Friday, January 10, 2014

Last Orders?

I was on my way to see my brother just before Christmas when I stopped at Donington Park Services. While I was reviewing its compendium of value-for-money amenities, and trying to stop my young daughters running riot, I saw the sign above.

Perhaps I just needed a drink, or maybe I've been at this game for too long, but my initial instinctive interpretation of this was that time was being called on alcohol. Is the space of all possible locations really covered by the restriction? Surely that can't be what it is meant to mean?

For a bit of seasonal fun, I set my team and the Cambridge Software Testing Club Meetup this challenge:

In my imaginary world (one where the compendium of value-for-money amenities at motorway services is a good deal larger) Moto have asked you to review their signage. Test this particular sign for them. You have 15 minutes to list questions, comments, interpretations, suggested experiments and so on. 

I've recorded a few of the suggestions in the comments here. Feel free to add more.


  1. Here's a small selection of our responses:

    * What is the motivation for the sign? (Stop drunken behaviour? Stop drink driving? Legal requirement? ...)
    * Is there an enforcement policy? (Who will enforce? How strictly? With what penalty? With what authority? ...)
    * What is the location/visibility of the sign? (Where is the sign? How large? What is the audience? ...)
    * Definition of "alcohol" (What about shandy, liqueur sweets, medications? ...)
    * Definition of "premises" (This building? The entire site? The parts of the site run by moto? ...)
    * Definition of "or" (Inclusive or exclusive? Could we straddle the doorway and drink legitimately inside AND outside? ...)

    * It is OK smoke crack or do other drugs?
    * It is OK to be drunk on site, even if not drinking on site?
    * There's a restaurant on site and its menu claims it serves alcoholic drinks:
    * Could this be a guerilla sign?

    I found the HICCUPPS mnemonic a useful one to apply here.

  2. Nice little exercise, here are some of my responses, including a piggy vid.

    * This sign only applies to english speaking people/literate people?

    * Is that a bottle on the picture or a cricket bat? Does a bottle necessarily imply alcohol? Is it a water bottle?

    * Are the blind exempt from this sign?

    * Is it ok to behave like you are drunk even if you are not?

    * How long is the sign valid for, is it permanent or temporary?

    * Can i sell or buy alcohol on the premises?

    * Can i carry alcohol on the premises? Unopened or sealed?

    * What if i don't consume the alcohol. Is injecting/absorbing alcohol allowed? Sloshing it around in my mouth without swallowing?

    * What if i drink something that looks and smells like alcohol but is not and vice versa? What if i don't even know that what i am drinking is alcoholic?

    * What if i drink something that is not alcohol but has the exact same effect on the body?

    * What if you are forced to drink alcohol against your will for whatever reason?

    * Is a sign really effective? Do people bother reading them? Do people sort out uninteresting signs from their sensory input? Do ppl who really want to drink care or will they just do it in secret?

    * Is the sign necessary?

    * If i pick up the sign and place it somewhere else is it still valid? Will Moto enforce it?

    * When you say "cannot be consumed" do you mean that the laws of nature will stop you or that it is simply not allowed?

    * What about animals drinking?