This has been an interesting experiment. For those who don’t know what I am referring to, LinkedIn has an option where people can “endorse” you for skills or attributes that you choose to post. I’ve given a few of these out to people I know or have interacted with, and I’ve received quite a few as well.

What’s been interesting is to see exactly what I have been endorsed for. The top endorsement? Test Automation. Seems rational on the surface, except for the fact that, if you actually read my blog or my articles, you don’t see a lot of “expertise” in those posts. Mostly, what you see is a fair amount of frustration, a lot of questions, and a fair amount of true confessions about how I struggle with programming. Based on this, does this mean that people are endorsing my abilities with test automation, or are they endorsing the fact that I am honest about the trade offs between what test automation promises and what it can actually deliver?

Other areas that have me baffled are the tools that I get mentioned for. Selenium is a tool i actively use, and I attend and report on both the San Francisco and San Jose Selenium MeetUp groups sessions, so that one makes sense. Getting endorsements for HP Quality Center or QTP don’t make any sense at all (true confession time, I have never seen a single screen of either application in my entire testing career).

I get what the option is there for; it’s a way to give kudos to people without having to go into depth. It’s LinkedIn’s version of the “Like” button. It’s easy to click, and yes, it does look really cool when you can see a wall of icons next to a skill, or even a 99+ next to a particular item. I am grateful to those who have posted these, and I appreciate your willingness to support and back me, but it leaves me with a question… why that skill? What is it about that particular one that makes you willing to click that button that says “Does Michael Larsen know about Agile Methodologies?”, or one of the other ones? Example: I spend a lot of time and advocacy on teaching and coaching, and I actively write, a lot, about those areas, but they are way down on the list of things I’m rated much higher for, with little in the way to show my knowledge or expertise.

This brings me back to what I try to do with these listings. I want to have some level of interaction with you on the topic in question. That interaction could be an email thread, a Twitter run, a collaboration on an article, participating in a Weekend Testing event or a BBST class. The venue doesn’t matter, but generally, I need to have witnessed your skills. If I can’t come up with a concrete place where I’ve seen you demonstrate said skill, I can’t in good conscience endorse you for it. I’d ask that you do the same. Again, I appreciate the good vibes from all, but part of me really wants to know why you feel I deserve that thumbs up. If you can do that, then please, feel free to vote me up on any skill you want to. Likewise, if you see my picture next to a skill you’ve listed, know that that is what I am doing for you :).