The Magic Judge Exemplar Program

Earlier today, Andy announced the Magic Judge Exemplar Program.  This program is months upon months in the making, with many of the most vested minds in the program working on it, and I’m really excited to share more information with you about it.

What is it?

The Exemplar Program is a peer-to-peer recognition system that certified Magic Judges can utilize to recognize those judges who’ve been truly outstanding or inspiring.  During the program’s initial rollout, we’ll be asking Level 3+ judges to let us know which judges they’d like to recognize, but plan to extend this to all Level 2+ judges by 2015.

By now, most of you have probably seen similar recognitions go out from L4+. We’re really happy to expand this ability to recognize outstanding peers to even more judges around the World.

How will it work?

Periodically, we’ll open up the ability for Level 2+ judges to recognize some outstanding members of the community.  The maximum number of judges they can recognize will vary by their level and role within the program.  Senior judges (L4+ and Regional Coordinators) will review them.  That data will be shipped off to Wizards so they can send out some ‘congratulations’, and we’ll also publish these recognitions to the whole program can see who’s been exemplary lately. 🙂

In order to recognize a judge, you’ll just need to let us know who was awesome, and write a couple short sentences about what makes them so awesome. (This is not a novel, not a full-fledged ‘review’ – just a few sentences, and in the language of your choice.)

What can judges recognize other judges for?

We’ll have some much more thorough guidelines later, but for now, just realize that there are LOTS of different things you might choose to recognize another judge for.  Ultimately, we’re asking our Level 2+ Judges who made a great contribution to the Magic community.  This could come in the form of running great events, or helping judges or players in other ways, including both face-to-face and online.

Below are just a few examples of some of the things we’ll likely see judges getting recognized for:

  • Was there a judge who really went above and beyond in mentoring you?  Maybe they took time out of their busy lives to teach you rules and policies. Maybe they wrote an incredibly helpful Judge Center review of you that gave you some solid action items.
  • Did you see a perform awesomely at an event?  Maybe it was the Head Judge of a PTQ or GPT who did a smashing job: running a smooth event and helping all the players and judges have a blast.
  • Did a judge write one or more articles or blog posts that you found incredibly helpful or enlightening?
  • Are you working on a project with another judge, and you’ve seen that judge really pull it together and inspire the rest of the team to do a better job?
  • Were you part of a team at a Grand Prix where your Team Leader was the best damn team leader you ever saw, who really made your weekend something amazing?
  • Have you observed a judge spend his or her limited free time mentoring other judge candidates online or at the local store?


Why is Lems so excited about it?

Distributed Abilities to Recognize

We’ve been doing some L4+ and RC-driven recognitions for a while, but the fact of the matter is that we need more help in identifying who’s out there doing awesome stuff!  There are now over 5,000 of us out there serving Magic communities!  By letting L2+ get in on the action, we’ll have people spread all around the World to help recognize our deserving judges.

Share the Love

While there were lots of benefits in using Grand Prix events as the primary method to distribute judge foils, it ultimately put a lot of the foils into the hands of a relatively small group of judges.  The Exemplar Program aims to significantly increase the number of judges who receive judge foils – no Grand Prix required!

The Community Can Decide What it Values

This is the biggest selling point for me.  Up until now, with recognitions being done by a small number of people “at the top”, it was very difficult to determine what specific behaviors we wanted to recognize.  Now, we can let the community determine for itself what it values.

  • If the community decides that it values outstanding performance at events, the members of the community can choose to recognize those judges who excelled at events.
  • If the community puts a high value on written articles or blog posts, we can now choose to recognize the judges taking the time to share their knowledge and thoughts with us.
  • Some judges put a lot of weight into written reviews. Those who do so may choose to recognize someone who wrote an insightful review of them, putting them on the path towards growth as a judge.
  • It still promotes doing a lot of actual judging.  We’ve talked a lot about various community components here, but remember that events are still going to be a core place to interact with, and make an impact on, your fellow judges.

But isn’t this a popularity contest?

First of all, no – it’s really not.  We aren’t asking the program to ‘vote’ on a Judge King or Queen.  This is giving each L2+ judge the ability to recognize someone that made an impact on THEM.  It’s a personal nod of appreciation from one judge to another.

Secondly, would it be so bad if it was?  This isn’t high school, where the popular kids are the ones with rich parents and the trendiest clothes. ‘Popular’ judges are popular because they’re awesome judges, doing lots of great things, and making an impact on a lot of people.

Just how many foils are we talking about here?

We do have some numbers planned, but we don’t want to release them until we’ve had a chance to pilot test this program with the L3s and make any adjustments from there.  But we’re planning a system where each L2+ judges get to recognize multiple judges, with L3+ judges recognizing significantly more still.   (We’re talking about a lot of foils here.)

In Closing

While we still have lots of information to get out to everyone, I hope this helps explain the Exemplar Program a bit more and answers some of your questions. Again, expect to hear much more about the program as we get closer to launching it.  While this surely doesn’t answer all of them, please keep up the productive discussions you’re having and I’ll continue to address anything that comes up!

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2 Responses to The Magic Judge Exemplar Program

  1. Michael Hall says:

    What should I do if I have absolutely no faith that the system wont either be gamed by small cliques of somewhat ethically ambiguous judges or turn into a high-school-like popularity contest? My current stance is to simply not take part as I don’t tend to take part in programs in which I don’t believe but that feels less than stellar for my local judges, some of whom deserve recognition. The official line seems to be “Both Wizards and the Judge Program have controls in place to flag and address fraudulent or suspicious submissions, which we take seriously.” which also sounds a lot like “Trust us, we know what we’re doing”, one of the least comforting phrases in the english language.

    • lems says:

      “Be the change you want to see in the World.”

      Choosing not to participate in the system, simply because you feel that there might be some people who don’t take it seriously or even abuse it, isn’t going to alter anyone else’s behavior. Being a good example and recognizing the types of judges and activities you’d like to recognize might.

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