When I sent a tweet to @AlinaAvadani and @gbrindusa in January 2013 all I expected was to have fun participating in a test competition. And some fun we had – you can read all about it here: http://devblog.xing.com/qa/nrg-global-test-competition-report/
What I did not expect was to be sitting in a room with Matt Heusser, Maik Nogens, Chris George, Alina Avadani and Katharina Gillmann almost two years later deciding which team would be the best software testers in the world.
Our prize for winning the NRGGlobal Test Competition had turned out to be being part of the judges of the final round of the Software Testing World Cup. How could we say no to that?
For me the finals started way too early at 3 am after waking up from a strange dream and being unable to fall asleep again. A few hours and a bit of travelling later I found myself at the reception of the Agile Testing Days holding the precious name tag with the title “Global Judge” in my hands. The continental winners were already in the big conference room preparing for the competition and I had a first look from the stage.
The tension in the room was clearly noticeable and I started getting really excited myself.
The competition kicked off almost on time and I spent the first minutes listening to the great moderation by Pete Walen and Kira and taking care of Twitter. I will have to listen to the recording of the competition as soon as it’s available since the few bits of the moderation I could focus on were very interesting and I’m sad to have missed so much of it.
The simple reason for me missing the moderation were the first bug reports coming in. It was really impressive to see how fast the teams started reporting inconsistencies, usability issues or even functional defects of a live website: zalando.co.uk. I immediately tried to reproduce them and to get a feeling for the way the teams worked. This also included me walking over to their team spaces and looking over their shoulders. I quickly realizes how focused the teams were – I had to get really close to someone to make them even look up (sorry for that!).
What felt like 15 minutes on the participant side during the NRGGlobal Test Competition were quite relaxed but interesting three hours on the judges’ side of the STWC. As soon as the competition was over the tension in the room dropped instantly. The teams started talking to each other and seemed to notice their surroundings for the first time since hours. I had a few talks with the teams and then the judges were off to dinner in the hotel restaurant. Almost exactly at 9 pm we settled down in the Havana lounge (which was used exclusively by us) and started judging.
Maik, Matt and Chris looked at the test reports, Alina, Katharina and I looked at the issues.
We checked the content and structure of headline and description, discussed if the severities the teams had selected matched our expectations and tried to reproduce the issues which caught our interest. Since over 180 defects had been reported it was impossible to reproduce them all in a reasonable timeframe. To answer a question which had been asked on Twitter: The pure amount of issues reported didn’t automatically determine the winner.
The zalando team had provided us with a list of issues that were of biggest interest to them which also helped in scoring the teams.
One of the issues proved to be particularly hard to reproduce: It had been reported by three teams so we were sure that the problem existed but it only appeared after a lot of retries. I’m really curious to know what made it so sporadic.
Once we were done with the issues it was already late in the evening but we still had the reports to look at. We switched tasks and while Matt, Maik and Chris looked at the issues Alina, Katharina and I looked at the reports. It was a great learning experience to see the different styles of test reports and to discuss the content.
Looking at the issues and reports it was clear that we were grading at the work of the six best test teams of the world – the quality of the work products was very high.
It was close to 2 am until we finally had graded everything (including teamwork) and the formulas in the spreadsheet produced a sorted list of the teams. We wouldn’t be testers if we wouldn’t have examined this list closely and performed a sanity check. Since everything lined up we happily shook hands and headed off. Some of us went back to the bar while I went straight to bed. I can remember only very few times when mental work had exhausted me so much.
Still it felt good to have finished the judging and to know that we wouldn’t have to continue it the next day.
During the day a few emails flew back and forth containing the winners list and I got really paranoid not to allow any other attendee to see it.
Fast forward to the evening event of the Agile Testing Days. The winners were announced during the costume party and it was great to see the reactions to 3rd (Team Army Ants representing Europe) and 2nd (Team Annunciation representing Oceania) place. The reaction from the winning team “Cesar Brazil” (representing South America) however completely blew me away. I would have never expected tears of joy during the Software Testing World Cup. Then again as Markus Gärtner put it: “Germany won the Soccer world cup in Brazil, I find it fair that Brazil won the more important Software Testing world cup in Germany. #agiletd” (https://twitter.com/mgaertne/status/532251363481518081)
Matt asked us after the judging was done if we would prefer to be judges again next year. My initial answer still stands: I actually don’t care – I just want to be part of it! José Díaz already promised that there will be a Software Testing World Cup 2015 which makes me very happy.