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QAs are like Referees, people only talk about them when they make mistakes

In a lot of companies and a lot of articles that I read online, people say that QA is under estimated, that good QA doesn't get noticed enough, and they're talking about it like it's a bad thing?

However, I strongly believe that good QA doesn't need to be credited, the fact that people aren't talking about QA is a good thing, it's not just that no news is good news, but far more than that.

Let me give you the example of referees in football, if a referee has a good game then he's not going to be talked about, a good referee is a referee who goes unnoticed, doesn't make any bad decisions, and lets the game flow well. People aren't saying that the referee missed a blatant penalty or sent someone off.

To liken this to QA, if everything goes well on a project and and the product is released without any bugs and the quality of the software at the end was of a high standard then not very often will someone say the QA was great, I think it comes down to the assumption that software should be perfect without minimal effort, however, we know this isn't the case :)

Very rarely, a referee will do a great piece of refereeing, like here when Phil Dowd allowed Sunderland to play advantage and then broug the play back and awarded a penalty against Cardiff when no advantage was gained. This was heralded by Gus Poyet (Sunderland manager) as "the best decision I've ever seen from a referee".

Just like above, people will sometimes hail QA, and say what a great job they are doing, but I suppose what I'm trying to say, is that we should be happy that nobody is talking about us, it's when people start saying that the QA missed a bug or something, that we should be worried.


  1. Disclaimer: I'm a ref and a tester.

    I don't think we should be happy about this. The youth league I ref for has a real problem getting enough refs as parents and coaches think they can treat them like crap.
    Same argument can apply to test/QA - if no-one is writing about them and what a good job they do then (1) the pay will be crap and (2) no-one will want to do the job, they will want to be players or managers or coaches

    1. I don't think recognition is a QA only problem, it's devs as well.

      How many games have you come off thinking to yourself you refereed that game to a high standard, and done well? Do you expect anybody else to say well done? Surely the satisfaction comes from yourself, as with the satisfaction of releasing software that users will find beneficial, and is bug free. That to me is good enough, sure it's nice when people say well done, but it's not the norm, and if it was the norm then surely it would lose it's meaning?

      I'd much rather not hear anything about the QA on a project rather than hearing comments about how it was done poorly, which I'm sure is the same for refereeing?

      We do need to attract people to QA, and even make the work that we do more visible, that will help improve the pay, and will help people want to do the job, not necessarily pats on the back when things go well?


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