"Some birds aren't meant to be caged, their feathers are just too bright"- Morgan Freeman, Shawshank Redemption. This blog is from one such bird who couldn't be caged by organizations who mandate scripted software testing. Pradeep Soundararajan welcomes you to this blog and wishes you a good time here and even otherwise.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Overcoming "obsessive checking if being mentioned disorder"

Happy New Year to all my dear readers, followers, fans, bulbs & CFL Lamps. I wish you become a better tester and respect other (good) testers much better than what you did in 2010. I also wish to be what I wished you to be :-)

The support for the company I launched Moolya Software Testing Private Limited - Brainual Software Testing Services Company, from you all has been fantastic. We hope to keep the momentum and continue adding great value to our customers. I have had a real busy time answering lots of questions about the company from testers all over. Without being able to mention the names, we have had two outsourcing request for quote, two special testing requirement requests, one recovery-before-it-goes-down testing requests from top organizations ever since we launched this company. Added to that is the support from the testers all over. Great start for us and we wish to make Moolya a dream company for good testers and hence be the most preferred testing vendor of the world.

Now, what's the Obsessive Checking If Being Mentioned Disorder?

On this new year, I want to tell you some true stories that you have never heard before. I could have simply kept it with me but I want to be honest to you because you spend your time here. Its you who have made this a successful blog and not just me. I don't know if someone else is facing the same problem but I just hope they are not.

  • 5 years ago when I entered into blogging, I also picked up the habit of reading blogs. The first time I was mentioned on someone's blog, I felt as though the world was under my feet. I guess its natural for a human being to feel so, for that moment. After a day, I returned to realizing the place I stand is the actual world under my feet. I am no special. Recognized I was a "normal" human being.

  • When my name was mentioned again on another blog, I felt great. Some kind of juice flowed all over my body and I loved the way it tickled when it flowed. I was hoping that a lot more people would mention my name and my blog on their blogs so that I could keep experiencing the flow of that magical juice.

  • When I was mentioned on James Bach's blog and followed by Michael Bolton's blog, I felt an extra dose of high concentration juice was flowing in me. It didn't just tickle me but had soothing effects on some painful areas of my life. I still feel, it is normal.

  • I used to write blog posts and anxiously wait for a couple of days to see if someone mentioned or appreciated my recent post somewhere along with my name. At this point I was on the boundary of "normal". Fortunate for you, my dear readers, I haven't written a single post because it may likely be mentioned by someone but wrote my heart out and hoped it gets popular by other bloggers mentioning it.

  • After sometime, I realized that some people had mentioned about me and my blog posts but I didn't come to know when they did it. I added a sitemeter to my blog to track where the hits are coming from. I became way too obsessive with sitemeter. I used to hit the Sitemeter refresh about 200 times a day. At least twice more than the hits I used to get. I was desperate. I worked way too hard to do good work and anxiously wait for an opportunity to blog about it. At this point, I was definitely thrown out from the "normal" category of human beings. I was addicted to the flow of the magical juice. Lucky for my readers, I enjoyed the "being ethical" juice which prevented me from using stupid tactics to attract readership and hence driving the opportunity of being mentioned. 

  • Then people started just mentioning my name without the link, so I got a little nervous about it. Not that they didn't link to my blog but because I discovered them too late. So, I set up a Google Alert with my name. Later I found, many people don't get my second name right. Its "Pradeep Soundararajan" and not "Pradeep Soundarajan" as most people appear to write. So, I ended up setting up a Google Alert for all possible permutations of my name. I was obsessed to check reports of Google Alerts. I went crazy about it. Sitemeter and Google Alert made me go crazy. At this point, I assume, I threw myself very far from belonging to the "normal" category. The worst is yet to come.

  • After a few months from being thrown far away from "normalcy", I was very excited when other bloggers post new entries. It gave me a hope that they would have mentioned my name. I used to pretend being surprised of being mentioned although I would have hoped for it. I guess its fair to call this phase as "starting to get worse".

  • Here comes the beauty. Months later, I started replacing every word by my name till I saw my name on others post. So, I may have read a few posts without actually learning anything from it because all I saw is "Pradeep" & "Tester Tested" on those posts. I think you'd agree one hundred percent, if I call this phase as "Obsessive Checking If Being Mentioned Disorder", which of course is too fucking bad thing to happen. It is important for me to say that all these were subconscious driven stuff. I didn't plan for it, couldn't control it.

  • The magical juice that tickled me and made me feel great was also making me uncontrollable to my own mind.

  • Added to that is the Twitter era. When I got addicted to twitter, all I had to say was, "Oh no! Not again". I saw a few people showing traces of the symptoms of the disorder or maybe I started feeling so.

Then a small light showed up

At some point, the obsessive checking if being mentioned disorder showed itself up in front of my face when it interfered my learning. That's when I decided to knock it off completely. 

I could start ignoring the urge to do things that may bring back the magical flow of the invisible juice only because I feared if my learning will slip. You may think that I deleted the Sitemeter Account, Unsubscribed from Google Alerts and blah blah but I didn't do any of them. Having it there and not yielding to it is a way I tried coming out of it.

