Sunday, August 9, 2015

Away from Fear: Kindness-driven dialogue-oriented testing community

I don't want to be afraid. And even more, I don't want people around me being afraid. Fear is all too common in the world of testing I live in. Fear of dismissal. Fear of bullying. Fear of being put to one's place. Fear of not being right with limited experiences.

I've stayed off some agile stages with the fear of being put to my place about my views on automation.  I've built specific styles of presenting experiences to feel safe with the context-driven testing thought leaders. But the fear goes outside stages. It's fed on social media.

Let me give you a specific example. Last week, I saw this tweet.
It's clearly an ad. Ad amongst all the other tool adds I have a tendency of dismissing. I dismissed this one too. Until a reply got into my tweet stream. I started looking at it more. I saw comments like "Hacked?" and "You must be kidding, right?". I continued looking into STC discussion forums and found more examples unkind approaches.

It's amazing how many people start a conversation with me as I identify as a context-driven tester by apologising that they have an ISTQB certificate because they have been trained to believe they don't "belong" if they admit to having it. Liking it is even worse. I too format my two ISTQB certificates as "I have them but find them useless". I would perhaps offer my views on its usefulness, but it hardly defines the person I'm talking with.

To feel you belong in context-driven testing community, there's more no-no's than ISTQB. There's test cases. There's vocabulary that calls automated tests checks. These are strong beliefs, that I too hold, but that I wouldn't want to get in the way of collaboration and communication.

Context-driven testing with its rules of what is appropriate is a cause of fear. I've started to observe this fear in myself. It manifests in me second-guessing things I said without a proper reference (everything could have a reference, there's hardly anything original in this world). It makes me overreact to facial expressions of certain experts during my talks when they are in the audience. I'm afraid, clearly.

I see the same fear in others as almost compulsive-obsessive mentioning of the key names like a mantra, so that their talks are really about other people and their own great messages get diluted.

Recently, I've heard the same fear cited as a reason for stopping great people from getting up on that stage in the first place. This one makes me particularly sad.

Kindness is the key

On a day I was particularly frustrated with agilists telling me that my tester job should not exist anymore, I posted my new guideline on twitter.

We don't have to agree. But we have to take the other as a person that deserves to be treated kindly, regardless of our differences of opinion. Telling me personally I should go away from software isn't kind. The discussion could be about unlabeling what I do and finding out if there's still value with a specific mix of things I contribute.

Dialogue culture

Context-driven testing builds on the notion of "debate" and scientific principles. Without kindness, debates turn into argument and not actual dialogue. Peter Senge in his book 5th Discipline distinguishes between dialogue and discussion. The first aims at mutual learning. The latter is about finding the best viewpoint in a group and enforcing that on all participants. Dialogue requires suspending own views in search of the truth, and listening deeply to each other.

Let me give you an example of what makes our debates discussions and arguments. People I respect come out of those discussions with a message that they "don't belong to the context-driven community", and are blocked from participating in discussion forums identified as context-driven. There's an impression that people recite in conferences that context-driven testing is an elitist circle that controls opinions of it's members and is quick to kick you out, should you disagree. The context-driven school has become a label of bad behaviour some of us need to avoid.

I've been reading a book 'Argument Culture' by Deborah Tannen. The key takeaway for me from it is that I do not want to be in war against the people who have opposing views. I want to have a constructive dialogue. We can agree to disagree, and still treat one another with kindness. We should encourage people having differences of opinion, instead of telling which opinions are not good enough. Argument has an implied meaning of one being right and the other being wrong, and only a mild undercurrent of changing one's mind if the opponent comes up with good enough arguments.

People shouldn't have to keep their experiences to themselves for the fear of having a disagreement. We should be kinder in our disagreements and treat people with respect.

I'm still a context-driven tester. I look at the practicalities of where I am, and adopt my testing to it. Saying ISTQB has been good in some contexts I've been in does not make me any less of context-driven. I've chosen that label, it has not been assigned to me. So, the CDT leaders cannot take it away from me. Right now I'm thinking that label has more bad than good, but I will let that thought build up some more before deciding on taking action.

