in the CDT community and ‘kind of’ not. At the time I couldn’t have cared less what the people called themselves or what community they thought they were in… and guess what? I still don’t. If someone is willing to interact with me and help me make my testing better, I’ll interact with them. It’s true that most of the people I could find at the time were in the CDT community. Perhaps this was because there was no ‘factory’ community, or perhaps it’s because of where I was looking. I don’t care… and yes, I still don’t.

I naturally moved towards the CDT community and eventually self-identified as a member. This is an important point… I self-identified. I wasn’t initiated, welcomed, tested, approved, etc. I simply referred to myself as a member of the CDT community. If James Bach (yes, I’m using his name… like grown-ups do) had told me that I wasn’t a member of his CDT community, then I would have been a member of my own CDT community, with other like-minded people. You don’t need James’ approval. Sure, you can attribute a lot of what people understand CDT to be to James, but there are also MANY others who constantly contribute to it and move it forward… whether James agrees or not (and he’s the first to welcome that). Before I move on from James (because this is bigger than that)… yes, he can be abrupt, loud, intimidating, rude, and so-on… he once left me hanging on a Skype chat with “I thought you were better than that.” Ouch. However, I cannot dispute his testing intellect, passion, drive, work-ethic, and at times what appears to be pure genius. He’s not for everyone (from an interaction perspective), but you’d be silly not to at least research his work… even if you have to do so from arm’s length.

In more recent years I’ve spoken and written about the need for labels (i.e. CDT), and how I would LOVE them to not be required. I think this is partly because I can see the tension within the different ‘schools’ of testing, and the absolute waste of energy is causes – for the most part. Perhaps gradually I’ve been moving away from identifying myself or the way I test with a particular label. I just want to do good testing, or help to get good testing done. An unfortunate part of testing is the need for labels. If I want to differentiate the testing I do to the testing that someone else does, how do I do that without showing it (preferred option which is not always possible), or having a label for it as a conversation starter? Perhaps ‘good’ can be my new label. Then I can talk about what ‘good’ looks like/is in a particular context.

I’ve never been an advocate for “Can’t we all just get along?” I don’t think that is helpful when trying to move our industry forward. We need debate, different approaches, and different personalities who focus on different aspects of testing. How else would we make our ideas better? Self-critique can work, but other’s critiques are often far more powerful (never proof read your own work, etc.). However, maybe I’ve been looking at “Can’t we all just get along?” in the wrong way. We can all get along while debating and disagreeing on different approaches to testing, can’t we? Then again, we’re human. If getting along was that easy when we disagreed on something… well, news headlines would be a lot different.

After spending 8 years as a ‘factory’ tester, and almost as many in CDT, I think the time is right to move on from labels. From now on I’m going to be a tester, no… a good tester (or test manager, etc.). I’m sick and tired of the ‘politics’. I know they will never go away, and it would be ignorant of me to think I can avoid them in the future, but for me personally I think I can do way better if I put my energy towards good testing instead.

For those of you that will jump at the chance to declare me another victim being ‘pushed’ or ‘forced’ out of the CDT community, it couldn’t be further from the truth. No-one has done that, and the only person you can ‘blame’ (because some of you have to it seems) is me. Besides, while I won’t label myself, I’ll continue to interact with members of the CDT community (because most of them are awesome), and I really hope that I also interact with those that aren’t as well (because some of them seem awesome too). 🙂

I’m going to focus on good work and not the bullshit that often surrounds it. I’ll deal with bullshit when I have to, but no more excess energy will be spent on it. I’d like to continue helping others like Katrina has written about. For example, I started OZWST after my crew from NZ introduced me to KSWT… and I’ll continue to do cool things like that, but I will not make it about labels.


2 thoughts on “Time to step back…

  1. Thanks for your comments on this – they’re pretty much in line with how I feel. I thought the brouhaha on Twitter might amount to something, but there’s just too much nonsense in the conversation.

  2. Pingback: Five Blogs – 14 July 2016 – 5blogs

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