Saturday, January 1, 2011

10 Most Read TESTHEAD's of 2010

So what would a end of the year/beginning of the year blog post be without discussing the ten most read posts for the year (well, 9 months) that this blog has been running? In truth, the reason that these blog posts have garnered the readers that they have is because of one thing... word of mouth.

I am indebted to Software Testing Club, the Association for Software Testing, Testing References, and numerous bloggers who have referenced my posts and made mention of my blog entries. Markus Gärtner gets the credit of being the single person who has directed more traffic to my site than any other. Markus also happens to be my Miagi-Do sensei, so maybe that shouldn't be too surprising ;). Still it's greatly appreciated. I also wrote a guest blog post about TestComplete on SmartBear's blog site, and a lot of traffic has also come from there, too. Bar none, however, the biggest contributor to readership of my blog has been Twitter, and the various readers who have retweeted my blog listings to others, and then to have them retweeted by others, and so on.

So rather than give a run down on what my favorite blog posts are from the year, I'll chat a bit about the 10 posts that YOU, my readers, felt were the ones most worthy of your time and attention :).

10. "Jamming" for Testing Jobs

This was actually a somewhat tongue-in-cheek article at first, but it was the first time I started to compare my life as a musician and my life as a tester in depth. The funny thing is that, they both have a lot in common, and the paradigms are not that far removed from each other. I'm still strongly in support of the idea of testers getting together to jam on ideas. I think it'll go a long way in keeping test interactions fresh and interesting.

9. My First Experience with European Weekend Testers

Weekend Testing was a curiosity to me in the beginning of the year, and became something I wanted to know more about as time went on. This chronicled my first experience with the Weekend Testing team in Europe, and my first session and interactions with this paradigm, and how excited I was after completing my first session. I felt like, finally, I had a little bit of understanding of the model, and the first stirrings of interest in forming a chapter in the U.S. took hold. Little did I know how fateful this first experience would be!

8. TWIST # 17: Going Down Under Again to Discuss Homegrown Automation

Although the actual podcasts are hosted on the Software Test Professionals site, I have enjoyed the "behind the scenes" color commentary I've been able to provide, and I'm happy that something I invest so much of my time in is represented here in the top ten for 2010. What made this one interesting was the fact I edited this while I was attending the Pacific Northwest Software Quality Conference in Portland, so pretty much all editing and sound recording I did for this episode, I did in the hotel room in Portland. I think that this one garnered the most attention also because it's a topic that many of us tgruggle with, so it felt food to hear from people who made it seem like a much more human endeavor, and not something so far removed from what we regularly do.

7. When Catastrophic Failure Hits Home

I have been heartened to see this in the listing. This was my recollections of my experiences of the night of September 9th, 2010, the night when a 30 inch natural gas pipeline exploded in my home town and changed our lives, our communities life and irreparably altered one neighborhood's life forever. It was a rush of emotion, and it was probably one of the hardest things I've ever written. My thanks to everyone for your thoughts and prayers for my little town during and after this event. It will not be forgotten.

6. If I Were Hiring Testers...

It was interesting to think about how fateful these conversations would prove to be, as they were in many ways the catalyst to the new job that I will be starting in January. In many ways, I was able to present my philosophy without any concern for interviewing or for even looking for a job. I think in many ways, that proved to be helpful, as I was able to present my ideas without bias and without an agenda. This would also prove to be a fateful article, in that it was where I finally voiced my criticism of a Weekend Testers movement not having been started in the states. This also netted me the now famous/infamous "call out" that said "if you aren't willing to do it, why should anyone else be?!" In many ways, this would be the day that Weekend Testing Americas became front and center on my radar screen.

5. Weekend Testing... Americas? Western Hemisphere? Coming soon?!

From announcing the interest to the first session was less than two weeks. Two things that we learned from this experience were that "if you build it, they will come" is not just a catchphrase from the movies, it's a real life phenomenon, and that the testing community at large is really giving and really helpful. So many people's god vibes and great advice helped us make this go from abstract idea to reality.

4. Weekend Testers Americas (WTA) Preparing to GO LIVE This Saturday

Are you starting to notice a theme here? Weekend Testing has become the most shared element of my blogging experience when all posts are taken together, and it seems that a lot of people wanted to see this happen really badly. Build it and they will come? Well, yes, that proved to be very accurate. This post and its supporting tweet took off like wildfire and a lot of people decided to run with it and help spread the word. With myself, Joe Harter and Lynn McKee as the founders, we developed the charter to host weekend testing in the Americas, and went live with our first session two weeks afterwards. It was a fast and furious incubation period, but it was very heartening to see the support that it generated.

3. Your Personal Kanban/GTD/SCRUM/Whatever Board

I thought this was interesting, in that this was a quick aside about a tool that I thought was neat. Well a lot of you out there thought it was cool too, because you ran with it and retweeted to a lot of people to check out this article. I'm sure Tim Coulter, the developer of the app, appreciated the boost as well. He was also one of the tweeters to help spread the word about it :).

2. Army of One: Pairing With an Expert

For a while this was my number one post, and really had to do with the joy of sitting down with a domain expert and explaining my ideas and making sure I understood his ideas. When you work in a world as complex and convoluted as Immigration Law and Corporate Hiring Standards, and all the red tape that is involved in all of that, it's easy to get lost or miss things. Areas I thought were well covered turned out to not be so well covered, and areas I thought were important turned out to not be so important after all. This was all brought home because a domain expert, in this case an Immigration Attorney, sat down with me for half a day and became a pair tester with me. We talked about everything going on in the product, as well as what should or should not be there, and where my efforts would be most appreciated by other domain experts (i.e. paralegals and attorneys).

1. Well, How Did I Get Here?!

What was amazing about this post was that it was just a reflection of all the things that I had seen happen over the course of a year. It chronicled my journey to rediscover my joy and excitement of testing, and how it brought me in touch with an amazing community. When I wrote what I felt was a simple "thank you" for interesting and amazing opportunities, many testers not only re-tweeted my post, but wrote their own posts around the idea and referenced the original entry. The result was that this post became my most read post of the year within 24 hours of my posting it, and now stands miles ahead of anything I've written before or since (and again, since has only been three weeks!).

TESTHEAD has been an amazing journey, and it's helped live up to the sub-line as well... "The Mis-Education and Re-Education of a Software Tester". Some thought that it might be a negative and downer description, but I've come to see it as anything but that. It's been a great journey so far, and yet, even with everything that has happened since, I still feel there is way more I can learn and understand and contribute. I'm totaly psyched for what I'll be able to say that I have done for 2011, and I will do all I can to make sure that TESTHEAD tracks it 100% of the way!

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