I belong to the kindness-driven dialogue-oriented testing community. If that is different from context-driven, let it be.


21 comments:

  1. Well, said, I agree 100%! The kindness-driven dialog-oriented testing community is where I want to be also! Thank you for your inspiration.

    I appreciate so much, Maaret, that you are at the same time honest and direct, and also kind. When you give me feedback, I can trust it is coming from the heart and is information I need to consider and use. Thank you!

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  2. I wrote three pages in reply to this. I'll try to make them succinct instead, although I can post the original which replies a paragraph at a time if it's considered helpful.

    1. Kindness is an abstract, therefore the relative rule can be enforced here: "Kindness" according to whom? What if two people disagree on what kindness is? I think that challenging ideas is kind, some people may get upset about it. Should "you're not being kind" be a defence, and what if it's used to defend bad ideas? Should "I am offended" be a valid argument, for example?

    2. If you're not prepared to defend your ideas and actions, at least to yourself if not others, then what value do they really have? Is it a valid idea, or is it just a faith? Should you be displaying it in public? Maybe the fear is indication of an inability to express oneself or weakness in an idea or just a desire to get up on stage and say anything without reproach. It's sad that people feel that they can't speak on the subject, but if an astrologer wants to speak at the astronomy convention perhaps it's better that they don't. It depends on if the space is safe for those people (e.g. an astronomy vs astrology debate event, if one were to exist). It's very easy to get in a room and agree to disagree with vapid placations, no progress and a lovely pint, especially where worlds seem incommensurable.

    3. Is being kind always more valuable than truth and progress? What about to people you believe are harming others - what kindness should we show them? What due respect must we pay to them? What kindness should we show to people who stand up against things that they see as harming the industry versus those that may be harming it?

    4. If we're context-driven then how could we be authoritarian about the usefulness and application of terms? (eg. "test case" and "automation" and so on is NOT a strict no-no, it's just important to understand what's weak/wrong about it to avoid problems). How could we own language at all (apart from namespaces such as the RST namespace)? There are no "rules of what is appropriate and a cause of fear" that I can find: http://context-driven-testing.com/... unless you just mean being a responsible adult as a cause of fear (which it is).

    And given the above, could we not leverage our awareness of context to make the decision about how kind to be? Be context-driven about kindness, not kindness-driven about context.

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  3. I wrote three pages in reply to this. I'll try to make them succinct instead, although I can post the original which replies a paragraph at a time if it's considered helpful.

    1. Kindness is an abstract, therefore the relative rule can be enforced here: "Kindness" according to whom? What if two people disagree on what kindness is? I think that challenging ideas is kind, some people may get upset about it. Should "you're not being kind" be a defence, and what if it's used to defend bad ideas? Should "I am offended" be a valid argument, for example?

    2. If you're not prepared to defend your ideas and actions, at least to yourself if not others, then what value do they really have? Is it a valid idea, or is it just a faith? Should you be displaying it in public? Maybe the fear is indication of an inability to express oneself or weakness in an idea or just a desire to get up on stage and say anything without reproach. It's sad that people feel that they can't speak on the subject, but if an astrologer wants to speak at the astronomy convention perhaps it's better that they don't. It depends on if the space is safe for those people (e.g. an astronomy vs astrology debate event, if one were to exist). It's very easy to get in a room and agree to disagree with vapid placations, no progress and a lovely pint, especially where worlds seem incommensurable.

    3. Is being kind always more valuable than truth and progress? What about to people you believe are harming others - what kindness should we show them? What due respect must we pay to them? What kindness should we show to people who stand up against things that they see as harming the industry versus those that may be harming it?

    4. If we're context-driven then how could we be authoritarian about the usefulness and application of terms? (eg. "test case" and "automation" and so on is NOT a strict no-no, it's just important to understand what's weak/wrong about it to avoid problems). How could we own language at all (apart from namespaces such as the RST namespace)? There are no "rules of what is appropriate and a cause of fear" that I can find: http://context-driven-testing.com/... unless you just mean being a responsible adult as a cause of fear (which it is).

