Redefinitions and Imbalances

It’s been an interesting few weeks, to say the least.

A little over two weeks ago, the judge program announced a significant restructuring. I’m incredibly happy with the changes. I think the changes to Level 3 are fantastic, but I’m also very excited by the messaging shift with the level structure. Previously, your judge level served a multitude of functions: it indicated both your scope in the program (e.g. local store, a couple stores, a region, the whole program) and a baseline of expected rules/tournament knowledge. But since we only had a single number to express both axes, we had many judges whose level was a mismatch in one dimension or another.

Now, judge level only indicates the types of events you’re guaranteed to be qualified to judge. I sincerely hope this removes some of the stigma we’ve seen attached to L1, like when L1 judges who exhibit exceptional leadership at the local level were often asked, “Why aren’t you L2 yet?” Time will tell, but I believe the future is promising.

I’m also very happy with how these changes were rolled out on JudgeApps. One of my goals as JudgeApps’ lead developer is ensuring that JudgeApps always reflects the current reality of the judge program. I feel that the JudgeApps team exceeded expectations in that regard by launching our Roles system within just a couple days of the redefinition’s formal announcement. Of course, we can still do better — the ideal case would have been to go live simultaneously, and there’s still a couple more kinks to work out. Nonetheless, I believe this represents a great foundation for the future. As always, huge thanks to Tom Kunc for spearheading this initiative.

As another aside, I was blown away by just how many people wanted to view the blog post announcing the changes (which was linked on both the Wizards Mothership and Reddit). Unfortunately, our server was hit pretty hard by the Reddit Hug of Death Love. So Joel, Lems, a few other devs, and I started an emergency brainstorming session for getting things back to normal. We eventually hit on the idea of redirecting visitors to the blog post with a flat HTML page, scrambled a bit to get that working, and voila! Like flipping a switch, the blogs were accessible again. Although emergencies are never fun, it was nonetheless really cool to work with such a great group of people to come up with a solution (with each of us contributing various pieces) and implement it on a short timeframe.

As for the other big announcements in the Magic world lately, I have little to say that hasn’t already been addressed elsewhere. I am happy that Wizards reversed the changes to Platinum appearance fees for the 2016-2017 season. I can’t help but feel a bit sorry for Steve Rubin and the other Top 8 competitors, whose accomplishments were largely overshadowed by the furor over the Platinum changes.

If I could pick a single word to describe my experiences over the past few weeks, it would be imbalanced. You’ve likely noticed that I missed several Bearz Repeating updates in a row. Some of this has been a shift in priorities — I’ve been focusing a lot of my time on JudgeApps — but fundamentally, it’s because I let myself believe the excuse that I didn’t have time for it.

In actuality, no one ever has time; you make time.

That being said, taking a couple weeks off (unscheduled though it might have been) has been very helpful — both for my work-life balance and for my emotions about the blog itself. While I still believe that discipline is more important than inspiration, I feel quite excited about getting back to writing, and that’s important too.

Thanks for bearing with me during my absence, and I’ll see you next week.