This week, The Feedback Loop continues its celebration of 100 posts with your thoughts on feedback. Many thanks to the dozens of judges from around the world who contributed!
If you missed the deadline, it’s not too late to join us. Share up to 100 words about feedback in the comments below!
Erik Aliff, USA-Midatlantic
Feedback in the judge program has been a way for me to look back on the story of both my judge career and the intersections with wonderful judges that I have met along the way. In both reviews I have written and received, I see a story where I have grown as a person (and as a judge) and have made some meaningful friends too. I want to continue to take part in feedback because my story and the story of those around me all grow more beautiful as we invest in each other’s lives.
Riva Arecol, USA-Northeast
Feedback is the lifeblood of a living program like ours, and of Magic itself. We constantly rely on player feedback to evaluate the suitability of rules, the amount of fun people are having while playing with new and old cards alike, and as the most versatile tool in our self-improvement arsenal. Properly planned and given, feedback can prop up failing motivation, reinforce the value of our efforts, or nip bad habits in the bud. Whether self-driven, player-sourced, or just well-timed advice from a colleague, we as judges use every single scrap of feedback we get to build our paths forward.
Paul Baranay, USA-Northeast
To become a great judge, you need the resolve to stop doing negative things, passion to keep doing amazing things, and feedback to know the difference.
Meg Baum, USA-Great Lakes
The most important part of feedback to me is being honest with it. Be diplomatic and constructive, but be real about what you observed and avoid lessening your own feedback by covering it up with pretty falsehoods. At the same time make sure you are being honest about the feedback you receive. When you get feedback you don’t agree with, take a moment and see if there is something to take away, if there is something you can use to make yourself better. Talk to them about it and see if you can figure out the constructive takeaway together.
Adam Blaylock, USA-Southeast
I am always looking for ways to improve myself, and a large part of it is because I can see what a great judge is from those around me. Any time someone can give me direction on where I can improve, or even where I am doing well, pushes me toward being a better judge. Being told where I am doing well builds confidence, and being told where I am weak shows me where to improve. So what does feedback mean to me? It is a path to improvement from people who often can see things I can’t.
Steven Briggs, USA-Central
Maya Angelou once said “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” When providing feedback, you have the opportunity to connect with someone in a shared experience and capture for them facets of the experience they have never seen before. When receiving feedback, you have the opportunity to understand facets of the experience you were not aware of previously. This only happens when both people are rooted in the principles of love, trust, and candor.
At its core, the Judge Program is a system designed to help people. We often think about how judges help players or organizers, but judges also put great effort into helping each other. As a group, we recognize that individual achievement is a function of collective achievements. Our collaboration as a part within the whole is never more tangible than when we give or receive feedback. At its heart, feedback tells the people involved that we believe in someone and expect them to be able to reach greater heights. Feedback reminds giver and receiver that we believe in our family.
Sean Catanese, USA-Northwest
The feedback I received in my first year of judging set my course for the next decade. Toby certified me. J-Mo reviewed me twice. Riki wrote two more – of the twelve(!) he has given me in our years of friendship and mentorship since.
But it’s not just the names and numbers. Every one pushed me to grow and take advantage of every opportunity. Even now they remind me of what I’ve done right and where I’ve fallen short. That feedback and the relationships behind it are what have driven me to ensure the judge program is interested making our game better for everyone involved in it.
Frank Chafe, USA-Northwest
Feedback is the giving and receiving of ideas and viewpoints, based on past experience, to help or further another’s goals and improve on previous performance. Feedback is best given constructively, without opinion or bias, using real examples the subject of the feedback can understand. Feedback is private and the foundation for reviews which are public. Feedback should only be given when asked for or solicited, and most importantly not to be taken lightly. Empathize with the person, and put yourself in their shoes prior to giving it, as it will help you to word and phrase the feedback appropriately to the situation.
