Disclaimer (Or Before You Read Any Further)
I could be wrong about what I say. What I think is based on what I observe. This post is not to insult or offend James and Michael in any way. They are two of the key individuals in the testing experts space whom I respect I lot. This post is about a possible disconnect which I have observed w.r.t their public stance on openness to questioning and encouraging thinking minds. This post does not wish to indicate even in the slightest manner that there is a plagiarism. What they have written is their original content. This post is targeted at the thought process behind that writing. What follows are my thoughts and not of the companies that I belong to.
What Triggered This Blog Post
There is a recent post on James Bach’s blog: Testing and Checking Refined about revised thoughts on Testing versus checking. This has a very close resemblance to what I talked at TestED Conference conducted at Bangalore in Dec’2012, where James was a co-presenter. I also have had a lot of debates on this and related subjects with the Context-Driven Community in the recent years.
James did not sit through my presentation, which was an irony as I wanted him to be there. He told me later that he was with some testers in the corridor. He could have known about the contents of the talk from the any video recordings of the conference or as a part of follow up discussions with some of his students at the conference (a lot of them were there). I would give a benefit of doubt to him on this. So, what follows is purely heuristic.
The Sequence of Events
- I have been openly expressing my disagreement with the definition of Testing vs Checking until the above mentioned post
- I present on Testing vs Checking in a public conference for the first time, where James is a co-presenter. My concepts are openly challenged by attendees from context-driven school.
- I see this post which almost exactly aligns with what I say about Testing vs Checking, which is significantly different from what James and Michael have been saying so far
The Coincidence(?) Part
This sequence of events can be ignored by calling it a coincidence. I say this because there is no reference to my work in James’s post. He mentions that what he and Michael have written is based on what their colleagues talked about in recent years followed by a discussion between him and Michael. This could be true.
This sequence can as well be subjected to a critical analysis. Why this post all of a sudden when a few month back, at TestED, James clearly called Checking a non-sapient activity that can be fully automated? I objected a lot to this definition of his during my talk by saying “And then James say it is a non-sapient activity”, and faced some heated comments too. As an example, Shrini Kulkarni asked why I was diverting from my presentation topic ( which ironically was the basis of my topic). I had announced at the beginning of my talk that if you go by what James say about testing vs checking, you would not be able to understand what I am going to say. So, what happened now? Why is this drastic change in the fundamental understanding of the concepts?
Some of the key points of my debate have been around the usage of word sapience applied to testing and not checking by them. The second discussion point has been about human element of checking. Third point has been about checking being a part of every form of testing whether scripted/exploratory/blended.
Let’s have a look at the slides of my presentation.
Having read their blog post and gone through the above slide deck, one can notice similarities. This is in contrast with the original work published on Michael Bolton’s blog.
Endorsing Thinkers from Indian Testing Community
Off late, James has been talking and writing a lot about thinkers in the Indian testing community. He met me during his visit to India. He suggested that the way I think, I automatically belong to his school. I politely refused to the same and mentioned that I don’t believe in belonging. It wasn’t a surprise for me that my name did not find a mention in his post-visit writings. My question is that if his goal is to encourage thinking testers from India, do they need to ‘belong’? For the same reason when they mention – “some of our colleagues”, I don’t think that I am a part of that.
Why do I bring this up here? Do I care for endorsements? No. What moves me is that my concepts have been (possibly) referred in this changed opinion about testing vs checking, without any due reference. This is not about endorsing. This is about being systematically ignored.
What do I expect?
If my thoughts have triggered this change in James and Michael’s minds, I expect an acknowledgement. I do not expect them to endorse my testing skills, my work, I just want them to acknowledge what triggered this change in their understanding for Testing vs Checking.
Irrespective of what follows, I am happy that they finally have got it right about testing vs checking. This would align more testers to this thinking especially the ones like me who disagreed with it right from its inception.