We have just finished two Advanced Role selection processes.
Fall 2018 Program Coordinator selection
First of all, we would like to present to you the latest member of the Program Coordinators group: Bryan Prillaman!
Bryan impressed the selection committee with his strong background in projects and insightful analysis of the challenges the program is facing, as well as his ideas on solving these issues. He has worked with the PCs for some time as Exemplar lead and we’re looking forward to continuing and expanding this good working relationship.
The selection process included two steps: step 1 with essay questions that were the same for all candidates (answers are published here) and step 2 with non-public questions customized for each candidate. The answers were evaluated and scored by the selection committee. The highest and lowest scores for each question were removed, and the scores were then averaged to rank the candidates.
Here is the selection committee:
Bryan suggested that he answer the questions from the recent PC Q&A as part of this announcement. Here are his answers (click below to see them).Q&A with Bryan
When Johanna asked me to write up a brief introduction, after staring at a blank page for a bit, I volunteered something a bit more ambitious. Last month the PCs held a Q&A where they took questions from the community and provided their own personalized answers. I really liked this idea, and is something I’d like to see more of. As such, I felt it would be a fun idea to start my term as PC by providing my own answers to those questions. This should be seen as an addendum to the PCs Q&A post, as opposed to a standalone blog, as I reference things they said, and point to some of their answers.
Also, I probably should have counted the number of questions before I volunteered this. I haven’t even officially started the job yet and I’m already making mistakes! This bodes well.
After the not so recent changes numbers have shown that, in pretty much in every region, less recognitions are submitted through the Exemplar Program. What are the future plans for Exemplar? Did you expect that the participation would drop that much and are there plans to encourage judges to get numbers back where they were before?
Bryan: When this question was first asked to the PCs, I already had a draft blog post up to address it. I had promised a retrospective and I had enough information to provide it.
With the Wave 15 Opens announcement three weeks ago, I also included some information which I think answers your question. You can find that here: https://blogs.magicjudges.org/exemplar/wave-15-opens/.
With regard to Exemplar’s future, Exemplar is a large boat to steer, there are a lot of moving parts, and we operate quarterly. This means that changes from wave to wave tend to be small, and large changes have to be planned over several waves. Right now, we don’t have large changes planned. Most of the upcoming changes are small. With the introduction of Tokens, and Vanguard, we drastically modified how we do some stuff, and now we are working on iterating and improving, and getting that timeline back under control before taking on different work.
One thing I’ve wanted to do for a while is a program wide “You make the call” type survey. Where we put the program into the role of the Exemplar Team, and see how they evaluate nominations. That is perpetually on my “To Do” list.
Do you see any path towards professionalizing the structure of the judge program? It seems to me that, while judges are compensated by TOs for the work we do at events, there is a vast amount of administrative work done behind the scenes which is uncompensated–by the PCs, JCC, PIC, Exemplar team, L3 panels and PEIs, and Judge Apps devs, just to name some of the more prominent ones. Do you think there is merit in the idea of transitioning to a more professional structure, with salaried positions (probably part-time) for those who dedicate so much time to the program itself? If so, do you think there is any way this could feasibly be implemented?
Bryan: When I became a judge 8 years ago, the Judge Program was advertised as a volunteer program. Judges were volunteers who enjoyed the game differently than players. You volunteered for events, to mentor people, to run a facebook group. Over time that perception shifted for me. The program was still a volunteer program, but the events were a job. The volunteer aspect of the program shifted to what took place between events. Mentoring L1s, writing articles, PIC, JCC, Judge of the Week blog, running the twitter account, Magic Judge Monthly and dozens if not hundreds of other activities that judges do every week.
I’d love to see the Program in a position where people were compensated for the work they do between events, complete with a fully flushed out professional support infrastructure. I don’t think it’s feasible though. By the time you add up all the different types of costs necessary to make that happen, and consider where that money would have to come from, and who would bear the burden of that cost, the idea quickly starts to lose its momentum.
Currently and ultimately, I think enthusiasm is the real currency of the program. That’s what we run on, and when individuals lose that, we are poorer for it. By recognizing and encouraging even the small stuff, and offering guidance when things aren’t going so well, we will be better for it, and see more people willing to help with the less glamorous administrative tasks.
