If you are a regular reader of this Blog you may remember that last October I was offered the role of official Community Blogger for the TestHuddle community at the EuroSTAR Software Testing Conference in Maastricht, Holland. It was definitely the highlight of my professional year, not least because I caught up with some old friends and made some amazing new ones. For me, it’s these relationships that define a community and differentiate what many of us (as software testers have) that many other professions don’t – a fantastic worldwide support network that comes together regularly at conferences, meetups, special interest groups etc. Many of us are also connected year-round via online communities built around Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, WordPress and other social media content providers. This makes for very powerful and enduring relationships and friendships. Some of those folks I met up with at EuroSTAR in Maastricht I’ve known for almost 20 years, so you can see what I mean by enduring friendships.
At the other end of the scale (from a community perspective), sometime around March/April last year I got a call from Raj Mathur (someone I’d only previously met online) asking me if I could provide some assistance and support with the setting up of a new software testing Meetup in my home town of Melbourne, Australia. We had a few initial meetings and not long after TEAM (Test Engineering Alliance Melbourne) was born. It has been an amazing success story with nine exceptional Meetups to date. Not only that but Raj and his committee have organised an inaugural Conference – Australian Testing Days on May 20/21; details can be found at http://www.testengineeringalliance.com This endeavour is another fantastic example of the power of the global software testing community with speakers coming from Canada (Michael Bolton), USA (Lee Copeland), New Zealand (Aaron Hodder, Katrina Clokie and Oliver Erlewein) plus a host of local talent headed by Anne-Marie Charrett. I am very fortunate to have met and seen ALL of these folks present and I can say, without prejudice, that I would attend a Conference with ANY of these folks speaking, let alone all of them on one bill!! And, my fortune doesn’t stop there, as I have just been asked to be the official Blogger for this amazing event – thank you Raj and the organising committee for showing such faith in my fledgling abilities.
One of the most important things (about the value and power of community) that I’ve come to respect and admire is the enormous time and effort many of our fellow software testing professionals are prepared to give in supporting us. Even though I have been involved in various software testing community endeavours over the past 25 years or so I am a mere bystander compared to some of the folks out there. I could point to five shining examples from the speaker list for the upcoming Australian Testing Days conference I referred to above – Michael Bolton, Lee Copeland, Anne-Marie Charrett, Katrina Clokie and our very own Raj Mathur…. If you frequent Twitter you will no doubt recognise these names – @michaelbolton, @grandpacopeland, @charrett, @katrina_tester and @rajeshmathur respectively. All of these folks go above and beyond in their support of the global (and their local) software testing community. If you’re not on Twitter you can Google any of these folks and very quickly recognise how much they continue to offer ON A DAILY BASIS. I am personally indebted to each of them for their ongoing insights, enthusiasm, passion and inspiration.
Something else I’ve noticed with our community is that, no matter how prominent a profile folks have, they give their time just as freely. I was very fortunate that I connected with many software testing thought leaders a long time ago and so I don’t feel intimidated in approaching them – and I’m a very shy person when it comes to meeting new people face to face.
Before I close out this Blog I don’t want you to think that everything in the software testing community is a bed of roses!! I spoke briefly at EuroSTAR last year about several challenges that face us, including the lack of respect shown when various software testing identities disagree on a subject. Disagreement and a variation of ideas is bound to happen among gifted and intelligent individuals but when this leads to flaming and dissing no-one wins and the community is poorer for it. So, on behalf of the rest of us, can you please show a little more decorum when it comes to debating – I know respect needs to be earned but not everyone is enlightened.
Dateline: Melbourne, Thursday March 31 2016
Postscript: The organisers of Australian Testing Days have just informed me that unfortunately Lee Copeland has had to withdraw from this year’s conference due to health issues. Get well soon Lee, we will miss you.