    And given the above, could we not leverage our awareness of context to make the decision about how kind to be? Be context-driven about kindness, not kindness-driven about context.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for taking the time to consider what I wrote and writing back to me.

      I don't really care much for abstractions and terminology. I care about kindness in the sense that I do not want to go home feeling sad and dismissed, and I don't want to be cause of the same negative feelings for others. I believe there's a lot of work to do in the world, and focus on the negative and recovering from the negative blocks us from many good things. Principle 3. of context-driven testing states that People, working together, are the most important part of any project's context. If we cannot get along (which would be when we're not respecting the other's boundaries of what is kind and not kind by learning though trial and error), we're not really working together.

      Defending ideas and actions is a war metaphore. Why should I have to defend, when I just want to share, as much as I can so that we can mutually learn to understand what we know? We display plenty of things in public that others dismiss as irrelevant or not worth their time. Opportunity cost, we all will choose what the time should be used on to give us the most value and everything isn't possible. Comparing a subgroup of testers to astrologers in an astronomy conference is somehat insulting. Then again, you might be surprised how much the astronomers could learn from the astrologer if they have an open mind and a deep meaningful discussion.

      I've seen a number of academic debates, and they haven't been as heated and personalized as many of the testing discussions. That's the style of discussion I'm looking for. It's called dialogue and the key element is listening.

      You're free to choose your level of kindness and who you extend it to. I just believe that thinking good about people and creating an atmosphere of sharing and caring would do us much more good that trying to find the "truth". I just think of working with a heuristic: if I send someone home crying or angry, I did not complete the discussion in the tone I'd like to aim for. People first. We can agree to disagree and still say we respect the other because people can be kind.

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    2. "Thanks for taking the time to consider what I wrote and writing back to me. "

      Most welcome, I'm always glad to talk about something I care about.


      "I don't really care much for abstractions and terminology"

      Testing seems to be to have great concern for abstractions (e.g. when evaluating tool cost, use of models), and terminology is a shared way of communicating. I have enormous care for them.


      "If we cannot get along (which would be when we're not respecting the other's boundaries of what is kind and not kind by learning though trial and error), we're not really working together. "

      I don't think I was disagreeing with any of this. It's easier to exchange ideas and work closely when we are well disposed to one another. However that doesn't preclude us from accepting nonsense in the pursuit of kindness.


      "Defending ideas and actions is a war metaphore."

      It's also a cornerstone of scientific progress. Would you say that peer review is a war metaphor? How about trial by jury where a defendant has to defend their actions?


      "Why should I have to defend, when I just want to share, as much as I can so that we can mutually learn to understand what we know?"

      Because otherwise you could spout nonsense, or hate speech, or something truly damaging to the progress of society or the testing industry without reproach. You'd have a free pass to say anything you like without being questioned about its veracity. I would hate to live in that sort of world. You could equally say "why should politicians defend their actions?". In a way you're defending yourself right now, because you're standing up for what you said after I replied - was I wrong to question it? Would it have been better, in the pursuit of kindness, to stay quiet? The way I see it I see you as a responsible adult and I hold you to a high enough regard that I feel comfortable in questioning what you say in pursuit of a better outcome for us both. Hopefully we both learn something

      "Comparing a subgroup of testers to astrologers in an astronomy conference is somehat insulting"
      I think that that subgroup of testers can decide whether they are insulted or not and they require neither of us to decide that for them... however being insulted isn't sufficient defence for being bad for the industry. I'll let them make their own defence for what they say and what they do.
      The point I'm making is that we don't invite the pseudoscientists to the scientists convention. We don't invite con artists, people with unsettling agendas and so on to speak with a group for whom evidence and the scientific method is paramount. Scientists DO engage with pseudoscientists - there's a fair body of scientific papers on astrology, water divining, homoeopathy, evolution denial and so forth, but we don't give them "equal time" because they are found to be false. We also don't have two doctors giving advice to patients where one suggests antibiotics while the other suggests slaughtering a lamb at the full moon because we have progressed and not all ideas are equally valid. There's also an important difference between not being proved to work (epistemological gap, discussion to be had) and being proved not to work (no gap, extraordinary claim that requires extraordinary evidence).

