Quite often someone will bring me a concern they have about a review, something that is keeping them from submitting it and providing their feedback. For my first contribution to The Feedback Loop in 2018, I’ve decided that I want to take some time to address some misconceptions and drop some knowledge bombs to help clear the air and get some people’s pens moving.
“Who can read reviews?”
That’s a good question, in fact the one I received the most while doing some research for this post. I reached out to Paul Baranay and Dan Collins from the JudgeApps development team to understand the visibility of reviews on JudgeApps.
As of writing this the following people can read a review and its comments:
- The review’s author and recipient.
- The Regional Coordinator(s) of the author and recipient.
- Anyone the author or recipient has shared reviews with.
Additionally, as part of the L3 advancement process a small subset of users can create Review Shares: the L3 Testing Manager, the Verification Committee Lead, and the Pre-Event Interview Lead. If any of them set up a Review Share, the affected user would see a record here.
On top of that, all of this only applies to submitted reviews; drafts are still private. Some JudgeApps Administrators technically have the ability to access any review, but don’t do so unless they are debugging.
Not knowing who could be reading your feedback can create insecurity, especially a fear that people could be reading your reviews and thinking badly of you. As you can see above, the people who can read your reviews are people that will be invested in your success or the success of your recipient. Even a review of purely constructive criticism is something your recipient’s Regional Coordinator can use to help make them a better judge.
“What if I don’t have enough content for a review?”
Well, there are really a few issues to address here. The one I’ve heard the most is that you should have both praise and constructive criticism in your review. While both kinds of feedback have merit, the most effective kind of feedback is one that fits its audience. Communicating your ideas effectively is more important than adhering to a specific format.
In our old “three box” system we had three set categories, “Strengths,” “Areas for Improvement,” and “Comments.” In reality these were really just suggestions, but the page always had them and they couldn’t be left blank. As a result our default in JudgeApps uses the same boxes, but with much more flexibility. You can add customized sections, or you can delete sections altogether. You can tailor the format of your review to meet your needs. Suddenly you aren’t having to use boxes you don’t need or want! Breaking away from the three boxes gives you the freedom to find your own voice.
I have also had people tell me they didn’t see enough to write a review. Have you heard of Flash Feedback? A review doesn’t have to be a novel. It isn’t about word count; it’s about being example-driven and actionable. If you have even one incident at an event to talk about, it is still worth submitting if it can help that judge improve.
“What could I possibly teach a higher level judge?”
Lots. We all have different perspectives at a tournament, and they make up different parts of our reality. It doesn’t have to be about being right or wrong — If the actions of a higher level judge impacted you at an event, positively or negatively, you can provide feedback on those actions. Maybe they were a compassionate team lead, delivered a ruling really well, or they provided you some key mentorship. Feedback on their positive impact can help perpetuate those behaviors.
Talking about ways they can improve shows them how their actions negatively impacted someone’s day or the event. They could have forgotten half-round breaks, been a little short with players during a call, or criticized you or another judge too harshly. Even if they succeeded in their task, this feedback can give them another perspective to consider the next time they take the role.
Also, did you know that feedback starts to dry up at Level 3? It’s true: In 2016, the year I was promoted, I received 20 reviews. In 2017, my first full year after advancement, I received 5. While this may not be the case for every Level 3 judge, my experience lines up with that of many others. Someone taking the time to provide us feedback means they are investing in our success, and that’s awesome.
That’s what a review is at the end of the day; it is an investment in someone else’s success and continued growth. It’s an investment into the Judge Program, our team. Writing a review can be daunting, but it’s also heroic, because you’re helping our team.