Exploratory Testing: Lessons from Fact Checking

Check familiarity. Look for causes. Look around the cause. Return to what you know.

In 2015, Mike Caulfield popularised the concepts of web content as stream and garden. You can see more in his lecture and post.

His primary work is in collaborative education. His open-source book Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers won a MERLOT award.

In that book, he proposes ‘four moves and a habit’ for people seeking the truth. His instructions connect with me, as an exploratory tester – they remind me of what I do, and exhort me to do it better and to explain it more clearly.

He writes:

Moves accomplish intermediate goals in the fact-checking process. They are [strategies] associated with specific tactics. Here are the four moves this guide will hinge on:
Check for previous work: Look around to see if someone else has already fact-checked the claim or provided a synthesis of research.
Go upstream to the source: Go “upstream” to the source of the claim. Most web content is not original. Get to the original source to understand the trustworthiness of the information.
Read laterally: Read laterally.[1] Once you get to the source of a claim, read what other people say about the source (publication, author, etc.). The truth is in the network.
Circle back: If you get lost, hit dead ends, or find yourself going down an increasingly confusing rabbit hole, back up and start over knowing what you know now. You’re likely to take a more informed path with different search terms and better decisions.

His ‘habit’, since you ask, is to respond to strong emotions with fact-checking.

I’ll add my thoughts in a bit.

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