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SWET2 and Triggering words

The delegates of the second Swedish Workshop on Exploratory Testing (Test Planning and Status Reporting for Exploratory Testing) were:
Henrik Andersson, Azin Bergman, Robert Bergqvist, Sigge Birgisson, Rikard Edgren, Henrik Emilsson, Ola Hyltén, Martin Jansson, Johan Jonasson, Saam Koroorian, Simon Morley, Torbjörn Ryber, Fredrik Scheja, Christin Wiedemann, Steve Öberg


This weekend I attended SWET2 in lovely Hönö, Gothenburg. Great surroundings and nice weather accompanying great discussions about exploratory testing. With the experience and great knowledge of the delegates and a good structure maintained by moderators, the levels of knowledge sharing was huge. And I was amazed how long we could discuss those nitty gritty details of a subject. And that gave me some input on some triggering words I would like to share.

Update: The trigger I got for the whole post was when Johan Jonasson mentioned his trigger words at a conference this week.

In my perspective, these are examples of words to use with care if you really want to get something out of your discussions with others, without ending up tearing these wordings into pieces.

Best practices

During SWET2, we had a lot of discussions on this wording. The funny thing about it is that those two words have in some sense grown together to one single word, that means a lot. “There is no such thing as best practices!” is often heard. But in which context? Today on twitter I saw @OscarCosmo mentioning “good enough practices”. I like that, the practices that are suitable for your context, I would say they are good enough to be used. This wording is at least better than “what good best practices do we have?”.

Update: This wording was discussed on SWET2, and it was also there I heard the first seed of “good enough practice” from Fredrik Scheja, which Oscar Cosmo told me on twitter.

Acceptance tests, acceptance testing

To trigger on these words as a tester I think is just natural. Since the meaning of these are really broad, it is very important to state what you mean. Acceptance testing as if someone is about to approve the software delivered against a contract, ie performing a rejection test. It can also mean acceptance test in the meaning of ATDD, where the tests are really checks on a higher level. It can also mean anything between.

Behaviour driven development

When talking to developers, they will trigger badly if you speak to them about acceptance checks, so this is when I use the word BDD to withhold the concentration to the discussion. On the other hand, using this word among testers will often result in some blank looks. And Gojko Adzic uses Specification by Example instead of either BDD and ATDD, but they really are the same.

Coverage

What is your/our coverage? Have you heard this before? Is it important to know your coverage?

Any answers to these questions, and I hope you realize that this can be a real discussion stopper. I really try avoiding this word, as it seldom adds anything of value to the discussions. Don’t even go as far as talking about code coverage or requirements test coverage, then you are in deep trouble. At SWET2, the discussion was really about getting some metrics for risk or safeness of testing.

Bugs

I rarely use the word bug when I present my findings to developers. That will most probably always trigger defense mechanisms when trying to get a discussion about the strange behavior I found. And if I avoid the word bug, I will get less backlash if what I found was my own fault. Usually I let developers categorize the bugs.

Customer/User

Some might say that the difference between these are really well defined. But I don’t think so. The customer is paying for development or paying for the service that the paying customer has ordered? And who is the user?

I realize that there are plenty of more of these words out there. In every discussion I am in, there is always something that gets the discussion to sidetrack if not careful. I also think it is important to know which words can be safely used within a certain context. This is a deep source of not having to make assumptions on what the others know, if you talk about a certain context.

What are your trigger words?

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More thoughts on SWET2 can be found:
The test eye: Highlights from SWET2
The test eye: Thoughts from SWET2
Test and tech: SWET2 – A great way to spend a weekend

  1. Sigge
    April 14, 2011 at 21:41

    To clear things out. The reason I list these kind of trigger words and think it is important to be aware of them, is that usually the essence and goal of a discussion is something else. Being aware of the trigger words keeps you away from falling into those discussion traps.

  2. James Bach
    June 12, 2011 at 19:21

    I think you are missing the point about “best practices.”

    There are no good enough practices either. Ascribing any quality words to a practice is a bad practice in the absence of a context. Notice that in the previous sentence, I called a practice bad. I also specified a context, though, so that satisfies the discipline of context-driven methodology.

    The quality of a practice is a relationship, not an intrinsic attribute.

    When you lose interest in idolizing practices and tossing references to them around like Polemon cards, you will have taken a big step toward thinking like an engineer instead of a marketer.

    • Sigge
      June 12, 2011 at 20:03

      Hi James,
      I don’t agree with you on that. What I wrote is that there can be good enough practices for your own context.

      For example, in my project I am in at the moment we are 6 testers. We quickly got feedback on our defect reports from the developers, which were very different depending on the tester. So we created a small text file “defect description template” where the minimum requirements on our found defects are stated. Depending on the defect itself and the context, there are certain information needed for the developer to be able to analyze and fix it. Since this helped us create consistent reports.

      In that context, the template we created is in my perspective a good enough practice to solve the problem of inconsistent and badly written defect reports. I would never go on and say it is a best practice, but good enough for our context. And by what you have written in your comment, I think we actually agree.

      However, in the context of my blog post, why do you think there exists these triggering words? I think that I am pragmatic enough since I am actually aware of them. Or am I not being enough of a critical thinker ignoring them in discussions I am having? I think that the context of the discussion should be more important to trigger on instead of just pointing at badly chosen words.

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