Track Talk W10

Rule-Bending and Cheating: A Tester’s Strategy for Success

Nele Van Asch

13:45-14:45 Wednesday 12th June

I have a confession to make: I cheat when I play Monopoly. And Uno. And Rummikub. Okay, I cheat at any game I play, and I’m proud of it. Have you ever cheated at playing games? What about testing? I cheated while testing, and I’m proud of that too. May I share my story with you? Or are you afraid to lose?

Games like Uno and Rummikub can serve as examples, where players frequently assert their own interpretations of the rules. When playing with new opponents, subtle rule variations inevitably arise, leading to debates. Some players discreetly strategize, perhaps eyeing specific cards or exploiting rule ambiguities – actions often considered as cheating.

Surprisingly, these gaming scenarios closely resemble software testing. The inclination to bend rules starts early in the testing process, when brainstorming potential scenarios. Testers contemplate unconventional situations to ensure the system handles them correctly. This raises a fundamental question: Is rule-bending an inherent trait among testers? And more importantly, how does this inclination impact our work? When project boundaries blur and rules become ambiguous, establishing a shared understanding of guidelines – especially when stakeholders may also bend them – becomes essential.

With nearly a decade of testing experience, I provide insights and guidance on this intriguing topic. By exploring the nuances of rule-bending and occasional rule-cheating, we aim to uncover the motivations behind these practices, and their implications for software testing. The key lies in knowing when and how to employ these unconventional strategies judiciously, enhancing our ability to navigate the complex terrain of software development, while upholding the integrity of the testing process.