4 ways to be more active in the software testing community

Making time outside our intensive work schedules to dive into the things we find interesting can be tough. With family life and all the commitments, we need to do every day. Seeking out and being involved in something that is bigger than ourselves is often one of the last things that seem possible.

But if you are just starting out in your software testing journey. Or a seasoned veteran. Being involved in the software testing community is one of the best things that you can do for your current, or future career.

Not only are you more exposed to fresh ideas, ways of thinking and unique perspectives. But you also have a greater chance of learning something new. Whether it’s a new tool or optimised workflow, which would have been difficult to discover through independent research alone.

The worldwide community of software testers is a giant monolith that you could honestly get lost in and spend days reading blog posts, listening to fascinating podcasts and inspiring conference talks.

But with all these resources at hand. Where should you start?

Below, I have listed a few of the resources I use to not only stay up to date with the goings-on in the software testing world. But also as a source of inspiration to fuel my curiosity and desire to be consistently learning and develop as a tester.

Sign up for a newsletter or follow a blog aggregator

The number of blog posts that are newly available each week can be quite intimidating. Not knowing where to start, or where to even find these highly desirable insights. Can leave you feeling a bit disoriented and overwhelmed.

There are some great blogs written by noteworthy people such as Angie Jones, Andy Knight & Alan Richardson (AKA Evil Tester) to name a few. Who regularly have new content for you to consume, enjoy and ponder over. But unfortunately, unless you know where to look. It can be almost impossible to keep up to date with the various amazing community voices.

Two blog aggregators I follow to ease this problem are Testing Bits (though a newsletter is launching soon, I believe). And the Ministry Of Testing blog aggregator.

Or if you prefer your testing news delivered to you weekly. You can sign up for Software Testing Weekly – it’s free!

Shameless plug: I also have my own newsletter which you can sign up to here. Less of a strict testing newsletter. I share the books I am reading, interesting quotes, and the articles I have been consuming as well.

Feel free to sign up.

Listen to podcasts

Software testers (and the tech community in general really). Seems to be blessed in this regard. With so many amazing podcasts and interviews to listen to. We really are spoilt for choice.

Some of my favourites are the Test Guild series of podcasts. And the Test & Code podcast.

Special mention goes to the Tim Ferris Show. Again, nothing to do with testing, software or even technology. Just one with exceptional guests, book recommendations and thoughtful discussion. I always come away from an episode with a novel idea or something that I want to research further.

Take part in the online discussion

Hearing or even reading a new idea is great. But have you ever tried talking about it?

This is known as the Feynman Technique in which the process of discussing, or teaching an idea to others. Helps to solidify the concept in our own minds.

In other words, discussing testing with others not only helps the other person understand. It helps us too.

There are a countless number of places to discuss software testing online. From various Slack channels to subreddits and even good old-fashioned discussion forums.

However, I find the most effective way. And the one that works for me. Is just to engage with people directly through Twitter. I find it more useful and a better way to interact with someone in a one-to-one setting.

Attend a meetup or conference

One of the side effects of most of the world being in lockdown at the moment. Is that people’s ability to either in-person meet ups locally, or conferences in person is not possible.

And even though some conferences and meet ups are being delayed or even cancelled altogether. Through the wonder of Zoom and sites like Meetup.com. Many organisers are now hosting their events online. And sometimes, they are free to attend.

Simply head over to the site, find a local meetup and sign-up to attend. You can also find events on LinkedIn and other social networks by searching the relevant hashtags.

I share the events that I am attending on these platforms, or when I find something interesting that others may want to go to on my Twitter and Linkedin timeline. So follow me, or send me a connection request if you’d like to see them.

These are just some ways I recommend to at least get your toes wet in this vast community we are all part of. But honestly, there is so much more that you can do. While I always recommend to everyone that they should have a blog to share their voice and experiences with others. You may be in a position along the way where you want to organise your own meetup, speak at a conference. Or help others in another way, like starting a podcast or other resource.

Being a software tester isn’t just about designing test cases and writing bug reports. It’s about the things that go beyond just testing software. And being part of the global software testing community is something that we should encourage everyone to do.

Feel free to leave your favourite resource in the comments below!

Posted by Kevin Tuck

Kevin Tuck is an ISTQB qualified software tester with nearly a decade of professional experience. Well versed in creating versatile and effective testing strategies. He offers a variety of collaborative software testing services. From managing your testing strategy, creating valuable automation assets, or serving as an additional resource.

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