Test contests are a common occurrence in testing communities or on social media if you follow testing-related handles. With the rise of testing communities and the advent of intellectual craft-based testing, testing contests are a great way to learn deeply about diverse aspects of testing.
Several months ago, my friend Riddhi Shah asked me to write a blog post about my experiences with testing contests. In this article, I have tried to condense all my thoughts and learnings from participating in Testing Contests. This post provides an overview of my thoughts on Testing Contests using the 5W 1H (What, Where, Who, Why, When, and How) approach.
Testing Contests – What?
- Testing Contests are competitions that revolve around one or more aspects of testing.
- These contests are judged primarily by experienced and renowned testers from the testing community.
- There are usually no fees involved in participating in such competitions.
- There are usually different evaluation criteria for various contests. Sometimes the criteria are explicitly stated, and sometimes, it is not. It is always a good idea to request the evaluation criteria before participating in such contests.
- Some Common Categories of Testing Contests:
- Test Strategy
- Bug Hunting
- Tool Evaluation
- Product Learning
- Solution Development, etc.
Testing Contests – Where?
- Most of the testing contests today happen in an Online mode.
- Online modes have gained more popularity during the Covid pandemic phase, and these would probably continue to be the primary mode for testing contests.
- Online contests generally attract participants from the global testing industry and are not limited by geographical boundaries.
- Having said all this about Online mode, Offline mode of testing contests were quite popular before the pandemic and were an excellent place for learning, networking, and socialising.
- We might start seeing more offline events after the covid pandemic phase. However, for now, it is highly unlikely that we see some offline testing contests.
- testingconferences.org – This site lists all the software testing conferences and workshops happening in the global testing community. This could be one of your sources for testing conferences, workshops, and other events that might be happening in the coming future.
- You can also subscribe to their newsletter for periodic email notifications on such events.
- Follow Testing Communities & their handles on:
- Community Chat Groups
- Some Good Testing Handles (that I follow):
Testing Contests – Who?
Most Testing Contests are organized by:
- Testing Communities
- Testing Companies
- Testing Conferences
- Testing Tool Companies, etc.
Most of the Testing Contests are open for everyone. There might, however, be some filter criteria based on years of experience, skill sets, etc., for certain specific events.
Testing Contests – Why?
In addition to winning the contests and receiving the fabulous prizes, there are many reasons why one should attend and participate actively in the testing contests:
- Contests are a great way to learn new things and refresh the concepts you already know.
- In many cases, learnings from contests have given me good fieldstones to explore in the future.
- The opportunity to learn is not just from the contest. We can also learn from our teammates, from other teams, from the contest organizers, from judges, and from everything and everyone present.
- Proactive testers get a good reputation.
- You can get to places with a reputation you couldn’t otherwise reach with a resume.
- The reputation you develop opens doors that you could never even imagine.
- When done healthily and positively, playing, competing, and participating are all very natural ways of having fun.
- I have always enjoyed the chance to explore new platforms, meet new people, and solve new and unique challenges.
- Meet new people.
- Converse with the organizers as well as sponsors if you get time.
- Share your experiences about the contest on social media. Most organizers love to hear feedback on their events.
- Interact with the people you newly meet after the contest too.
- Boosts your Creativity
- Most contests, despite being on similar themes, are unique in some ways.
- Each contest has unique evaluation criteria and will challenge you to think beyond the artificial thought boundaries that restrict us in our day-to-day work.
- Contests are also a great place to experiment with your creative ideas. You can also request feedback from the judges after you make your submissions.
- Improves Productivity
- Completing a lot of challenging things in a limited time is a skill.
- One thing that I have gained after participating in a lot of contests is productivity. I now know smarter ways, the right tools, and promising approaches to apply at the right time.
- Boosts your Collaboration Skills
- In most testing contests, you collaborate with members with whom you have not worked before.
- Working with new members and collaborating with them is an underrated life skill that most people do not possess inherently.
- Such skills generally come with deliberate practice and experience; Testing Contests are one great place to practice them.
Testing Contests – When?
- No Fixed Date / Frequency.
- Average Frequency: 3-4 Contests / Month (Based on the 8-10 communities that I follow)
- Anything from few hours to few days
- Depends on the challenge, its difficulty, and the context of the contest.
Testing Contests – How?
Once you decide that you want to participate in the testing contests, the most question is HOW?
I have divided the How to participate in the testing contests into three parts:
- Pre–Contest: Involves things that you should do before the start of the contest.
- During – Contest: Some tips, tricks, and ideas to help you with excelling at contests.
- Post Contest: Involves things that you can do after the contest, these things can be helpful for future contests.
- Some learning resources: I recommend these learning resources for everyone looking to participate in testing contests. I have myself read these resources and learned many of my ideas from these two resources:
- Learn from Judges:
- Check out their work.
- Visit there:
- Git Repositories
- Social Handles, etc.
- Checkout for:
- Past Winners
- Seek their advice.
- Organizer Details
- Topic of Competition
- Organizer’s Motto / Vision
- Any previous competition reports (if available)?
- Small things that make a big difference:
- Know & use the keyboard shortcuts:
- Learn Touch Typing
- Assign Roles & Responsibilities with your teammates.
- Know the right people to partner with.
- Ensure you do not cross the allocated time.
- Use the right tools:
- Text Expanders
- Report Templates
- Anything that can save your time.
- Check out bit.ly/rpajtoolkit
- Take backups of your work periodically.
- Record your activity.
- Focus on your work instead of looking at what others are doing.
- 3 Step Rule:
- Outline: Start with an outline of the solution.
- Extend: Extend & Elaborate on the outline.
- Beautify: Beautify & Format your final output
- Coordinate as a team
- Regroup before event closure and do a short peer-review.
- Have a checklist for tasks to be done, in progress, in review, and done.
- Prepare your solution in a way that you can submit it at any moment.
- State References
- State Assumptions
- State Open Questions
- Mention your and your team’s contact details.
- Use Colors, Fonts, Style, Comments consistently, etc.
- Report at multiple levels:
- Q PRA DEEP Mnemonic
- Q PRA DEEP Mnemonic
- State your Conclusion.
- Ask for feedback.
- From Judges
- From Organizers
- Network with other attendees
- Check out submissions by other participants.
- Look at all the winning submissions and analyze what they did better?
For all our visual readers, I have summarized this entire article in form of this mind map. Check this out:
I hope this article helps you learn more about testing contests and how to start participating. You are welcome to reach out to me if you are looking for a partner to explore testing contests, and maybe we can benefit from each other’s experience.
Happy Contesting, Happy Learning & Happy Exploring!