Sunday 10 June 2007

The whole point.

As a programmer, it was nice to read this rather excellent letter from one Saragh Penfold of Falkirk on The Independent's letters page:

Sir: Your article on the sex-offenders' database computersystem (29 May) states that "the Home Office has cancelled the launch after software failed in tests". The tone of the article suggests this is a bad thing.

As a software testing professional, I am heartened to learn that the Home Office has undertaken testing, discovered problems (that is what testing is intended to do) and decided not to release a faulty system.

Government and the private sector often release systems that are found not to work properly only after they go live, which can be attributed to inadequate testing. That really is a bad thing, particularly because it can be avoided.

This should be seen as a good news story, for common sense, and in celebration of the testing community, who for some reason very rarely get into the news.


Since Ben Goldacre kicked off the debate, there's been a lot of talk about the problems with science reporting in our media and what may be done to improve journalists' understanding of basic scientific concepts. It strikes me that as long as news reporters can't get their heads around the idea that cancelling something which fails to pass a test is a Good Thing, we should abandon all hope that their reporting might ever be improved.

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