Tuesday, June 28, 2011

KWST & Possum Testing

(from http://irishchicklette.wordpress.com/2009/02/24/)
This last weekend, I had the pleasure and privilege of attending the first ever KWST (Kiwi Workshop on Software Testing). Seventeen leaders in the software community came together in Wellington to discuss the topic of test professionalism.  You can read about the workshop here and here.  Two very interesting terms came out that Brian Osman had coined to described his observations in the testing profession.  One was stealth testing, which I'll talk about in another post, but the first was "Possum Testing".

The analogy is of a possum frozen in the headlights in the middle of the road.  It should be noted that after much discussion and exploration of the concept, everyone came away with their own definitions, but the definition I came away with was: "Testing that is motivated by fear."  An alternative definition was "Testing that you don't value" and yet another put a bet on both ways and used the definition "Testing you don't value, motivated on some level by fear."  I'm sure that over time as we think and discuss it more, we will refine the definition.

(**Edit 30/06/2011 On reflection, I realise it's important to distinguish the "testing you don't value" aspect, so I see now that "Testing that you don't value, motivated by fear at some level" is the better definition.)

Possum testing manifests itself when a tester is undertaking any test activity, such as writing test scripts, creating test documents, and doing "bad" testing because of the fear of being wrong, fear of appearing foolish, fear of being exposed as ignorant, fear of being challenged, or even fear of losing your job.  They are simply going through the motions because, like a possum in the headlights, they are frozen from fear to do anything else.


I can remember being a newbie tester, unsure of myself, and being told by people that wear ties that I need to script what I do so it can be repeatable. It seemed wrong to me, but I complied (for a day before I really decided that it was a complete waste of time) out of fear of being accused of not knowing what I was doing.  Fortunately the road I crossed to become the tester I am today was mostly empty of speeding vehicles.

Our industry is full of possums, and it's no wonder.  Testers are being confronted constantly by the blinding headlights of folklore and myth, attached to heavy process-vehicles driven by managers and even other testers who don't actually understand the complexities and subtleties of testing.

We need to take back control of our profession, and refuse to let the traffic freeze us.  It can be scary.  I recently was in a situation where I was asked to produce a document that I didn't value.  Producing this document would have propagated deception in the name of process, but I feared the potential conflict that would arise if I refused.  Realising that complying would be "possum testing"  helped me to have the courage to take control of the situation, and unfreeze myself.  I offered an alternative document that I did value, and I was able to step out of the headlights.

For those of us who have made it safely across the road, I think we should try to help our possum brothers and sisters who are still frozen in the middle of the road, and show them the true light.

69 comments:

  1. Brilliant! Great post on possum testing - the possum testing definition i like is "Testing you don't value motivated on some level by fear" and unfortunately it is true on many levels (creating bogus test documentation or taking certification courses/exams that offer little/no value).

    Looking forward to how you describe Stealth testing next!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Nice point and well made. I think fear itself, or uncertainty, is a fine and valuable motivator for test investigation, along with all sorts of other disciplines. So I don't think fear itself is the problem, but how we respond. How we react. Probably worth an FDR fireside chat tie-in, somewhere, in there, but I just can't put my finger on it.

    Anyway, good job. Fear shouldn't dictate your goals or objectives.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Excellent article. The fear of being 'found out' or even the fear of not doing things the way they have always been is something true professionals have to overcome before they can advance. What I always remind myself (even when I'm the assigner), is that I want to be told what problem I'm solving, not how to solve the problem. I've I'm given the latter, I was always 'afraid' to do it any other way. When I'm given the former, I'm free to figure out the best way to solve the problem.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I've experienced quite a lot of this in my last role. It lead to lots of interesting debates. Thankfully my boss at the time was more than happy to try out any changes I'd suggested. He was a good guy, and was the main reason I stayed in that role for so long.

    I like Brian's above comment on certification, it's true for the little value it brings it seems ISEB, at least in my experience here in the UK is driven by fear. Testers want to have minimal certification to ensure they can bypass basic checks when applying for new roles.

    Excellent post, thanks for sharing it with us.

    ReplyDelete
  5. On reflection, I realise it's important to distinguish the "testing you don't value" aspect, so I see now that "Testing that you don't value, motivated by fear at some level" is the better definition.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Glad to see you were able to use that discussion to assist you in a real live example. That is the power of community in action i.e. the KWST community defined a concept and you have demonstrated a practical use of that concept. Awesome post, by the way.

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  56. شجّع نفسك لأننا اليوم سنقوم بعرض لعبة جوال جديدة من نمط معارك الممالك لك!

    إذا كنت مهتما بتلك الأنواع من الألعاب فربما قد سمعت بـClash of Clans ونسخ العناوين المشابهة. جميعا تبدوا متشابهة لبعضهم البعض وليس لديهم أي سمات متميزة ولكن هذا سيتغير اليوم لأننا نريد أن نقدم لك فجر الأسطورة ونعرض ميزاتها!



