Boredom: a Testing Smell?

Somebody I know who was doing some (unscripted) testing spoke of being bored the other day... I have always found boredom to be a sign that something is wrong.

I believe, as has been said by Kaner et al, that testing is a brain-engaged activity. If that is the case, why would I ever be bored?

Borrowing the Smell metaphor... I would say that boredom is a Bad Testing Smell. If it isn't a bad smell, it is a whiff of an underlying bad-smell for sure.

If on the rare occasion I find that I am bored, I'd ask myself:

1. Am I testing this area more than I need to? (if so, why?)
2. Am I losing concentration because my brain is tired? Do I need a break?
3. Is what I am doing so repetitive that perhaps it should be automated?
4. Is there a better way of testing this feature?

If I answer "yes" to any of these, I know that perhaps I need to do something differently. Whether that is feasible in a given context, might be a different story.

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Comments

I would agree that for any brain engaged tester during analysis/design/execution that boredom is indeed a Bad Smell. Other potential bad smells might include: Automators, More time maintaining test code then generating new, Manual scripted testers spending more time on updating scripts then creating new areas, Exploratory Testers using a lmited set of heuristics. An interesting idea, a whole host of smells could be identified...now wonder what the team smells like...
Neill McCarthy
"Agile Testers of the World UNIT !"