[Editor’s note – This article has been updated to reflect changes in the Judge Program’s structure.]
The Judge Program has reached a scale where we need some additional tools to support our values and promote great play experiences. Among those tools, we need a way to ensure a basic level of responsiveness to concerns and openness to feedback. We also need a way for players, organizers, and other members of our community to speak to the Judge Program’s leadership more directly. The Regional Coordinator Advisory Council (RCAC) will have some of this capacity but, in conjunction with the development of the Magic Judge Code, we’ve created another method for you (whoever you are in relation to Magic) to reach out to the Judge Program leadership.
Here it is, the Magic Judge feedback form: http://goo.gl/wj7Zp0
How It Works
Open it up and have a look! The form starts off pretty simply: Read the note, check the box(es) and proceed. We’re here to help, but we’re not lawyers. If you want to be anonymous, say so (and don’t tell us who you are!).
The next page is really the main purpose of the form. Tell us what happened, who was involved, and where you were. This can be an awesome experience with a judge (we hope it is!) or it can be an experience that could have gone a lot better. In either case, you’re providing important information that can lead us to do better in the future.
The last page is where you tell us who you are and how we can use your information.
The information you provide is saved in a shared file, but only members of the Judge Conduct Committee have access to it. Beyond this core group of trusted leaders, you determine who sees the feedback in the “About You” page of the form. We check responses on a regular basis.
In most cases, the form will be most effective when you allow us to forward your feedback to the Regional Coordinator of the judge involved, so he or she can consider recognition or how to address a concern.
What Happens Next
If misconduct is reported through the form, the Judge Conduct Committee will begin its work and assemble the appropriate people to gather more information and proceed. If a Regional Coordinator feels that an issue referred to him or her should be handled by the Committee, they can move forward with that, too.
If you’re interested in telling a judge directly that they’re awesome in a meaningful and specific way, or that you noticed a way he or she could improve somehow, the form lets you do that, too.
Finally, there’s the recognition aspect. The feedback form is one way for a judge to receive praise for a job well done. If a judge impresses you, speak up and let him or her know! If you can’t do it at the event, or think someone higher up should know, here’s your chance.
The Limits of Anonymity
The option to be anonymous in reporting a concern is an important aspect of this system, but it’s still a little tricky. When you check the “I wish to remain anonymous” box on the front page, that’s actually more a reminder to you than it is to us. The only information we have is the information you put in the form. There’s no account sign-in like there is with JudgeApps, and we don’t track the IP addresses of respondents. We don’t have any way of following up beyond what you give us.
That means it’s your responsibility to avoid putting personally identifiable information in the form if you want to remain completely anonymous. We have reminders throughout, but it’s important to be clear: If you’re completing the form and you want to remain anonymous, don’t tell us who you are.
There’s another aspect to anonymity that we need to be clear on here, too. It limits our ability to act in cases of misconduct. When the Judge Conduct Committee is given a case of possible misconduct to resolve, an important part of that process is getting a statement from the judge in question. If the concern is only anonymous and not very specific, that doesn’t leave much room for a judge to give a detailed explanation or statement in their defense. When that happens, the judge in question basically only has two options:
- A general, probably lackluster apology for anything he or she may have done.
- A broad defensive statement outlining every possible instance of minor or perceived misconduct in which he or she may have ever been involved.
Neither of these statements is helpful or productive, and an investigation like this can’t get achieve much.
Your anonymity can be assured in this process, but please use the option carefully. There are other degrees of confidentiality available depending on what you tell us and with whom you let us share that information. It’s also important to reiterate here that the Judge Conduct Committee strongly discourages retaliation, and addresses retaliation very seriously if it does arise.
Other Channels for Feedback
For a while now, members of the Magic community have had a variety of ways to deliver this kind of feedback, and this new form doesn’t change any of those. Anyone can submit a review of a judge in the Judge Center, even players. But few non-judges ever do. We have other new methods and systems, too, like the Regional Coordinators Advisory Council. This doesn’t replace those in any way.
If you don’t feel comfortable using the form (e.g. if your feedback is about a judge who may have access to the form, you do want to be contacted for follow-up, but you don’t want them to see your message directly), you can instead send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org. Those messages are handled on a case-by-case basis, and I expect them to be rare. If you don’t feel comfortable with this method, any other L3 judge can take your feedback and find an appropriate way to raise it with the Committee.
The email@example.com address should also be used if you’re in a region or circumstance where Google Forms are unavailable.
So, that’s the feedback form and how it works. On a personal note, I fervently hope that misconduct is infrequent enough that it’s rarely needed for that kind of reporting, and I hope we’re inundated with awesome kudos for all the wonderful things our community wants to say about its judges. However, when you do need to reach out to us to address a problem or a concern, we’ll be listening. I look forward to hearing from you, no matter what you have to say.
Judge Conduct Committee Chair