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The Dark Side of Quality

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dark sideI get paid to be hated. There’s no glamour in my line of work. Kind of villainous, if you ask me. But before I go into some lengthy bitchfest, let me first explain what I do (currently) in the simplest way possible.

When I’m not slaying emcees, or writing, I work for a digital advertising agency that puts out nifty web and mobile apps for pretty hip clientele. I’m responsible for the quality of the final product – meaning I coordinate testing efforts and give the green light to launch (or not). In short, I nitpick.

Sound fun? It’s not. In this line of work, you pretty much piss off anyone you work with. You piss off developers and designers for raising flags and spotlighting their mistakes. You piss off project managers by not being accurate with time estimates (hey, how can I predict how faulty an app will be?) You piss off account managers by having to bill for all the time spent. You piss off the client by putting launch dates in jeopardy. You piss off IT for needing up-to-date hardware, as well as shitty hardware. And on top of everything, you piss yourself off for getting involved in this mess in the first place.

My haphazard descent into the pedantic world of “Quality Assurance” began rather inauspiciously. I have a degree in English. My first ‘real’ job search was focused on lowly editorial assistant gigs. One day into my search, I was recommended to a software firm looking for someone to proof educational games and applications for kids. More money than publishing, more sexy technology and gadgets — you can say I was seduced. And thus my QA career was spawned.

There were separate occasions where I broke free and parlayed my creativity to a career in design, development and art direction for the web. I thought I was safe. But no, QA seemed to linger around and always find a way of eeking back into my life. First by nitpicking my own artwork/writing to death, and then during a lull-period in my career (see: dot-com meltdown) seduced, once again. I can say with pride that I spent half of my career in design and art direction. But QA was still there, lurking in the shadows. The dark side summoned. After the tension and fallout of my last art direction gig, QA appeared to be a low-stress, no nonsense alternative in comparison. The offer was there, and my guard was down.

Fast forward two years later – and here I am in the midst of yet another run of nitpicking. And the designers, developers, project managers, account managers all curse me under their breaths. And I curse at myself at the mirror in the morning, as I don this mask of meticulousness.

Mask or not, I tell my people that if I’m liked at work, I’m probably not doing a good job. And the job requirement should read: ability to endure the ire of your colleagues and carry the weight of every unseen mistake on your shoulders. After all, if something goes wrong, guess who gets villified? Cue: more hatred.

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8 Responses to “The Dark Side of Quality”

  1. Nice site. There?s some good information on here. I?ll be checking back regularly.

  2. QA _ Rocks says:

    I disagree with your thoughts on being hated. You are doing your job and the rest of your team members understand. Some are assh… by nature so you shouldn’t take their negative attitude personally. If you change your thinking process to believe that you are making everyone else’s job on the project better and more efficient then you might find yourself a bit happier with the chosen career path. We are in it to pay our bills and meantime, enjoy the environment, people, collaboration. Everything is an educational experience. Don’t be a hater, be an artist ;0). think positive and people around will join you.
    I have a lot more to say but I’ll stop at this point for now…

  3. Filthy Rich says:

    I hate you, QA_Rocks. 🙂

  4. Jill says:

    Sounds like the Rich I remember from college. I’ve missed you!! Great writing. Glad to get back in touch and look forward to reading more!!

  5. Hugo says:

    Hey Richard, nice site, nice writing, i hope back to work soon, back to piss off developers.

  6. Filthy Rich says:

    Randy, Jill and Hugo… thanks for the kind words. Hugo, you and me both, man. Let’s piss them off!

  7. A QA Engineer is a developers best friend. I have a lot of respect for what you do, and reporting a bug doesn’t make me think any less of you. That look on my face is just my embarassment for writing the bug in the first place and not catching it myself. 😉 Keep fighting the good fight, developers need you.

  8. HairyMan says:

    Not bad… Not bad.

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