Why editors make great QA Testers

Attention-to-detail, problem-solving are keys for success

QA Testers have to put themselves in the user’s head. (Photo by Rami Al-zayat on Unsplash)

Last week, I stumbled upon an article here on Medium that confirmed an epiphany moment, one I’ve been searching for, for little over a year and a half now.

It was a sentence in particular.

While searching QA articles, I came across one entitled: “Who are Quality Assurance Engineers and Why do You Need One for Your Project?

As I was skimming through, I stumbled upon this graf:

Think of writing. You have a writer who, well, writes the book or an article and you have an editor whose goal is to check the grammar, syntax, make the text easier to read, etc. QA is an editor in the IT world.

YES!!

Editors possess two skills, which are crucial in any industry— attention-to-detail and problem-solving. If you don’t have the attention-to-detail chops, you’ll never be a strong editor. It’s not always about grammar and punctuation. Sometimes it’s about placement, breaks and spacing between words. I’m talking about the nitty-gritty stuff.

My first editorial job I had after graduating from college was as a part-time agate clerk at The Republican in Springfield, Mass. where essentially, I was the compiler and editor of the scoreboard page. The page included standings, box scores, transactions and schedules spanning from local to professional sports — to name a few. We also ran a local sports calendar, on air listings, ‘This Date in Local Sports’ and trivia.

No one outside the sports department wanted to edit that page due to the font-size and overall tediousness, and I certainly didn’t blame them. It takes a unique, patient individual to want to do that kind of work, and at the time before the paper switched to a new pagination and SaaS system, the page was styled in a format that mimicked HTML.

The Republican scoreboard page from January 8, 2013.

This …

<el-8><agspt>LOCAL COLLEGES<format merge><format merge>
<ag>MONDAY, JANUARY 7<fm>
No games scheduled.<quad left>
<el2>TUESDAY, JANUARY 8</ag><fm>
<el2>MEN’S BASKETBALL<quad center>
Wentworth at WNE, 5:30<ql>
Lesley at Elms, 7<ql>
MIT at Springfield, 7<ql>
Salem St. at MCLA, 7:30<ql>
Worcester St. at Westfield St., 7:30<ql>
<el2>WOMEN’S BASKETBALL<qc>
Lesley at Elms, 5<ql>
etc …

translates to this …

Local college schedule from The Republican’s January 8, 2013 edition.

And just like code, there were shortcuts on how to style the text the same way by using less. And just like code, if one character was off, the entire file got blown and you’d have to start from scratch. Because of this, Ctrl+A, Ctrl+C became part of my process. That way if a mistake was made, I wouldn’t have to start over.

Standings and box scores had what we called “spaces” and “half spaces,” which, in our system at the time, looked like a vertical rectangle with a line cutting it in half and a vertical rectangle with a diagonal line. This is what aligned the numbers correctly, and if you forgot to copy and paste the correct standings’ header (ex: W L Pct GB), everything would be off alignment.

You can’t physically see them, but there are vertical rectangles that represent spaces and half spaces to properly align the NBA and AHL standings as seen here.

I did this job for five years — nearly four while also covering the Boston Bruins — on two computer systems having no idea if I’d even like it. The sports editor at the time took a chance on me, and in hindsight, it turns out that this job was my first introduction into coding and a possible career in tech.

I’ve always been the tech savvy one in my department. I loved learning new tricks in whatever system I was using, never hesitated to troubleshoot a bug for a coworker, and was constantly collaborating and communicating with our IT department. I just had no idea what it was called.

QA isn’t only about testing, it’s about getting inside of the user’s mind. It’s thinking of every single probability that may arise. It’s about testing Probability A, Probability B, all the way to Probability F.

The bare minimum doesn’t cut it, and the same goes with editing. The bare minimum doesn’t make for a stronger article and overall product whether it be digital or print, and it doesn’t help the reporter become a tighter, polished writer.

Who cares if you finished your section before everyone else? It’s not about speed, it’s about accuracy, quality. I bet you that I could find at least three errors (design, style, typos, factoids, etc.) on each page.

If you perform the bare minimum as a QA tester, you’re not helping make the product more intuitive, and you’re not forcing the engineers to become better problem-solvers and coders. It’s the same concept.

QA solidifies the importance of editors, no matter the field. It’s impossible to perform and think of everything yourself, that’s why teams are so important in the workplace. Teams should be made up of people who have different skill-sets to help produce better products and outcomes.

Keyword: Should be.

Just ask any championship sports team.

Are you seeking a QA/UX/Support guru? Want to hear more tales of my career pivot? Like this article and check out my portfolio at amandakbruno.com