Angela Chandler, USA-Southwest
Feedback is critical in understanding exactly what I need to work on and what I need to keep doing right. Critical feedback is actually more important to me than positive. It’s good to have both, but I’ll never know that something needs improving or how to improve without knowing where the issues lie. The entire judge program is built on feedback, how to give it and more importantly, how to receive it. So share feedback often with others and listen carefully when others take the time to give you feedback.
Nicola DiPasquale, USA-Northeast
To me feedback is an important thing, especially in the Judge program. If someone is willing to provide feedback to another judge then it shows that they care about that person, if only professionally. Taking the time to share your feedback with another and helping them grow is vital to what we as judges do, not only that but you grow as a person as well.
Ian Doty, USA-Midatlantic
Feedback is the reason I don’t make the same mistakes I did yesterday. Judging, like life, isn’t a destination but rather a process, and an integral part of that process is learning, especially from others. Feedback means that I don’t miss out on the valuable insights that others have that can potentially develop me as both a judge and a person.
Jess Dunks, USA-Southeast
Respect that feedback is a form of confrontation, and it can be difficult, anxiety-inducing, and even paralyzing for all parties. Remember that if someone wants to improve, they probably want your feedback. If somebody gives you feedback, they probably want you to succeed. Put your ego aside on both sides of feedback. The best feedback is from peers who aren’t afraid to tell me when I need to shape up, even though it would be easier for them to stay quiet and hope maybe someone else will tell me. Associate with peer mentors like that, appreciate them, and emulate them.
Joe Edens, USA-South
Feedback of any kind is a gift. Someone has taken time from their day to give you information to help better you. Sometimes it’s not easy to hear, but that is often times the most rewarding because it gives you something to strive for. Feedback also goes both ways. It doesn’t have to be formal and written either. You can provide a quick bit of feedback any time you are on the floor.
Charles Featherer, USA-Northeast
Do you ever get a song stuck in your head? I often do. The song that tends to get stuck lately in my head is from the show ‘Lamb Chop’s Play Along’. Why? Because of feedback. Feedback is only a step in a larger activity. Feedback is never provided in a vacuum. We’re trained or learn something. We perform an activity that is observed. We’re provided feedback on that activity. And then it starts all over again. Just like that song. You know the one. … This is the song that never ends, it goes on and on my friend! …
Brook Gardner-Durbin, USA - Northwest
The best feedback I’ve received was on Sunday of GP Vegas, as Billy Willy and I were closing down side events. I fought to get the role after the scheduled lead had to leave early, then froze when I saw what we were up against; Billy said ”If you’re going to do this, I need you to do this.” This was simple, clear, and to-the-point: I needed to step up. Despite the lack of frills, it wasn’t cutting me down: I wasn’t humiliated, I was inspired. In twelve words, he told me what was wrong and how to fix it.
George Gavrilita, Italy and Malta
All around us, there are people doing great things. They might even get some compensation for their efforts, but that alone might not be enough to keep them going. For me, this is one of the biggest tragedies of our time: good ideas, projects, activities that end not because they met obstacles, but because everybody was neutral about it. If you think not criticizing is already a favor you’re doing to someone, think again. If you think not going against a certain cause means you’re helping it, realize you can do more. Do care, and show appreciation: don’t be neutral.
Omar Gonzalez Lopez, Hispanic America - North
Feedback Is a tool of improvement, a statement of what one does right, and what should be improved. A crucial part of the development of all judges in every level of the program, for older/higher level judges a way to teach younger ones, for younger ones a way of getting the needed knowledge to become better and more fulfilled judged.
David Hibbs, USA-South
Feedback is a bridge. Sometimes feedback is beautiful; it can be well crafted and appreciated like the Golden Gate Bridge. Other times it is simply rough-hewn and necessary, like a low-water crossing. It can span great distances–reaching what was once unreachable–or it can simply cross a low spot where you might get stuck. When on a solid foundation, it is invaluable; built on sand, it is nearly useless. We all need bridges to get where we are going, or we are forced to take the long way around… or to not reach our destination at all!
