The Ministry of Testing recently tweeted a list of  words that make testers feel “icky” and those that make testers feel “good”.  I have inserted the list below.




The list is crowd sourced, provided by testers who responded to a request to provide words that they felt belonged in each category. It is undeniably a good thing to reach out to a community and ask for input. In this case words, and I would hazard a guess, words that resonate emotionally with those that provided them. It is hard to think that there is an absence of emotion in the selection of words. The MoT introduction includes the following:

  • we have an image problem
  • it makes them feel……..

I’m unclear how gathering a group of words, especially those that highlight “things that make them feel icky or bad” helps address an image problem. Image problem itself is a likely minefield of emotion and a different problem to things that make you feel good or bad. I’m somewhat surprised to see a list that appears to have a similar volume of “good and bad”. I do wonder if this really reflects the actual responses.

Arguably  we get an interesting snapshot from this exercise, but, at the end of the day, it is almost devoid of meaning. Where is the context? I mean I can look at this list and see a list of words that testers appear to favour and those they don’t, but how does that help me improve things? I genuinely struggle to understand, as an example selection, why

  • Quality Assurance
  • End to End Testing
  • Execution (is this a political corectness statement?)
  • Offshoring

are on the icky list. As a colleague pointed out to me, offshoring on the icky list is just plain offensive to a of part of her team (they are testers in the Philippines, what the hell did they do to be labelled icky?).

Likewise with the words on the “good” list. Why are these words inherently good? They may make a tester feel good but the goodness is in their use in a context where they are useful and the tester knows how to be effective with the choice. Mobbing or BDD might make you feel good but are they good choices in the context of an engagement?  I find it interesting that:

  • fast
  • complexity

find their way on to the good list. When I think of fast I immediately think of testers that feel good if they are just “pumping through the work”. That is an anti-pattern in my mind if you want good outcomes. Same with complexity. Do testers really feel good about complexity? It would make more sense to me if simplicity was on the list. Without context I’m just guessing.

As it stands the list is just words. If we want to make this a platform for change then lets generate understanding of those words. Lets get the community talking about why words are “icky” and why others are good. Words alone do not improve practices. People with a common understanding, working as a group with common cause, improve practices. This might just be an opportunity to open some excellent dialogue that generates further improvement. The challenge is ours and yours.