I tried reducing the frequency of me visiting sitemeter stats. Some days I get busy learning, testing or working that I forget to login or forget that I logged in and the tab is lying somewhere. I still do visit Sitemeter and Google Alerts because I don't want to go to the other extreme. Call it post traumatic stuff :)

I reduced the number of blogs and posts I read. I don't go to Google Reader anymore. I just go to the URL of the blog I want to read and avoid clicking blog post links on twitter. 

I have reduced the frequency of writing in forums, groups, LinkedIn,  Test Republic, STC...

Most important of all I said to myself, "Now that you know you are not good, why care if people mention you?" and ignored to going to places where I was mentioned in the past.

Then comes practice over time. I wanted to give myself at least an year of practice. Today, I have reached a stage where I don't care who mentions me or my blog posts, for my own good. That doesn't mean I don't respect them. Moreover, others mentioning me or my post is not in my control. 

Bothering about things that are not in my control is foolishness. Not bothering about things that are in my control is much more foolish.

Sometimes the community elevates me to the "guru" & "expert" status (OK, American, UK & European folks, not you, I am talking about Indians here) and I have learnt to treat myself as a student despite what others call me as. I have declined being interviewed for a testing magazine with the interview title, "Know your testing guru".

Its not been easy but its getting easier. I am in the "normal" ring now, making me eligible to post this. I don't care if people tweet this, don't tweet it or not. It is for my reference. When I look back after a couple of years, I will have some things to smile upon saying, "Look at how I was". Just in case, you can see some symptoms of the same disorder in you, trust me, we will have lots to talk about when we meet.

I am just out of danger en route to success as a good student of this craft. I hope I can wade away other dangers that might be on the way, much faster.

Once again, a new year is not happy because you call it that way, you make it that way. I am having a happy new year and hope you have it too. I met Chandru today. The smile and confidence he had in his face is inspiring enough for me to push hard for good things.


Michel Kraaij said...

Great, but nevertheless humble post, Pradeep!
I do have a question. In what way did it interfere with your learning?

Michel Kraaij

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@Michel Kraaij,

I do have a question. In what way did it interfere with your learning?

Thanks for your question.

It took out a lot of my time in seeing if someone is mentioning me than to spend time on learning something new. So, for every post, if I spend about 24 hours overall just searching who mentioned this, I am a loser. Ain't so?

It made me skim through other's posts to see if I am mentioned and hence spoil the opportunity of enjoying the flow of the post.

It made me read only those posts where I am mentioned and pay attention to other posts (that were equal and more important).

Want more? :)

PSK said...

Glad ... to say the least ... there is definitely life beyond blogging ... beyond fame thru posts/blogs/tweets etc ... i hope the SO CALLED gurus figure this out as well ... and do something constructive ...

i am waiting for the day when someone would post something like "Obsessive complusory certification bashing disorder" which mentions about how someone can benefit the commmunity by DOING things rather than STOPPING OTHERS FROM DOING THINGS.

Eusebiu Blindu said...

I think we all have this in a form or another. The blogging and twitter world has created equal opportunities for everyone to show ideas, skills, thoughts...
I also got excited after my puzzle mentions. At some point I wanted to do more, desperately to get another flow of that feeling you mentioned. But it wasn't so great when I did without pressure and using fully my creativity.
I think though this is a good source of motivation to continue improving ourselves. Some time has too pass till one is calibrated to it. Its the same with people who started testing, that are sometimes too enthusiastic and annoying, but the enthusiasm is needed. After a while it can get a better shape.

Another great post! :)

Darren McMillan said...

Hi Pradeep,

A very honest & lovely post, thanks for sharing it.

I don't normally post such short comments since they don't add anything to the conversation. I did however want to show my appreciation for it.



MaikNog said...

Hi Pradeep,
as always a pleasure to read your postings. Thanks for the sharing.

So basically you fell for the metrics trap? ;-)

Thats why I stay out of Facebook etc... I think everyone could fell into this kind of trap; but it takes a clever mind to recognise it and circumvent it.

I especially respect your approach to not totally "ban" the mentioned tools, but to live with them in a "normal" way.

Funny enough your post here inspired me for my first 2011 (and nearly *the* first post at all) blog post, since i saw my comment getting longer and longer. :-)


Markus Gärtner said...

I urge you to read Pragmatic Thinking & Learning from Andy Hunt on the topic, and that what you call the obsession for checking is nothing more than training a monkey to push a button to get the banana or to compare your little story to Pawlow's dog.

Still, in times of the information we end up with these addictions. That is why I usually try to write blog entries for myself, and neglect the thought that anyone else will be reading it. You get surprised by the amount of people stating something about your blog when you get to a conference that way...

Just keep it up.

Prashanti said...

Hi Pradeep,

But why is that you have stopped posting on forums and testing sites?
That does not stop you from learning and as a tester you always wanted to share your knowledge as well.


Pradeep Soundararajan said...


Thanks for your question. As of today my hands are full with work, so I got to cut down on something and that happens to be these forums.

Also, there are other good people who are responding to queries and my absence won't make a difference.

My focus is now on getting Moolya a dream place for testers and a dream come true for our customers.

Now, that might look like a pure business motive but there is lot of community motive in it too.