As promised last article, today we are going to talk about foils and the Exemplar program. This is a bit of a departure from what we have normally done because we haven’t really discussed the relationship between foils and the Exemplar program before.
The first thing we need to realize is that there are different types of foils. Aluminum foil is the most well-known due to its versatility in the home. Tin foil is another popular type, but has recently fallen out of popularity in favor for Aluminum. Gold leaf, despite not having foil in the name, is also a type of foil used in decorating…
Oh, not that type of foil? Sure. The foil, along with the saber and the epee make up the weapons used in fencing. The foil itself can be electric or non-electric, also called “dry”. Wait, this isn’t right either.
When talking fluid dynamics a foil is any solid object that when placed in a moving fluid….
Hrm. Maybe I should get to the point. You want to be serious and I am being silly. Perhaps I am your foil!
In today’s post we are going to be talking about the Judge Foils. While the Exemplar program itself is not about foils, we can’t deny that it is one of the methods of foil distribution. That distribution mechanism is what I’ll be shedding some light on today. Wizards has given the Exemplar team control over how the foils are distributed, which lets us be more transparent on how the process works and answer more questions. I’m going to pull back most of the curtain and talk about some of the nuts and bolts of foils.
The high level summary is: Wizards determines what cards comprise a wave, we collaborate on the total quantity that can be supported. The the Exemplar program determines the distribution based on those parameters. The foils are then sent to your Regional Coordinator for distribution to the recipients.
But you want to know more, don’t you?
Before I get started, I want to highlight that while I’m presenting this story as a linear narrative; it wasn’t. There was actually a fair amount of iteration here. We would start down a path, see that it doesn’t lead to a good place, and then go back up to the top and try a new path.
Going forward foil distribution will be comprised of a series of “packs”. Each pack is identical and will contain four cards; two new cards and two older cards from a previous Exemplar wave. Cards introduced in an Exemplar wave will eventually rotate into the conference foils packs several months later. This way, if you aren’t nominated in a particular wave you will still have an opportunity to acquire these cards by participating in your regional conferences.
It is possible for nominees to receive up to 4 packs per wave based on criteria determined by the Exemplar Program; and as a bonus, I’m going to go into that criteria for wave 3! Before we begin, I want to emphasis that the criteria used below will change for Wave 4. By publishing this criteria, and showing what went into the decision, we are going to have to alter it with each wave in order to minimize abuse. Additionally with Wave 4 having so many additional slots, it’s going to necessitate a change anyway. Despite these changes, we felt it was important for the Judge Community to get at least a glimpse of what goes into the decision making process.
The Exemplar program discussed and established a desired range of foils with Wizards (no less than X, no more than Y). We can’t be too greedy as we do need to hold some back for conferences and future Exemplar waves. We also don’t want to release too few, as that creates a different set of problems. We also set up the tier system, where each tier equates to one of the packs.
The next thing we did was to establish a desired profile of the tier distribution. It roughly looks like a bell curve shifted to the left. In this curve, 85 percent of the nominated judges would get 1-2 packs, and the remaining 15 percent would get 3 or 4. Additionally we wanted there to be more judges in tier 2 than in tier 1. In math-nerd terms, we wanted the median and the mode to both be 2.
At this point we had to decide how to allocate the tiers to individuals. There was a fair amount of trial and error here. Try something, see if it meets the profile, watch it fail, question the profile; rinse/wash/repeat. The most natural method we discovered was to use the number of nominations. Tier 1 was worth a certain range of nominations, tier 2 required a bit more, tiers 3 and 4 required even more. We were nearly able to get the profile we wanted by tweaking by changing the range of nominations associated with each tier. There was a problem though. While tier 1 and tier 2 made up 85% of the nominations, even setting tier 1 at a single nomination, tier 1 was too large. Allocating 1 pack to those in tier 1 would have sent less foils out to judges, whereas sending 2 packs to all of them would be more than we had. We wanted to distribute as many foils as possible, so we had to figure out some way to split tier 1 up and bump some judges up to tier 2. We looked at different options, with some very off the wall suggestions, we even tossed out this idea and explored other means. Ultimately we returned to using the number of nominations received and introduced one additional factor for this wave: the level of the nominator. HLJs and L3s are expected to see the wider impacts of what occurs at events and within their communities. This broader scope can lead to those judges having their attention pulled in many directions. This complexity can make it more difficult for an individual to stand out. For this wave, we decided to elevate those who captured that type of recognition. This solution additionally has the advantage that 90% of the impacted judges were L1s or L2s.
Will we use this method in Wave 4? I don’t think so. Wave 4 is significantly different from Wave 3 and will require different tools, but the method is in the toolbox if needed again.
While exploring other possibilities, we did encounter an interesting fact I wanted to share. We briefly considered using “First Time” status as the delimiter. While we didn’t use it, this gave us some interesting information. About 650 judges were getting their first nomination ever on this wave, which is right around half of the total nominees. This made us look into other data. We found out that in the 12 months, there were close to 1150 unique judges listed on staff for GPs, who would have received foils under the old system. Wave 3, on the other hand, reached 1302 unique judges, meaning that in just one wave, Exemplar reached 13% more judges in one wave than a whole year of record-breaking GPs. If you stop and consider that, its a pretty powerful statement about the breadth of the program.
Now, I’m sure many of you are interested in knowing more about Wave 3, since it closed a while ago. We had some logistical issues, which were to be expected, given that there was a big change in the process. I’ve got good news, though. The packs have been mailed to the Regional Coordinators and they have already begun distributing the foils in person or via the mail already. They have the necessary information and will be working through the lists; Please do not flood their inboxes right away, but contact them if there is a problem. Hopefully in a few weeks most nominated judges will get their hands on these cool new shinies!
Excited? So are we! Now that you’re so enthusiastic about the Rishadan Port, I’d like to remind you that Wave 4 is still open and taking nominations, and each wave debuts new foils. If there’s anyone that has impressed you, please head over to the recognitions section of Judge Apps and start writing those nominations. Remember, the deadline for Wave 4 is midnight PST on January 31st.