      "you might be surprised how much the astronomers could learn from the astrologer if they have an open mind and a deep meaningful discussion."
      It depends on the subject. I'm sure they may have much to teach us about their favourite cake recipes or accounting or healthcare or anything except for their astrology, because astrology is nonsense. I do not want astrologers involved at the astronomy conference, because while I'm there I want to hear evidence-based findings from people who respect the scientific method. (1/2)

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    3. "I've seen a number of academic debates, and they haven't been as heated and personalized as many of the testing discussions. That's the style of discussion I'm looking for. It's called dialogue and the key element is listening."

      I've seen some rather vicious academic debates. Medical I've seen some very constructive, calm but vigorous testing debates. I've seen some testers be entirely reasonable (in my eyes) and be shouted down because the person couldn't defend their position. I put value on dialogue as well, but that's quite different to being "kindness-driven".

      I'll throw in a quote from Ben Goldacre here that I hope explains my position a little:
      "The question-and-answer session at any academic conference, after someone presents their scientific research, is often a bloodbath: but nobody’s resentful, everyone expects it, and we all consent to it, as a kind of intellectual S&M activity. We know it’s good for our souls. If the idea survives, then great; if it needs more evidence, we decide what studies are needed next and do them. Then we all come back next year, tear the evidence apart again, and have another think. Real scientists know this. Only the fakers cry foul."

      "I just believe that thinking good about people and creating an atmosphere of sharing and caring would do us much more good that trying to find the "truth"."

      You say it as if it's mutually exclusive. I would love it if we could all get along as we forge a path to the future - I will just not defend bad, damaging thinking. For example, I won't be subject to emotional blackmail. I think it's interesting that you feel that you failed if you made someone angry - you can't fully control how you make someone feel. What if someone said "your job is pointless and you should quit" and when you explain why your job is worthwhile they got angry and upset... I'd say that you were entirely correct and reasonable and I'd gladly defend your actions. It simply depends.

      "We can agree to disagree and still say we respect the other because people can be kind."
      What if they don't deserve respect? To me, people should earn that respect, not get it given to them automatically. There are people who do terrible things that I have no respect for at all. I can also have respect for a person's kindness while having no respect for their ideas. I know people who believe in an enormous amount of nonsense that I can get along well with because of their personality and demeanour.

      To me "people" includes responsible adults. Putting people first, to me, includes holding them responsible for what they say and do. It includes questioning their ideas and seeing if they hold up to inquiry - a valuable service we pay each other, if we respect it. I simply try to use context. Would I question the fairies a little girl says she sees as she plays a game of pretend? No, of course not. Do I question a self-proclaimed test professional making promises about a new tool? Absolutely, and so should everyone who cares about it. We shouldn't grant credence to ideas just because they're sold to us - that's what critical thinking is for. And if the seller is a responsible adult then I think they can probably take a couple of difficult questions on the chin. (2/2)

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    4. Hi Maaret and Chris,

      I saw this tweet by Aleksis Tulonen today:

      ”I'm a bit worried though if people feel that they want to engage less because of the climate of our community.”

      I too share this worry. And now and then I meet passionate testers who are reluctant to join the context driven community because of this. That is why I hope this blog post might open up discussions within the community about our debate climate and how we can stand for and defend excellence without creating polarization. Judging from the comments on twitter, Maaret is not the only one who would like to see a bit more kindness.

      I agree that kindness is abstract and can have a different meaning for different people. And it might change over time too as you get to know an adversary better. But the use of some basic heuristics regarding conduct when debating can go a long way I think. For example, avoid using classic master suppression techniques, such as shaming or ridiculing. Yeah, that happens.

      I also agree that one have to be prepared to defend an idea. And that can be uncomfortable of course. But if someone comes home crying then my guess would be that the debate went overboard.

