On reading The 7 Essential Meta Questions of Every Beta I thought I should ask the question and suggest a starting point. With content unashamedly stolen from Superuser and Stack overflow.

Software Quality Assurance and Testing is for professional software testers, and for other related roles (Programmers, Business Analysts) who perform software testing as part of their profession

If you have a question about …

  • Software Testing Methodologies
  • Testing, Test Management and Defect Management tools
  • Testing techniques, such as such as scenario/use case testing
  • Unit Testing
  • Automated Testing
  • Performance Testing

and it is not about …

  • Microsoft Team Foundation Server ALM
  • How to fake your way past a testing interview
  • Using automated tools for web spam activities
  • Debating which testing tool is better or the most popular
  • A shopping or buying recommendation for testing tools

What kind of questions should I not ask here?

You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face. Chatty, open-ended questions diminish the usefulness of our site and push other questions off the front page. To prevent your question from being flagged and possibly removed, avoid asking subjective questions where …

  • every answer is equally valid: “What’s your favorite __?”
  • your answer is provided along with the question, and you expect more answers: “I use _ for _, what do you use?”
  • there is no actual problem to be solved: “I’m curious if other people feel like I do.”
  • we are being asked an open-ended, hypothetical question: “What if __ happened?”
  • it is a rant disguised as a question: “__ sucks, am I right?”

If your motivation for asking the question is “I would like to participate in a discussion about _”, then you should not be asking here. If your motivation is “I would like others to explain _ to me”, then you are probably OK. (The above section was adapted from MetaFilter’s FAQ. For more detail, see six guidelines for great subjective questions.)

Thoughts ... ?

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I think this is a great start and gives good context for the site. –  Alan May 4 '11 at 17:02
    
Agreed that it's a great start, but I do have a nitpick: "Testing techniques, such as exploratory testing ". I don't think scripted/exploratory isn't a technique in itself, but a way of applying a technique. I can write test scripts, or perform exploratory charters based on different testing techniques. Perhaps "Testing techniques, such as scenario/use case testing"? –  testerab May 6 '11 at 17:11

5 Answers 5

I think that some links to useful questions for beginners on the community would be very good for the FAQ.

Something like this:

Useful Links:

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That actually is automatically done as part of the StackExchange engine. See: sqa.stackexchange.com/questions?sort=faq The effectiveness of it will not really be shown as there are so few questions. –  corsiKa May 4 '11 at 18:37

Here is the proposed FAQ text in community wiki form please feel free to edit and tweak it

Software Quality Assurance and Testing is for professional software testers, and for other related roles (Programmers, Business Analysts) who perform software testing as part of their profession If you have a question about …

  • Software Testing Methodologies
  • Testing, Test Management and Defect Management tools
  • Testing techniques, such as such as scenario/use case testing
  • Unit Testing
  • Automated Testing
  • Performance Testing

and it is not about

  • Non-testing parts of Microsoft Team Foundation Server ALM
  • How to fake your way past a testing interview
  • Using automated tools for web spam activities
  • Debating which testing tool is better or the most popular
  • Generic shopping or buying recommendations for testing tools What kind of questions should I not ask here?

    Is tool X better than tool Y?"

  • Anything in the form of "Is tool X better than tool Y?" is not appropriate.

  • Questions in the form of "Is tool X or tool Y better for task A?" is borderline
  • Questions in the form of "Is tool X or tool Y better for task A in environment Q with parameters Tic, Tac, and Toe?" would be ok, as long as the answer is not "Either tool will do be fine for this", "Neither of those tools can do this." or too localised.

    Too localised quesitons
    Questions are likely to be closed as too localised if they are unlikely to ever help any future visitors, are only relevant to a small geographic area (e.g. a 2010 testing conference) a specific moment in time (Applies only to Version X, Beta 1 of Product Z), or an extraordinarily narrow situation that is not generally applicable to the worldwide audience of the internet. You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face. Chatty, open-ended questions diminish the
    usefulness of our site and push other questions off the front page. To prevent your question from beingflagged and possibly removed, avoid asking subjective questions where …

    • every answer is equally valid: “What’s your favorite __?”
    • your answer is provided along with the question, and you expect more answers: “I use _ for _, what do you use?”
    • there is no actual problem to be solved: “I’m curious if other people feel like Ido.”
    • we are being asked an open-ended, hypothetical question: “What if __ happened?”
    • it is a rant disguised as a question: “_ sucks, am I right?” If your motivation for asking the question is “I would like to participate in a discussion about _”, then you should not be asking here. If your motivation is “I would like others to explain __ to me”, then you are probably OK.