Is there any way that the judge program’s leadership structure could be made more transparent and accountable? While the selection processes currently in place for PCs, RCs and GPHJs are certainly a great deal more transparent than the process for selecting L4s and L5s a few years ago, I think there is still room for improvement, as the processes are still largely a top-down model, with little input from the grass roots as it were. To give a few examples, in my ideal world I would like to see L2s (at least) given a voice in PC selection, and be eligible for the PIC and JCC. I would like to see judges of all levels in a region be given a voice in the selection of the region’s RC. I would like to see a formal mechanism implemented whereby judges in leadership positions could be subject to a recall vote to remove them from office if they make sufficiently unpopular decisions, thereby making them truly accountable to those whom they serve. I would like to see detailed minutes taken of any meeting of judge leadership (including voting records where any decision is taken by vote) and published so that any judge can review them. While I very much appreciate the efforts already being made (such as this Q&A), it seems to me that, with a few obvious exceptions like the PIC and JCC, the program could still be made a great deal more transparent at the higher levels.
Bryan: There’s a lot to unpack in this question and probably could be a blog post all itself. I think we, as a program, are making improvements with respect to transparency, but the rate of change seems slow. The various selection committees iterate and improve with each cycle. But the cycles are 6 to 12 months apart.
A “recent” example in the PC selection process, that is only 8 months old, is that the candidate names are released. Previously they hadn’t been. This was done, in a large part to give all judges an opportunity to contact the committee and show support or express concerns about a candidate. This past wave, the same was done for the RC selection process. It’s not the same as a vote, but it is a voice.
The idea of minutes from the leadership meetings is a good idea, and something relatively straightforward to implement.
For handling an Advanced Role that is underperforming, but not in a way that violates the Code of Conduct, those discussions have been going around for a while. Things are improving. Slowly. (Seems to be a theme here) RCs used to be “RC for life”. Their position used to auto-renew. L4s and L5s were also a role “for life”. Now RCs have explicit durations of 2 years, and PCs have a duration of 18 months. Both roles have to re-apply and be reevaluated and compete. L2s can apply for RC. The program has added an RC Lead role to help and mentor RCs that might not be fulfilling their obligations.
So ultimately, I believe things are heading in a more open direction. But it is going to be an iterative process.
Following on from Robert on the themes of transparency and accountability, how to you address the concerns from some quarters of the judge programme that some critical decisions affecting the whole programme are made in isolation by a small number of senior judges – who seem increasingly disconnected from the reality of day-to-day judging at lower levels – without engagement/consultation with the majority of those likely to be affected?
Bryan: I don’t believe senior judges as a group, are disconnected from the reality of day-to-day judging at lower levels. With various FB groups, Slacks, Discord servers, forums, judges of all levels are increasingly connected. I do think it feels as though they are disconnected. There is, on average forty-five L1/L2 Judges for each L3. Thats a lot of bodies, and it’s easy to not see the interactions that take place between them.
I really enjoyed the recent publication of the applications for the new class of PCs. Is there an option to make past such applications public? Personally, I’d love to see more about the applicants, their thoughts on the program and the issues it is/was facing, etc. (I can also volunteer to help with formatting them in a blog post, if the option exists.)
Bryan: At the time applications were submitted, the candidates were told the applications would only be shared with the selection committee, so I don’t support their release without the consent of the author.. If the individual candidates want to release their applications, go for it! I won’t be doing that. This was the third time I applied as PC, and in retrospect, my first application was embarrassingly bad…and I think my second one had some profanity in it.
Is there a process for “evaluation” of a PC at the end of their term? I’m fairly certain that they get feedback on the day-to-day activities, but I mean a more general review of their whole work in the position. Of course, this does not need to be public, but knowing that someone is taking a longer look at the performance of people would be encouraging.
Bryan: Alfonso is the only PC to actually apply a second time for this job, so we almost need the reverse: An outbrief when a PC chooses not to re-apply to find out why people don’t want to stick around longer.
