Whose concept is it anyway?

What do you do when respected big names begin to rub their horns and piddle to mark territory that belongs to no one in the testing world?

What thoughts would rage in your mind if one of those respected geniuses acknowledged as testing world’s thought leaders snivels and growls like a hyena over a carcass eaten away to glory by many in the past? Whose carcass is it anyway? Would you turn away or just hope for the heavens to open up and inject some sanity.

For a while now I have noted clans forming on the web. The gurus have their ‘chelas’ (disciples) who strut the stuff which intoxicate the masters. And it is easy to see the ‘dirt’ if you are as much on the web and read blogs as I have been this last few months thanks to my forced break *not* caused by recession. But what I read recently was muck of a different kind attributed to someone I deeply admire.

Without much ado first read this post which is the evidential piece-de-resistance that dieseled the chilly in the belly. Note the snobbishness and traces of vilification on display.. This is nothing but bad blood spattering across our screens.

Now “Exploratory Testing” was ad-hoc testing earlier and some people (including James Bach) re-defined it by making it purposeful and intelligent testing than was thought earlier. Yes, there has been a lot happening on ET and there are others who are since giving a distinct and new shape to it (see links 1 2 and 3).

James has several other labels on his shiny brilliant shirt which include the context based testing school and so on… I read his testing blog avidly for his original thoughts (and even his other on ‘unschooling‘ which resonates with my thoughts because my existence has trodden a somewhat similar path without the accompanying halo). Great! Testing becomes so much the better when such people abound because then lesser mortals like me learn from it and use/mold the concepts for the betterment of product quality and the user who lives down the street…. Besides James the mighty there is another James (Whittaker) who is known for the simplicity and practicality of his writing and the solutions it provides. I have read his How-to books and recommend it heavily to all I know who have a thirst to be better testers. I even had the How-to books presented to my team for them to practice the solutions. No, I have not read his book on Exploratory Testing but plan to in the future. Likewise there is Michael Bolton, Cem Caner and others – great men with thoughts that influence the future of testing.

When great men sprinkle the web with pearls that shed new light I pick them, make intelligent guesses and decide what is best for me and the situations which confront me. Some I file them away in the recesses of my memory hoping the light will shine through during periods of need. I chose whether what they espouse is good for me over and above what I have learnt based on my own experiences. My mind for whatever it is worth ignores text that belittles and vituperates because I hate the stink of rotting flesh and most importantly the choice is mine. When I pass on the pearls to the small bunch of people I manage, I will give/add my 2 cents and expect them to make intelligent noises. Which is how it should be. I expect no obeisance. We do not want a KKK testing clan for Buddha’s sake. Its growth will be anathema to good that needs to happen to testing. There is enough happening which is positive but we do not want His Majesty sullying the wall in public because that will be like a wart on Ms Jolie’s nose we would rather not have.

So whether it is JW or JB or any other J talking about Exploratory Testing – the howling hyenas and their menacing jaws snatching and tearing flesh would never intimidate me.

Mine or yours?

Mine or yours?

For I know what is good for me.

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2 responses to “Whose concept is it anyway?

  1. There’s one part of what I do that you seem to understand very well: nobody owns testing. I do not control the concept of ET, nor do I seek to.

    However, because I’ve been researching and extolling a disciplined and educated approach to exploratory testing for 20 years or so, I do want to say something when a people come along who apply the same word to a different idea, especially if it’s a bad idea.

    James Whittaker has a narrow view of exploratory testing. I have a broad view. He has experience with his narrow view, although that experience has not been on actual commercial software projects, since he’s spent his time as an academic, not in Silicon Valley. I don’t think Whittaker has a strong understanding of ET, and I would like to push him to go deeper into the subject instead of stay at a shallow level with it.

    My criticism of Whittaker is a professional matter. I don’t want to see this fascinating subject trivialized. That’s the point.

    Anybody can say anything they want. That’s great. And it’s up to us to make our craft better by criticizing what we consider bad work.

  2. Here’s hoping for a positive fallout to the ‘professional matter’ between the ‘bad work’ and the ‘disciplined and educated approach’ related to ET. It will be fascinating to see how this progresses…

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