Damián Hiller, Hispanic America-South
Feedback to me is all about helping us all improve through the lens of each other: It’s what helps us see what we can do better and what we’re doing great already and giving us the tools to do so. It’s that personal lens which gives each piece of feedback its uniqueness, since we all have different experiences and see things differently, where we put the bar (since we all have different interests and priorities) therefore making each piece of feedback, no matter how long or small, from who to whom different but always relevant and worth paying attention to.
Matt Hoskins, USA-South
Feedback is the cornerstone of community. Its starts with verbal and completes with written. It allows us to exchange thoughts as peers equally invested in individual success and success of the community, local and at-large. It’s a mechanism to share praise and provide thoughts on how we could have done something differently. It allows expression of sentiments ranging from “It’s okay to reach for the ring and not quite grasp it.” To something as simple as “You rock!” It creates a bond of investment between two individuals who are both part of something much greater.
Khanh Le Thien, France
I always say that feedback is simple.
We all believe that it’s useful and important but I think that we are generating a lot of stress on judges when talking about feedback. And many “imperfect” reviews are never published. 🙁
Feedback is just me sharing my feelings over something. “I liked.” “I felt that…” That’s it.
Then we can think together and find why.
Then we can work together and find what we can do.
The first part is the hardest to attempt yet the easiest to do. Get that connection going. Start that discussion. That’s feedback 🙂
Brian Leonard, USA-South
Feedback is an important tool to improve our judging craft. By listening to what others say and incorporating their recommendations into our work, we can help make our events more efficient and fun for players. Having said that, it’s also important to self-analyze and identify your own strengths and areas for improvement. It’s deceptively easy to fall into a rut and keep doing the same things we’ve always done, but by listening to what others say with an open mind and being realistic about our current situation, we can always continue molding ourselves into the best possible versions of us.
Eric Levine, USA - Central
Feedback is kind of like the Quickening from Highlander, but without all the swordfighting. When you get feedback from someone else, you’re learning in minutes what may have taken them multiple events to understand, and that’s powerful – even more so if you pass it on further. Feedback also creates a bond; it brings us back to learn from each other again and to share the results of our new efforts. When these bonds grow, they help us work together to build greater things – things that we couldn’t build alone. When you think about it, it’s what makes us a community.
Megan Linscott, USA-Northeast
I’ve often been told that feedback grants perspective, and I do think it gives us a unique and valuable opportunity to see ourselves the way that others see us. It can be really difficult to have a fair view of yourself and impossible to have an unbiased one. The same way your view of your physical appearance may be skewed by always seeing yourself backwards in a mirror, your view of your own actions can be skewed by the context of your intentions, motivations, and insecurities. When someone gives you feedback, they won’t have that same context and their view will be different. They won’t have the whole picture, either, but between the two of you, you can piece something together that’s closer to whole. to help you grow, and that’s really the most important thing.
Nicolau Maldonado, Brazil
One day, after head judging my first big competitive event, I realized: feedback matters. A review I recieved some weeks earlier prevented a trainwreck. Ever since, I became hooked. Feedback is a fundamental part of the Judge Program because we don’t have exterior teachers teaching us how to judge. We teach ourselves, we learn from ourselves. I have been in both roles, many times simultaneously, and have grown through it. Without feedback, I would be pretty close to the judge – and person – I was 5 years ago.
Matt Marheine, USA-Northwest
Feedback needs to be actionable. Usually, that means specificity. Tell someone they did a good job running an event all you want, but don’t stop there. Make it obvious exactly what it is they did that made the event run well. Or, on the flip side, tell them what they did wrong that made it a worse event. Don’t sugar-coat criticism, that makes it too likely to be misconstrued or not “heard”. Be clear about what your message is, the sooner your subject can understand your message the sooner they’ll be able to act on it.
Gilbert Medieros, USA-Northeast
In both my real life and judge life I have made almost every mistake in the book. Feedback, in both the positive and negative connotations has caused me to progress to where I am today. My mentors in the Judge program have taken time out of their days/lives to give me their honest advice about how I can improve and for that I am eternally grateful. Feedback is the driving force in the judge program that causes us to provide a better play experience to our players and the organizers who utilize us.