In the PC Q&A, the CJ said that work on an evaluation will begin prior to the next selection committee assembles. And really that makes sense. If a PC reapplies you want how they did to factor into the selection process.
What happens if the selection committee is not unanimous / has a hard time reaching a decision? Do people vote in the end, or is there a different method of reaching a compromise?
Bryan: The first thing I did after reading this question was shout: ‘Alexa! Play Mortal Kombat Theme from Spotify”
But seriously, they vote. I also now have a playlist for the rest of these questions.
What are the reasons for having “Sphere Allocations” of Judge promo cards not public? Is it because there is a concern about disclosing some confidential information? I would personally love to see those recognitions in a similar way as Exemplar recognitions. Alternatively, in case there are some strong reasons to have a Sphere recognition private, would it be possible to offer to the recognizing judge a simple yes/no choice to make the recognition public or private?
Bryan: As a new PC, I’ll defer to the answer already provided. As far as sharing the recognition text goes, suggestions for improvements to the PC Sphere Allocation process have frequently come to me, as people assumed I ran both. (Spoilers:I don’t). Being able to share recognitions via Judgeapps hasn’t been a request I’ve seen. I have seen a few people share on social media, so that avenue exists if there is a desire to share.
Following on Robert Hinrichsen’s first question, would it be possible to outline what would need to happen in the Program (and in the interface between the Program and WotC) in order to switch the inner driving economic dynamics from grey economy towards more clean and transparent ways?
Bryan: CJ nailed it with his answer in the original PC Q&A. I’m in near complete agreement with him.
What is your opinion on the future of high level organized play with regards to “digitisation”? Do you think it is likely that tournaments of the highest level (PTs? Worlds?) will at least partially switch into digital, for example will be run in Magic Arena? Honestly, although running a digital tournament has it own challenges, it also has some positive aspects: cheating strategies that we can experience in tournaments with physical cards are completely impossible (card manipulation, counterfeit cards, decklist issues…) and broadcasting the tournament is much more convenient (and meaningful also for broader audience that can finally see/read the cards in the game, including a simple replay etc.)
Bryan: BASELESS SPECULATION TIME!!! (Still listening to the Mortal Kombat Soundtrack)
There is going to be a push with regard to digitalization. From a business standpoint, it just makes sense. Some sort of large events will use Arena (a GP, a PT, something entirely new). I don’t think paper Magic is going away, but the Program will need to shift in some ways to accommodate this brave new world. We run events, and a digital event is still an event, it just looks differently, and we will need to adapt our skill sets to meet that new demand.
Will we ever get an Asian Program Coordinator? A lot of the stuff happening from the program leadership has always been focusing on the individual, no doubt from the individualistic culture of western cultures. When I read the applications of the PCs here, all I felt was very strong individuals selling themselves. Wouldn’t it be a great if we have an Asian PC whose background is that of collectivism to not only provide a greater diversity of ideas into the leadership but also look into ways to bring the community closer?
Bryan: My answers to the phase 1 questions were posted. Here is part of one of my answers to a Phase 2 Question:
“Another thing to consider, is change slightly how the PC selection process works. Right now, people are evaluated as individuals in this process, and they get in based on the strength of their past work history and what they bring. You are selecting the best choice based on the individual. I think the PCs should look at what they already have when factoring in who the best choice is. If they have a candidate that’s great at communication, and you already have two great communicators, maybe that skill shouldn’t be ranked as highly. If the team is lacking a ‘salesperson’, then someone with those skills might be favored more. Factor in past working relationships with members of the team. Have the skills complement each other. The goal here is that you are more likely to create a team this way, than when you just pick the 4 or 5 best individual choices.”
While not specifically talking about a specific Geo-Region, I do think that candidates that bring unique skills/perspectives should have that valued in the process higher than a candidate that brings skills the team already has in abundance.
For the past 8 months or so, GPs – a staple competitive event for L2s and many L3s – have been run solely by CFBE. I only hear bits here and there, but how has this change affected the judge program as a whole considering work procedures, selection process (amount and quality), compensation method, and so on?
