Monday, May 13, 2024

Using Vocabulary to Make Things Special

Whenever I talk to new testers about why they think ISTQB Foundation course was worthwhile of their time, one theme above all is raised: it teaches the lingo. Lingo, noun, informal - often humorous: a foreign language or local dialect; the vocabulary or jargon of a particular subject or group of people. Lingo is a rite of passage. If your words are wrong, you don't belong. 

And my oh my, do we love our lingo in testing. We identify the subcultures based on the lingo, and our attitude towards the lingo. We correct in less and more subtle ways. To a level that is sometimes ridiculous.

How dare you call a test developer wrote unit test if it is unit in integration test not unit in isolation test? Don't you know that contract testing is essentially different than api testing? Even worse, how can you call something test automation when it does not do testing but checking? Some days it feels like these are the only conversations we have going on. 

At the same time folks such as me come up with new words to explain things are different. My personal favorites of words I am inflicting the world are contemporary exploratory testing to bring it both to its roots but modernize it with current understanding of how we build software, and ensemble testing because I just could not call it mob testing and be stuck with the forever loop of "do you know mobbing means attacking". Yes, I know. And I know that grooming is a word I would prefer not to use on backlog refinement, and that I don't want to talk about black-white continuum as something where one is considered good and other bad, and thus I talk about allowlisting and blocklisting, and I run Jenkins nodes not slaves. 

Lingo, however, is a power move. And one of those exploratory testing power moves with lingo is the word sessions. I called it a "fancy word" to realize that people who did some work in the exploratory testing space back in the days clearly read what I write enough to show up to correct me. 

Really, let's think about the word sessions. What things other than testing we do in sessions? What are the world we more commonly use if sessions aren't it? 

We talk about work days. We talk about tasks. We talk about tasks that you do until you're done, and tasks you do until you run out of time. We talk about time-boxing. We talk about budgeting time. We talk about focus. But we don't end up talking about sessions. 

On our conversations of words, I watched a conversation between Emily Bache and Dave Farley on software engineering and software craftership. It was a good conversation, and created nice common ground wanting to identify more with the engineering disciplines. It was a good conversation to watch because while it on shallow level was on the right term to use, it was really talking about cultures and beliefs. The more words used around those words were valuable to me, inspirational, and thought provoking. 

We use words to compare and contrast, to belong, to communicate and to hopefully really hear what the others have to say. And we can do that centering curiosity. 

Whatever words you use, use them. More words tends to help.