    فجر الأسطورة
    تعطيك أنماط وحرية أكثر. إنها أحد تلك الألعاب التي يمكنك الإلمام بها في أقل من 5 دقائق ولكن بعد ما يقارب الساعة من اللعب ستدرك أن بها المزيد

    النقطة الأساسية باللعبة هي بناء جيش والهجوم على ممالك اخرى أصغر أو أكبر! بالطبع عليك تكوين قاعدتك وتوسيعها. إذا ما الذي يجعل فجر الأسطورة مختلفة عن العناوين المشابهة؟ في البداية اللعبة تطلب منك إختيار شخصيتك الرئيسية في فريقك - البطل! هنالك أكثر من 150 لتختار منهم! يمكن رفع مستواهم جميعا وتطويرهم لذا قم بجمع الميزد والمزيد من الأبطال الذين يمكن أن تقوم بدمجهم معا لتجعلهم يظهرون قدرات فريدة أكثر!

    كيف توسع مملكتك! إنه سهل! بإستثناء الهجوم على ممالك اخرى للحصول على المواد يمكنك الإنضمام إلى فعالياتنا اليومية والأسبوعية الرائعة التي قمنا بتجهيزها لجميع اللاعبين! حاول أن تحارب بالحلبة أو التحالف وإحصل على جوائز رائعة!


    فجر الأسطورة
    تنتظرك بالفعل في الاب ستور وجوجل بلاي









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  57. من المعروف أن أفضل ألعاب الجوال دائما تعمل على إيجاد التوازن بين ان تكون معقدة و بسيطة فى آن واحد.
    يمكنك أن تمسك بكل شئ في خلال 5 دقائق ولكن بعد ساعة من اللعب سوف تدرك أنها توفر لك أكثر بكثير مما كنت تتوقع في البداية.

    إذا ما هي لعبة فجر الأسطورة ؟ إذا كانت لديك حتى خبرة صغيرة في نمط ألعاب تشابك-الممالك، فستكون لديك فكرة جيدة عن ما هي فجر الأسطورة.
    تبدأ أساسا مثل معظم الألعاب المشابهة.
    أنت تستيقظ على أرض فارغة واللعبة تطلب منك أن تبني أول مباني إستراتيجية لك مثل الثكنة العسكرية أو أرض التدريب.
    الان يمكنك البدء في تدريب جيشك! يمكنك أن تبدأ من الأقزام الأساسيين.
    سيتاح أنواع أخرى من الجنود فور وصولك للمستويات التالية!

    ولكن ما الذي يجعل فجر الأسطورة مختلفة عن باقي الألعاب المشابهة؟ قوتك الأساسية هي البطل وهو قائد جيشك.
    أنت تختار أول بطل لك في بداية اللعبة ولكن بعد الميزد من المعارك المنتصرة سيتم مكافأتك بإمكانية إختيار أكثر وأكثر.
    من السهل أيضا رفع مستواهم وحتى تطويرهم! كلما كان بطلك قويا، كلما إستطعت الفوز بالمعارك الصعبة!

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    تحميل لعبة فجر الأسطورة متاح الآن بالفعل في الاب ستور و سوق الأندرويد!











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  58. هل بدأت تشعر بالملل من Clash of Clans، هل تشعر بأن مراحل اللعبة أصبحت مكررة ولا جديد فيها؟،
    هل تريد القيام بتحدٍ جديد؟، جهّز نفسك لأننا نريد أن نقدم لكم المنافس الجديد لها والتي ستتيح لك أنماط لعب أكثر وحرية أكثر!

    فجر الأسطورة هي لعبة إستراتيجية مجانية وبسيطة والتي تسمح لك ببناء مملكة خاصة بك وتدريب جيوش كبيرة تحت سيطرة الابطال.
    اللعبة تقدم أكثر من 150 بطل لتختار من بينهم، كل واحد منهم يستطيع أن يظهر لك قدرة خاصة.
    يمكن أيضا أن ترفع من مستواهم، بل ويمكنك أيضا دمجهم لتطويرهم، والذي يمكن أن يعطيك أبطال غير عاديين بقدرات غير مألوفة!
    الأبطال هم دائما قادة فريقك وجعلهم أقوى يساعدك في بناء فريق أقوى.

    تعطيك اللعبة مهام خاصة كل يوم، والتي تسمح لك بالحصول على سلع ومواد محدودة.
    الحصول على الموارد الأساسية مثل الذهب والفاكهة السحرية أمر سهل للغاية، يمكنك سرقتها من الممالك التي قمت بتدميرها في المعارك.
    اللعبة تقدم بعض الإضافات المدفوعة أيضا ولكنها إختيارية تماما. العملة المدفوعة - الشهب،
    تتيح للاعبين الحصول على أشياء رائعة مثل الدروع والتي تساعدهم في بناء بطل أكثر قوة!

    لعبة فجر الأسطورة تحاول ببساطة أن لا تكون مجرد نسخة من "Clash of Clans" فاللعبة تقدم لك حرية أكثر، خاصة من خلال توفير الأبطال.
    إختلاف اخر هو أن فجر الأسطورة تظهر لك المزيد من إمكانيات المعركة. يمكنك الإنضمام إلى الحلبة أو حرب التحالف.
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