Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Follow Other Testers on Twitter, Share Ideas & Experiences, Get Feedback & Practice Your Debating Skills: 99 Ways Workshop #23 & #24

The Software Testing Club recently put out an eBook called "99 Things You Can Do to Become a Better Tester". Some of them are really general and vague. Some of them are remarkably specific.

My goal for the next few weeks is to take the "99 Things" book and see if I can put my own personal spin on each of them, and make a personal workshop out of each of the suggestions.

Suggestion #23: Follow other testers on Twitter - Stephan Kämper
Suggestion #24: Addition to Stephan's suggestion: Follow testers on Twitter is a good start but make sure you don't stop there. Twitter is a great way to share ideas and experiences, get feedback and practice your debating skills not to mention getting in contact with other passionate testers. - Erik Brickarp

These two likewise work together, so they are going to be presented as two workshops but with the same general goals. Posting two separate workshops as two separate posts would have me duplicating a lot of stuff.

I'm sure you have heard the jokes over the years. Twitter is where people go to talk about what they had for breakfast, or to post pictures of their latest stop at some trendy bar someplace. Yes, there's plenty of that out there, but there's an even more interesting aspect of Twitter that doesn't get much press. Twitter is (and I am not kidding when I say this) a 24/7 Software Programming and Testing conference.

Workshop #23: Take a Random Walk Through the Programmers and Testers Active on Twitter

For those who are not on Twitter yet, well. do something about that! 

Go to, and set up an account for yourself. 

If you're already on Twitter but don't want to commit your main account to this experiment, create a new account that you will dedicate to software testing.

If you are comfortable blending a personal account into your testing explorations, hey, rock on. 

Twitter allows for a number of ways to find people. You can directly search for people by using their names or their Twitter IDs. 

Anyone who is interested in following me on Twitter is by all means welcome to do so (my Twitter ID is @mkltesthead). I currently Follow about 450 software programmers, software testers, and a handful of miscellaneous accounts that don't necessarily fall into either category.

Note:  My list of people I consider worth following may or may not be an ideal list for you. That's why I'm not going to specifically say "here's a list of twenty-five people you should follow on Twitter". Seriously, what fun would that be? 

Actually, if you want a short list based around software testers to get started with, Matt Heusser already compiled one, and he has 29 recommendations.

Workshop #24: Follow and start communicating with programmers and testers on topics that matter to you

Twitter is more than just posting blog update announcements and sharing links. Yes, many of us do a lot of that. I do a lot of that. I also engage with other programmers and testers, and communicate with them on topics that I find interesting. Sometimes I join in on debates between people I know and trust in the programming and testing spheres. Twitter is designed to allow for this easily. Additionally, you may find that these debates will introduce you to additional interesting people, and in turn, you may find value in their "signal". If you do, start following them, and see who they communicate with.

A variety of hashtags related to #testing can be seen, and rather than just give a list of them, I'll say follow various tweets and you'll see them for yourself. Clicking on that hash tag will aggregate tweets that have them, and will likewise help to put you in touch with and give you the opportunity to follow people who are interested in topics that interest you. Hashtags can also be saved and made into lists, so you can categorize and prioritize tweets based on what most interests you.

One word of advice: Twitter can quickly become an information firehose, and the intensity of the signal will rise the more people you follow. I personally limit my Twitter focus to what is in front of my face when I'm on at any given time, or filter on a couple of lists that I have set up or follow and review when I have more time. Additionally, there is an option you can use called "Favorite". Use of this options varies from person to person, but I use it most frequently as a way to say "this looks really cool, I want to make sure to read about this later".

Bottom Line:

Twitter is quite the cool place if you are a programmer or a tester. You can learn a lot, you can discover a lot of interesting initiatives and opportunities. You can make some great friends and find collaborators. You can get involved with projects.  All of this, and much more, could be yours, but you'll need to get out there and participate.

Take the time to talk up that "famous programmer or tester", find out what they are thinking, discuss a thorny problem with them, see if you agree or disagree with their approach and suggestions. Politely debate with other testers and programmers (please, politely :) ). You may find that you quickly cultivate an amazing virtual programming and testing conference that runs 24/7 as well. Also, if you want to have a good starter list for Twitter that goes beyond Matt's, feel free to peruse the list of people I'm Following. The vast majority of them are just plain awesome ;).

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