Friday, April 13, 2018

Do Testers Need Bugs?

At this week's Cambridge Tester Meetup we played Questions for Testers, a card game created by James Lyndsay which is intended to "trigger conversations and build connections."

The deck consists of cards containing questions or statements with three responses. We took it in turns to read out a question or statement and the others quizzed us to help them decide which response they thought we'd give. Eventually they'd guess at our response, and we'd reveal it, and then talk about why we'd chosen as we did.

Stefan's choice was the one at the top: 
Bugs and testers are like ...
A. Ants and aardvarks
B. Bees and beekeepers
C. Cars and Cops
Questions, did you say? Boom! Head explosion.
  • Are we mapping bugs and testers to one of the entities in each response? 
  • Does the order of the entities matter?
  • Do they each map to just one? Could they each map to both?
  • What relationships might motivate that mapping? 
  • Does it need to be the same mapping for bugs as testers for a given response?
  • What properties do the entities in each response have?
  • What relationships do we perceive between the entities in each response?
  • What analogous relationship might there be between bugs and testers
  • ... or bugs and testers interpreted however we've mapped them to the entities in that response?
  • When choosing a response, am I evaluating all responses in the same way?
  • What way is that?
  • How is it "the same"? 
  • Does it need to be "the same"?
  • Who says so?
  • In what sense is it an evaluation anyway?
  •  ...

It was fun listening to the others ask questions and wondering what kind of hypotheses they were testing with them.

It was interesting that we didn't much discuss what we thought we were discovering by the responses given, even though there's no reason why we shouldn't have. (But the game isn't set up as a collaborative effort in that way: the rules award points to individual players, although also says they are pointless, and we weren't following the rules anyway.)

We found that asking how the reader would be approaching their answer was a very productive question: it can cut through several layers of assumption on the questioners' side.

There were lots of good questions, but my favourite was one of a series intended to test the kinds of relationships that Stefan perceived between bugs and testers:
Do testers need bugs?
Do. Testers. Need. Bugs? Boom!

1 comment:

  1. Paraphrasing Seneca, I'd say that as testers test valuable software, bugs test brave men and women :)

    (Ignis aurum probat, miseria fortes viros.)