Lessons learned from growing test communities Martin Jansson

Background

In 2011-2012 a friend, Steve Öberg, started a local community with a few test friends. We talked about testing, sharing experiences and discussing/arguing about various test topics. It was a great initiative, but I wanted something more and bigger. I had a discussion with Emily Bache, who run a local meetup on programming. She inspired me to take the step into meetups. It seemed like a great way to organize meetings. I created Passion for Testing and started to invite friends interested in testing.

Creation of the meetup Passion for Testing

I had a few ideas on what I wanted to achieve and things I did not want to see.

I created a recruitment message about the meetup as a way to find people who had  similar mindset. Here is roughly what I included in the meetup description of people who should probably join, what they probably have interest of:

  • a passion for testing
  • a will to learn new things
  • an interest to learn more about exploratory testing
  • an interest to try new techniques and methods in testing, to see what might work in your context
  • an interest to practise testing as well as theorize about it
  • an interest in experimenting with collaborative testing
  • an interest to explore how to improve cooperation between developers, testers and other roles in a team or project
  • an interest to help the open source community by providing them with valuable quality-related information about their products or services
  • an interest to help research in testing by saving artifacts produced by our testing and experiments
  • an interest to network with other people who are interested in testing in Gothenburg

For instance, I did not want a meeting where one person did the talk and the rest listened, then walked home. Thus without discussion or conferering. At many conferences the idea of having a discussion after the talk has been popular, something I find strange not to have.

I also wanted the meetup to be inclusive, welcoming all who wanted to learn more about testing. I wanted people who was inquisitive and interested in testing to join. It was ok to just come and listen, knowing that there were some in the audience who would debate and question what was said.

I wanted us to challenge existing practises and ideas by experimenting with them, trying the theory in practise. I welcomed new ideas on how to do things. If someone had a half-finished course, talk or idea our network was an excellent place to try it out.

I wanted to participants to ignore who their current competitors were and instead share their experience and ideas for free. Sharing material, links or other artefacts to help each other in our daily work.

I wanted to help the local startups and open source communities by helping them with testing, knowledge about testing and perhaps a handful of bug reports. Helping startups with testing, who quite often lacked testers, felt like a good thing. If that enabled them to reach a level of quality that made them succeed, then that was great.

I wanted to make the artefacts produced from these meetups to be public, so that they could be used by anyone and possibly in research. Still, this was difficult and hard to do in practise. The intent was there.

I did not want a too large group, perhaps max 15-20 people attending. More than that you have a hard time discussing.

I welcomed any non-tester to be part of our meetups. To see their perceptions added to the discussions, but also perhaps to give them some new ideas on what to expect from testers.

I wanted each meetup to have different sponsors, avoiding to sponsor the events with my own companies to avoid making them biased. I wanted the sponsor to be part of what we did and what we talked about, not just as a way for cheap exposure.

I wanted inexperienced speakers to speak up in a friendly, small audience. To practise their speaking skills. For me personally, this proved to be a great way to become better at speaking infront of an audience. As a separate, but similar effort I especially liked the initiative by Fiona Charles and Anne-Marie Charrett called Speak Easy to help speakers practise.

I welcomed topics that were difficult or that weren’t well polished, I wanted the speakers to go out on the thin ice. The heated dicussions were excellent. I have had several of these and learned a lot. Failing is a great experience.

I also wanted to get to know more testers locally, to see if they walked the walk and talked the talk. I wanted to see them solve puzzles, handle discussions on test strategy, both difficult and new areas in testing. I wanted a group of passionate testers whom I probably wanted to test with in future projects or companies. Probably people who I would someone recruit or help others recruit. This has been proved true and extremely effective. If anyone of those, who I thought were great, had a certificate or not was not important at all.

I wanted students in testing, junior testers or unemployeed people to get free lectures, workshops and courses. I also wanted them to be able to show how good they were to enable them to meet possible emplyers or recruits. This has also proved successful.

Personally, I use this meetup to become better at testing, talking about testing and finding new areas in testing that need exploring. It is my own playground.

Evolving Passion for Testing

After organizing a lot of the meetups myself, I realised that it is not possible to do this as a one-person-show. I wanted help from co-organizers to evolve what we were doing. Steve Öberg and Fredrik Almén helped me by organising Test Clinics, inspired by Michael Boltons 1 day test clinit at the end of his RST courses. The Test Clinic was held at a local pub were we as a group helped each other resolve our daily problems/obstacles in testing.

In the coming months I am trying a light version of the LAWST-style conference by letting the local meetup have an evening together. We have one subject presented by one speaker. We anticipate several hours of talk and discussion. We invite both experienced and inexperienced attendents. Everyone is expected to speak up and will be able to using the moderator form from LAWST. It will be interesting to see if we are able to make this a great, humble learning experience for all those participating.

I want more people to join but also more people to help organize events in testing. If you are interested to help out, feel free to contact me. All help is welcome!

This is my shared experience and ideas on setting up a meetup on testing. If you want to use my ideas on this, feel free to do so. If you wish to discuss the setup you can reach me on skype.

If you wish to join the meetup, you can do this here:
http://www.meetup.com/Passion-for-testing-Goteborg/

3 Comments

[…] Lessons learned from growing test communities – Martin Jansson – http://thetesteye.com/blog/2015/01/lessons-learned-from-growing-test-communities/ […]

Santhosh Tuppad April 2nd, 2015

I loved this concept of “Passion for Testing”.

@Martin, I like it when you say “I wanted something more and bigger”. That’s what even I believe in and I can see your passion very much with that statement.

I am looking forward to meet you in person and talk to you. It would be great discussion on testing over beer.

Thanks so much and keep rocking as usual which you will anyways do :-)

– Santhosh Tuppad

Martin Jansson April 10th, 2015

Thanks Santhosh.

I am glad to share what I learn.

Will be fun to meet up in person. :)

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