Hey there Judges! Have you ever wondered who the first Level 5 was? Did you know about the “Pacific” Pro Tour Head Judge shirt worn by Toby Elliot? Well, then, you could check out the judge project: Judge History! (You can check out the project itself here.)
David Hibbs is an L3 from League City, Texas, who runs Judge History and has tirelessly worked to catalog judging past and present. We caught up with him, and learned some really cool facts!
Tell us about your project.
The idea of the Judge History project is to collect both stories and information about the program and the personalities that are (or have been) a part of it.
It’s a bit cliche to say that those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it. So, instead, I will say that knowing the history of the judge program will help you to appreciate the current certification process and the program as a whole. It will give a sense of perspective and appreciation for those who manage some key components of the program like the exam content.
What is your role within the Judge project?
Founder, curator, author. It’s not the most active project as I’ve taken up several other tasks. That doesn’t mean that I don’t love this stuff, though!
Why did you decide to join the Judge History project?
I started this project after an exchange on the DCIJUDGE-L about some things that had happened in the past, when it became apparent that we had a lot of new judges who simply had no way to know what some of the earliest days of the program were like.
Tell us a fun story about your participation in this project.
I gave a seminar at a judge conference and gave out prize packs for answering some of the earliest certification questions. They weren’t hard, but the very fact that they weren’t hard had people briefly confused and boggled that these were actual certification questions!
If you could change one thing about the project, what would it be?
More members and more personal time to spend on this!
How has this project helped your judging?
This project is about keeping track of some of the places that the program has been, and trying to learn from it.
Have you met other judges in your project in real life? What was that meeting like?
Not specifically as a project meeting, but yes–I’ve met several other long-time judges. It’s sometimes fun to remember the early days of the program!
What do you like best about the project?
It’s a chance (excuse, really) to talk about the Bad Old Days. Who doesn’t have a favorite Magic moment?
What do you want people to know about this project, and what’s important for other judges, in your opinion?
This project, like many others, could use volunteers. I haven’t had as much time to spend on it as I would like–so if anyone is good at interviewing and recording past scenarios, pitch in!
What’s the best story/event in your opinion?
Would you believe that “Uncle” Scott Marshall paid a fee to take a certification exam and his paperwork was lost? He was certainly not alone in this, but the fact that one of our most respected senior judges was once lost in the bureaucracy says a lot. It shows where the program has been and the difference any one person can make.
What in your opinion, has been the largest change in Judging?
The most significant change, in my opinion, came with the transition from paper tests and reviews to the use of the Judge Center. Magic rules are dynamic, so a fixed set of questions and locked-in answer key was a problem. Reviews weren’t very helpful. Having a central location and means to keep current questions and answers was a huge step–and the team that maintains the content does an amazing job.
A close runner-up would be the creation of the first set of written penalty guidelines. There were many years where judges would just fix things as they saw best, with no real guidelines on the “right” way to handle problems! The earliest version of the IPG that I have is from around 2006, and it only barely resembles what we currently use and love!
There are tons of interesting tidbits that you can find over at Judge Wiki – History. Also if you have info to contribute, the Judge History project would certainly appreciate it.