Vinicius Quaiato, Brazil
I like to think on Feedback as a vital force that helps us to understand we’re not alone: we’re surrounded by amazing people that care about us. It’s like without feedback we’re floating in emptiness, the “feedbackless“ vacuum. Everyt ime we give and/or receive it, the feedback’s little seed blossom, helps to pull us to the a fertile ground, giving us nutrients to grow, develop and better relate with others. It is the vital force that establish us as a group: individuals that care about others, relates with other, and thrive to work the better as possible, together.
Eliana Rabinowitz, USA-Southwest
Feedback means that someone is invested in my success and in helping me be a better judge. It gives me valuable insight into what I am doing well and what aspects of my judging I should be working on.
Huanjie Seow, Southeast Asia
The Judge Program isn’t just about enforcing fair play and rules of MTG but also the soft skills required to interaction with a diverse community. Receiving and giving effective feedback has always been a core approach of the program. With so many different cultures and norms in our community, a diverse set of evaluation is valuable for us to improve ourselves to be better leaders of the community. Leaders who take the charge in making the game inclusive for all. Feedback is the tool for us to utilize to build a program of leaders who champion inclusiveness within the community.
Jake Smith, USA-Southeast
Feedback to me is a gauge on how I have performed. It directly impacts how I will perform in the future. It drives me to improve areas that I am weak in and reinforce areas that I am strong in. Feedback Lets me know what direction I am headed and where I have been. Feedback is a tool that I use to help other judges and I love it when they use this tool to help me. Without feedback we judge aimlessly only improving through chance, without guidance.
Jeremy Smith, USA-Northeast
To teach and to learn: Two main goals I take with me to every Magic event. Giving and receiving feedback with others at events helps exponentially in striving toward those goals. It’s easy to go on autopilot and simply deal with round-by-round tournament mechanics and the rulings of the day. But when someone explains to me a new angle on customer service philosophy, or I show another judge a clearer way to speak to an audience? Those are lessons that can be taken to future events, and often outside them as well. And that’s knowledge that can last a lifetime.
Jared Sylva, USA-Midatlantic
Successful feedback is about respect. Respect for the person you are giving feedback to, respect for the person that you are receiving it from, and respect for the judging community. Without respect, it’s terrifically difficult to benefit from feedback.
André Tepedino, Brazil
Feedback is something that not only helps us to be better; it makes us strive to be better. To me, giving feedback means that you care for what the receiving person is doing, and how you want them to be better and succeed. With every feedback, we also send a part of our best wishes so that they can receive more than just an information, but a parcel of our feelings and wishes for success. Feedback helped me to get where I am, and it is something we should constantly share among people.
Sydney Townley, USA-South
Receiving feedback is like being given a gift of insight into a future you- receiving it has a huge impact on your future behaviors, goals and values, whether you are conscious of it or not. Every reaction we get throughout our lives is feedback- from small scale interactions with your judges on the floor of a PPTQ, to a large scale interaction with a group of players in your event at a Grand Prix. I believe taking the time to talk to someone and give them critiques on their performance helps to set them up for success in their future.
Jeff Zandi, USA-South
Being a Magic judge is the weirdest job in the world. People outside of the game have absolutely no idea what we do. Players have only slightly more understanding. Trying to explain to someone why I judge can often be like explaining human reproduction to a five-year-old. “You see, when someone loves Magic: the Gathering very, very much…” The Feedback Loop gives us the opportunity to learn from other judges. It’s a comfortable place for us to expand our knowledge. It’s like a cold drink and a fresh pair of shoes in the middle of a long day of judging.
Antonio Zanutto, Brazil
Giving feedback to other judges is the ultimate tool for self-improvement. When you stop to type up your notes after an event and write someone a review, you get immersed in a reflexive process and you start to think of ways this person can do better. By trying to help others improve, you do research, analysis and thinking, and you end up improving yourself as well. Remember, you retain up to 90% of knowledge when you teach others.