This is Gonzo QA

Gonzo QA is a style of quality assurance in which QA tasks are intrinsically enmeshed within the project team, rather than being embodied by an outside third-party QA team rarely seen and rarely heard. It is ideal for use on multiple, concurrent, short, sharp, collaborative web-based projects where team-work is all. It is experiential.

“The possibility of complete mental and physical collapse is now very real.”
Statement from project team awaking in a destroyed office suite after a night of Gonzo QA

Gonzo QA also occurs when an analyst cannot remove himself from the project he analyses. In some cases, such as bulk email campaigns, wherein much execution and post-production work is done by the analyst, the gonzo element is inherent. In most other cases, however, it is a deliberate and voluntary choice of the project team.

Gonzo QA allows subjective as well as objective reporting and often uses personal experiences and emotions to provide context for the project or deliverable being analysed. It disregards the out-of-date, over-edited product favored by heavier organisations and strives for the gritty factor. Use of quotes, sarcasm, humor and exaggeration is common. The use of Gonzo QA portends that quality assurance can be timely, accurate and inspiring without being soulless, gray, heavy and late.

The exact size of the agency Gonzo QA team will vary with the project life-cycle but starting with the QA analyst will include one, some or all of these people over time: project managers, account managers, planners, information architects, artists, designers, copywriters, editors, programmers, production managers and (best of all) client staff.

“There they go. Some of God’s own prototypes. High powered mutants never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.”
Client comment on departing project team

Objectivity in QA is a myth. Gonzo QA is a bona-fide style of QA that concerns itself with ‘telling it like it is’. Gonzo QA requires passion, commitment, planning, process, coffee, checklists, browser extensions and is not for the fainthearted.

Gonzo QA reporting is characterized by an adrenaline-fueled stream-of-consciousness technique. As is this article.

“Buy the ticket, take the ride.”

With respect to the Wikipedia and in memory of Hunter Stockton Thompson, 1937-2005.


Learn more about software quality assurance:

First posted: 10 June 2007 on


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