Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Nameplay around Testers

I'm a tester by identity and have made a lot of my choices on what skills to focus on developing next based on what would be useful for testing. Testing is the quest for empirical evidence over speculation of plans, and the endless strive for better through learning with the application (or specification) as my external memory.

I care somewhat what I'm called, enough not to prefer to be called a developer. I'm a tester (and an occasional programmer) and being a tester is my way of finding community of like-minded peers who want to dig in as deep into testing as I do.

Today as I was testing in the corner of our team room, I was again reminded what it is that makes me different. I was laughing as the product misbehaved under my scrutiny, I felt immense joy in figuring out what needed to be fixed and getting someone to fix it so that I can forget about it. And I continued to the next puzzle the product presented me. I love my job!

But here they choose to not call me a tester. They call me a Quality Engineer. Like the title makes a difference, I'm still a tester and I'm still directed with the idea of empirical evidence. As a tester, I'm still not only "system testing", I'm testing. The variety of mechanisms is open to me. The only thing that limits me is my focus of filling gaps and my skills. And skills chance with deliberate practice.

As a tester, I test ideas. I test while the feature is being built. I test after it is "done" - and not nearly done enough too many times. I test it after we release it into production, finding gaps in what I can do (environment realism) and what I know to do (use cases). I'm never done, but every day I can dig in a little deeper or wider.

I also run again head first into the discussion of being more "DevOps" where everyone is a developer. I've had this discussion so many times that I could pay attention to the meta, the arguments I use time and time again:
  • "Tester" is relevant to me as it helps me find my community of likeminded deep testing thinkers, the specialists
  • No one is just a tester, specialty does not block you from doing other things if you have time
  • Becoming good at something requires focus, and while half the industry is with less than five years of experience, skills like mine (tester skills) don't get built unless you get a fertile ground to build them
  • Wanting to call me a tester is like wanting to call me a man. How about having everyone being craftswomen for a change. I'm still a woman and I'm still a tester, even if you think the other term magically includes the other. Let's just call everyone women and everyone testers. That is equally true. 
  • Playing with words is boring. How about we mobbed on some testing instead? Pick an activity, any activity and I show you what a tester like me does.
 People in general are just to keen to find their boxes and stick in them. It's not the label that defines the box, it's the attitude and skills of the people.