The Emperor's New FAQ
by Tony Karp

Once upon a time there was a Usenet newsgroup called It was a very serious group, dedicated to products, papers, conferences, issues, and methodologies concerning software testing and Quality Assurance (QA).

Every once in a while, a newbie who wanted to post a test message, would see the word 'test' in this group's name, and assume it was a place for posting test messages. And they'd post one, just to see if this whole thing works.

Most said things like 'Test, ignore' in their subject. And the frequency and the size of these messages were both small.

But not small enough to escape the watchful eyes of the Correctness Police ( division).

So a discussion began about what to do about this peril, blighting their pristine landscape.

How about mail-bombing the intruders with nasty email messages?

Someone pointed out it wouldn't do much because the offending newsgroup messages had already been posted.

How about follow-up posts in the newsgroup (which lets you say nasty things in public)?

Someone pointed out that this would only add to the litter.

How about a FAQ that the newbies could read? It would tell them not to post test messages in the newsgroup.

Someone pointed out that newbies wouldn't read the FAQ, since they wouldn't know where to find it. Someone else pointed out that members of didn't read their own FAQ.

How about changing the name of the group to something that didn't have the word 'testing' in it

like ""

or something that would discourage testing

like ""
Someone pointed out that it's not that easy to change the name of an existing Usenet newsgroup. Someone else pointed out that changing the name would hide the group from QA people who were looking for a place to discuss software testing.

How about breaking the newsgroup into several groups -- one for QA, one for testing, one for...?

Someone pointed out that a solution like that would create more problems than it would solve.

Until one day....

Someone pointed out that newbies post test messages in *all* the Usenet newsgroups. And besides, the test messages weren't that many, and they were clearly marked.

So why not just ignore them?

After another lengthy discussion, it was decided that this was probably the best idea.

And so the discussion returned to products, papers, conferences, issues, and methodologies concerning software testing and QA.

And peace reigned throughout the newsgroup once again.

The End

Note: This is a fable. Some of the events described above have not yet happened.

Copyright 1957-2019 Tony & Marilyn Karp
Originally posted September 25, 1996