TestNerds on the Blockchain

jason arbon
6 min readNov 5, 2021

I took some time to re-survey the testing landscape. In the process, I discovered some newer voices and rediscovered some familiar voices. I even re-explored the recent and distant history of formalized testing itself all the way back to Alan Turing and Ada Lovelace. The testing world has some interesting characters and different modes of thought.

I also spent some time understanding how testers are thinking about the emerging worlds of crypto and NFTs. What is an NFT? That topic is well covered elsewhere, but imagine images, or anything digitally signed and saved forever on the internet. And you can actually ‘own’ them and re-sell them. There are NFTs for works of art, sports clips, even things such as cats and ‘punks’.

Crypto Punks. You can own one.

So, I decided to combine the two curiosities as a forcing function for me to explore both. I worked with an artist to create 8-bit style images of these visible and evangelical testing nerds and am sharing them with the world. Perhaps testers will discover new TestNerds to follow. Perhaps testers will start thinking more about the world of crypto. Perhaps it exposes the awkwardness of a popularity contest? Perhaps no one cares. But, at least I learned a little bit more about testing and NFTs, and you have too.

I called the collection TestNerds, uploaded the images to a permanent location on IPFS (Interplanetary File System) which will host the files forever, and minted each image as an NFT on OpenSea. This means that there is now one, and only one copy of that image of that particular TestNerd minted and signed by me.

This all means if you are a fan of Angie Jones, you can actually buy the NFT of her 8-bit image, and you and only you own that. Think of it as a baseball card but for testers. You can use it as your profile image, or just keep it as a collectible. You can also sell it to another tester, or to Angie Jones herself for a profit :) I’ve had fun imagining one of Angie Jones’ super fans having a token/collectible in honor of what she’s done for them or the community. I’ve also had fun thinking of what it would mean if I were to ‘own’ the Michael Bolton TestNerd NFT, and wondering what he would think of that :)

TestNerds NFT Images. You can own one.

Can you guess each of the TestNerds in the graphic above? The first ‘batch’ will be people I’m pretty sure would be comfortable, and even interested in the idea.

If you are a great tester, you are probably already thinking of how to test NFTs: security, digital rights, tokens, smart contract logic/code, OpenSea’s user experience, the performance of the underlying Etherium Network, the cost of the gas fees to ‘mint’ these NFTs, and why they were minted on the Polygon Network.

I also dove a bit into digital right myself — could I actually make an 8bit image of Angie Jones and sell it? Turns out yes, for a few reasons. I’ll leave out the supreme court opinion details, but if someone is a public figure, or in public, their photos and likeness can be sold. These TestNerds have their faces and bios across the web. Even more interesting, and independent, the creation of the 8-bit image is itself the creation of a new, original ‘work of art’. Weird, we can buy and sell images of Angie and Joe Colantonio! Even weirder, this is a bit of a social experiment — how will people feel when someone else owns that image of them. Will they want to own it themselves?

There are also economic aspects to these NFT things. Yes, they are collectibles and can be bought and sold — not just the first time, but also resold later. Some of these NFTs during the recent craze were bought for pennies and sold for hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars. I have no expectation of anyone buying an NFT of my face for more than a dollar — but Angie, or Tariq? Even more interesting is that there is a residual built into the NFT’s smart contract that can send a percentage, a royalty in effect, back to the original NFT creator automatically every time the NFT is resold. Say, someone buys Angie’s NFT for $20, then sells it to another test friend for $40, some % of that $40 is automatically sent back to the creator each time by the logic/code in the smart contract for that NFT. This all happens automatically on the blockchain — there is no need to trust that the most recent buyer would honor the royalty — it is automatic.

So, what to do with all the millions of dollars, or um, tens of dollars, that these NFTs will create? Well, I decided I wanted to try and recoup the cost and time of making the NFTs, so I set the royalty rate at 2.5%. Thinking through it further, it seems only fair and obvious to add an additional 2.5% for the people pictured in the NFTs. So if someone bought Angie’s NFT for $100, I would get $2.50 and Angie would get $2.50. Only two problems with that..at this time, the OpenSea platform doesn’t allow for multiple royalty wallets. Even worse, most testers probably don’t even have a digital wallet for the royalties to be sent to. So, for now, I’m going old school, setting the 5% net royalty, and if any of these are resold, and the person in the NFT reaches out, I’ll just manually push the Etherium to their wallet. Later, I hope to code my own NFTs and add this functionality to the smart contract to make it automatic.

One last economic thought, sending royalties to the person featured in the NFT may motivate that TestNerd to promote the NFT and its current owner. The TestNerds have a monetary incentive to get other people to consider buying/bidding for the NFC as they get a piece of each transaction. And, the person owning the NFT may like a little publicity being associated with so Angie.

Lastly, the latest trend in NFT-land is to have other exclusive access to things if you own one of the NFTs. In this case, perhaps dinners at the test conferences where only TestNerds and TestNerd NFT owners can show up and geek out on testing. Or, have special access to image-based swag, etc. I’m just getting started on this angle, but more to come, and heck, maybe that will drive up the desirability and value of these NFTs in the future. Mixing code and money and authentication is an interesting thing and is inherent in the world of crypto.

I’ll be releasing this first batch of TestNerd NFTs soon, with more to follow in the coming weeks (100 have already been made!). If you have suggestions, on who else should be in this collection of TestNerds, let me know @nerds_test .

The first batch of TestNerds to be released are:

This is designed to be a fun learning experience at the intersection of software testing and crypto. I hope we’ve all learned a little about both. If you want to learn how to set up your own digital wallet and buy these or other NFTs on OpenSea, here is a quick explainer video.

I’ve listed the NFTs at about $22 dollars initially so there is no excuse for someone not to pick some up and participate in this new world of NFTs and own a piece of testing history.

— Jason Arbon



jason arbon

blending humans and machines. co-founder @testdotai eater of #tunamelts