Tired of Answers

Complaining, Software Testing

During the past few years, I’ve interacted with many experts, thought leaders and emerging talent and boy, there’s plenty of them. I mean this in a non-comical way, there is tons of talent, keep your eyes open and ears cleaned (this was meant comically).

Regardless of where I am in the food chain of conference goers I can’t help but observe, learn and… among other feelings; get frustrated.
The thing that has been baffling me for the longest time is that people come to conferences, fora, slacks and: ask questions. That’s not the crazy part. This is:

People expect simple answers and crazier yet, they get them.

Here’s why that’s preposterous: You are working in a complex situation. Everything is subject to change. Nothing is certain to be static. Assuming it will be, is risky.
That’s the only given we have.

But how many people deal with that given, feels so very wrong.

We cut the problem into many smaller ones. We like that. It’s easier to understand. Less brain intensive, more straightforward to plan for and very manageable.
It’s a common engineering pattern. Imagine you’re on the team tasked with building the Golden Gate bridge? You look at designs of other bridges, work out how many bolts, nuts and bars you need and get setting them together.
That sounds easy, right? Except that something in the back of your mind is telling you it probably isn’t. Nobody has built a bridge of this magnitude before. This task might be more complicated than initially thought…

On top of that add the the following parameters:

  • The water it crosses is not a river, but a bay. Subject to the tides and rapid weather changes.
  • The political and territorial landscape might change.
  • Vehicles crossing the bridge will inevitably evolve, maybe even much sooner than anticipated.

Compared to other bridges, this one is proving to be a complex beast. As soon as we take the holistic view, we realise how wrong we were.

Here’s a secret. We’re all building complex beasts. We don’t understand the fundamentals, we can’t foresee the future, we don’t know our present well enough and we have no idea which parameters will change our situation today, tomorrow or just after the next major release.

Therefore I would advise everyone to quit looking for simple answers. They are false.
Therefore I would advise everyone to quit giving simple answers. You are not helping.


There are principles, models, sets of guiding rules, methodologies, approaches, tactics, heuristics, practices,… and many different ideas to help you do a better job.

Some of these can help you greatly, most of them were created and defined with good intentions but ALL of them have been misunderstood and/or misused by malicious or irresponsible actors. (including myself, at times)

The next time you’re faced with the need of giving or receiving simple, easy answers, repress that urge. Instead try to trigger thinking. Within yourself and within others. Thinking deeper, broader and in different directions. Offer alternative ways of thinking, provide helpful information and ask questions that may lead down a path.
The path of learning.



Concerned about boxes

Complaining, Software Testing

Trump, Brexit, Le Pen, The Testing Community, Women in IT, The future of Testers, LinkedIn articles and retweets.

Here’s what scares me the most about recent (and less recent) developments around these examples:

I don’t know who’s making all this happening.
Me, and almost everyone around me apparently share the same views.
Yet there’s an overwhelming number of people working against us.
Who are these people?
Why are their views different and why aren’t we hearing each other?

I often feel like I’m in a huge echo chamber. I keep getting the same things in my twitter-feed, slack channels, fora, mails, magazines,…

As a middle-class, white, European,… , non-religious,… , extravert, male, … , who tries (vehemently) not to be a dick, I look around and genuinely wonder: How could Trump ever get elected? Nothing in the media ever mentioned it to even be remotly possible.
I’m shocked that the UK voted “leave”, because I’d seen nothing but pro-stay voices all day. I’m getting a very one-sided view and it’s not helping anyone.

This happens every day:

  • I glance over a forum thread and think: “This discussion,… again?!”
  • Pull open a Slack channel and see someone replying: “What do you exactly mean by Test Cases?”
  • I click on a link about a new idiotic thing Trump did and can barely keep myself from screaming: “THEN HOW THE HELL DID HE GET ELECTED?!”
  • Open a “Testing is dead” article and find out that it actually means the opposite.

I’m seeing the same thing again and again. I wonder why nothing is changing.

There’s boxes everywhere: Racism is a problem. Sexism is a problem. Classism is a problem. Extremism, in all its different forms, is a problem. Most -isms are problems.
You’d think we’d all know by now. Hell, there’s enough examples to teach us.

