Hey, it’s BossBoss here… not convinced I’ll ever get used to that :D
What a year 2017 was for Ministry of Testing, our best yet on all fronts. We have something special to share all that was awesome in 2017 for us, but for now, I want to talk to you briefly about Ministry of Testing, becoming BossBoss and to share our vision and ideas for 2018.
Ministry of Testing - A Truly Global Community
As you’re about to read, MoT is much more than a conference! TestBash is only a small part of what we do. We do a lot, and at the heart of all that we do is the community. We will continue to listen to and be guided by the testing community, trying out new ideas and continuing all the things that bring it value.
Importantly though, we are not a big company, we only have 5 full-time members of staff and we are completely independent and bootstrapped. Therefore, huge thanks is owed to community members (you!) for spreading the word about Ministry of Testing, we really appreciate it. It’s thanks to you that we are truly global these days, with events on three continents and attendees at our events (both online and face to face) from all over the world. Our last Ask Me Anything and Masterclass had attendees from every continent but Antartica!
Throughout 2018 we’ll continue our work with our motto in mind; Co-Creating Smarter Testers. Providing an ethical, fun and engaging platform where testers can share their knowledge, get rewarded for their time, connect with other community members and improve the craft of testing together!
I had little time to prepare before the announcement from Rosie, whilst this was always a plan we’d discussed, I was probably informed about this move two days before you were, it’s taken me since then to start penning this post. I’m immensely proud to have become BossBoss of Ministry of Testing. I’ve been in and around MoT for five years now having attended my first TestBash in 2013. You can see me introducing myself to the MoT community during the 99-second talks from that year, 5m 40s in!
I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for MoT. I’m not saying it was exclusively all MoT, that would be excessive, but the community platform has given me so much. Including my blog in their testing feed, having a speaker friendly conference which encourages new speakers, and new workshop hosts. Something I’ve personally been able to benefit from. MoT has provided me with a platform to sell my training from. Then went on to provide me with the opportunity to bring TestBash to my hometown of Manchester. I’ve learnt that the more you embrace the MoT community the more it gives back, it’s a wonderful thing.
The platform has grown organically over the years, whilst being moulded and guided by Rosie and all those involved with MoT. It’s unique, it’s beautiful, it’s powerful and damn scary to be in charge of! However, I have ideas, visions, dreams and I know that the community and all at MoT will do what they can to help me make them a reality.
We have ambitions at MoT HQ! So what are they for 2018?
Below are all the things we’re working on at MoT (there’s a lot!) and the big ideas we have for them in 2018.
One of our 2017 goals has drifted into 2018 but that’s OK, we all know how software development is. That goal is to move away from WordPress. WordPress has served us very well over the years, but its time is up. We need more customisation, integration and automation in place to become more efficient. We are very close; the job board and continuous call for papers are the larger remaining pieces before we can make the switch but it will happen in 2018. Our TechBoss (Graham Sherry) and developers (Paul Dalton and Elliot Sykes) are doing a grand job of enabling us with technology that allows us to get on doing what we want to do.
The Dojo growth in 2017 surpassed all our expectations, we’ve nearly reached 12,000 members. We had our EducationBoss, Sarah Deery start in 2017, and we’ve had numerous conversations about The Dojo. We came to the conclusion that The Dojo right now has to be the best collection of testing resources out there, but we want it to be more of a learning platform than a repository. So that’s what we’re going to move towards in 2018, providing more structure and adding more features to The Dojo to maximise the value of these resources. On top of that, we’ve many people working on new courses. We're super grateful for all the incredible content on The Dojo. And we're very excited about what it might become!
So if you haven’t checked out our Dojo subscriptions please do take a look, we also offer team memberships with great discounts.
The Club’s activity is increasing week on week, mostly thanks to the awesome work of our CommunityBoss, Heather Reid. The Club has a big void to fill left by the Software Testing Club but it’s well on its way to doing so. We have numerous initiatives in the pipeline to increase engagement on The Club, we believe that the more we talk to each other the more we learn.
The Club is also going to be more integrated into The Dojo throughout 2018, allowing us to utilise the platform for activities/exercises within Dojo content. For example, we’re looking at integrating The Club into the recordings of talks, so you can share your thoughts on the talk as you watch it.
