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This document came from the Italian experience in setting up a LoCo Testing Team. If you're a LoCo Leader who made the same experience you're welcome to add your thoughts. If you have doubts in changing this document get in touch with Paolo Sammicheli (xdatap1 at ubuntu dot com).

The Italian experience

The Italian Testing Team idea comes from a chat with Marjo Mercado during UDS Lucid in Dallas. The group started experiencing tests with Lucid Lynx during Alpha 2 release and finally become an official group in the LoCo Team for Beta1 release. We decided to perform ISO Testing with Live testcase because we wanted a very easy and low requirement testcase for starting the group. This experience was discussed during UDS Maverick in Bruxelles (link to the blueprint) with the goal of to improve it and to find how to encourage other LoCos in setting up their testing team. In the meeting minute you will find data and thoughts about the Italian team.

Why a Loco Testing Team

ISO Testing is the best first-activity for a newcomer. In fact, testing is what every LoCo Leader always desired: a fast, easy task to give at those who want to start contributing but they don't know what to do because they don't have not enough experience in computers. It's a healthy way to start because while testing Ubuntu you start using and learning the tools of the community (Launchpad, Wiki, Iso Tracker, etc), you learn how to report effective bugs and you learn new things about Ubuntu: how is made, who made it, where all these programs came from, etc. In the Italian experience, people who started contributing with testing, later started to contributing also in other way: triaging, documentation, translations, etc. It's very important to catch people's enthusiasm in participating in Ubuntu giving concrete goals to reach since the beginning. On other side it's really a wide activity. While it could seem easy to perform some test-cases, you will need a lot of experience and a deep knowledge of the release's goal to perform really valuable tests. Testing it's not a task that you learn in just one cycle and it require to be up to date about what's going on in the development side. On other hands, this involvement in the building of the release keep the activities really funny and interesting.

Setting up the Team

Core team

To start you need a core team, 2 or 3 people from the most active in your LoCo would fit. In the Italian experience I can say that people already involved often are too busy for testing. You need to find active people but with still a little of time free. Maybe the people you find that known well Ubuntu but not the Testing Topic. Performing test on our own few weeks for learning testing best practice helped us a lot.


When you will have few people for star a core team, and you're confident to know Ubuntu testing quite well for tutoring newcomers, you can create the group. You will need some Wiki pages with description of the group and the testcases you want to adopt. You will found adoption topic in next chapter. In the Italian experience we opened a separated mailing list from Launchpad. We decided to keep separated being part of the team and to subscribe the mailing list. We encourage everybody in subscribing the mailing list but we have few minimum requirements for being member of the team (see Team membership). An IRC channel can also help for keeping team in touch and for asking suggestions. Summarizing, at moment of writing this document the Italian Team has following tools:

  • Launchpad Team
  • Mailman Mailing List
  • Wiki Pages
  • IRC Channel
  • Team's board on the LoCo Forum

If your LoCo has an "how contribute" page, you will want your team to be listed there too. We had also a sticky notice in the forum for a while which announced the call for participation to the team.


For keeping people motivated and to make them feeling part of the team we introduced the Adoption concept (see image below. Original page available here)


We intend Adoption like the minimum commitment for a contributor. It makes the tests across the flavor very reliable for the QA Team and give everybody a role in the team. We invite all member in performing more tests than those adopted keeping it like just a minimum commitment.

Team's Membership

In order to gain the Group's membership we ask to have accounts in order: a properly compiled launchpad profile, a personal wikipage and to signing code of conduct. Then we ask to read the pages about the testing and to adopt at least one image. We encourage newcomers in finding the less covered image but we leave them the freedom in choosing which one. In order to remain member of the group we ask to test every milestone. At the moment of the writing of this document we didn't decided yet strict rules about expiration from group but we have an acknowledge that in order to remain member people must perform at least the adopted tests every milestone.


Break the language barrier

If you're a Native English Speaker LoCo this paragraph would not sound really interesting for you. I suggest to read it anyway because LoCos are spread all around the world and language is an issue.

The first problem a newcomer face in start contributing in Ubuntu, if not an English Native Speaker, is the language. Translating the instruction to performing tests in their native language helps in understanding better the process. Don't underestimate this aspect. Also for those who knows English, reading a page in their own language is less tiring than in English. Starting in contributing is a tiring process: registering in Launchpad, Wiki, Code of Conduct, etc. Making some reading more comfortable helps a lot.

Few pages that we found useful to be translated:

Mentoring newcomers

Mentoring newcomers for testing has been shown to be very demanding. Being the first step to be involved in Ubuntu include all the difficulties in learning the tools: wiki, mailing lists, irc, iso tracker, launchpad, etc. As results, if you delegate the mentoring to the mailing list you will get a lot of traffic. After a while the Italian Team decided to organize a steering committee who operate through the IRC Channel for helping newcomers. We focus on the quality of the answers that committee would provide, and we organized a FAQ page maintained by the committee itself. For accessing to the steering committee, people must be part of the team for at least one full cycle.

The value of Testing

Although ISO testing is a good activity for newcomers, it is also release critical. If testing is not done correctly, it can result in a bad release. Also, any milestone can't be released unless all mandatory testcases aren't well covered and properly reported. While mentoring newcomers you should keep it in mind. Reports from newcomers in the beginning aren't very usefull. Only when once they know the process their contributions are taken really into account. Also, often to perform a good test you need to know the goals of the release. To be a good mentor you'll need to follow few development and design mailing lists.

Marketing side effects

We notice that having more people involved in testing and aware about new features in the upcoming release create a nice "marketing side effect". Many people started talking about nice things they discovered in during the tests in their blogs, feature they loved (and also they hated) increasing the buzz about upcoming the release.