Bumper Stickers for Testers

Why is software testing perceived as dull? How many other jobs can list "crash," "hang," and "death march" in their daily vocabularies? In this week's column, Harry Robinson encourages testers to embrace a little pride and excitement in what they do, and Harry has just the mottos for bumper stickers that announce Tester Pride. Author's note: Feel free to add your own favorite slogan in the comment section at the end!

The other day I ran across the following passage while reading a physics paper:

"Two particularly useful books for readers who want to acquaint themselves with the vast subject of SQA testing are by Beizer and by Kaner, et al. The differing viewpoints in these books add interesting nuances to a subject as seemingly dry (to practitioners of computational physics) as SQA testing." (Oberkampf, Trucano, and Hirsch, page 27)

"...a subject as seemingly dry (to practitioners of computational physics) as SQA testing"?

Computational physicists think software testing is dry? Wow. That's bad news. I mean, I don't wish to point the fickle finger of dullness at another profession; but the last time I checked, computational physics was not listed anywhere near the top ten exciting jobs in the world. So, when computational physicists think software testing is dull, testers have a real problem.

Perhaps we need to embrace Tester Pride and let the world know about the contributions we make. Do your friends and neighbors know what you do for a living? Do they know of the contributions you make? Probably not. As far as I know, the only tester in the world who advertises his profession to total strangers on the street is James Bach with his well-known "TESTER" license plate.

James's license plate got me thinking. What can we say about our work that would fit comfortably on the fender of a car? Here are my suggestions for bumper stickers that just might rock the industry.

We could start by hijacking existing bumper sticker mottos: 

  • Ask me about my latest bug.
  • Honk if you love to crash software.
  • My other car is a bug.
  • Have you hugged your software tester today?

But those seem too lame and tame. How about emphasizing the unique mental attitudes of testers? 

  •  Software Testers: Always looking for trouble.
  •  Software Testing is Like Fishing, But You Get Paid.
  •  Software Testers: "Depraved minds...Usefully employed." ~Rex Black
  •  Software Testing: Where failure is always an option.

Or, we could emphasize the often-unnoted contributions testers make:

  • Software Testing: When Your System Actually Has to Work
  • Software Quality: Don't ship without it.
  • I don't make software; I make software better. 
  • Improving the world one bug at a time.
  • We could even support both sides of the "making and breaking" question:
  • Software Testing: You make it, we break it.
  • Software Testers don't break software; it's broken when we get it.
  • Software Testers: We break it because we care.

Not bad for a start, but perhaps we'd like to get in a few digs at development while we are at it:

  • To err is human; to find the errors requires a tester.
  •  If developers are so smart, why do testers have such job security?
  •  My software can beat up your software.
  •  A good tester has the heart of a developer...in a jar on the desk.

But maybe that is too hard on our poor developers, and we are all in this together. What I'd like to see is developers' cars sporting the following:

  • Test is my copilot.

 If your software works, thank a tester.

Or, we could even support positions within our own testing community. I work with test automation and spec-based test generation most of the time, so how about these: 

  •  Old Model-Based Testers Never Die; They Just Transition to a Higher State.
  •  Life is too short for manual testing.
  •  Friends don't let friends do capture-replay.
  •  Support spec-based testing: Be code-dependent no more!
  •  People should think and machines should test.
  •  Test never sleeps.

There can be lofty sentiments for those idealists among us:

  • Visualize Great Software

And some not-so-lofty sentiments for those whose ideals have taken a beating:

  • Trust, But Verify.
  • Truthfully, though, I am a tester because that is what I have always been, even when I was a kid. I have always asked awkward questions that I felt needed to be asked. I always looked for answers I could be satisfied with. So, the bumper sticker that sums it up for me would be:
  •  Pertempto ergo sum - I test, therefore I am.

Jaunty slogans probably aren't going to make us any more exciting as a profession, but at least they are steps in the right direction. They help us focus on what we do and why we do it. I don't know that we testers will ever be as exciting as computational physicists are, but then who is?

"Verification, Validation, and Predictive Capability in Computational Engineering and Physics" William L. Oberkampf, Timothy G. Trucano, and Charles Hirsch. 

View James Bach's license plate at http://www.satisfice.com/images/tester.jpg

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