Software Testing Clinic
The Software Testing Clinic has slotted perfectly into the Ministry of Testing family, providing free high-quality software testing training and making more people aware of a career in testing. Not to mention the inclusive approach to delivering the sessions. In 2018, there will be a minimum of five clinics across the UK: London, Glasgow, Manchester, Brighton and Cambridge. I’m fairly confident there will be more, and further afield. Dan Ashby, Mark Winteringham, Sarah and I recently had a conversation about the future of the SWTC and some very exciting changes are afoot. More openness and more engagement. Follow the SWTC on Twitter and join their mailing list to be the first to hear.
Conferring is what conferences are about, something a great conference facilitates.
TestBash in all the places, it certainly feels like that! It may be hard for you to believe me and look past what you may feel is BossBoss bias, but without doubt, TestBash is the best testing conference I’ve been to. It values the speakers, it embraces diversity, it experiments, it iterates, it puts attendees at the centre, it’s affordable, it’s welcoming, it just has a friendly vibe.
So how do we improve it in 2018? Well, we’ve some exciting new locations in Sydney and San Francisco! Really looking forward to those. The increase in TestBashes in recent years really shows the appeal TestBash has. We’re also going to be further improving our speaker expenses policy, we’ve always covered travel and accommodation but we’ll be improving this in 2018.
At the centre of a lot of conferences is an Expo but not at a TestBash; at the centre, is you. So we’ve some new initiatives for increase engagement and sharing between attendees, such as The UnExpo at TestBash Brighton.
We’re also going to be offering more diversity with regards to socials and meetups around TestBash events. Not everyone wants to drink or enjoys a pub/bar environment. We’re going to be asking you for some ideas, but initially, we are going to be partnering with Screen Testing to offer a movie theme meetup at TestBash Brighton.
Furthermore, those generous testers with eagle eyes who bought the Ministry of Testing charity calendar will have seen Test.Bash() listed for September. This is an experimental TestBash hosted in Manchester that will focus solely on technical testing and automation. It will be a great and exciting experiment.
Masters of the Ministry
Masters of the Ministry was one of the first initiatives I introduced when I joined MoT back in 2016 but we’ve been unable to push it much further since, this is going to change in 2018. The vast majority of training available for testers is focused on certification. It either results in a certificate or is part of a process to achieving one. The community deserves more options.
So we are going to be showcasing fantastic training courses from Masters of the Ministry (members of the testing community) and making them available to book internally at your company or request them in your hometown. Training by testers for testers. All Masters are testers who continuously adapt their approaches based on recent experience in the current modern world of software development.
We’re really hopeful that combining this with The Dojo we’ll really disrupt the testing/quality training space.
We broke every record in 2017 in terms of community engagement. Hits, followers, tweet engagement, clicks, likes, everything increased on 2016. Our reach is ever increasing which is fantastic, but we know it can be better. So throughout 2018, our SocialBoss, Áine McGovern and newly titled FounderBoss, Rosie Sherry are going to be improving our reach and findability to make sure that all that want to know about our awesome work do know about it.
On top of all that, we’ll continue to work with great companies to help them raise awareness of their offerings. We’ve helped more companies in 2017 than ever before and 2018 is already off to a flying start! Without our advertising arm, we’d struggle to do the things we’ve done over the years. As far as I’m concerned companies are as much a part of the community as the testers. They’re out there talking to companies and testers, selling their services and gaining valuable insight. We can help them to do that and are keen to find ways to bring companies and testers of the community closer together. Now, of course, it’s a balancing game, but so far I think we do a good job of finding that balance.
We’re exploring ways to package up all that MoT has to offer companies into bundles, so they can plan their marketing throughout the year, in advance and use the platform when it’s most opportune for them. We’ll continue to explore new ways to engage companies with the community. More information on how we can help your company.
Ministry of Testing Store
The place for all your testing/MoT merch! We’ve added a lot of awesome products to the store in recent years and sales are strong. We have our awesome DesignBoss, Thomas Harvey to thank for all the offerings. My favourite item in the store last year was the Halloween themed t-shirts. We’ll continue to add more items to the store in 2018 and we are working with our suppliers to reduce delivery times.
Meetups are very important for the testing community, providing a regular local group to meet fellow software folk and share ideas, the local communities and just as important the bigger global one. Strong personal relationships are built at meetups. They also offer a platform for new speakers to share their insights and ideas without the pressure of a large event.