Bryan: I think the other PCs had a lot of good answers and a lot of good insights into what’s changing with GPs, and I don’t want to repeat what they already said. But, I do want to stress something though. Johanna mentioned that GP applications were a bit lower than before CFBE, and Alfonso mentioned that judges were being staff for non-Judge role. This is a good thing for judges looking to get a foot in the door and make a name for yourself. It’s also important that you make sure that you use that opportunity to impress. I’ve often said that each event you work is an application for the next event. With CFBE making the selections each GP, any reputation you earn carries forward. This applies for judges of all levels, not just L1s.
As far as compensation goes, CFBE recently posted a new compensation model for GP:Oakland. I’ve seen mixed reactions. Some think its great, others think its awful. That probably means it’s fair.
There have been several instances of senior judges who blatantly and repeatedly disrespect their peers and have demonstrated no interest in course correction, particularly when it comes to gender identity. These instances have often been reported to leadership, but seldom seem to be acted upon or responded to, and worse yet, the people whom these complaints are levied against are repeatedly being promoted.
Are the PCs aware of these sorts of issues? If so, why aren’t the complainants believed over the people who are ultimately promoted in spite of the complaint? If not, where do you think your blindspot lies, and how would you propose correcting it?
While we’re on the subject of gender identity and white-hot nuclear posts: while gender is conceptually already covered in the IPG under Unsporting Conduct – Major, there is a glaring hole in the USC policy block that many trans individuals can fall through, especially as they undergo transition…names and pronouns. At present, neither of these things seems to be interpreted in any serious way under the USC guidelines, even though most trans individuals would agree that being misgendered is in fact disruptive to their tournament participation(USC-Minor), and being “deadnamed” (that is, addressed by an old personal name after explicitly and often repeatedly telling people their new post-transition one) can feel directly harassing and/or threatening (USC-Major). Combined with all of this, the USC guidelines specifically state that people’s actions do not require malice for them to fall afoul of these guidelines.
I would like to hear the PCs thoughts/assessment on this matter, and to appeal to have additional examples that explicitly illustrate these behaviors in order to reinforce to both judges and the Magic community at large that this is a serious matter to be vigilant about, and not simply paid lip service through the broad-strokes definition of “gender” in USC-Major.
Bryan: So, in part of this, I’m going to cheat a bit and claim “New PC Ignorance”. I’m not directly aware of what the PCs have or have not been aware of in the past. For the brief period of time that I have been plugged into PC stuff, I know they are aware of the resolution of JCC cases that result in a suspension. But the JCC determines no action, or a warning letter is appropriate, it’s not on their radar. I also know that they are occasionally directly sent emails from judges with concerns, but I haven’t yet had an opportunity to raid the archives.
So, if you have an active concern, please let the JCC know. If you are more comfortable reporting it to your RC or PC, please, let us know. If the person is up for an Advanced Role selection, send an email to the selection committee. Currently PC and RC applicant lists are published, in part, to give judges the opportunity to raise concerns to the selection committee of things they might not be aware of. You have multiple avenues available to you.
As far your other point. I think USC-Major already covers intentionally and deliberately deadnaming a person, both in the definition and the philosophy behind it. USC Minor/Major infractions are intentionally ‘broad strokes’ definitions, but I don’t see an additional example in the MIPG as an unreasonable request.
Hope you enjoyed my answers at least twice as much as I enjoyed writing them, and at least half as much as I enjoyed the Mortal Kombat theme music.
Grand Prix Head Judge Lead selection
We have also finished selecting a Grand Prix Head Judge Lead. This is the first time the role was open for applications, and we used a process that was similar to the most recent Regional Coordinator Lead selection process. The candidates were required to answer essay questions, and a selection committee provided an analysis of the answers to the entire Grand Prix Head Judge group. The GPHJs were then able to vote for their preferred Lead candidate.
Kevin Desprez, who has served in the role since it was first created, was voted to continue in the role for another two year term. The process generated a good amount of feedback and development ideas for the role.
Here is the selection committee:
Congratulations to both Bryan and Kevin and thank you to the selection committees for their contributions!
Feedback about Advanced Role selection processes is always welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.