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There has been some discussion here of whether Casey West's criticism of PerlMonks is fair and justified.

I happen to believe it is. I don't want it to be, but I don't disagree with him. And as an example of the kind of things I see that bother me, I would like to point to Software Development Testing.

No matter how much Perl Andy Lester and the 4 other monks who agreed with him may or may not know, I don't think that node deserved reaping. Contrary to what was claimed, that node had both a reasonable question and either is, or should be, relevant to many people who use this site. It not only deserved to exist. It deserved to be answered, answered well, and start a conversation that I would want to read. The kind of conversation that makes me interested in coming back here and putting in my own two cents from time to time.

But no. That wasn't to be. It got reaped because it was useless and not about Perl.

First some background. In my view the purpose of SoPW is not to be a help desk. Like the rest of the site, its purpose is to generate interesting, useful, and relevant discussion. Hopefully people get great answers from it. But it contributes a lot more to regulars than just technical assistance in a time of need.

So into this section enters a brief post.

Anyone know where I can find information about software development testing? I'm looking for something to test a web-based interface....
I read this and I see the following. Someone out there has a web based interface that they are working on. It needs to be tested. Beyond having trained monkeys sitting there and clicking on the site, how do you smooth the process?

Therefore this person with a rather common and real problem, wants to learn more. The person isn't asking for a full answer, in fact probably knows or suspects that it is a hard question, but wants some references. And if possible wants to see it discussed in terms of the web.

So, Andy and 4 monks notwithstanding, this looks like a real question. Namely, Does anyone have any recommendations (books, links, or products) about how to test software, particularly in a web environment?

Now that we know it is a question, is it appropriate for this site? Well yes. First of all it is likely that the web based application in question is written in Perl. Secondly Perl is a natural tool to reach for when you need to script an interaction. It is no accident that people do things like write Perl scripts to test for broken links in websites. Thirdly many people here work with websites, and the question of how you test the darned things is most definitely relevant for their lives. (If the idea of testing your code is not relevant to your life, well it should be.)

More specifically when I look in Saints in our Book, here is what I see. vroom is heavily involved in a web application you probably know about. merlyn has written columns on things like using Perl to test your site for broken links. He undoubtably will write future columns on automated testing of various kinds as well. I like collecting things for my grab bag of useful items. I think that a good reference on how to test web sites is something I don't have which would fit. chromatic develops something that is used in web-based applications, and is a fan of extreme programming - a programming style that places a huge emphasis on automated testing. Ovid also works with the web and has expressed an interest in the past in questions about maintainance and security. Automated testing tools are certainly applicable. And so it goes.

OK. So we have a question that to me looks reasonable. A topic that is relevant to a lot of people. A direct request for where to get started in learning more.

Surely someone could name a website that discusses it? Perhaps mention that it is hard and say that you can automate some very routine testing, but other aspects are hard to test? Possibly point out that the XP folks have thought about this and wonder aloud what they have to say on it? Maybe mention that LWP can be used to drive automated web interactions?

Of course some people don't have the patience to actually engage in that kind of conversation. I can understand that. But if that sounds like you, then don't ruin it for people who not only tolerate it, but find it enjoyable to spark such conversations. Reaping was introduced for a reason, to give the site some way of handling offensive trolls without taking vroom's energy. It is not meant for eliminating questions that you think are too trivial to be asked. And in my opinion, using it that way is an abuse of the system.

UPDATE
I added a link for XP since the reference was unclear, and I fixed various typos that people pointed out to me.

UPDATE (much later): I've left this node intact because it is historically important, but before drawing negative conclusions about Andy Lester, please read People learn - an acknowledgement.


In reply to I think Casey West is right by tilly

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