Creating a community space

Introduction

Building a community has been something that is quite new to me and It fascinates me how some individuals have given it so much to build a sense of testing community these days. Its not just regional, but worldwide. It takes time, effort and patience for sure. I have always been intrigued how individuals come up with a plan of what they want to do, how will they execute it and how successful this could be? Furthermore, giving individuals a platform to showcase themselves in a from of online courses, webinars, live conferences, blogs and hosting opportunities which is all a fantastic way to grow the community and share the knowledge. In this blog I have Nithin from Synapse QA explaining the details on how he started his Synapse Journey.

What made you think you should have a community space like Synapse QA?

When I started my career back in 2012, I was not aware of what actually testing is about, how will I deliver my tasks and had a major challenge of learning on the job. I wish I knew of communities back then to help me excel. First time I came across a community was back in 2017. However, some of the communities I am aware of today have been existing for a long long time! As mentioned above building a community space is not as straight forward and requires a lot time and innovative ideas too, however Nithin has explained this beautifully below.

Nithin shared with me, when he started my career, he never imagined that he would become a founder of a community space and will be doing all these. He truly believes from his personal experience that community is about growing with others. In his career(actually, let’s call it career shift/growth) he grew up surrounded by a kind, generous, helpful, knowledgable and a loving community which helped him shape his identity and made him what he is today.

It was not an easy start, and all changes were gradual, which started from being a community illiterate who had zero knowledge about communities and even wondered do they even exist! He always doubted himself and preferred to be in a comfort zone; all the changes started to happen when he began to interact, go out of his comfort zone & meet like-minded people. As a person who realised and experienced how communities can change people and help them grow, he thought of creating a way for others to explore that path more efficiently and to lift and connect the rich voices that are usually lost somewhere. That led to the creation of a unique space where people can come together, learn, share & grow, and bridge the gaps between known and unknowns.

Where did you start from?

A casual chat with my previous team lead was the initial trigger to having a community space of his own. Nithin used to write a lot during those days about testing and talk a lot about communities and how they can help people. During those days, they were not having a community(physical) in Malaysia for testers, and he asked me why can’t you start one? From that spark, Nithin discussed it with Amala(my lovely partner in crime) exploring the possibilities or ways of creating a community space that can solve the common challenges faced by testers, considering how he evolved also. During those chats, the main factor we had in mind was not to be a clone of any existing communities & to be authentic and unique in our own ways. Out of many formats discussed, they figured that writing is a strong form of expressing ideas which is often celebrated/encouraged less. Eventually, they also decided to move forward with the idea of having a community-driven co-writing space for testers, which was unique & a platform that had never existed before to support them during the end-to-end process of writing. So, yeah, that thought/problem statement led to creating Synapse QA which was initially a Medium page(which still exists as our old home). It was a journey that started with 4 writers(Nithin, Amala, Ram, Benjie) from my team and then slowly started to have more people involved from Malaysia & across the globe, which made it into a global co-writing space during the pandemic time.

As we can see it takes a simple conversation to get the ideas flowing. If you are keen on initiating a community space what would your initiative be? Some suggestions below:

  • Speak to someone who is within the community already or a manager about your idea
  • Make a mind map of ideas
  • Get some initial friends/community leads to give you their honest feedback
  • Decide if this is something you will do by yourself, with a few people or in a big group?

How did you execute this plan and made Synapse QA?

From day 1, everything was new & they were learning things by doing. Mostly, all of our initiatives we would like to call experiments because of that. Some of the key factors behind the execution of all the plans behind Synapse are adaptiveness, not being afraid of failure, embracing the challenges & fears, and openness to change. For them, everything was new and they knew that if they get scared then they cannot bring that change. One of the first things that got changed was the stereotype of designs in our community space for having plain templates. Nithin being a great fan of creativity & Amala being a fan of colours; they intentionally wanted all our designs to be unique, authentic & colourful. During that time, it was non-conventional to go for colourful designs for banners & event promotions, as professional spaces preferred light colours and minimal designs, but Synapse team wanted to try and bring a change because people love creativity, and that is the easiest way to connect with them. It was a change at that time, but afterwards, it became the new normal, and now they can see colours everywhere.

