Thursday, February 23, 2012

Reasons of Illusions on Testing - Part II (Reasons)

In the previous ( post I noted five different chimeras of testing. They were:
1.       Pre-scripting testing work
2.       Using terminology (test vs. check)
3.       Women are better on an average
4.       Comprehending exploratory testing
5.       Writing claims without arguments

As some of you already speculated, I am going to put some blame on ISTQB etc. for all these problems. I am not saying it’s all because of them. I actually blame the testers for all this, they are responsible of their own answers, but it’s quite clear how “certification” is visible in their answers. I don’t want to turn my blog as a rampage against any kind of “authority”; I am only pointing out for example what kind of problems certifications can cause.

When we think about the problems with pre-scripting testing, as in creating test cases, we can rapidly see the testers were able only to cover very shallow cases. There were indeed really good ideas too, but the problem I see is that testers weren’t able to write down some really high risk cases, things I would call “basic tests”. On the other hand, I am pretty sure many of the testers would perform these tests. Maybe not on the first “round”, but evidently when given time. Possible reasons why this problem occurred: too hasty work, poor documentation skills and lack of imagination.

The second problem I noted was lack of differentiating testing and checking. I’ve talked lately with quite many people about this and pretty much everyone seemed to think it’s not a necessary differentiation. I know this might sound like a troll, however, I claim everyone serious about testing understands the difference and uses it accordingly. I don’t really care if non-testers use “test” in any way as long as testers use it properly. All professions have their own terminology (jargon) for a reason. An additional rationale for differentiating the words is for example to avoid anyone thinking that testing can be automated. A few reasons for the problem: not being serious about testing, using ISTQB terminology and working with customers who use a certain kind of terminology.

On the third point I illustrated how women were doing better than men in the test. It’s true that some of the best answers came from men, but in overall women had better results. (As a side note, I remember reading about quite many surveys on various domains where the same patters repeats.) There are many possible reasons for this result and I think one big part is that generally women analyze situations more than men. Men seemed to lack confidence (online searches for answers and even misquoted) and have short answers, which could imply they either were lazy or want to use more time with hands-on activities.

The fourth chimera was about exploratory testing. Everyone appears to write it in their CV, but few understand what it is. It’s seen as something that will be done after all test cases have been executed and there is time to look for other issues, it’s widely described as experience-based technique and commonly understood it doesn’t have any means for providing information what has been done. My blame-list for reasons: ISTQB, lack of professional aspiration and the culture in the company they are working in.

I saved the best part for the last. There seems to be a strong culture of giving claims without justification. If the claims would make sense (i.e. I would agree with the claim without hesitation and I would know how the tester came to the conclusion), I could accept some of them. But in this case there were a lot of claims I just can’t accept. Most likely not even with strong argumentation, which would be the minimum requirement for me to consider the statements as valid ones. (Before sending the problems to testers, I mentioned there are no correct answers, but they need to be able to convince me their answer is a good one.) The main reason behind claims without explanations: lack of critical thinking.

What do you think are the reasons for the mentioned issues? Maybe you want to share another general problem you have seen in testers thinking?


  1. I wonder if there might be another possibility for 3. Women performing better than men - having read 'Lean In' by Sheryl Sandberg I'm increasingly aware that many women don't take part unless they are confident in their abilities. Is it possible that less experienced men where just 'having a go' and therefore using Google to help them whereas less experienced women were skipping the exercise?

  2. Thanks for the comment, Amy!

    Nobody skipped the exercise. Some women did skip a few questions. Can't remember anymore who all, but a few actually wrote "I don't know this, could you explain about it".

    Best regards,