      And I think that if you actually are trying to get a message across with the hope of introducing new thoughts in someone, then avoiding getting that person sad or angry will increase your chances of succeeding. Kindness is not only about being kind, it can also be about getting understood as efficiently as possible.

      Debating can of course have other purposes than dialogue. For example it can be a euphemism for some sort of positioning battle and a way of strengthening one's group identity, aka polarization.


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    5. I’ve had so many discussions around this topic in the past few days, and one theme in particular strikes me as so true I might have to blog about this. The context-driven testers are simultaneously the unkindest (to some) and kindest (to others) community there is. There’s no other group as supportive and willing to help you grow - that I know of. But the strong views and strong delivery without even getting tired repeating the message regardless of the audience is what bothers me.

      I also love the ideas from twitter that many times before I want to defend and idea, I want to explore it. I want others to help me build it. Sometimes while building an idea, I realise it wasn’t good. But going defensive from first moment seems like a bad idea, especially for new to the field. Or those with strong but opposing views (like ISTQB-theme).

      It’s not just going home crying, but it could also be going home beaten and dismissed. Less engaged. People are fragile creatures. Gender-stereotypically speaking, women are more vulnerable to this. There’s not enough kindness to compensate the unkindness the attacking / inquisitive attitudes cause - a behavior modelled strongly in the context-driven community.

      Defensive people won’t listen to you. Then again, biases make it hard to hear things in the first place that don’t match your viewpoint. But anger and defensiveness isn’t definitely going to help.

      I’m not trying to divide the community. I want to see us build more bridges. Be vague about our borders for everyone who could. Allow people who disagree to engage in conversations without attacking them. Trying to build their idea, instead of bringing it down. Changing it. The improv-technique of “Yes, and…” comes to mind. What if we looked at stuff with that attitude for a change?

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    6. Chris, still a reply on your reply.

      Communication isn’t about defined words, it is about creating understanding between two people. I try to believe that things people say come from good intentions (even if sometimes bluntly or in form that could be easily misinterpreted), and explore with that person from the premise of good intentions. More words, less definitions. Discussing examples, digging in deeper. Leaving it shallow if digging in deeper means an argument, not an exploration.

      You talked about accepting nonsense in pursuit of kindness
      “I respectfully disagree, let’s talk about something else” would work. I don't need to spend my evening discussing a foundational disagreement just because I realised there was one. I can choose to do so, but if I do, I better go find my patience and kindness somewhere.

      Tannen argues in her book that the war metaphors block progress in the academic field. Yet another idea that could be untrue, but it sounds like it's plausible (to me). We should be able to sometimes just explore and build things together, without ripping anything apart. A “Yes, and…”-attitude.

      You can correct my mistakes by offering new information, you don’t have to bash down what I already think I know, right? What you can do depends on who you do it to. Approaching with kindness does not hurt at all.

      On the this discussion and its potential unkindness, I find that we are exploring the topic of kindness, not that you are trying to prove me that kindness is not something the world needs. I'm happy to participate in that discussion until it becomes wordplay that does not bring me new insights. These writings are investment of time on this over something else, and I try to keep that in mind.

      If you know a subgroup gets insulted with your message, do you have to push it on their face? Or moreover, if you see them getting insulted (feedback), will you keep continuing over and over, hoping that your persistence will change their mind?

      I don’t give things I don’t find of value my time. I don’t want to give them space in my twitter flow, but sometimes I fail in my good intentions and waste time on arguing something that isn’t going to go anywhere. Negativity spreads fast and eats up energy without taking me anywhere. On the same time, focused positively, I could have done something that changes the world in the small scale I most care about. Found a bug. Had a meaningful face to face discussion. Explored the idea of how we could be kind to one another online.

      The insulted astrologer won’t share her cake recipe with you. Why would you want that? Just avoid something that hurts the other, changing topics does not mean you accepted all that was said before. You can agree to disagree. I want ISTQB people in testing conferences. They do actual work, and one label shouldn’t block us from exchanging the relevant recipes. But I would carefully choose topics to avoid unnecessary unkindness, and to enable actual exchange of ideas. Make rules on parking discussions that don’t take us anywhere - for now.