    (The above section was adapted from MetaFilter’s FAQ.)

    Great Subjective Questions

  • Great subjective questions inspire answers that explain “why” and “how”

  • Great subjective questions tend to have long, not short, answers
  • Great subjective questions have a constructive, fair, and impartial tone
  • Great subjective questions invite sharing experiences over opinions
  • Great subjective questions insist that opinion be backed up with facts and references
  • Great subjective questions are more than just mindless social fun
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I'd prefer to comment to get feedback before making the change: what about changing "Using automated tools for web spam activities" to "Using automated tools for non-QA related activities" - I mean, yes we don't want spam either, but I could just as easily ask about using selenium to send my weekly timesheet, but I'm not convinced that would be on topic. Thoughts? –  corsiKa May 27 '11 at 21:13
    
methodologies = testers turn up at the end (waterfall), integrated from day one (agile); testing techniques = unit, exploratory –  Bruce McLeod May 27 '11 at 21:33

I have a serious metatopic with this site.

It talks about Software Quality Assurance, but everything drills down to testing and people who do testing.

This creates a problem with regard to how Quality Assurance is treated in various Software Engineering methodologies, where QA is a process discipline about assuring the process capability for achieving quality results. (I said seriously meta.)

Testing is something that may be a contributor to achievement of QA objectives, but one is instrumental, the other is tied to development and software life cyles and risk management and is about process assessment and measurements. For example, an SQA question would be how does one estimate the number of bugs that have not yet been detected? Also, SQA is about how one identifies and tracks defects, what is done to insure they are remedied, that there is no regression, and how does one ensure the detection of defects as early in the development lifecycle as possible. (So there is interplay with choices of development methodologies as well.) It might even be an SQA topic to ensure that the software being developed is testable -- that is, there are specific well-defined attributes that can be verified by testing and perhaps inspections.

Based on what I have seen here so far, this is pretty far afield from what is discussed. It makes me wonder if SQA should not be in the topic in the first place, and we simply talk about Software Testing.

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Unfortunately, I think that testing is a model that many of us in the "SQA" profession have been molded to and that many of us would like to break free from. Although I'd like to see the ball rolling on more(any) of these questions, I think that many of us do not know where to start with asking the questions. I think that I'm going to have to relook at some of my current processes and see what questions like this I can pull from the inadequacies of them. That being said however, this is for testers as well (I became part of this through the mergin with the Selenium SE). –  Lyndon Vrooman May 12 '11 at 4:48
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I think that's an absolutely wonderful position to take Those kinds of questions are 100% valid here; in fact, the site used to be named "Software Quality Assurance." The "and Testing" was specifically added to show there is indeed much more to SQA than just testing, just like there's more to testing than just checking. Those are the kind of expert opinions we need here, imho. What is being discussed currently is simply what problems people are facing at their current jobs, so it makes me all the more glad you posted this response, and I'd love to see some similar though-provoking questions! –  corsiKa May 12 '11 at 5:38
    
@Lyndon - speak for yourself! I do not want a Quality Assurance site, I believe that would sit much better as part of a project management site. –  testerab May 12 '11 at 22:08
    
Though, I suspect that what I call "testing" probably includes a lot that some here are calling "QA". Commenting on testability is something a tester should do, and also working on detecting defects earlier. Identifying and tracking defects, regression testing - that's all testing, not SQA. Quality Assurance in my experience has been very much over on the project management side - that's who has the responsibility for making the business decisions about what level of quality we release with. I can inform that decision, but I don't make it. –  testerab May 13 '11 at 0:30

I think more explicit guidance about the appropriateness of subjective questions (and guidelines relating to ask subjective questions well) would be useful.

glowcoder Gave this answer to a question I raised about the appropriateness of subjective questions. I think it would be useful to include something like this in the FAQ section:

Objective questions have been okay even on StackOverflow and the rest of the sites for some time now. There are six guidelines for asking good subjective questions, from the guy in charge of SE's community management.

  • Great subjective questions inspire answers that explain “why” and “how”
    • Great subjective questions tend to have long, not short, answers
    • Great subjective questions have a constructive, fair, and impartial tone
    • Great subjective questions invite sharing experiences over opinions
    • Great subjective questions insist that opinion be backed up with facts and references
    • Great subjective questions are more than just mindless social fun
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I appreciate this is a bit late to the party, but (and especially given the overlap between the sites) we could do worse than take a guide from the Programmers Stack Exchange

In particular, some of the it is not about items:

  • general workplace issues, office politics, résumé help (check out The Workplace instead)
  • career advice, salary or compensation,
  • personal lifestyle, including relationships, and non-SQA/T activities
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