Introducing Ramone our Testing Mascot!

All over my Twitter and blogs you’ll see mention of Ramone the Testing Otter™️. But who is that? What’s that all about? In this post I introduce Ramone as my testing mascot and why I’ve come to use him.

Who is Ramone?

Ramone is a Testing Otter. He’s a personal assistant to all testers, happy to spread the message of testing and bring beverages to people who engage with test (or write unit tests)!

Ramone bringing a beer to a team member who helped write some unit tests.

What is Ramone?

Simply put Ramone is a mascot and a way to make testing messages more engaging and whimsical. Mascot characters are used around the world to increase brand awareness and humanise organisations. They are used as the face or a company or event; Mario, Micky Mouse and Hello Kitty are some of the most recognisable brands and are mascots for companies.

We can use Ramone in the same way; to give a face and some personality to our testing.

(He’s also an Asian short clawed otter.)

History of Ramone

When I’ve been the only tester on an agile team I’ve used different ways to celebrate good quality or people helping with testing. Frequently this was giving them some Cal Kudos points, a drawing of a medal or getting them a coffee. I did this because of my background in psychology and believing in positive reenforcement.

One day on a day off I went to London Zoo and saw the otters. I had a conversation about how cute they are with a tester colleague of mine (the awesome Fe) and from that moment Ramone was born!

From then on most of my kudos would be something like ”That was great! I’ve trained this otter to bring you a beer as a reward!” or ”Have a picture of this cute otter as a way of saying thanks!”. This then evolved further into creating emojis and naming the otter so that he was instantly recognisable.

Where to use Ramone?

I’ve used Ramone in lots of different places:

  • Twitter – To help brand testing ideas and to give a friendly face to the practice.
  • Slack – As an emoji reaction to say ”Test has seen this”. In messages to help make what I’m saying more interesting, as pictures to send kudos (Ramone’s positive reenforcement corner) and to soften messages. I add Ramone pictures to keep morale up when I’m discussing potential bugs.
  • Wiki Pages – We’ve put Ramone in a team wiki page for the test practice to introduce it, brand the practice and help give a friendly mascot face.
  • Training – I’ve added Ramone to presentations to rephrase questions or help land a message like “Ramone asks – does that mean we should have more unit tests than e2E tests?” I’ve also used Ramone to give some presentations where I wanted to soften my messaging.
  • Test Bash – Ramone made an awesome host at Test.Bash(); 2021 and helped to ask audience questions to the speaker (and even was part of a lovely duet).
Ramone being an awesome Test.Bash(); 2021 host!

When to use Ramone?

As with anything context is important. Depending on your environment landing messages in a more whimsical way may not be appropriate at all. I’ve found that the best uses for Ramone is within a team, rather than a wider organisation, and certainly after I’ve tested the waters for what kinds of messages land.In a new team to help create culture

  • To help build rapport: When I join a new team I like to find ways to show that I’m a person and not “the mean tester who’s going to find bugs”. Providing messages with a bit of personality helps to show that I’m part of the team and build the view that I’m working with people (rather than against them). A mascot like Ramone will be more immediately identifiable so will help to anchor testing messages (it’ll help people remember who you are, you’re the otter keeper). I’ve also sent pictures of otters as part of messages to team members to lift their spirts and build connection, or to thank them for doing something (it has a similar effect to making tea for someone).
  • When you want to soften a message: Quality information can land hard, especially when people feel critiqued negatively. This can be especially true during times of stress (like crunch or an upcoming release), when there’s a tester/developer divide or when people are new and are suffering imposter syndrome. If I want to make a bug seem less like an attack then I can add a picture of an otter to lighten it up.
Otterly adorable'?: Demand for cute selfies puts animals at risk
Sorry to bombard you with possible issues, but Ramone the Testing Otter™️ thanks you in advance for looking at them!
  • When you want to be visible: Testing can frequently get buried, forgotten about or ignored in projects and companies. Having a mascot like Ramone helps to build engagement with your community of practice (even if it’s to ask “what is this otter all about?”). Having an emoji in Slack to add after messages to show that testing has seen this, or to prefix a test message will aid with branding and visibility.

Why use Ramone?

Well for all the reasons mentioned above. Having Ramone makes messages more friendly, assists in the building of culture and rapport within your team and brand testing to make it more identifiable. The main reason however is because otters are cool!

Yes Ramone, cool and adorable too.

So that’s Ramone the Testing Otter™️ your testing mascot. Feel free to use him to help land your testing messages.