Notes from the Net October 2013

Notes from the Net highlights some interesting articles out there on the Web,  submitted by Doris Beetem, Documentation Coordinator at Schlumberger Ltd.

The Death Star Conspiracy as software testing ethics training (TechTarget.com)

What can the Death Star teach us about the ethics of software testing? In a video¬†talk entitled The Death Star was an Inside Job (http://searchsoftwarequality.techtarget.com/video/The-Death-Star-Conspiracy-as-software-testing-ethics-training), software testing process expert Matt Heusser presents a line of “facts” from the Star Wars trilogy selectively chosen in the Luke’s Change YouTube video to put forward the idea that Darth Vader was working in collusion with his children to bring down the Death Star from the inside.

What does that have to do with software testing? Heusser says it’s also easy to spin the facts that a software testing program turns up in order to support an untrue story. The folks that made Luke’s Change showed the facts introduced in Star Wars in such a way as to shed doubt on Luke’s story. It’s selectively choosing which facts to present that is the culprit and, like the Dark Side of the Force, it can be seductive.

There are various reasons that a software tester or project manager might choose selectively which facts to highlight and which to hide. “It can be tempting,” Heusser says, to “tell the story with the data,” as opposed to telling the story the data naturally presents. For example, a project manager may be told, “We think we are going to hit the deadline; go prove it.” Software quality pros should present true data, not hide, abstract, or skew it.

Most great software quality professionals subscribe to a code of ethics such as the one laid out by the IEEE, which Heusser mentions. He says ethical software testing is going to become even more important over the next ten years. As of now, the professional rules haven’t been written yet. Progressive testers and project managers have got to write them as they go.