Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Your Leg Ain't Broke

Yesterday I wrote about how asking questions is great. And it is!

Sometimes, though, you need to think about who or what you ask. Think of all the people/things you can walk up to and ask a question:
  • Other people. Preferably they are more knowledgeable than you are.
  • A system. After all, isn't testing ultimately just asking questions of a system with purpose?
  • A book. This is often called "research".
  • Yourself. Sometimes you know the answer and just need to think about it for a while.
So please, ask all the questions you want. Just be sure you're asking the right questions of the right people/things. A really fast way to look needy and make others not want to help you is to ask questions that show you didn't put any effort into thinking it through yourself. Don't be lazy. If you can answer a question yourself, do it. If you can't, then go ask someone else.

A simple example:
Someone I work with goes to a meeting every week. So the question here is, "what am I going to be asked?" Don't go ask that meeting coordinator, "hey, what are you going to ask me?". Stop for a minute and think about it. If they've asked about bug counts every week, they're probably going to ask again. If they never ask about the temperature setting of the air conditioner, they're not likely to ask now.

Once you've come up with a list, the question changes and becomes more refined: "I know we're going to cover X, Y and Z. Anything unusual I should prepare for?". Now the person you're asking knows you've put some effort into it, and your chances of getting a good answer just went up.

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