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?


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…

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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.


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:


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


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)


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.

Having been targeted myself the past week by someone who is very free with the term “cult”, I feel I have to say that the very act of labeling a group as a “cult” simply based on their holding a general set of ideas, using certain words, or being associated with certain individuals, is a form of “guilt by association” and, from my observation, is often an excuse to dehumanize, pre-judge, and dismiss someone, regardless of their individual actions, words, or arguments, simply by asserting they are part of that group (whether they even are or not). That is almost always how I see the term used on LinkedIn in the context of software testing, and I think it’s really unhealthy and even discriminatory.

By extension, such talk seems to also assume the presumed “leaders” of such “cults” have absolute control over their “followers”, to the point where I’ve even seen at least one person use the word “minions” to describe the people they expected to chime in on a conversation to defend or agree with those “leaders” with the presumption that somehow the “leaders” would coordinate and order them to pile on or something. From my observation, such assumptions about the sway of one or two individuals over a large number of people aligned to various degrees with their way of thinking, or their explicit coordination of the same, are…drastically overblown.

It’s amazing how little actual “facts” matter in such cases–crazy things like being accused of being in an echo chamber simply because you block that person no matter how many other people with diverse opinions you’re publicly conversing with and even soliciting for differing perspectives.


We the people working in tech are a cult too :sweat_smile:. We’re a cult for the all paper no computer people.
I never felt being stuck in an echo chamber or becoming part of a cult. I like to explore any set of ideas a person is presenting and then see if they’re relevant for me or not.
The only cult I’d like to be associated with is that of being “Context Driven”

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I think there are enough people calling it that from the “outside” that people who consider themselves context driven calling it one doesn’t help :slight_smile:

I consider myself context-driven because the CDT principles resonate with my view of testing. But I didn’t feel the need to get anyone’s permission to call myself that and I actively try to find different communities and perspectives to learn from. That said, I also feel like I’ve see a correlation where the loudest critics of CDT (often more specifically targeted at RST) also happen to be people whose thoughts on testing I haven’t found very convincing, in addition to the unhealthy herd behavior of frequently piling on to each others conversations to accuse their opponents/detractors of being a cult.


Maybe its just me but I see a lot of sizzle but…no steak. The “article” impresses me as a series of hot takes with no examples, evidence, or data. Its also not lost on me that the author has a dog in the hunt and might just be signal boosting to promote his own company. But Im willing to entertain differing opinions.


Everywhere where there is someone popular, there is a group of “followers” that very vocally praise them, promote them, parrot their work and - unfortunately - sometimes act aggressively towards “others”. We can see it in testing, we can see it in development. There is the same thing with YouTube stars, celebrities, sports teams. We have it light compared to video game fandoms.

I studied sociology. The fact that sociologists don’t agree about some very basic facts of their discipline, that they use different words to name the same thing, and use the same word when they mean two completely different things - these are covered in first chapter of introductory textbook, covered in first month of studies. Thomas Kuhn is mandatory reading few years later. So when I encountered the idea of “testing schools”, it was immediately recognizable and familiar for me. People calling one specific school a “cult” seem to be completely oblivious to all that background reading.

Another problem I see is that both article and comments - here and elsewhere - skate around the fact who purported “cult leaders” are. As a result, there are at least two completely separate streams of discourse - people who have no idea who this is about and try to genuinely participate in the discussion taken at the face value, and people who know precisely who this is about, but try to mask their messages as oblivious and try very hard to not name any names. I’m not sure if this is the environment that fosters healthy discussion.

Personally, I found James Bach and Michael Bolton inspiring. I appreciate them sharing a lot of their work and thoughts on their blogs, free and accessible to anyone. But as I gained experience I started growing apart, realizing there are no more lessons they could teach me.