Monday, 31 October 2011

Negative Testing or Negative About Testing

Just a few quick thoughts regards something I have been noticing and thinking about recently.

It seems to me, more and more, we read or hear nothing but negativity about testing. That is to say, when testing comes up in many people's blogs, it is only to criticize the lack of ability in the testing craft, highlight the deficiencies of checking, complain about what Testers think, what Testers are, etc. As Testers, I think we do a very bad PR job on what testing is and brings.

I am a big admirer of some of James Bach's ideas and principles. However, I am not a fan of his abrupt approach to Testers, who don’t sign up to his ideas and principles. To be a Tester, you need to possess an open mind, you need to see all sides of everything and then make your own judgment call. Sometimes, your call won't tally with others, that’s fine, but it doesn’t give anyone the right to belittle you, because your way of seeing testing is different. There is still a way to be a person, sometimes; I think James fails the test here.

Testing is a specialized industry, you need to be a different type of thinker than a regular programmer to be a Tester, be more of a questioner. As opposed to damning Testers constantly and surrounding testing with an air of negativity, we should be trumpeting committed people involved, embracing the committed who are in the Testing domain (even if their thoughts on Testing differ from ours).
Even at interviews, negativity reigns: -
I want to be a Tester because I like breaking things
is an answer that is so stereotypical, it gives clich├ęs a bad name. However, it is so limited. If I wanted to hire someone to break things, I would hire my 2 year old son! But that's the aura that has been created about testing, to break things, to prove things wrong, to dispel assumptions - Negativity!

The purpose of testing is surely to provide information on the product. That's it, pure and simple. Whether that be via the 'frowned upon' checking approach, manual testing, 'super cool' exploratory testing, automated regression suites or whatever individual approach; It is all testing and it is all to provide information - good and bad. However, the message that seems to filter to the top is testing is to provide bad news.

Think of it this way:-
The message about Testing needs to change. We need to promote testing as a valuable industry, a valuable asset to projects, a place where you can advance and hone your skills, create new trends, create new ways of testing, become the difference, gain respect, gain enjoyment, make a career.

Now, read the above paragraph again, but change the spin and think of it positively!