EDIT Mahesh Chikane did also his take on this discussion you can read it here. I recommend reading it since he provided much better recap then me. Plus it is also worth seeing how perspective depends on your experience. We both witnessed the same discussion yet we concentrated on different aspects of it.
At Beginning of this week at Ministry of Testing slack, there was some discussion about AI. I must admit I haven’t been following it diligently, but for what I can take it devolved into a discussion about Terminology.
Which Gus Pointed out
I find fascinating how the testing community rarely manages to discuss the matter at hand because we get stuck on whether the matter at hand is named correctly. Ex. Automated tests, acceptance tests, artificial intelligence etc.
On this subject, we know (or should know) what the rest of the world means with AI as there is a huge existing knowledge base, but rather than discussing that we prefer to criticise the naming of it. Are we missing the forest for the trees?
This lead to one of the most interesting discussions I have participated In a long while.
I am not going to recap here whole exchange. Bellow is a highlight of most interesting arguments presented by all sides.
Note. I am trying to avoid making a strawman of any points presented in the discussion. Having said that I have my Bias and they may have coloured my perception. So Viewer discretion is Advised
- Shallow Agreement. This is term popular in Context-Driven School meaning that we think we agree on some meanings but the reality we talk about the different side.
- This often happens to terms that are commonly understood by all. The fight is about what is their preferred terminology. One side wants to highjack discussion to argue they political view instead of adding to the debate. Example of such terms is Manual Testing and Automated Testing.
- James Sheasby Thomas offered this excellent summary:
„I think that if a discrete group of people are using the same problematic term as a proxy for the same concept, having previously acknowledged that the term itself is problematic/reductionist, then they should be free to use a said term as a shortcut for what they mean. However, if there is some disagreement about the true meaning or concern that third parties may take the term literally or not know the true meaning, then I think it’s important to spend time discussing the naming of concepts. (edited)”
- „Can you agree on a common language, but still not be in agreement of core values in testing? „
- Debates on common terminology should happen every time it may lead to harm to the craft. Again and Again if needed.
- But It Cannot derail current discussion
- Whose to decide what is causing harm to the craft?
We haven’t achieved a full consensus but we had some interesting take always:
- „We all can be little more patient, polite and aware while we listen, read or face someone’s work/words.” @maheshchikane
- Here’s a thought: let’s apply the Helpful Rule. „No matter what it looks like, everyone is trying to be helpful.” – @michelbolton
I hope I gave you a good summary of the discussion below I would like to offer my thoughts on the subject.
Magic of the names
There is something I like to refer to as „Magic of the names”:
The Term/Name you use defines how you think about something!
For example that why support usually avoids negatively biased word when talking with customers. It wasn’t a failure it was unexpected behaviour. It is not a major bug it is a small issue.
From this perspective, I find the fight for the terms a noble one.
But the fight on lots of those terms is lost. It started too late, and even in the testing community, there is no agreement on the use of those terms.
Plus I can’t emphasize enough both sides usually know what given name means. And highjacking discussion won’t convince others to your point it will annoy them making less likely to listen to you.
It hard to change used terms. Lots of brands have learned is changing used terms is hard. Especially when the one you offer is not catchy. Take a look at Adobe war for usage of „photoshopped„.
Or the misconception about word theory. -we all have heard at list once „Evolution is just Theory” .
But again it is not impossible. For example test in ancient past was an earthen pot for melting precious metals.
Beware Highjacking Discussion
It is good to take time and decide on terms – I have made the post on this in the past.
But Context is important. I am not going to talk about Automated checks to developers and managers in my job.
Explaining those term to them and get their buy-in on using those words would cost to much more time that could be spent more productively.
Of course, if someone would suggest automating all the tests and firing testers then brining Testing vs Checking would be useful. So far I had only one case like this.
Another important thing is to remember few things that are usefully in debates and discussion:
Report Rules of Good critique – Thanks, Piotr Wicherski for reminding me about this concept.
How to construct a good argument
And most important being aware of fallacies and avoid them
It would also be worth to refresh rules of discussion but I don’t have a useful link for that. If someone has one, please share.
And At the end one more I am going to remind you we all humans. And Even when we strive to ideals road to mastery is hard and requires practice.
- Note all Quotes were are put via Grammarly to fix typos and grammatical errors.