How do you avoid being stuck in a non-inclusive echo chamber?

A helpful read about the cults of testing by Jason Arbon.

It provides a useful reminder to reflect on our biases. I also took each section and applied it to Ministry of Testing. I’d like to think as a community-led business we avoid all the factors that Jason highlights. Or a the very least, ensure that we stand tall against any cult-like behaviour.

Kinda hard for me to be impartial on that since I’ve been employed by Ministry of Testing for years and have been part of the community for several years. Anyhow, a useful exercise to read the article and reflect on where you’re at in relation to the factors described by Jason.

How do you interpret the article? Are you aware of any cults of testing that you might be part of without realising? How might we defend ourselves from cult-like behaviour in the testing craft and industry?

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How should I?
Sounds Catch-22-ish. Maybe inverted.
Becoming aware of = realising

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The only “cult” I can see is that I’m old enough to have seen a world before GUI’s and Internet, fostered in a world of CLI’s., when automation difficulty basically was in regexp generation, returning to test after decades of managemen roles. So I am not as keen on GUI automation as seem to be the current state of matter. Working for a governmental facility we do not have unlimited budgets and the automation initiatives E2E in our front end rich applications does not seem to have been cost effective. But I realise I’m maybe a stubborn old manual tester…

Sounds like advice for a problem people don’t have.

They warn against the overuse and creation of specific terminology, then advise that we should stick to the overuse of existing terminology. The idea that we shouldn’t evolve terminology seems to me to be the cultish, totalitarian position trying to dictate and influence language and thought.

More than anything it feels like a bizarre thing to write. What motivated this article? Are there cults of testing that do not permit free thought or apostacy? Or is there some other reason this article exists?

Perhaps they have mistaken argument over ideas with the idea haver? This happens quite a lot. When you read that people feel excluded because they had a bad idea and people called it bad, so the arguers must be some kind of cult or exclusionary group. People calling out our bad ideas is a kindness, but it can feel like calling us bad which is an insult. Then bad feelings make us feel pushed away and dismissed. It’s more subtle than one or the other, of course, and we need to rely on trust, consent and examination of ourselves and others to ensure we can include every person and still safely learn from the errors in our thinking.

The main way I try to avoid getting stuck in an echo chamber or dragged into cult-like behavior/mindset is to read widely and evaluate everything in the light of my experiences, the known facts, and what research I can track down.

Since I usually work from the perspective of “If it’s working for me and not making my life more difficult, I can live with it until I find something better” this has mostly kept me out of echo chambers.

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Thanks for sharing the LinkedIn post from Jason Arbon. I have not yet heard from him, nor I haven’t known his company yet…

I can understand why @kinofrost asked "What motivated this article? ". I do have seen in the past years depending of the community a kind of cult in software testing habits. And I was completely distracted and did not want to end up in a community where they only define themselves out of how much or many certifications they have got.
Obvious they were white old men above 40 and they have been behaving strange when I questioned at a meeting (pre-corona times) things or ways. The first thing they asked was “Have you got ISTQB FL?”.
Which I did not have (and still not, as I struggle with it since years, but that’s another topic…)
They did behave in a cultish way that I did not want to participate and I thought, oh, if all software testers behave like that, maybe should I switch my job or working profile as it felt too toxic.

But then someone showed me other software testers who are open minded and I changed the company and then, @maiknog @sven.schirmer and others introduced me into MoT and that changed my mind, thank goodness.
But still I am being a critical thinker and like the way MoT is like it is and not too much like other software testing communities. Had a nice chat with @friendlytester on a beach about that topic a few months ago :wink:

Coming back to your main question…

How to avoid being stuck? Well, always question yourself with the way of testing you are doing at the moment. Like in the posting from Jason he says you should also pay a kind of respect to other and maybe older testing methods, as they sometimes or maybe do not fit into your testing world at the moment. But imo you should not stick too hard to those methods. And avoid building barriers so that you won’t be able to see whats coming next… And like you tagged critical-thinking - that is the key. :slight_smile:

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Maybe this article is also an indirect attack on Michael Bolton and James Bach. I can read it like that.
They and Jason were having around that time discussions about the usage of AI, mainly on LinkedIn.
And they and Jason … disagreed heavily. I perceive Jason answering disrespectful, going for the person not the argument.

Edit: Link to a discussion to start from

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Whenever I see a claim for ‘Product X’ I want to see proper reviews (ie testing)… being in a cult is when you lose critical thinking skills. I’m also of the opinion that social media can blow up these disagreements for no good reason (plus LinkedIn throws up some absolute stinkers of unvetted posts that either go unchallenged or else get shot down by the handful of motivated people in our industry, perhaps the ones that Jason rails against)

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I am reading the book Noise by Daniel Kahneman, et. al. While I have not finished reading it, the last parts of the book are about de-biasing decisions they call “decision hygiene”. Checklists, use statistics, choose a few good judges to get feedback, and make small choices. I might review the book in depth if there is interest.

That’s been my take on the article as well, and having seen some of the public LinkedIn threads it seems to me Jason has been more interested in snark than respectful serious discussion.

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Ah, it’s a shame to read on a thread that there is potential or real anguish between professionals in the testing industry. I guess this can happen and that can motivate an article. I didn’t get that sense from reading Jason’s article and maybe he was directing it at certain people – we’ll never know.

The point of this thread was for us to start a conversation about how to avoid being stuck in an echo chamber. And, as a side note, to remind ourselves that there is more than Ministry of Testing out there – huh, did I just say that?! :open_mouth::wink:.

It’s great to read several responses which share plenty of tips and advice. Thanks for sharing, folks. Keep the professional and courteous debate coming.