Joel Krebs – Judge Blogs Project

judge-joel_1_croppedHey Judges! This week we take a special look at the project that not only collects such beloved features as JudgeCast, The Knowledge Pool, and even Judge of the Week together, but also gives you a voice to discuss anything that you feel is important to the Judge Program.  We are looking at the Judge Blogs project!  And to help explain the project, its history, and how you can become involved, please welcome one of the key developers of the project, Swiss L3, Joel Krebs!

Tell us about your project.
Judge Blogs is somewhat a meta-project that enables anybody in the program to have their own space to publish regular content for a wider audience. This is mainly used by projects, like Judge of the Week, but I personally also like the various personal blogs that people have started recently. The Judge program has so many talented and passionate people and Judge Blogs tries to give those people a platform.
judge blogs

What is your role within the Judge Blogs project?
I am mainly responsible for the code for the whole network.  Judge Blogs runs on joel-857185_785562701458218_1089107245_oWordPress, a widely successful free and open-source blogging software.  But Judge Blogs uses many customizations to provide additional features, custom designs and integration with other pages like Judge Apps. I am the one that develops these plugins and customizations.

Why did you decide to join the Judge Blogs project?
After becoming a Level 2 judge I always struggled to get any project work done in the program. I was part of some translation projects, but I did not contribute much because I lacked motivation. At the same time I wanted to be part of a larger project and contribute more to the program.

So instead of just joining a random project that needed people, I choose a different approach: When joining a project, the most important thing would have to be my personal interest. It had to be something that captured my interest beyond judging and Magic joel-hongkong(yeah, it sounds crazy). At the same time I wanted to learn about WordPress for a long time. So I asked Lems whether I could join the Blogs team in late 2012. He refused, because I had no experience at all and bringing people into such a project is much more work than people might think.

Half a year later Lems was the Head Judge for the World Magic Cup in Amsterdam and I had one goal for the weekend: Convincing Lems that I would be any good so that he would let me in on the project. Well, I succeeded.

Tell us a fun story about your participation in this project.
Working with Lems is lots of fun. I remember one of our conversations on IRC going like this:

Joel: Hey, can you upload this new piece of code I wrote?
Lems: Sure thing.

Lems: Hey, this breaks everything! Where can I find the old version of your code? Quick!
Joel: What old version? I thought you had a backup…

Okay, not so funny; rather, a sign of my poor testing skills (and my careless development without version control in the beginning).

If you could change one thing about the project, what would it be?
Well, luckily I am the one that makes most of the change happen, so I can push those changes forward if I feel strong enough about them. But for the future I see two major joel-verona2directions in which the blogs should move forward:

  1. Internationalization: People want to be able to provide content in multiple languages. We should make this as easy and effective as possible.

  2. Integration: I personally would like to integrate the blogs more closely with Judge Apps. But here I need the Judge Apps team to move in the same direction, so we will see whether this works.

How has this project helped your judging?
Well…it did not directly and as I mentioned before, this was never the goal. The project built up my know-how with WordPress, which I hope to use outside of the Judge program as well.

Of course it did impact my role in the program in some way. I spent way more time in the program than I would have ever anticipated, working together with other judges and forging those relationships..

Have you met other judges in your project in real life? What was that meeting like?
Yes, I met Lems a couple of times, and David de la Iglesia, who helps with the content creation, and I regularly judge together at GPs. The most important “meeting” was probably the talk with Lems at the WMC in Amsterdam before I even was on the project. I am not sure whether I would have been able to convince him to let me join the project without meeting him in person.

What do you like best about the project?
I like to think that I contributed to something that will last for quite some time. The Judge Blog and the Judge Blog Portal are something that might outlive my time in the program. I like this idea 🙂

What do you want people to know about this project, and what’s important for other judges, in your opinion?
That the blog network is there for all judges that are looking for a space to create content for the program. Maybe you have some thoughts you want to share or want to distribute joel-veronathe content of your project in a broader way? Contact us and we will gladly help you get started!

What’s new with Magic Judge Blogs?  There’s been an update lately, could you tell us more about that?
Gladly! So basically we launched two things: The Magic Judge Blog and the Magic Judge Blog Portal. The idea of the blog is to publish content that is relevant for all judges in the program, and maybe even people outside of the program, in a more appealing fashion than a simple thread in Judge Apps.

The second part is the Magic Judge Blog Portal. We already had a comprehensive list of all blogs in the network, but now this list is more refined and even customizable. It should make all the awesome blogs out there more visible to the entire program.

What’s your favorite blog that’s under the Magic Judge Blogs page (you don’t have to say Judge of the Week)?
Ha, it is hard to choose a favorite, because many of them serve completely different purposes.

But I like the new generation of rather individual blogs that have been launched in the past few months. I like the idea to cover one specific topic or area in the program and provide individual and personal insight into this. For example, Kevin Desprez’s blog Whats Up, Docs?.

Besides that the Judge Articles might still be my overall favorite. I think they still have the highest quality in content on such a variety of topics.

What’s your favorite part of the new bar at the top?  What should all judges know about it?
Uh, there is not much magic behind that. Maybe the fact that I built it in such a fashion, that in theory any page could include the banner if they wish to do so. Do you feel like your page needs a direct link to Judge Apps all the time? Well, talk to me, maybe we can make it happen 😉

So there is the Magic Blogs project in a nutshell. Thank you Joel Krebs for your time and your hard work on the project, and thank all of you for reading! We will see you next week for another edition of Judge of the Week!

Written by Chris McGuire and Stephan Classen

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