Thoughts on one New Zealand test community

In November 2009, I created software testers new zealand google group. It’s not limited to just Kiwi’s (we have members from Australia, India and the US that I know of). The point of the group was to provide a *local* forum to communicate matters related to testing. Since then, I’ve notice some interesting behaviour about the group which I would like to share here….

It takes time to build a community  and initially I was doing the *heavy lifting*. I so realised this is natural as it takes time for the community to *come together* and to share the load

Once the community gathers momentum, new voices/leaders emerge – The more members, the more potential leaders. The more leaders, the more momentum generated.

Enthusiasm can become a group multiplier – (paraphrased from General Colin Powell) – When discussions abound and there is energy within the group, the group becomes larger and more involved.

Like ideas/minds attract – Since the group started, I have met approximately a dozen liked minded testers with at least four or five with whom I share a similar philosophy.

Robust discussions take time to generate – it’s a safety thing for most people. They want to feel safe before they contribute

Discussion topics – What is interesting here is that there have been a number of robust conversations (certification, use of tools, performance testing and quality to name a few) that seem to ignite tester’s thoughts, ideas, opinions (or in other words passion). On one discussion thread, what was evident were the voices/leaders in this group not taking comments at face value. As testers, we have the right to question other tester’s comments/experience/statements. This is for a number of reasons:

  • First – we want to understand and then possibly learn from you
  • Second – we will challenge your assertions. We hope that you can defend your position and by doing so help us question our own models. It does not mean that we will agree with you but such challenges are necessary to build the craft.
  • Third – it most cases – it’s not a personal attack 🙂
  • Fourth – If your assertion is misleading or damaging in anyway to the craft then expect to be challenged (the end result if we don’t is a soulless, pathetic craft devoid of any creativity or thought)

Leaders emerge at unexpected times – often they have something interesting to say – at the very least, its fodder for discussion. I have been surprised at the activity of the quieter members of the group and often I have seen them raise valid and valuable points

There ARE very controversial topics that will get testers attention – It seems to me that certification is very controversial. Lets not shy away from it, lets discuss it

Most members of the group lurk – (which is not in itself a bad thing) but imagine if they actually contributed to the group?

As the groups reputation grows, so does the number of members that join – which leads to more leaders to the group

There is a ton more activity in the middle stages of the year – and a lot less at the bookends

The more vibrant the community, the more robust the conversation – which has been true this year. The group has regularly engaged in some really robust discussions such as performance testing, test tool management and certification.

The more robust the discussions, the more opportunity for *passive* learning by those members who prefer to lurk – There has been the odd comment by a *lurker* saying how much they have gleaned from the online discussions

 In summary, we have a small (184 members) vibrant community. The strongest voices tend to be those testers who align themselves with the context driven school of testing. However, there are a number of testers who don’t align themselves with any school of thought (or haven’t declared themselves as such) who contribute well.

This leads me to the opinion that we are building a better craft OUTSIDE of what I call, the template school of thought (those test managers who see testing as an artifact, standardise driven way to test). If we don’t engage in communities like software testers new zealand, then we will have less leaders participating in worthwhile forums such as KWST.

In my opinion the solution is *simple* – be involved in the craft, participate, engage, debate, discuss and learn!

Author: Brian Osman

About bjosman

Principal Consultant at OsmanIT brian.osman@osmanit.com

3 thoughts on “Thoughts on one New Zealand test community

  1. Really interesting post – as someone who’s helped get an online test community running ( Software Testing Club ) and now expanding into live gatherings it was a great read to find out about how your community has grown.

    • Thanks Phil – i appreciate the comment! Yourself and Rosie have done a great job with STC (I’m a member and so are a number of the STNZ group as well) so to see STC grow into a testing powerhouse is a wonderful achievement. Building communities, strengthening the craft and giving fellow testers options to share and to learn is what it’s all about.

      Thanks!

      Brian

  2. Feeling very “bookendish” myself right now Brian!

    I just wanted to say thanks for setting the forum up. I have enjoyed participating this year. I am an opinionated sod – so another outlet has been great!

    Cheers

    Andrew

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