I had recently my 3rd year of blogging, at least this is what wordpress claims. I had the idea to write some overview article for my experiences as a blogger, but I didn’t have the time recently. So, I decided now it is a good time to take break after the tough topic about outdated testing concepts and before I move to another topic. Here’s a short story, how blogging helps you improve as a tester…
They made me do it.
I started blogging as a part of an assignment I had. I was part of this coding academy, which still exists today, organized by Telerik. And we had this class of “Knowledge sharing”, I think that’s what it was called and they made us get a blog, just any free service by our choice. The reason was, as future developers, to have our own technical site which will be useful for us in order to make our own port folio and from a more technical perspective, to see how is a site looking from the inside. Being honest, I had no idea what to do. 😀 They told us it has to be technical one, so it was even harder to me, since I was at that time with none to minimal technical knowledge.
In fact I dropped from the academy, because … well you know the story with all these famous, successful drop-outs 😀 Joking, in fact I dropped out, because I wasn’t good enough for a developer and couldn’t handle working at the same time and spending enough time doing my assignments. So, practically I failed miserably. But the blog was still there.
Every beginning is tough, they say…
I hate clichés, I’d say my beginning blogging was awful. I had no idea what the fuck will I do, I was trying to put every single bit of technical knowledge that I had into it and it wasn’t a lot. And it wasn’t easy, my first articles were awful, the good part is, they are still there lol. In fact, I am proud of them, they are like legacy code, every time I take a look at them, I say “Thanks God, I have made some progress since then.”
Recently after that I started working as a tester, a profession that I felt was “my element” and I had great passion about it, so it was easier to at least target my content. But it didn’t get better in any way, I knew nothing about testing, either. So, I took the best course of action I could, I started reading. And I read almost every piece of post, book, slide or post in social medias that was related to testing.
How blogging is relevant to testing?
We are back in modern days, I don’t think I am quite popular blogger, yet, I just have a small group of readers that read my posts and if they are happy with what I wrote, it’s a bonus, not a purpose. But the lessons that I learned in that process are priceless.
Lesson #1: You will definitely learn how a site looks on the inside.
And this is amazing! As tester the best knowledge you could earn is practical one, and what could be better catalyst for you to strive for high quality looking of your own site, than testing it and developing it on your own. I am talking about hosting your blog on some hosting service and it isn’t so difficult as I thought in the beginning. There is some wonderful issues that you will have to deal with, that will contribute a lot to your knowledge as a technical person in general and as tester in particular:
- You will most likely run into some small config errors – rights of folders, logs getting too big, the one I first ran into was the amount of memory dedicated for the PHP, I think it was in php_config or something.
- You will run into some security issues – probably, too much spam comments, files you wouldn’t like to expose to the outer world, etc.
- As you content grows you will definitely run into performance issues and will probably gain knowledge about what caching is, how to use minifiers, CDNs and so on.
In other words all these are precious technology knowledge you will be getting from the front seat and believe me, you will never forget them, as you personally experienced what it is to have a crappy performance or if your site was down for some reason.
This will give you the larger perspective on what it feels like being the end consumer and how to deal with specific problems.
Lesson #2: Blogging will be helpful for you to channel your knowledge.
Intelligence is not a linear thing. It is multidimensional, and sometimes the way to make it sharper isn’t to just go and learn stuff. Sometimes you think you know, what you know and yet you only have a shallow understanding of it, you repeat terminology you don’t feel completely comfortable with. That’s why I claim it is important to express yourself and your thoughts publicly. Also, it is verbal expression of one of the core testing principles, don’t trust anything, test even your own assumptions and opinions. I guarantee you, the moment you are visible enough for the community, you will have the most correct measure on whether or not you are developing in the right direction, because once you make a mistake, you will know it.
Another reason is, sometimes we don’t get how shallow our understanding about an idea is, until we try to express it verbally. That’s what I meant by “channeling your knowledge”. We might have more “explicit” knowledge about stuff, what we don’t have very often is the verbal tool set in order to express what we know. In the process of determining what to say, you will see your ideas getting clear and concrete.
Lesson #3: Blogging is your chance to promote your own brand and influence the community.
Like it or not, you are your own brand. And it is better if you can promote your brand in the best possible, most effective way. I can’t remember if it was Kaner, Weinberg or Bach, but one of these guys said a quote I love so much, quoting by memory “Being a good expert and not sharing it publicly is like winking to a girl in the dark. You might do a great job, but no one besides you will know about it.” And it is like this in testing, if you don’t have the balls to state what you think you might be the greatest tester in the whole world, no one would notice. Actually, I don’t think it is even possible, as all great testers that I follow do have blogs and massive online presence.
During the years, having a blog benefited me with some great opportunities to meet and connect with people who I would never meet otherwise and this is wonderful.
Lesson #4: Blogging can accelerate your personal and professional development.
Having all the above combined helped me to educate myself in testing way easier than it was in the beginning. In the beginning it was hard to find any source of knowledge, which is reliable and is worth spending your time. Now, I have access to so many great sources of information, I barely handle it reading watching and responding to anyone who shares some information. Being part of the community and the interaction with it, can benefit you so much in terms of getting more knowledge, getting fast feedback and spreading your ideas way faster and to a wider audience.
I am still wondering why is there so many specialists that are still shying out from having a blog and join the community of pro-active testers.
Once I watched an interview with Stephen King, where he was asked: “What advice will you give to novice writers, what to do, to become successful?” And his answer was: “They have to read a lot and write a lot. Because there’s nothing more delightful, than reading some really crappy book and say… this really sucks… I can do better.” So, my advice to all novice testers is practically the same – read a lot and write a lot, this is your amazing opportunity to make yourself recognizable and influence the testing community and add your unique input to it.
Thanks for reading, I would love to read your feedback in comments and Twitter, if you liked the article, share it with you friends. Good luck.