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AST Lean Coffee


My second Lean Coffee in a week, this one online with the Association for Software Testing. Here's a few aggregated notes from the conversation.

Why do people want to speak at conferences, and can we support them to get what they need in other ways?

  • Lots of noise recently on Twitter about people being rejected, and discussion of tactics for getting in.
  • So why do people want to speak at conferences?
  • Increase their brand.
  • Be more employable.
  • Be better known.
  • Go to the conference for free.
  • Company will only pay if they are speaking.
  • Share what I've learned.
  • Share my story.
  • Challenge yourself.
  • Because they see others doing it
  • Personal access to "big names."
  • Conferences always have the same speakers.
  • Do people need better access to conferences?
  • Can be a vicious cycle: accepted because we know you; we know you because you speak.
  • Perhaps the return to in-person conferences has increased the demand for speaking slots.
  • People don't know how to sell their talk to conferences
  • Lots of people stick the same proposal into multiple conferences, not tailored
  • I get inspiration from conferences: testing is a lot bigger than I remember day-to-day.
  • If you want to get known, other platforms might not be so good.
  • Conference talks are often amplified widely on social media.
  • What else can we do to boost signal?
  • Magazines, Podcasts, Blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn, Peer Conference, YouTube, ...

What one thing would you prefer never to have to do again (as a tester)

  • Repeatedly explaining something to someone who is lazy or doesn't want to open their mind.
  • Justifying why it's useful having a tester on a team or doing testing.
  • ... One of the best things is explaining to people who want to learn (teaching vs justifying).
  • ... Many different people in project teams think they can tell testers how to work.
  • ... I'm happy to question my own practices for improvemen.
  • ... Providing good feedback and constructive criticism is positive
  • Explaining why you can't automate all the testing.
  • ... Software development has an undercurrent that is trying to destroy good work by testers.
  • Being in a conference where some smartass explains why everyone can be as successful as them.
  • Sitting with a developer while they fix a bug I reported (because they feel they need that reassurance).
  • ... or working with developers that think testing is someone else's job.

Working conditions for testers

  • Inspired by a Twitter thread.
  • The reputation of the gaming industry is dire.
  • Why are big-name companies apparently abusing game testers?
  • What is the culture like?
  • How can we change it?
  • What other industries are bad?
  • Outsourcing companies have been known to abuse juniors particularly.
  • I have worked with people who tell all sorts of tales about game testing.
  • ... a culture of short-term contracts.
  • ... a funding model that means they need to be able to drop people after product release.
  • Tech has a weird relationship to unions.
  • Reasonable pay in tech makes people think we don't need unions.
  • Geography is important, e.g. China and India have a reputation for poor worker conditions.
  • ... e.g. 40 hour week contract but employers expect 996 work.
  • Is it worse for testers than other software professionals?
  • But some people have no choice.

Tactics for learning while testing

  • You have work to do and it has a deadline
  • But you also want to learn new tools, new approaches, new things about your domain
  • Be prepared to gamble some specific time on trying things.
  • ... but abandon it if it's not working out in the time.
  • ... and come back to it on another occasion.
  • Give yourself permission to learn
  • Developers give themselves time and spike tickets.
  • People with seniority need to get better at giving time to their staff.
  • Senior testers tend to be better at making time for learning.
  • Discipline is needed.
  • I only do it when the situation forces it because of time pressure.
  • Look for an opportunity to do something new.
  • You need to practice a thing to get deep with it.
  • Perhaps analyse tasks before jumping into them, for learning opportunities.
  • Ask "can I try this experiment in a different way?"
  • We have a Community Day at work.
  • If you don't have that, then use stealth approaches!
  • Unionise!



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