My Trip To TestBash Manchester With Ministry Of Testing

By Katja Budnikov

It’s been for quite some time that I have followed the activities of the Ministry of Testing community. I follow loads of people on Twitter, I’m on The Dojo, and I’m a member of the Slack channel. That’s all very cool already. However, I always wanted to meet the community in real life, and so I have been dreaming of attending one of the famous TestBashes.

There are so so many testing conferences around the world and unfortunately, you can’t attend all of them. One of the biggest reasons is because of the limited budget you have. That’s where the Ministry of Testing Scholarship helped me, by offering me a ticket to the TestBash Manchester.

Getting the Scholarship

I first heard about the Ministry of Testing Scholarship through a tweet, though I don’t remember who posted it. Then I found the info page on the MoT website and started reading through the scholarship stories. I was intrigued and thought, that it would be so great to also get such a scholarship and to be able to attend a TestBash.

It took me quite some time to send my application because I was having doubts about why I should get it etc., but then I did it and applied for a scholarship for the TestBash Netherlands 2018. What can I say - I was overwhelmed when I got the confirmation mail of receiving the scholarship.

I started planning my trip and was very much looking forward to going to Utrecht, but then, unfortunately, I had to cancel the trip. I reached out to Richard Bradshaw (BossBoss) about it and was so so happy when he told me that I could take my scholarship ticket for another location. Tadaaaaa - that’s how I got to attend TestBash Manchester 2018.

Getting There - Impression of the Location

I’ve never been to Manchester before and actually, I didn’t really do any research about it before my trip. So when I arrived at the TestBash Manchester venue, The Lowry, I was amazed by the surroundings. Salford Quays is just so beautiful. The weather was really nice with a blue sky and the sun shining at all those futuristic and modern buildings.

As I underestimated the walk from the hotel to the venue, it was already a little late and the conference day was supposed to start in like 15 minutes. So I took a deep breath, braced myself and entered the building. The registration was really quick - Heather scanned the barcode on my ticket and that was it. Moving along further I walked by the “Swag Station” with lots of lovely swag from all the sponsors and of Ministry of Testing. I especially love the MoT bag.

The room in which the conference itself took place was awesome. Spacious enough so that everyone could fit in, but also very cosy at the same time. It was surrounded by a terrace with a nice view of the surroundings. I sat down and then it started: TestBash Manchester 2018. And I was a part of it!

The Conference Talks

The lineup promised a high quality of talks with speakers like Alex Schladebeck, Huib Schoots, Marcel Gehlen or Dorothy Graham. And what can I say? - It held up to my expectations and even outdid them. The talks I loved the most were the ones by Alex Schladebeck and Huib Schoots, Dorothy Graham and Maaike Brinkhof (although all the other ones were very good as well).

“Jedi Mind Tricks for Testers” was about how you can mind trick others and yourself. Some of the tips were: don’t tell the developers about bugs, show them, tell stories, look after yourself and reflect on your own work.

In “The Tester’s 3 Cs” Dorothy Graham talked to us about the differences in the reaction of people on criticism due to the way of how you give it. She recommended using the DASR script (describe, acknowledge, specify, reaffirm) for that. With the help of some volunteers from the crowd, she showed us the difference between a push and a pull style communication. She also reflected on different stages of confidence.

A more psychological talk was held by Maaike Brinkhof with “Mapping Biases to Testing”. She referenced to the two systems from “Thinking fast and slow” by Daniel Kahneman and said that we need both of those systems in testing, as on the one hand testers rely on heuristics and on the other they do investigations. Throughout her talk, she was talking about different biases like the confirmation bias, the Halo Effect, the availability heuristic and the Anchoring Effect.

At the end of the conference talks, there was some time for 99-seconds-talks and a lot of people used that to talk about things that are important to them. I really enjoyed this format.

What Makes a TestBash Special

One thing I like a lot about TestBash is that it is a single track conference. This results in a higher quality of talks as the organizers put in even more effort to create an awesome lineup/agenda, at least that’s what I imagine they do. Lots of different topics are presented and I learned something from every talk. If you have the chance, have a look at all the talks in The Dojo. Otherwise, you might want to have a look at my TestBash Manchester sketchnotes. They are all on my blog and in my Twitter profile.

The community was as open and welcoming as I imagined it was quite easy to get into conversations with other attendees. There were enough breaks to relax a little, talk to people or eat something. By the way - there was special food for people with dietary requirements like vegan or gluten-free options, which is something that isn’t common at other conferences I’ve attended. I think that it’s amazing that the organizers of TestBash think about such things, especially as I’m lactose intolerant.

Conclusion

Although I was exhausted by all the information at the end of the day it felt as if I could go on and on listening to such awesome talks. I’m really thankful for Ministry of Testing giving me the opportunity to attend TestBash Manchester and I hope that one day I will get the opportunity to attend another TestBash.

About the Author

Katja has a background in SEO. As she was trying to deliver high-quality websites to users, testing wasn’t really far away from that. Since 2016 she started to focus on not only testing SEO-aspects but on the quality of the whole website and on how to improve it. She likes to gain more and more knowledge and therefore tries to attend as many conferences as possible. She shares her experience by doing sketchnotes that she posts on her blog and on her Twitter profile. She can also be found on LinkedIn.