Workshop on Open Certification of Software Testers (WOC)

WOC is now over!


Indianapolis, June 8-10, 2006 (Follows CAST 2006)

WOC is our first step in developing a new approach to certifying the knowledge of software testers. Here’s our vision:

  • Imagine an exam based primarily on courses and readings available free on the web. (Learn at your own pace, skip the $2000 review course.)
  • Imagine an exam available free to anyone at anytime. For example, during a job interview, connect to the exam web site. It prepares a stratified sample of 50 questions from a much larger pool. You take the test then and there. You and the interviewer see the questions you answered and the answers you gave. Your percentage correct is interesting, but in many interviews, discussing the specific answers can yield far better insight.
  • Imagine that instead of pretending that the significant questions of Testing have One True Answer, we invite discussion and dissenting opinions. Each question in the pool has its own discussion page. When someone takes a test, the feedback for each question provides a link to the discussion of that question, along with “correct” or “incorrect.” Our intention is to create an organization (perhaps a nonprofit corporation) that owns copyright in all of the exam materials and discussions but that grants the public a right to republish or reuse them — essentially a free software license (more precisely, Creative Commons license with attribution).

The goal of this meeting is to figure out how to do this, and to get started doing it.

We want to create a better certification exam process and better exams. For now, we are planning to create multiple-choice type tests. These have limited value. They don’t test skill.

At some point, we will develop skill-based testing as well. However, that type of testing is often very demanding on the expert evaluator, and so these experts would have to be paid. Skill-focused exams are often expensive. We will get to discussions/designs of tests that evaluate higher levels of knowledge, but not in this first meeting.

We are building something to serve the testing community, and inviting participation by the community. However, we are not creating a professional society or a business. We might select an advisory board (we hope to) and we might select a small group of core organizers who become a board of directors for the formal entity (nonprofit corporation?) that officially owns the materials. But we are not planning to hold elections or public votes. We are not trying to create the illusion that we represent the field or that we can speak for it as a standards body. Instead, we have a vision for serving the testing community by building a better set of exams, and we are asking for help, guidance, and refinement (or fundamental revision) of the vision.


  • Hosts: Cem Kaner and Michael Kelly
  • Facilitated by: Paul Holland