Sunday, 24 August 2014

An Open Letter to Professional Tester Magazine

Dear editors of professional tester magazine

It is not often that I get a strong enough reason to become political and reply to some editorial pieces within a published article.   It is against my better nature to enter into debates which one side attacks another side but unfortunately your recent articles have been on mind for a few days and I feel the need to reply to the following articles on your website.

I feel the only way to express my disappointed is by use of social media, I 'had' a great deal of respect for your magazine and your in-depth reports and wide variety of articles, sadly that has diminished.

My concerns were raised upon the publication of the article about 'Book burners' in relation to the campaign instigated at the CAST conference to 'suspend' the publication of the ISO/IEC/IEEE 29119 software testing standards by means of a petition and enable some open debate on the validity of these standards too the software testing profession. NOTE the wording it says suspend it does not say as your article states 'suppress' which indicates that these people signing the petition wants to "forcibly put an end to." That is not the purpose of the petition. Its' purpose is to allow those who will be impacted by these standards a voice and  input.  That I feel is fair enough for any democratic process and hence why I proud to sign this petition.

Now let me get to the part that really got me annoyed.  The use of the term "Book burners".

  • Did the author of this article understand what this term means?  
  • Did they understand how much of an offensive term this is?
  • Was this term deliberately chosen to ensure controversy?
  • Was the author naive in choosing this term without understanding it meaning?
I have been attempting over the past couple of days to attempt to answers these questions and at one point I felt it was just me being over sensitive. Then the second article was published about 'PT independence is questioned' in which the author appears, to me, to take the higher moral ground and attack some within the testing community for making some assumptions about linkedin and comments being deleted, which they quickly retracted and apologized for once it was understood as a bug within linkedin.  This did not stop the author of the article stating that the comments made were deliberately false and meant to damage the reputation of the magazine.  I can understand how the magazine editors must have felt,  however this was an opportunity for the editors of the magazine to also apologize for their attack on some within the testing community by the use of the term 'book burners', sadly none was forthcoming.

To clarify the term 'book burner' is used against those who are attempting to suppress freedom of speech.
 Book burning can be emblematic of a harsh and oppressive regime which is seeking to censor or silence an aspect of a nation's culture - Wikipedia
Can you as authors of the magazine see the irony of using this term against those who are attempting to make something open and debatable rather than hidden behind closed doors?

Another ironic aspect is that those within the testing community who I engage with are amongst those who read a wide variety of books even those books that they may disagree with.  They are also writers, publishers and authors themselves to so use such a term is so derogatory and offensive to many of these people.

All I ask from this open letter is to acknowledge that using the term 'book burners' just may have been over the top, unjustified and offensive to those with the software testing profession who care about testing. 

To end this on a positive note I do intend to continue reading your magazine and will not encourage anyone to not read it or avoid it, since that serves no purpose.  I look forward to many more great articles from your magazine and hopefully some will be edgy and promote debate so all of those within the testing profession can be encouraged to learn from all the diverse views that this profession has. 

your sincerely

John Stevenson
A professional tester

If you care about the future of software testing please look at signing the petition to get ISO 29119 suspended and enabling a debate on its content by going here -

Also have a look at the professional tester manifesto here - and if you agree look at signing this too.