I see this as being an all-upside move for a few reasons: it simplifies the workflow of being a judge, it allows for greater customization, and it gives the judge program more control over documents that are important to us.
JudgeApps is the closest thing the judge program has right now to a unified portal. It allows judges to apply for events, participate in the Exemplar program, and discuss rules and policy updates. Sending judges to a totally separate location to enter or read reviews just increased the amount of information a new judge would have to keep track of. The migration of reviews to JudgeApps allows us to point judges to one place to begin their participation in the program.
Reviews on JudgeApps also allows for much greater customization. I’ve joked in the past about how dated the old reviews form was, but even leaving aside technological concerns a major problem with it was that we had no ability to update it. It was forever stuck in the same layout even as attitudes toward feedback evolved and the needs of the judge program changed with level redefinitions and process changes like L3 checklisting. Hosting reviews on JudgeApps allows talented and dedicated developers to make changes to the form in order to improve usability and better serve the needs of the program.
Finally, moving reviews to JudgeApps allows the judge program to take ownership of reviews. With the most recent changes to level definitions, reviews are a required part of advancement to both L2 and L3. That puts reviews on the critical path for judges seeking to advance, but in the past they were always hosted on a Wizards of the Coast server, out of the control of members of the program. At the time I’m writing this article, Judge Center has been down for two months with no indication of when it will be available again. This has made testing new judges extremely difficult. Had Judge Center still been the program’s home for reviews, the downtime could have been even more damaging to the program.
In conclusion, I’m pretty happy with the move of reviews to JudgeApps, and I’m also looking forward to seeing future developments.
On a final note, I regret to say that this post will be my last Feedbag. I’ve enjoyed writing the column over the past year, but increasing demands in my personal and professional life have been reducing my free time to the point that even a once-a-month commitment is starting to weigh on me. I’d like to thank Riki for giving me some space on the blog to ramble on.
I’d also like to recognize the efforts of the editing staff. This blog has multiple talented editors who work hard to improve the quality of all the posts published here. In particular I’d like to recognize Angela Aliff, the person I have worked the most with in my time writing this column. In, addition, to, doing, things, like, making, sure, all, my commas, are, in the, right places, she has provided valuable services such as editing my terrible jokes so they have a chance of amusing someone other than myself.
Finally, thanks to anyone who has enjoyed this column enough to be a reader!