The Birth of a Tester Gathering Part 4 – First. Event. Ever.

This evening, NOTiCE met for the first time ever.  We had a total of six attendees, which for having seven RSVP isn’t so bad. The topic for tonight was “Why did you become a tester, and what tests did/do you use to feel you are getting good at it”. Since I work with most of the people who came (all but Raj), my nervousness was low, though I was still paranoid that the topic would fizzle (no offense to Martin who helped me flesh it out, I am just like that when I put things together, especially if they impact others). We managed to get through introductions, and made it around the room covering each of our stories on how we got into testing and what testing was like for those of us in our second, third or fourth testing job.

I blinked and an hour was gone.

Then, instead of moving into the “what means do you use to know you are good at testing” we steered into a discussion, for the second hour on how we all learn and stay current on testing. Raj and I discussed the various people we follow on Twitter, the piles of blogs we read (Raj is much better at limiting his scope and using RSS feeds to know about updates… I need to set that up soon). We discussed books and courses and conferences.

In the end, we had no trouble using up the full two hours. At the end, we discussed the next meetup. I told them, based on the discussion I had with Martin, I had thought of taking the second meeting to discuss the use of safety language (Martin corrected my initial topic idea of “why you got into testing and how you know you are any good at it”, using safety language, and made into a teachable lesson for me and the group). After mentioning that to the group, Raj brought up the idea of a lean coffee style event (yeah, I told him Matt already suggested that). After discussing the pros and cons of that style, and the fact that everyone who attended tonight was engaged and participating, we decided to try it out.

So, I think I figured out how to let group members suggest topic ideas ahead of time on our meetup site.  This way, I can let the group participate in choosing topics, but if that doesn’t work, I will know walking in that I need a backup topic (helllllooooo safety language).

So what have I learned from this experiment:

Advertise externally as much as you can.

Sure, I had five coworkers there, and that was awesome, but I need more non-coworker peers in attendance. Yeah, OK so I know not everyone was available, but come on. I need to reach more people.

Unless told not to, advertise in-house!!

I took the approach of not wanting to inundate people info about my little group (words I use in my head), so I posted one message one time on our internal testing forum. Problems with this approach 1) not everyone in test reads the forum 2) I posted this maybe a month ago. The outcome of this? I have one person tell me TODAY that they just learned I made a meetup because they saw an ad for it on meetup.com. Awesome. What else? I happen to mention something about the group to an awesome (imho) tester and all around person I work with and they have no clue what I am talking about ?!?!

For the people I work with, prepare for emails soon.

Worry a little less.

Look, this is just like last year when I freaked myself out when I got myself involved in multiple presentations at our user conference.  I went from hating presenting, to successfully (words of others) presenting to rooms of over 120 people.  If I can do that, why can’t I talk to a handful of people about something I am passionate??

Buy supplies the day before.

At least for the next meeting, I already have markers and name tags.

Alright, it’s late, I had a great day talking testing with people who wanted to come out and do the same. I made a thing I am proud of, and now I can see that it can work. All I have to do is keep it going.

I Get Interrogated

OK, so interrogated might be a little strong. Phil Kirkham (you all follow Phil on Twitter, right?) asked me to participate in his “Five Questions” blog series, after I said how awesome the series is (see what happens when you speak up?)

You can read my responses, and the rest of the series, here.

The Birth of a Tester Gathering Part 3 – I Schedule Something!

Hi out there. How have you all been? I’ve been busy (which is true, and even if it wasn’t is better than me saying I was sitting on my ass all this time doing nothing). I thought I would give a quick update to the series.

Since my last post (wow, that was awhile ago… sorry for anybody that’s been waiting around for this), I have managed to accomplish a few things related to my meetup. Let’s see, at the end of March I went up to the MMTMD (Mid-Michigan Testers Meet Down) near Lansing Michigan. I aspire to have a group as cool as this some day. For being the FIRST event ever for this new organization, Hilary had close to 40 people show. It was a 3+ hour-long event with multiple lightning talks, a main speaker (hi Matt), lunch and a testing game/exercise. I honestly thought this group had existed for some time, based on how smoothly things appeared to go.

I ended up giving a 6 minute ‘lightening talk’ on why I wanted to start my own meetup in Cleveland. Since I still had a bit of laryngitis, I did my talk via technology. I had typed up my talk in EverNote, sent it to Pocket, and then used the default text to speech British voice to read it via my phone + speakers. It was interesting. I made a few people chuckle, in what seemed like appropriate places. Phil seemed to think it was hilarious, but I couldn’t tell if it was my talk, or the over-the-top computer British accent.

I’m not going to do a huge write-up of the event as others already have (and did so far better than me) here (hey look, it’s my yellow shirt!) and here. If you are anywhere close to Lansing, MI, I highly recommend you attend the next event. Don’t see a next event on the calendar yet? Let Hilary know.

Previously, I had been trying to follow some advice given to me by Jeff “Cheezy” Morgan. He suggested I try to build an online community, to get people talking and connecting and THEN try to take it to a meetup format. Well, I’m either too impatient (maybe) or not that good at building a burgeoning online forum for testing discussions in the NE Ohio region (uh… yeah) so shortly before MMTMD, I decided to just start. I booked my first meeting for NOTiCE on April 17th. There will be coffee (sponsored with no strings!), and some talking… about… testing … Crap, I need a topic for this thing.

As I write this I have 15 members in the group (I stopped counting myself once I got over ten), and six attendees lined up for the first meeting (counting me), even without a topic set! I am really excited for this group to get going. At this point, all I need to do is pick a topic to discuss, and continue tweeting about this thing.

I am also hoping in the very near future that I will be announcing something awesome for me second meetup (I know, I know, I haven’t even managed to get one done and I am already on to the second). All I can say now is, if it works out, it will be super awesome. Really. It’s that exciting.

So, my next post will be a recap of my first event, and anything I can think of.