Thursday, August 15, 2013

ISTQB - is your name on the list?

Your name is also going on the list ...

I noticed today that the ANZTB put a list up here on their site of everyone who has ever taken and passed the ISTQB exam.  I was a bit shocked by this - granted there are no other personal details - but still in this day and age, and in an industry where we should really respect the confidentiality of client data to the upmost degree, I was a little shocked.

I'm more shocked that a few names on it I recognise as testers I know from around Australasia who are quite vocal opponents of ISTQB certifications.  And yet, alas, their names are displayed on a list, their very presence there seeming to lend weight and endorse these exams.

I actually raised this up with a couple of names on the list, who said when they were starting out in their career, ISTQB was the training they were provided, and they were too young to understand there was other training options for ISTQB.  In fact for many, ISTQB (or ISEB in my day), was sold as the "only training you needed".

Look through the list and you will see names like Aaron Hodder, Brian Osman, David Greenlees, David Robinson, Katrina Edgar.  I know many of these people, they took ISTQB, went to their testing jobs, and found what they learned often wasn't good enough to help them cope with the many real world challenges that were thrown at.  Testing had to be more than following a paper model, it wasn't always an A, B, C or D choice, it required more imagination than that.

Many of these people have chosen to align themselves with the Context Driven School of Testing, a school which says there is no "one way" of doing testing, and to which I feel a lot of affinity.  They have sought out mentors like James Bach and Michael Bolton, they have brought peer conference events like KWST to New Zealand, and WeTest to Wellington.  All of this they've done because they're seeking more answers than the ISTQB syllabus can provide.

I emailed a couple of them, partly to pull their leg a bit (I'm a sensitive soul like this), but partly to say "do you know your name is displayed on the ANZTB for all to see associated with ISTQB?".  A few were shocked.

Fortunately if you have strong feelings, and wish to have your name removed, you can request this by emailing, 

[I'm lucky myself they don't put up promotional lists for those of us who took the earlier ISEB qualification, and under the UK Data Protection Act, I'd actually argue that putting my name up would actually be illegal for the UK board!]


  1. Hello Mike,

    Yeah I know of "The List". Since I didn't take the exam I'm not on it. Yay! :)

    But I do remember discussing this with Paul Denize (who is on the list) a couple of years ago. The fact that there needs to be somewhere, where you can -give back- your cert. Just sending an email would be too unceremonious. But alas it all got lost in lots of good will and the lack of time.

    As for the privacy thing, ANZTB to my knowledge are the only ones doing this. I don't like it and I wonder if people have signed away anything for their name to be used. I'd be surprised if they did. Who knows one day a washing machine will turn up at their doorstep too.

    As for Aaron, Brian and others it actually helps us in the CDT cause that they have done ISTQB, as they can argue from a solid base. They have 1st hand knowledge (unlike me, who's done the course but refused to sit the exam). Pity they appear on the list though. I see your point that it might lead to some confusion. I don't think it is a big issue though.

    Cheers Oliver

    1. The American test board is much better, if you want to check on someone, you enter their name, and it will confirm if they're certified (and to what level).

      I have a dislike of lists like this. Probably because I'm a UK tester, and the Data Protection Act would consider providing a list of peoples names like this an infringement. Likewise I might be a very happy Contact Energy customer, but it still doesn't mean I want them to have a list of their customers on their website with my name on it. To me, confidentiality is an important factor in IT and software testing especially, so I'm dissapointed to see a list like this.

      As for the certification, of course I have mixed feelings. But I think it's up to an individual to decide whether or not they mention they have that certificate. My CV doesn't list the certificates I have at O-level, A-level, the Fortran course I did or the Rugby referee certification I hold. Simply because there's only so much space on a CV, and those things are not relevent. I do list my ISEB qualification, because I see it as "a fact" (I took the course and the exam), but I don't promote myself as such. Likewise my failed PhD is on my CV, because it too is "a fact".

      However I absolutely defend the right of any tester who does not want to include it, and does not choose to be associated with it. I feel that list makes it hard for them to make that decision (it's almost done for them). I wouldn't like a website which seemed to say "these people are awesome testers because they took our exam", and find my name was on the list. I would prefer to be allowed to choose myself "what I think made me an awesome tester".

      All that said though, I feel shredding your certificate and sending them the remnants in a public display, just feels too much like "stalker girlfriend who sends you the head of the teddy you bought cos you broke up with her". Mind you a "tester ashes" cup to compete for would be fun ... and guess where those ashes could come from? ;-) [I know - you're German, so won't get it]


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