An incident in a Melbourne bus yesterday really got me thinking. A woman was verbally abused over and over again inside a crowded bus and almost no one attempted to intervene. A bus full of upstanding citizens just sat (or stood) there, right next to the victim and everyone just let it happen. What is shocking to me is that two more people joined in the verbal tirade.
This is a classic example of mob mentality. However why didn’t the mob mentality work on the majority of other passengers there, who were appalled by the attack? Why didn’t anyone say anything to defend the woman? The obvious reason is fear, and in this situation it was probably not safe to say anything as all three attackers seemed aggressive.
However there are other situations when lives are not in risk when people still do not standup for what is right. I find that it happens in testing happens far too often. There are good testers in companies everywhere, who know there are better ways of testing things, more productive or cost effective ways, however they come to work everyday and do nothing. Some do nothing because they are OK to work their day jobs and go home, they are just not engaged or interested. However there are those who would like to change, that are interested enough in their profession to research, read and discuss testing, but they also do nothing because in their test team no one else wants to hear about it.
So, just like the people in the bus, who felt horrible for the woman being abused, these testers do nothing because confrontation is uncomfortable, especially if you are unsure if your peers will back you up, or will hand you out to dry.
I will paraphrase a quote by Edmund Burke and say that ‘All that is necessary for the perpetuation of bad testing is for good testers to do nothing’. It takes a special type of person to speak up for what they know it is right. In any situation.