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  4. Great post Maaret. This is my first comment on a blog for a very long time.
    I used to be an active blogger, meet testers day in day out, share my experiences, challenge, question, unlearn and learn with them...but stopped doing all of it when I saw the walls being built. I do not know which school or community I belong to now...Am I an agilist? a context-driven tester? a tester? an automator? Well, you have made me realise I don't have to care about them.

    Cheers for this post. THANK U

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  5. Thanks Maaret!

    I think Tannen's work on "ritualized adversativeness" is particularly apropos to your points about fear. Specifically the idea that we are inappropriately afraid to be ourselves and be vulnerable about our perspectives when confronted by an argument that has only destruction or dominance as it's cause.

    Nicely written!

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    1. Great point. A difficult term I will have difficulty remembering, but conceptually brings the point out much nicer than I could have. Thank you"

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  6. (This is Kate Falanga @Squidish_QA)

    I find debate fun. However, I think it's usually fun for those who are in the middle of having it and not so much for the people who are listening to it.

    It's similar to online conversations like this. While I may be engaging with Maaret or Chris, how is what I am saying and how I am saying it perceived by others? Am I backing up an idea or just being argumentative? My intent may be clear to me and the other parties involved in the debate but they may not be for the average lurker. I think this is something that can be easily forgotten in the heat of talking about ideas with passion. I know I have.

    I think this can be very alienating to those who could benefit from learning more about their craft but may only see debate over a healthy exchange of ideas. Why be part of difficult conversations when reading a book or taking a certification course is so much less confrontational? Is debate and building walls the best way to promote and teach good testing? I personally don't think so.

    I've learned by listening to the ideas of others and considering them. Some I agree with. Some I don't. That's ok. You may not agree with my ideas. That's ok too. You honestly don't even need to be reading this.

    It's more important that we both listened to each other, thought about what the other person said, and determined our own path from a more informed state. Good ideas are easy to agree to. I agree with the ideas of 80 - 90% of people within the CDT Community so I identify with that community.

    I've been talking a lot about the importance of Branding at Conferences and I do think the Brand of the CDT community isn't what we want it to be. However, it's something that's easy to change over time. Anyone can help.

    Instead of backing away, become the change you want to see. Act the way you want others to act. Lead by example. Share your ideas and listen to others. Show people who have never even heard of the CDT community how supportive it can be. We have really great ideas that are very important to everyone's future careers. You don't need to be a "big name" to do this. This is a diverse community of amazing people. Let's make it the community what we want it to be.

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  7. Hi Maaret,

    Thanks very much for your insights, experiences and comments. Thanks also to Chris whose comments were very interesting, and to me at least, seemed to illustrate some of your points.

    I believe that kindness is a way of behaving much more than an abstract idea: a way of dealing with people with respect even if you disagree, being willing to look from their point of view rather than simply dismissing what looks wrong to you, and affirming the person even if not affirming the topic of discussion.

    One communication idea I have found very interesting is "push" and "pull" style "Push" says: "I know best, my ideas must prevail." This is ok in some circumstances (contexts?). "Pull" style seeks common ground and asks questions as a way of moving the other person around to a different point of view.

    The adversarial position of the two testing communities is the sadest thing about software testing today, in my view. I hope that your influence and this blog might help to increase understanding and real communication among testers of whatever label. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    PS I blogged about some negative ISTQB comments a while back. http://dorothygraham.blogspot.co.uk/2011/02/part-1-certification-is-evil.html

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  8. Hi Maaret. Another point-on post from you, thank you. To be fair, CDT community is not the only one that spread fear or/and might seem aggressive to some :) IT seems like pretty aggressive industry in general.

