Saturday, June 5, 2010

(3/12) All I Ever Needed to Know About Testing I Learned in Scouts

This is the third of a 12 part series.

As many of you know, outside of testing and raising a family, my single biggest time commitment is being a Boy Scout Leader. Over the past couple of years, I’ve seen and heard various presentations regarding a code of ethics around (teaching, development, testing, governance, fill in the blank). Each time I’ve heard or read these statements I’ve caught myself saying the same thing…  “If everyone just lived by the Scout Law, we wouldn’t need this patchwork blanket of ethics rules and codes of conduct”.

My “challenge” now is to see if I really could map testing to the Twelve Points of the Scout Law.

Note: these twelve points are those as defined by the Boy Scouts of America; while the Scout Law is similar in all countries that have Scouting movements, the wording is often a little different depending on the country.

“A Scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean and Reverent”

A Tester is... Helpful
From the Scout's Perspective we encourage the interpretation of  "A Scout is helpful" to refer to the fact that a Scout cares about other people. They will willingly volunteers to help others without expecting payment or reward for what they do. the phrase "Do a good turn daily" fits right into this notion.

Testers by their very definition are there to be helpful. While it's possible that some testers are deliberately malicious because of pure malicious intent, that's been a very small subsection of the testers I've known and worked with. While we do not entirely ply our trade without expecting payment or reward (hey, I have to eat, too, ya know :) ), I certainly try and encourage others to give a hand to those who need it. Most of the other testers that I have known and learned from felt the same way. Typically, if you ask a tester for help with something, we will expect you to do some of your own homework first, enough to be able to ask and answer a few searching questions. Once we know that you have done that, we as a group are very giving of our time, our talents and  our resources to others in the testing community.

Do a search for the number of testing podcasts that exist and see how many of them you have to pay for. There's hundreds of hours of instruction, encouragement and new ideas to listen to and find out there, and much to learn without spending a dime. Many testers know that if you give away what you know, others will seek you out and pay for what you know. Showing that your ideas can be had for free broadcasts that you have ideas to spare, and companies tend to respond in kind. Being tight-fisted with your time and your advice and not contributing to the community as a whole tends to isolate you and that ability and brilliance that particular tester may have doesn't get a chance to be seen by many people. Given the choice, I'd rather be one to help others. One never knows how and when those you helped may return the favor (and no, I'm not keeping score, that's not the point :) ).

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