Do it on camera to increase your satisfaction

IMG_1904I highly recommend working on your next project like your being filmed for training.  Better yet… actually record what you are doing and try sharing it.  You’ll learn a TON and you’ll focus on fit and finish in ways you never thought about before.

Working on the OneDayApp series has dramatically improved the quality of what I’m doing with my next application.  There are all sorts of corners I would be cutting, steps I’d be skipping, and personal education I’d miss out on in the final product if I wasn’t building it partially to teach people. 

It can be valuable at any stage.  If you record your code you’ll find yourself caring about things like variable names in new ways.  Once you have something to demo you’ll see all sorts of rough edges that you’d never see if you just used it.  There’s simply nothing that beats actually “going to the tape” to get a glimpse of what other people see. 

Quality Ownership Part 2: Consulting Services & Support

This is part 2 in a series of posts that examines how each role at a company owns the quality of product.  Part one looked at sales and development.

Consulting Services

If you sell additional services, and code enhancements in particular, then you also own the quality of the product that was shipped. Your on the front lines working every day with a customer who is perceiving the final experience of the product through all the customizations and integrations that you have implemented for them.


Who is responsible for quality? Raise your hand.

When I started my career at Microsoft I was on the QA team and I distinctly remember a conversation with one of my team leaders that went something like this:

Me: “We’re responsible for the quality of the product.”

Test Manager: <Laughs>

Me: “Then who owns it?”

Test Manager:Everyone – the job of the QA team is simple to accurately measure the state of product quality consistently.”


Act As If… Quality was Contagious

Because it is.  If you write sloppy work items and specifications why would your developers write good code?  Bad bug reports… these are fixes with regressions that are just waiting to be found.  Poor requirements… these are just bad implementations waiting to be done.  Code with too many bugs… poor QA pass…

As social creatures humans mirror behavior.  What we see is what we do.  If an employee sees low quality work all around them passed off as acceptable then what do they have to shoot for?

If you want to increase the quality of your companies deliverables you might consider looking at your own results first.  There is no point in changing process, plans, or resources unless you can change your own behavior… because that’s the key to changing culture in general… seeding your world with great examples of what the ideal is.

Another way to look at this is to imaging if everything you wrote at work was going to be sent directly to your best customers.  Would they still buy from you if they could look inside the sausage factory? 

Would you rather buy something that was made here:


Or here?


The power of change is not in the plan or the process, but in the execution. 

What determines the quality of user generated content?

On the Freakonomics blog they link to a comparison between recent YouTube and MetaFilter user commentary.  The question is asked if $5 can improve the quality of the comments.  You can guess what this looks like, but its worth checking out the difference in comments for yourself.

On the Web site thatsaspicymeatball, you can view the latest comments from MetaFilter (which requires a one-time, $5 membership fee to post a comment) and YouTube (free) side by side…

Here’s how a poster from each site expresses disagreement:


And here’s where we diverge, as we have from the get-go …


yeah you’re dumb you expect me to shut up because you tell me to? ha yeah sure

Via Freakonimics

My personal opinion is that there isn’t just one thing that determines the quality of user comments. My theory is that the quality of commentary (and user contributions to a site in general) is dependant on a mix of the following in order: 

  1. Original Content: The content you put on your site is what draws users to it in the first place.  It also sets an example of the type of writing and quality you expect from your visitors.  Present a well written set of wiki articles or blog posts and expect well written replies for the most part.  Host videos of flatulent pandas and the people that are drawn to that sort of thing are the people that are going to be leaving their mark (for better or worse) on your site.
  2. Monkey See Monkey Do: If your user comments are already full of LOLSpeak tnage txtspeak (man I’m old) then that’s what people think is expected of them.  Then, wanting to fit in, people will devolve to match to the expectations. It’s going to be hard to prove otherwise once you start letting content you don’t want to see flow into your site. 
  3. Reputation:  How do you reward/credit the people who generate content you like?  Do you look them up, thank them, and highlight their content?  How tied are users to their accounts?  Do you give them a reason to post good content?  This is the carrot side of things and the stick, of course, is…
  4. Moderation Policies:  It’s your site so you have control over what’s posted and behavior you want to see.  If you moderate posts and aggressively and penalize bad content by removing or hiding it from other users then you start to impact factors #1 & #2.  

Did I miss a category?  What else factors into the quality/type of user content on community sites?  If anyone knows about a study with real data that would help prove or disprove the importance of these factors I’d love to see it. I’ll leave you with the following, semi-related, picture.

Humorous Pictures