    I once felt I'm a context-driven-tester, but as times went and context changed, I felt like CDT is too focused on ISTQB topic and anti-automation testing/checking, sometimes even anti-agile (as often some (fanatical, radical) agilist insist on 100% automation). As I moved more into automation and agile processes, I felt like Sharath Byregowda wrote above - am I a context-driven-tester? An agilist? Am I anti CDT because I don't care that much about ISTQB and testing vs checking AND anti agile at same time, because I think 100% automation is bullshit? Am I anti testing, because I say testing in the end of the sprint is wrong (in certain context and should be done much much earlier, before code is even written)?

    All these topics are good to talk face to face when you have much time to explain and talk to whoever you talk to, to see their emotions and act on them. But blogging and twitter look very dangerous, as someone will definitely pick it up w/o reading and understanding fully; very few will read a lengthy blog post. Controversial sentences will be ripped off and spread like fire. And here go the arguments, online debates, labeling, and protecting own communities once being offended when no offense was meant.

    I wish respectful dialog was easier online and people would double check their assumption, but as it is now I'm a bit afraid controversial talks will bring on controversy and I won't have enough time to defend and explain my thoughts. Hence the silence.

    It is also rejecting reading some communities, because when you open related twitter feeds it is full of controversy and bashing. Reading Scrum vs LESS vs SAFE is one example. It seems there are big thought generals and there is a war for minds of people, that's where the aggression comes from :)

    Good luck,
    Sergei

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    1. Thanks for your thoughtful response. It's not just testing. But testing (and agile) are my communities, and I prefer not to focus on problems of the whole world.

      This little video has been a great comfort for me in the idea of speaking about not accepting the current atmosphere any more. "This video will make you angry" by CPG Grey (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rE3j_RHkqJc), illustrating how ideas exploit feelings to let thought germs spread. The angry ones are particularly nasty,

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  9. Thank you for this post. I've been very anti-certification for so many years. After a few years with the agile community, I'm starting to see a different way of doing things. Do we need to "fight this"? Everything about certification has already been said. Everything about vocabulary has already be said. Every argument about coding vs not coding goes on and on. All of this isn't helping when the fact is, we don't "forge the future of testing" and no one of us can control where the future goes. Testing is part of software overall. By infighting and being unwelcoming, we lessen the strength and learning possible. Isn't it enough to just "be right" or "do better"? Can't we let people decide for themselves? Surely novices will still get certifications and usually the companies are paying for that. Creating other options for people to pick that offer more value is one way of reacting if you don't like what is out there now. We don't have to trash the other side and fight about it.

    Pretending it is a "fair debate" is laughable to me. It isn't. It's an angry mob with people having taken sides. You can pretend it is a "fun debate" all you want, but I've seen the people gossiping and even telling lies to try to ruin a person's career! That isn't a debate. That is more evil than any certification. At least they are doing it with some pretense of trying to help.

    It isn't that you aren't right. It is that being right is more important than doing good things that help the community. Those who can't give up "being right" are a big problem in tech overall, especially in matters of opinion that aren't provable entirely. Which is most of what we do in software (not all, just most).

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  10. Thank you Maaret for writing about this.
    I've now edited this text several times as this raises so many issues from the past but I'll let those be and just say that I've felt the same for quite a long time now.
    I remember the time when I was full of ideas and interested in going to conferences and speak but somehow all that has changed now. Now I prefer to meet people face to face and talk to the ones that I meet in my work instead of thinking about talking in conferences or especially participating in discussions/debates online.
    Thanks and don't get discouraged in the debates/discussions that are currently going on!

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    1. The discussions going on seem very supportive and encouraging to me and hopefully help us explore how we want to behave towards other people.

      I would like to help you rekindle your interest to conferences and speaking. We need voices like you. Can I offer you a stage to share in a safe environment in Finland?

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    2. I have to think about this a bit as I am currently doing something else than testing but thanks for the offer! :)

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  11. Hi Maaret,
    Love reading your discussion here and although I am not immersed in the community, I am commenting from the perspective of kindness.
    I like how you point out that even though we may not agree on anything and hold strongly opposed views, we still can be kind to each other.
    Kindness is a climate, an environment - an atmosphere and we either live in it and embrace it, or we do something else.
    Thanks,
    Bren
    Kindness Everyday

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