Do you Ning?

Ning.com is a meta-social network. It is similar to myspace, facebook, and all the other new-media thingees, only instead of having a universal network that you are plugged into, it allows it’s users to create specifically themese universes, then subscribe to one or more.

I belong to four Ning Rings:

testrepublic – The Asian Subcontinent of India has a huge, growing tech community. Plus Pradeep is a frequent poster.

Drivenqa – Again, this is a test community, with a more European feel. Another change to interact with people I won’t meet every day.

stpcon – The community for attendees, alumni, staff and faculty for the Software Test and Performance Conference.

The problem with Ning is that it’s addictive. For example, I just put up a response to “Can We Measure A Tester’s Performance?” in testrepublic and I could spend all day on it. So, at least, I’m going to try to reuse my answer here on my blog:

I think Pradeep summed it up pretty well with Prose. I’ll try to say the same thing in a shorter way, a little more scientifically.

Most measurement systems are just approximations (‘proxies’) for some other thing. We really have no great way to measure productivity, so we try something else – say bug count. Of course, it’s possible that the tester finds a bunch of trivial bugs like spelling errors.

This also creates incentive for the tester to find defects. If you measure the developers by how few defects they create, this creates a conflict of interest that leads to arguments, wasted time, and _decreased_ productivity.

So, you get what you measure, but that’s probably not what you actually want. (Cem Kaner has a great paper on “Software Engineering Metrics – who do they measure and how do we know?” – you can google it.)

However, that does not mean that we can not measure anything.

There is a big difference between avoiding NUMERIC, or “quantitative” metrics for evaluation, and simply not measuring.

An alternative to measuring is, well, managing.

I will give you an example:

Do you measure the length of the hairs on your head?

Probably not.

Then how do you know when to get a hair cut?

You can use similar techniques to manage an organization. (I should add that I am find with metrics – in some cases – as information and input. For example, you can use metrics to augment a story. I am just … leery of them out of context.)

One comment on “Do you Ning?

  1. Do you measure the length of the hairs on your head?

    Probably not.

    Then how do you know when to get a hair cut?

    That’s insightful and I liked this way of helping someone understand the problem with measurement of testers effectiveness by numbers . I am going to quote this and I thank you for that.

    Thanks to Ning, I learned a better way to say something that I wanted to.

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