I just came back from LetsTest 2015 in Runö. For those that don’t know what LetsTest is, its a Context Driven Testing conference with a focus on workshops rather than lecture style presentations. Another thing that makes LetsTest different from most conferences is that accommodation and food is included. This really puts you in an environment to learn and socialise with your peers. The venue is in an idyllic location and some of the workshops are actually run outdoors.
So you can imagine what happens when a group of enthusiastic testers get together to learn and socialise with no where to escape. We talk and drink. And we do a fair amount of both. A lot of intellectual debates and challenges. Some are beneficial, some are not. I believe that this has a correlation with how much we’ve had to drink but I’m not sure if they both trend in the same direction or opposite directions. 🙂
One thing that particularly impressed me was this. After the closing keynote we were ask to have show of hands of how many people were first time attendees. It turned out about half the people were first timers. Which means about half the people there had been at least once. It was also mentioned this was possibly one of the most new faces at LetsTest since it started 3 years ago.
This quick show of hands (and my experience throughout the conference) got me thinking. What does this mean? Here are some of my observations:
- The people that come to LetsTest really love it. And they come again and again.
- Given there was maybe less than 200 people this seems to be a small community.
- A lot of the people there knew each other.
- Among the attendees were some world famous testers. Michael Bolton, Ben Simo etc.
So having a small tight community is great. Especially when you have so many awesome testers among them. It meant that I could talk to quite a few of attendees and had a decent conversion rather than just a hi and bye. I plan on keeping in touch with most of them as well.
But I wondered if a high rate of return attendees was a good or bad thing. On one hand it means people really love the conference and believe in what they are learning/teaching. However I think it could also mean that we are not attracting new blood into the community.
I think the latter is largely due to how jobs are advertised and how employers look for testers. Most jobs out there focus on tooling (Do you know Selenium, Appium, Junit etc.) rather than testing ability (How would you test a dice? How would you test a second dice?). As a result most testers focus on their tooling rather than their testing skills. Being a good tester in general is also hard work. It requires constantly improving yourself and learning new skills (as well as tools although not necessarily programatic ones.) and lots and lots of practice.
So if you are interested in upping your game and improving your testing skills then you should really check out LetsTest. Check out this year’s program (http://lets-test.com/?page_id=3656) to see what you missed and what you could have learned. And hopefully I will be seeing you at LetsTest 2016!!