By James Bach
This comes from an ISTQB advertisement they spammed me with, today:
“To ensure the quality of any software system, testers and QA professionals must thoroughly test the product. But how do you know that these tests are effective? If your team is conducting ad hoc, informal tests with little guidance or planning, the quality of the end product can be severely jeopardized—negatively affecting your bottom line.”
I don’t like to say things like this, nor am I comfortable supporting people who do. It’s not that it’s untrue– it is not necessarily untrue. But it is the kind of statement that fans the flames of a certain sort of Factory School bigotry in our industry. “Oh, you can’t trust testing unless it is pre-planned, pre-packaged, pre-approved, formalized, etc.”
Notice they say nothing about skill. It’s all about methodology, here, not skill. This kind of setup suggests that the next statement will be about the importance of factory-like test methodology. But that’s not what happens.
“The best way to be certain that you are providing customers with quality software is to make sure your team of testers is certified.”
Friends, I’m aware of no one in the industry– not even my worst enemies, not even Rex Black or Stuart Reid– who would publicly assert this or defend it. In fact, in debates against those of us who think certification is consumer fraud, the most typical move is for certificationists to say that certification isn’t even about skill, but rather about basic knowledge. “It’s a start” they say. “It’s a foundation.” (I reply that it’s a bad start and a bad foundation. Much worse than what it tries to replace.)
But then they allow this sort of advertising to go out! Completely undercutting their innocent-sounding plea! And they wonder why I complain that they don’t have the best interests of the testing craft at heart.
Notice that the “ad hoc and unplanned” stuff doesn’t even logically connect to certification. In fact, wouldn’t a highly skilled tester be far more likely to succeed with an ad hoc testing regime? When Roger Federer plays ad hoc tennis, I bet he still wins.
I think the reasons they start talking about methodology and end up talking about certification is A) their potential customers don’t understand the difference between skill and method, B) method is more concrete than skill, thus easier to evoke, and C) they know that what they say doesn’t have to be true or even logical, as long as it evokes horror and promises hope.
Oh, but there’s more…
“By taking the Software Tester Certification course and earning an internationally recognized certification in software testing, your team will gain the expertise needed to handle your greatest testing challenges; earn credibility and recognition as competent quality assurance professionals; and provide greater value to your organization.”
It’s internationally recognized? By whom? Some people who don’t study testing and some people who study testing and financially benefit from certification. Okay, but it is also internationally ridiculed by serious testers of many nations who wish to raise themselves to a level of skill that can’t be obtained in just a couple of days of training.
I recently encountered Dot Graham, now semi-retired, who told me that it hurts her feelings when people like me suggest that certificationists are only in it for the money. Dot is a sweet person. I don’t want to hurt her feelings. But I point her to advertising like this and I challenge her to explain it in any other terms. If not greed, then what, Dot? Stupidity? Pride?
Dot doesn’t want to argue with me about this. Of course she doesn’t. Rex Black doesn’t want to argue, either. Naturally. What answer could there be? Lois Koslowski once told me that “big dogs” don’t need to debate (in fairness, Lois Koslowski claims not to be a tester. I agree that she showed no testing competence or knowledge in the conversation we had. I just mention her because she did claim to be in charge of the ASTQB organization. Yikes!) This is capitalism in its ugly form– harvesting the ignorance and fear of others. Debate has no place here.
Is there no one in that self-declared professional community who reviews the advertising and stands up for professional temperance and humility?
Category: Certification, Critique, Testing Culture