Archive for October, 2012

Whine, but with progress!


I often hear that testers are a whining type of people. One of my Swedish testing colleagues, Jörgen Damberg, wrote an article with the title “The whiners who became a profession” ( And I often feel like I’m whining. For a long time I saw this as something good. I chose to see it as we found things, issues, to lift up. I chose to see it like we were never afraid to speak our mind. All this is something good.

During my years in the testing business I met some not so good testers. And to be honest, they can whine in ways that are not positive in any way. One can whine and one can whine. There is a huge difference.

Let me explain what kind of whining I’m thinking about. I’m not saying this is a complete list. This is the list of things I have faced from time to times.

Whining with no progress

Something is not working or it might be someone else’s outdated test case or a test environment or your computer or instructions or the sink in the bathroom or anything. You are whining about it, loudly, to everyone except the one that can help you with the problem. Your whining will do NO good. Your problem will not be solved, you and your surrounding will only be more miserable, since your whining is contagious.


To get some progress, one has to whine to the person who can solve your problem/issue. If that person doesn’t do anything about your problem you have to remind her/him. You have to continue whining, otherwise there will be no progress. You have to run that outdated test case, you have to use that test environment, you have to use your computer, you need to follow those instructions, you have to wash your hands after doing your needs in the bathroom. You are suffering from the problem/issue so you have to make sure it’s solved but it might not be you who can fix it.

Whining with no alternative solution

You are working with something you don’t like. You don’t think it brings value. You feel like you are wasting your time and the company is focusing on useless stuff. Your manager or test leader tells you to do ridiculous stuff that you don’t understand. The amount of administration and documentation is huge and no one ever reads it. This is probably something we all experienced and that’s fine. What’s not fine is when your manager asks why you think it’s unnecessary and what your suggestion is and you have no answer. You just shrug and ramble something about it just feels unnecessary and boring. This whining doesn’t take you or your company forward. It doesn’t add any value but it will probably make your manager and test leader ask about your opinion more seldom. They will probably stop listen to your whining and it will definitely make your surrounding more miserable.


If you are not satisfied with something, make sure you understand why and think about a solution that could make things better. If you really do this well, I see two possible outcomes; You will understand that this way of doing things might not be that bad and perhaps it already is the best solution. Or you will have a really happy manager and/or test leader that got some really good suggestions of how to improve things. Managers and test leads are often thinking a lot about these things. To have team members that are thinking in the same direction and bring constructive improvements suggestions, that’s a dream team. Okay, there might be a couple of lousy managers and test leaders that are not susceptive to these kinds of suggestions and discussions, but then you can start whining about that (to the person who can solve that issue).

Whining with no proof

There is this bug, it’s very basic and it should work. You are really tired of this bug and it’s kind of serious. You are writing a bug report with a lot of whining. You think the developers made a lousy job introducing that bug and it should be found in unit test. Since it’s so basic you are not adding too much information in the bug report. Some vague steps how to reproduce, no logs, no screen shots. The developer who receives the bug report is not able to reproduce the bug and gets angry about your whiny tone the bug report and lack of information, so she/he tries to close it. The bug might be shuffled back and forth without a constructive communication. It turns out that you’ve been running the test in a production environment and the developer run the same test in her/his local development environment and the bug only appeared in a production environment. This whining doesn’t help anyone. You will probably get a tense relationship with developers since they feel unjustly attacked. No one wants your bug reports and no one wants to communicate with you.


If you want to whine, make sure you have reasons to whine and show them to the person you are whining to. If you just attached a video in your bug report showing the bug, the developer would probably be sure the bug existed. Then the question would be what the difference is between your ways of testing and not whether the bug really exists or not. This is a much more constructive discussion. If your whining is about testing tasks that takes long time to perform in relation to the value it brings, why not measure exactly how long time it takes. Present that to your manager/test leader and add information about what you could have done during that time that would have given you much more value. It’s all about proofs. And to be a really good tester you have to prove in what scenarios a bug exists and not. This ability to prove things is useful in a lot of situations.



But, now I will contradict myself and this blog post. There are times when I think it’s ok to whine in all the ways I just described. The testing profession is sometimes hard. We are seeing a lot of stuff that doesn’t work, test environments are often not easy to handle, our deadlines are often tight, and we are often pushed by quality gates, developers, project managers and other stakeholders in different directions. Sometimes we are just full of feelings like frustration, annoyance and we might be angry. Then, it might be ok to just let things out… to just blow off some steam… whining about everything and everyone, preferably to a close colleague or the closest test team. You probably don’t mean even half of what you are whining about and you don’t want to take any action on any of the issues and you don’t think it’s important enough for anyone else to take action either. This is totally fine, as long as everyone in your surrounding understands that this is your “whining session without substance”. It will take a couple of minutes, it will stay between you and the other participants and it won’t happen every day. Everyone will nod in recognition; say a couple of encouraging words and you will start feeling much better and relieved.


So, there is a difference between whining and whining. If you want to whine, do it in a professional way!