Wizards, witches and testing

Looking at ones own profession and behavior through the lens of a made up world can provide helpful insight

“Tiffany Aching was the witch, and she had made herself the witch because they needed one. Everybody needs a witch, but sometimes they just don’t know it.”

When I read those words in one of the Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett my mind started racing. They perfectly describe how I felt during most of my testing career. Reading on I realized that this is not the only quote from the Discworld novels which relates to testing and software development.

What is the Discworld? It’s a world not unlike our own – just with a bit more magic, wizards, witches and sapient luggage. Wizards perform complicated incantations to work their magic, live closed off from the public and have formal training available to them. Witches on the other hand learn about their craft from other witches, use “headology” to make things happen and are in direct contact with townsfolk.

In my mind witches are like the testers I know and wizards like developers – which makes the Discworld novels a great source of wisdom that we as testers and developers can learn from for our daily life. In this talk I’ll briefly introduce you to the Discworld and its inhabitants and then share quotes from the novels and explain how they relate to the work I do in my career as a tester.

You’ll learn about essential skills* for every witch, see how witches and wizards can work together despite their differences and finally understand why it’s so difficult to find answers on the internet. Prior knowledge about the Discworld is not required.


  • Properly working spells not included


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