The Quiz!

[Before I start, a few more words regarding my last post. A colleague of mine recently also took the ISTQB certification exam, and in her group she was the only woman. So as far as my observation about the weak male/female tester ratio goes, there’s another confirmation. Sad but true.]

But now, the quiz. About four years ago it all started with a motto/quote-of-the-week on a white board. This quickly turned into a trivia-question-of-the-week and born was the QA Quiz. Week for week, someone on the team would come up with a question for all the rest to answer. As word got around, more and more “players” became regular participants. The category of the question was up for the questioner to decide, and we had it all: trivia, movies, puzzles, history, politics, you name it. He would write down the question and a number of possible answers – of course including the right one – on Monday. The players then had the whole week to leave their mark on the answer they deemed correct until the question was resolved by the questioner on Friday.

With growing numbers, I invented some basic rules. Anyone who read the question had to answer it on the spot – while in the room – to prevent googling. There had to be a minimum of three and a maximum of seven possible answers. As a guideline, the questioners were asked to choose questions they could answer on top of their heads – not to make it easy, but to encourage them to choose a category they knew much about (and not necessarily the rest of the group). Choosing the right answer would score one point, and the questioner himself could not score that round. The person with the most points was asked to go next with the question.

The last rule we changed when it turned out there were always two who fought it out, ping-ponging questions back and forth. The rule had been meant to allow the rest to catch up in the ranks, but choosing a questioner randomly amongst all who had not yet asked any questions turned out to be much more fun. I split the year into two seasons with 20-25 games each, and the winner would be titled QA Quiz Master. As their prize, they’d even get a small trophy, a challenging cup – and they had to bring donuts or cake to please the masses. Every win also comes with a price, like.

So what’s this to do with anything, let alone testing? Not much. I was new at the company when I started the quiz and I am terrible at names. Due to the increasing popularity of the quiz, almost every single person in the department would come by my office at least once or twice a week. I got the chance to do some smalltalk, get to know them, do some team building. First meant for my own benefit and fun mostly, it also brought together odd groups of people talking about silly things sometimes, but talking. It didn’t cost a dime, hardly any time for anyone, and it was a lot of fun.

We stopped playing this summer at the end of a season when organisational changes brought other priorities, but I’ve heard people asking about it again recently. For something like this, you need a group of a manageable size and some minimal moderation, but up to 25 players we had no problems at all. I suppose it wouldn’t work in just any company or department, but (the right culture provided) I’m willing to try it again at my next gig, which is around the corner – I miss the quiz.


Tobias is a Software Quality person. He likes movies and games, as well as sailing and swimming.

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Posted in EOF, Team

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