For the initial 6–7 months, it was nothing extraordinary, an ordinary space that slowly picked its pace. A random thought(sales promotion for 11.11) inspired Nithin to create Super Reads, which itself eventually transformed Synapse QA into what you see now :)

Synapse executed a whole new format as a global write-a-thon with zero experience, and the massive success of the first edition made us realise that Synapse QA exists for a reason. They clearly had significantly less time to plan, but pulled it nicely amidst all those challenges :). You can read more in detail on Super Reads Evolution here: https://synapse-qa.com/2021/01/03/superreads-evolution/.

The year 2021, a fully packed year with many events, they saw their team growing with writers, core members & volunteers who share the same vision that eased all the planning efforts. With the successful execution of back-to-back events, what the team realised in 2021 was Synapse QA is there to make testers believe in themselves & inspire them to share knowledge in the most creative ways. It made them expand into a full-fledged community space rather than just being a writing space. The current Synapse QA you are seeing is a rebranded second edition of the original one back in 2020 with a broader vision.

How do you feel today about Synapse QA?

“Now, I am happy to see that Synapse QA is known for its originality, creativity & uniqueness. It’s a dream come true moment for me that taught me a lot and made me a better person who knows his purpose”.

For future plans, an experiment again to instil courage in testers to come forward and share their knowledge by public speaking, a reality show in testing space called “Super Voice”.

Another dream event that brings multiple testing communities to come under the same roof and deliver a full-fledged fiesta to the community like never seen before, some crazy contests like our Spot the Difference to challenge the eyes & brains of our community members, and lots and lots of really exciting ideas on the horizon that will be rolling out in the near future, so keep your eyes peeled.

When having a community space, its vital to have loads of planning put into your space. For instance have some events planned/organised, so that the community can continue to evolve and grow. It can be anything you see fit/unique for your brand.

What benefits has this bought?

Having a community space is a great initiative, however it should also prove some value and benefits to the audience. Therefore the entire process is not just about getting a brand out, but thoroughly planning every step of it and making sure it remains unique to its kind as well as brings innovative ways of spreading the brand to a wider community.

Change is not easy; it is hard. But, someone has to initiate the change and pave a way so that others can easily walk through that path, and we at Synapse focus more on bringing that change :)

After Super Reads, “we have seen many newbie writers become active bloggers, Rise has bought many stories of our favourite women leaders openly available, Sparks has broken the global barriers and brought many first-time speakers to the community, API unleashed series become handy for many testers when it comes to doing a POC on API testing, and many more reasons and changes”. And overall, they have helped many testers to believe in themselves, which is considered the most significant achievement.

Now he is confident and proud to say that Synapse QA is not going to be known only by himself; it’s going to be known as Synapse QA, a people-first community space. That’s what they want; they care about their Synapses and making them realise their inner potential.” We’re trying to push the boundaries and their stories above everything else” as Nithin explains.

Community = for you as much as for others!

For Nithin, he has the opportunity to be there in the testers lives, holding their hands, supporting them and helping them chase their dreams through Synapse QA. Because of that and because of the love he has received, he strives to be the best version of himself, so that he can be there and serve those who need me most.

Conclusion

A person who shares a story that is so important to them defines an aspect of who they are as an individual. When they come together, form a group and share it, they create history and let others see the world through the lens of those shared stories.

Nithin has read in an article that community is an essential concept for social change because it helps us to see that social change in some of the most important stories we tell ourselves. It conveys a sense of togetherness and positivity and is formed by a group of people who share an identity-forming narrative. For them, it is being a Synapse who bridges the gaps between knowns & unknowns in the community.

As Nithin has successful and continuing to deliver Synapse QA to a wider audience, it does not just stop there. We will see more about Syanapse QA in forms of different events Nithin will be organising and helping the community learn, explore and create history together.

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