We are now at 25 meetups locations around the world and I’m sure many more will come in 2018. Our focus for meetups in 2018 will be centred on the organisers. The number of meetups rocketed last year after we rebranded them from Software Testing Club to MoT and we feel we aren’t doing enough to help the organisers. This is going to change.
We are going to be encouraging them to share how they run their meetups and create some resources to help existing and future meetup organisers. These will vary from how to market your meetup, activities to run at them, how to find speakers/sponsors and so forth. But also some more insights into the benefits and sense of satisfaction of running a meetup.
TestSphere is a brilliant example of how we can collaborate with members of the community to help them turn their ideas into reality, and inspire 1000s of testers, in this case, that person was Beren Van Daele and the idea is TestSphere.
We launched TestSphere around this time last year and have already sold over 1000 decks! A fantastic effort by all involved, especially the cards creator Beren. So for 2018, we’ll continue to sell and promote the cards, but we are going to be working on lots of resources to help you get even more value from the cards. Documenting more usages for them such as RiskStorming. We’ll also be looking to gather more stories from the community on how the cards are helping them.
Out of nowhere 2017 turned into a great year for us on the podcast front. This was down to partnering with some awesome community members and providing them with the reach of Ministry of Testing for their existing pods or new pod ideas. We started by partnering with the Super Testing Bros, aka James Espie and Dan Barrow, who are providing a monthly podcast on The Dojo. Then later in the year, we teamed up with Neil Studd to bring you the Testers’ Island Discs podcast, which has proven very popular.
We’re very pleased to be working with James, Dan and Neil and look forward to more great pods in 2018.
In 2017 there were many positive changes to our article review process. We did a call for writers, which a large number of awesome, eager testers answered. Due to the wonderful influx of new writers, the editing team thought it would be helpful to create a writer's guide containing support on how to write articles and details on submitting articles. With the new process and support in place, we managed to publish 50 high-quality software testing articles.
Melissa Eaden, our EditorBoss, has set her sights even higher for 2018 with a goal of publishing 75 articles! It’s a big goal, but Melissa is confident that there are many more members of the testing community eager to write and get published on The Dojo. The readership is certainly there, so if you’re interested in having your voice heard by thousands of testers, check out our handbook on how to become an MoT author.
I personally encourage you to write, it’s not easy, but it is very rewarding to know you’ve contributed to the testing body of knowledge. Not to mention the feels you get every time someone shares your work or provides feedback.
Every month we run a free Dojo Masterclass where we invite a knowledgeable tester to share their thoughts and ideas in a webinar format. During 2017, we focused on making sure we made Masterclasses more regularly and we ended the year strong by having 4 excellent webinars 4 months in a row. We’ve already got the first few months of 2018 arranged and so I’m confident we’ll have one a month throughout 2018.
Testing Ask Me Anything was a new format I introduced at the end of 2017, it consists of an hour of QnA on a topic the speaker is strong on, with a few fun questions thrown in! I was actually the first guest on the trial run to see if the community liked this format… turned out you guys loved it! We’re now going to do these regularly throughout 2018, and all are free to attend and watch back later on The Dojo with a Club account.
Finally, in regard to online events, we brought #TestChat back in 2017 and we’ll continue them in 2018 once a month. These are social media chats focused on a specific topic. We post four questions and the community share their insights.
Subscribe to the newsletter to be the first to hear about all our online events.
We rebooted our Scholarship programme in 2017 and it’s resulted in ten people getting support to attend events and training courses that otherwise would have been out of their reach. You can read some of their stories on The Dojo. We’re going to continue to grow the good work of the scholarship throughout 2018 by making it easier for community members to donate (we match every donation given) and apply to the Scholarship... we’re aiming to support as many testers as we can!
We have two Slacks now, MoT Slack and Testers.Chat. The MoT Slack has over 2500 members, and testers.chat has over 5000. As they grew throughout 2017, we’ve had to ensure they align with our values. We extended our Acceptable Use Policy to Slack, created an additional Code of Conduct for Testers.Chat and introduced moderators to ensure everyone feels safe and comfortable on our Slacks.
We’re going to be exploring ways to upgrade our Slack in 2018, however, with so many members the costs are high! But we’d like to utilise Slack in new, interesting ways to further engage with the community.
I’m very much looking forward to working with you all to make this vision a reality.
All the best,
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