In 1897, a little girl wrote to a newspaper, which was revered for its truthfulness, to ask if Santa Claus really existed. The newspaper published the now-famous letter and a response. Always looking for ways that history speaks to current-day software testers, managers, and others, Bill Tuccio adapts the historic exchange in this article.
I am a 35-year-old software QA professional. Some of my big friends in other departments say there is no Santa Claus. But my project manager assures me, "If you see it on StickyMinds, it's so." Please tell me the truth, Oh StickyMinded Oracle, is there definitive evidence of the existence of Santa Claus?
Virginia, your big friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism resulting from the pragmatic disillusionment of the marketing department. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. Most minds, Virginia, except those of engineers and testers, are little. In this great universe of ours, nontechnical people are mere insects in their intellect as compared with the boundless knowledge of technical people who have the intelligence to grasp the whole of truth and knowledge of the great cosmic questions.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as accurate project plans and thorough requirements exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary the world would be if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith, no poetic programming, no romance to make tolerable those weekly status meetings. We would have no enjoyment, except in making charts and graphs that can be understood only by esoteric upper management.
Not believe in Santa Claus? You might as well not believe in sales projections. You might get your ganthead to outsource contractors to monitor all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see him, what would that prove? Who audits the contractors' records? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that means nothing. The most real things in the world are those that neither management nor marketing can see. Did you ever see a processor operate at 100Ghz? Of course not, but software engineers can conceive and measure the wonders of the world that are unseeable.
You inspect code and review requirements to predict how things will work, but there is a veil covering the final result, which not the united strength of one hundred of the top paid contractors (as reported by Gartner Group) could determine with certainty. Only an iterative measurement of real-time, sensible metrics can push aside that curtain and reveal the beautiful configuration of a perfectly reusable chunk of code. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing more real and abiding than what I am telling you. Everything is subject to interpretation; except Santa.
No Santa Claus? Verily, he lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood, testerhood, and developerhood.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!!
Editor's Note: This story is an adaptation of the original, entitled "Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus," published in The New York Sun, 1897. You can read the original version and more about the history of the actual exchange at