Saturday, August 16, 2008

Gambler And an Expert Tester

Of late I have been reading a lot of stuff on Expert Testers, articles written by them and have also personally met an Expert Tester. Interacting and reading articles written by them, I feel they have certain traits which best fits a Gambler. In this article I am trying to compare few qualities of a Gambler and Expert Testers, which I personally think these Expert Testers possess and should benefit the Testers who aspire to become an Expert Tester.

#1. The Gambler would always track every single bet he makes by noting it down in his diary. It would usually include date/bets/odds/what's at risk/result and why he made the bet. By tracking his bets he would be able to remain organized, won't fall into traps he had fallen earlier into, would help him to develop a nose for identifying newer traps, would help him to think clearly in uncertain situations and would enable him to identify some sort of patterns admist of chaos.

An Expert Tester would always take down notes of the activities he is performing, the approach he used for identifying a bug in a particular context and the learnings he got while testing a particular product. He would keep on appending his list of learnings all through his testing career. He would be searching for similarities and dis-similarities, different contexts, different heuristics, more oracles and almost anything (things which normal testers are likely to miss) which could help him to achieve his mission.

#2. The Gambler doesn't fear going to the unknown territory and believes he can conquer it with his skill, courage and spirit. He has to train his mind to look beyond the obvious and to look into things which would elude normal people. He has so much at stake (money, reputation, existence ...) that he cannot miss even on minute details.

An Expert Tester challenges the application by stretching its boundaries and testing scenarios which normal Tester would usually miss or can't imagine. He would train his mind at all times to look beyond things which eludes normal testers. He challenges himself to better the benchmarks he sets for himself.

#3. The Gambler has to find his way through the traps, identifying and clearing them to reach his target. He has to make moves under condition of uncertainity. Uncertainity should not be mistaken to randomness. It requires dedicated practice and planning to play moves under uncertain situtation. Even the game of chess is uncertain until one of the Kings is check-mated, but the moves made are not random (infact it depends on the moves you make as per the given context).

Given an application to Test, an Expert Tester first tries to learn the application and establish a pattern for the way application works. He tries to identify the Traps and ways to clear them. Powered with his oracles and heuristics, he tries to find ways to break the application in a carefully planned and systematic manner (and not by Ad-Hoc appraoch).



Disclaimer : All contents in this article are my personal views.

5 comments:

thebestyoucanget said...

This sure is a blog that takes your mind into gambler's world (

You don’t have to be a tester to experience that...I'm not).



Just had a look at a few definitions of gambler over the web.



# someone who risks loss or injury in the hope of gain or excitement

# One who plays at a game of chance, who gambles; One who takes risks



I guess one of the points it attempts to ponder at is the ability to take

risk and the ability to make decisions under uncertainty. Risk of what? risk of loosing

time, money, prestige....



I think the article is more pointing to 'calculated risk' in the context

of approach of a tester.



Another point to add up may be as #4 here would be the ability of expert tester

to question the product functionality, developer's approach in most logical and

contextual way.



The best testers I've worked with had shown a wonderful ability to question

my solution approach to the problem in context(Ohh ya, I'm a pigeon among the

Eagles here...im a developer.) Using that approach I myself managed to better

my way of doing things.



Gamblers also have a nice trait to question themselves over the context of the problem

and they rightly identify the traits that gambling context exhibits.



To state directly with what is being pointed here is:



One should not assume being a tester that once it's implemented then starts the job of a tester to find mistakes / deviations in functionality.



While the design (or solution approach..uhmm..i know design is a misnomer here.) is underway, one should question the correctness, regression areas, future possibilities and consistency of application being affected ..(do you want to add more here). for this, a bit of conversational approach in required. (Imagine sitting with an enemy, to get the nuts out of him ...)



So its not always about acting when problem has arrived, but also about participating when problems are likely to be born.

M.V.Manoj said...

A Tester welcomes you to his blog.

#1. "This sure is a blog that takes your mind into gambler's world"

Its nice that this article took your mind to gamblers world, but it certainly was not my intention.

#2. "I guess one of the points it attempts to ponder at is the ability to take risk and the ability to make decisions under uncertainty. Risk of what? risk of loosing time,money, prestige.... "

I think the right question should be "Risk for what?" (What he gains by taking that risk ...) That question would probably be more suitable to understand a gambler's mindset :-)

#3. "I think the article is more pointing to 'calculated risk' in the context of approach of a tester. "

My message to the Testers who intend to become Expert Testers is that -- to become an Expert Tester you should also try to look out for things which are not obvious, without the fear of failure. All Human beings are fallible, so don't fear failures.

#4. "Another point to add up may be as #4 here would be the ability of expert tester to question the product functionality, developer's approach in most logical and
contextual way "

My intention in this article was to pick some Testing Lessons by looking into a Gambler's attributes. Also wanted to demonstrate to Testers that we can learn Testing lessons from almost everything. Probably the #4th point is a useful suggestion.

#5. "(Ohh ya, I'm a pigeon among the Eagles here...im a developer.)"

I never see developers in that way. [because you never know when the tables may turn on you ;-) ]

Amol said...

You never know what things may turn up into.
Chances are, they may just get better than what your intensions originally might be.

Perhaps exploring into the context a bit more, exploring a gambler a bit more
may result into a few more good traits which may help both, eagles and pigeons.



A risk is probability of happening of something you don’t want. But if its more on
looking at approach (what’s the loss verses what’s the gain), its all right.

A gambler probably knows that trade off. Gains should be more than risks. A good
Gambler knows when to back off.

>> Also wanted to demonstrate to Testers that we can learn
>> Testing lessons from almost everything


Agreed to the point. All pigeons and eagles can learn from almost anything.
The more we explore about a thing, more it helps us in co-relating it with something else.

In fact systems theory says co-relation is perhaps only thing by which we learn things
after a typical point. May be it can be a point in supporting my theory that if you
master a thing, it has all the potential principles to get good at any other thing.

M.V.Manoj said...

@ Amol

You are right - "The more we explore about a thing, more it helps us in co-relating it with something else."

I felt if we can explore and expand the term ‘Gambler’ then it can become more interesting.

Can we think of great inventors like "Thomas Alva Edison" as one of the greatest gamblers whose invention of 'light bulb' has impacted our lives in a big way. He wanted to find something that did not exist at that point of time, there was no guarantee that he would succeed, he had ideas but no certain steps to achieve his mission. He had to do thousands of experiments, which eventually lead to the invention.

thebestyoucanget said...

Yes for sure, all time greates like TAE have changed our lives forever. He didn't fear of failures, did something which was thought of as absolutely rubbish by people around.

Changing the scenario of testing at industry level is such a thing, which people would highly criticise at this point. That's what I think makes it an absurd idea, and again, that's what makes it great idea too, because if the idea is to qualify as great, it has to be absurd, critical and must sound impossible at first.


It comes out of something we see as dream. It takes a while before we realise what our dream is, I've not realised mine.

Good thing out of all this is there are people like you around who realise what the situation is and are ready to improvise, although there are very few of them.

Anything significantly important does not come easy. When one sees a dream to satisfy, it takes a highest priority. What you and me feel and like doesn't count.

What counts is it has to be done. Even if that makes one uncomfertable.


All the best.
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