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At CAST2011, Chris Blain spoke about troubleshooting tips he's found helpful as a tester. Ones I especially identified with:

  • Model
  • Take no one's word, and make no assumptions
  • Look for other causes
  • Ask who, what, where, when, to what extent - about everything
  • Debug as well as the developer you respect the most

Other troubleshooting tips you've found helpful?

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Along the lines of Joe - discuss with others and don't be reluctant to bring in an extra pair of eyes. This helps with "make no assumptions" and is a good de-focusing exercise.

No matter how well we try not to make assumptions it is quite easy to slip into them without realizing. Therefore, describing your findings and approach to someone else is very productive - it opens you up to questioning yourself - the other pair of eyes asking, "why did you do that?"

Some more thoughts related to showing your working are here:

http://testers-headache.blogspot.com/2010/06/showing-your-thinking-or-thought.html

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Here's another tip:

  • Make your findings public, so that others can pitch in, make suggestions, amplify, or otherwise provide aid
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  • 1
    I always like the idea of "testing as a conversation". Making findings public can help with this. – joshin4colours Aug 16 '11 at 17:18
  • This a thousand times over. We can survive as testers by ourselves, but we can thrive as an active community :) – maznika Jul 6 '12 at 23:42
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Lessons Learned in Software Testing by Cem Kaner et al is a classic source for this kind of wisdom. If you want testing advice from experienced testers, it's a great place to start. You might not agree with everything, but it will get you thinking about how you approach testing in new ways - and that's really the intent of the book.

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Ask, "Why?" And keeping asking why until you've arrived at the real root cause.

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