But we like hearing the same thing. We like being right and having no conflicts.
Nice, simple, easy. Bliss.

After going through a very painful cynic stage, I realized that I need to get out of my echo chamber more. As much as I love the people near to me, it’s detrimental to all of us should we not pursue diversity. Even the diversity we may not like.

That’s what testing is, right?
Learning new things, new views, new ways of thinking, having a different mindset,
And using that information
To increase the chance of having better ideas, beliefs, thoughts for you
and people around you.

In my eyes, repetition, conformism,  truly is the enemy.


An interesting thought I had whilst rereading: in our testing field, at least we’re having the discussions. We have various media which we can largely control. Fora, slack, twitter,… We should cherish that and draw upon its potential. Find the people we’re not hearing. Find out what they have to say… and learn.




I’m writing this from my hotel room in Stockholm, after attending and conferring at Eurostar 2016. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it and was able to meet so many different and passionate testers from places I didn’t even know had testers.

But this experience was somewhat spoiled by something completely different.
Here’s a few things that get me all riled up: Pokémon that run away and injustice. (amongst other things)

Today I’m complaining about injustice.

The Context

This injustice comes from a source that I had hoped valued integrity and transparency as much as it marketed to be: We-Are-Testers.com. (WAT)
They provide a service, like many other crowd testing companies, that links a customer with specific needs to a number of testers who are willing to jump at the opportunity to test something new AND make a few extra bucks while doing it.

I welcome this idea as it offers me the chance to do some extra testing, but also get some pocket-money to spend.
This mission, I had two days time to test an application on an Iphone and come up with linguistic issues in it.

Pretty easy right? Especially because all the Dutch text I had to review seemed to be copy pasted from a Google translate service.

However, some constraints hindered me: Only two days of testing were foreseen and the first day I spent an hour trying to install the app, only to find out the configuration of the install thingy didn’t work for me. An admin from WAT had to correct this for me.

The second day I was able to test for two hours before the deadline.
I logged 18 bugs, which would amount to maximum 144 EUR.


All required fields were filled in, as per agreement. Steps, expected outcome and actual outcome were all given as well as any other required fields. (How else would I be able to submit the bug?!)

Later, the next day, mails came flying in. INCOMPLETE, INCOMPLETE, INCOMPLETE.

Wait a second, there seems to be something wrong…
I hadn’t included screenshots.
Ok, I agree that a screenshot is pretty handy to have in most bugs.
HOWEVER, in this context, with two hours time to find as many bugs as possible, making, uploading, downloading, linking,… screenshots would heavily cut into my bug-finding time.

Steps, the name of the screen where the bug was found, the actual text and what it should become had to be more than enough for meager text issues.

In any case, for the three hours of work I wouldn’t see a penny.
And me being me, I kind of want to make a problem out of that.

Gathering evidence

payment-policy how-to-report-bugs

The Discussion

I contacted the moderators and spokespeople from WAT, who are generally really nice guys and girls, to ask them to look into my situation.

Argument 1: Their website’s “Payment Policy” doesn’t mention Screenshots are a requisite for payout. It specifically says attachment only if relevant.

Argument 2: The mission’s “How to report a bug” doesn’t mention Screenshots are a requisite for a complete bug.

Argument 3: If Screenshots are a necessity for this project, please please please make the input field for screenshots a required field?

This is a clear miscommunication, so I gave them time to find out how they’d handle my situation.
Today I heard that I wouldn’t get a dime for my efforts, that it was unfortunate but that it was virtually my own fault.


My point is not whether screenshots should or shouldn’t be added to bugs.
My point is that WAT is telling me I should not be paid because I didn’t adhere to a rule that I can’t find anywhere in their Terms of Agreement, Payment Policy, FAQ or Mission Description.

They did offer four extra hours to insert the screenshots. At noon. While I’m at work. Thanks a lot!

They argue that the devs need screenshots, but frankly, that’s not my problem.
WAT provides a service to the devs. I provide a service to WAT.

WAT should carry the burden of handling communication errors on their part,
And I shouldn’t be the one to suffer from the gaps they leave.

I’m pretty sure those bugs will be fixed in the next version. But regardless of that, not paying people because of rules applied by a third party seems kind of illegal to me.

If you don’t agree, let me know.