Community Boss So Far

This blog was originally posted on Medium.

It’s hard to believe that just over 3 months ago I became Community Boss for Ministry of Testing. It’s been a crazy start but so much fun!

When I finished the last post, I said I’d try to give more insight about what the job actually entails. As Beren Van Daele said to me just last week “So much of what you do goes on in the shadows”, it can seem on the outside that I’m not actually doing work. This isn’t something I’m concerned about. I’m not in this for me. Working away in the shadows to help an awesome community is what most of us at Ministry of Testing do and love doing. So what’s going on in the shadows?

Writing for Ministry of Testing

I’m not doing this so much any more. I do have some ideas on the back burner that I plan to write about. For now I’m not writing so much as reviewing the writing done by other people. In Rosie’s brief break, I was/am the final step to reviewing articles. It feels a bit scary.

I know Mel and Sarah have reviewed the articles and edited and given suggestions through many rounds but when you’re taking the place of the BossBoss for a while, your brain thinks “Don’t screw this up” and “What would Rosie think?”. It took me a while (and a lot of talking to Sarah) to realise I’m me. I shouldn’t try to be Rosie. Rosie trusted me to do this job so she must like the way I approach things, right?

The great thing about reviewing the articles now though is I actually get to read them all. Before I started, I was drowning in a backlog of articles on the Dojo that I wanted to read but wasn’t making time for. Reviewing also gives me the benefit of having longer to think about a Club post for the article and generate discussion around it.

The Club

This is still my baby. My project that I’m working with heaps of people to improve. I’m still posting on the Club but now I have more time to encourage others to post there too. I’m not always acting as the voice for others and this is amazing. I’ve helped people who never posted on the Club before by reviewing their posts with them and advising them of any other questions they could add to help them get answers. This also showed me that we needed a bit of a “How to” section on the Club so I’ve started that and am continually adding to it.

There’s some new things on the Club now like a Pro Dojo only members section. This is crucial for our next steps with the Dojo. It’s providing an interactive learning space for courses. I’m also approaching people about this for feedback. How are you finding it? Could we do better?

There’s also a great bunch of people contributing on the Club so we decided why not reward them? We’re now picking a ninja of the month who contributes in many ways to the discussions on the Club.


This has probably been one of the bigger learning curves for me so far.

When I co-organised a TestBash, Richard did a lot of behind the scenes stuff. I’m now learning all of that from him. How to set up the ticketing system, add events to the website and add speakers to the website. We also decided to experiment with some things on the ticketing system like asking people at the point of sale if they have any dietary requirements, what their t-shirt size is and what workshops they want to do.

Manchester was my first TestBash since officially becoming a Boss at MoT. Being at TestBash Manchester was intense. I felt like I was “On” all of the time. I would get up at 7am, check Twitter, Slack and emails to see if there was anything I needed to action or add to Trello. I’d then attend the events for the day, go to dinner with folks from the community, attends socials and introduce people, go back to my hotel room and check Twitter, Slack and emails all over again.

It was intense but rewarding. I met people new to testing and people I’d only known on Slack. I was able to introduce people with similar interests. Point people in the direction of others with job openings they might be interested in. Marianne Duijst really helped me to keep going with the hug and feedback she gave me on the Saturday. I was helping people feel that it was safe to share by sharing myself. This is a big part of being a Community Boss!

I was so glad to see my hotel room on the Saturday night though with a waterfall shower, new carpet and the history of magic on the TV. It wasn’t something I had even looked at, I just needed a hotel for that night so booked the cheapest I could find. It was an awesome surprise! My fitbit tells me I slept for 11 hours and 42 minutes that night. Damn was it needed. They don’t call it #RestBash for no reason!

Online Forums

This is where I lurk or, as someone on said “Heather is omnipresent”. I’m always checking Slack (6 groups in total), Reddit, Quora, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, the Club, Stack Overflow, Flipboard. My goal with this is not only to share, promote and discuss Ministry of Testing content but also to promote content that others in the community are sharing or talking about.

If a post or project from someone in the community would help one of these people out, I share the love. If we there’s some really cool stuff on any of the platforms, I work with Áine to make sure that we really share the love anywhere we can (social media, news letters, other forums).

The Calendar

I was the point of contact for people to sponsor a charity calendar to help save Linnea Nordström. I joined long after the initial steps had been taken but the spirit involved really was something to be proud of. This has been such a rewarding project to work on. The way the community came together to not only create this calendar but also sponsor it was amazing to see.

Finding my mojo

It’s been difficult to get into the groove and scheduling of this job. I don’t do set hours per week so much as tasks to achieve and always keeping my eyes open. That’s great but it also means I need to organise myself better. I need to plan. When most of your job could be done on your mobile phone it can become difficult to just switch off too.

I still haven’t fully found the mojo but I’m getting there. I’ve learned not to completely plan out an entire week hour by hour. When I do that it never works out and then I get anxious about plans that haven’t worked. Instead I plan

  • Where I’m going to be working (my house, somewhere else with family, a different city)
  • My tasks to achieve for the week (I write a list so the progress is visually represented)
  • My me time for the week (e.g. I would like to go to yoga once this week or I want to watch this film with my husband)
  • Times I definitely know I’m going to be offline & let the other Bosses know

This is all still a work in progress. I definitely don’t have the balance perfect or even halfway perfect but I’m trying different things.

I try to plan tomorrow each day. So what task would I like to achieve and when do I want to be online. If there’s a masterclass then I take a big break in the middle of the day and spend more time online later on. Some days working right through the day works and makes sense. Other days being online for a few hours here and there is better. A lot of it depends too on the timezones of people you need to interact with on that day.

The biggest thing I’ve learned (and this may sound crazy) is feedback. Get feedback from people and give feedback to people. How could you help them better? How could they help you better? What did either of us do that wasn’t great? Feedback, learn, try new things, iterate.