On Ravelry, there is a group called Free Pattern Testers. The description tied to Free Pattern Testers is “This group is for helping budding designers and willing testers to come together and help each other in an open barter system. Testers get the benefit of getting free patterns and designers get the benefit of free testing. ” Isn’t that nice? Shall we all join hands now and sing a few rounds of Kumbayah?
The reality is that this group is run by very, very strict rules. These rules govern the designers and the testers and heaven help you if you don’t follow these rules. There is a system of strikes and if you get 3 strikes, you get banned from the group. The demi-gods of FPT patrol all of the many current tests and verify that each detail is following the stated protocol. I can imagine that this is stressful for the designers as much as it is for the testers.
Generally, I quite enjoy being a pattern tester, assuming it is something I would knit anyway.
- I don’t (generally) have an excess of WIPS so I can usually focus on the test knit and come in ahead of the deadline.
- I write training documentation for a living, so I can catch words/phrases/formatting which isn’t as usable as one might hope.
- I usually take “okay” photos so the designer will have a FO (finished object) attached to their pattern which looks relatively nice, out of quality yarn at launch. This is big in the world of Ravelry; people don’t knit patterns that haven’t been knit.
However, I fled FPT and I will not be lured back. There is a vast difference between “running a tight ship” and “a ship run by control freak whackjobs”. Okay, I (wildly) exaggerate. But seriously… I once used bullet points and got a nastygram. I once emailed back-and-forth with a designer about a pattern outside of the forum which resulted in a nastygram. I forgot to link to a tester’s Ravelry profile (say it with me folks!) and I got a nastygram.
Quite frankly, too much nasty – not enough nice.
I will likely lose out on the opportunity to test some really swank designs, but let’s face it – my queue is huge already. I don’t really need more to choose from. And, I already have a full complement of control freak whack jobs in my life, I don’t really need more.
I have not had any problems in the FPT group. However, I am fairly careful about what I test. I have done 2 tests for the same person because I like how she writes patterns and what the objects are. I usually test only small objects, like hats or cowls. Because I always have at least 5 projects on the needles (ouch!), one more doesn’t concern me. Now, if I were to take on testing of a large project, I would probably fail miserably. I can’t work on any one thing monogamously for any length of time. I would definitely be kicked out of the group!
I am not a frequent tester, nor do I want to be. I have run into some really poorly written patterns which makes me really cranky. I like my patterns to be very clear, without spelling or punctuation errors. I think that is fairly uncommon, though. I will keep testing, but I will probably not do any large projects. I know myself too well. And I don’t deal with nastygrams well.
There you have it, two perspectives on ‘Free Pattern Testing’ within Ravelry. Have you survived this group? Do you bear scars and have tales to tell? If so, we want to hear. If not, we want to hear that too!