Announcing: The Magic Judge Code

We’re all different, but one of the many things we share is that we have the trust of the Magic: the Gathering player community – locally, nationally, and even internationally. For a long time, we’ve had an unspoken list of things judges “don’t do,” but recently we’ve had some judges ask for something more specific. It seems only fair to create something explicit that’s written down. It seems quite natural as well – we’re a group of rules arbiters, so it makes sense that we desire a specific, well-defined rule set for ourselves.

So that’s what we’ve created: the Magic Judge Code. It’s a written document which represents important aspects of the social contract between Magic judges and the rest of the Magic  community. We’ve tried to consider the expectations of players as well as judges, and we have gotten a lot of input that has led us to where we are now. I say “where we are now” because this is a living document. It will never be exhaustive, it will never be “finished,” and we will always be seeking your input. Your input is very important, as adherence to the Magic Judge Code will be required for all judges.

So how does the Magic Judge Code work? It’s a document that governs behavior, which means that it sets out expectations for behavior as well as consequences for when those expectations aren’t met. I know that sounds a bit spooky, but we don’t expect breaches of the Magic Judge Code to occur frequently. It’s really about clarity and helping judges understand what is and isn’t appropriate in the context of Magic judging. We’re aware that not everything a judge does is done in the context of judging, and the Magic Judge Code was created with that in mind. In fact, the Magic Judge Code was written to avoid setting unreasonable expectations for how judges act outside of Magic and to provide clear expectations to the Magic community at large about what they can expect from us in various contexts.

The current contents of the Magic Judge Code reflect the thoughts of quite a few senior judges (L3+ and RCs) as well as input received during and prior to its creation from judges of all levels and community representatives from around the world. Like any good policy, the Magic Judge Code is representative of how we expect each other to act and what players and other community members expect of us as well. Therefore, it is representative of what you’re likely already doing. Because of this, the Magic Judge Code is unlikely to change what you do in your day-to-day judge life. Like any other set of rules, however, it’s important to internalize it, as some parts of it may be slightly different from your personal expectations or habits.

So that’s the summary – we have some “new rules,” but really a lot of them are old rules we just never wrote down. We think it will be nice for all of us – and for other members of the Magic: the Gathering community – to be able to look at this document and know what kind of behavior is expected of a Magic judge. Thanks for reading, and we hope you’re proud to uphold the Code!

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