The Magic-League Community And You

Written by Weedmonkey on October 07, 2010



The topic of this article is something that isn't new. It isn't something that will surprise many people, nor is it something that is overly pleasant to talk about. What I want to talk about today is the heart and soul of Magic-League - the members that make up the community that we are all a part of.

I will go through both the positives and negatives of where Magic-League is currently at in terms of community. I will also outline steps that different elements of the community can take in order to help this community continue to move forward.

Magic-League of the Past

Believe it or not, the Magic-League of the past is not as...bright and sunny as it was today. While the community as a whole was more...interactive, there were also a number of issues with a small number of derelicts. The old fogies among us would remember the times where war18, GRAH, SL|RedDemon and friends were all around. Accusations of corruption were rife in the judge ranks, crucial site functions weren't even operating properly (if I recall correctly it wasn't until 2005 or 2006 that we had sealed to begin with - and at the time we still had to upload decklists at registration), and there wasn't a visible effort by administration to continue improving (and note that I was only a player at this time - this is not the perspective of a judge or administrator).

Despite this, the community flourished. While we weren't having the same level of tournament success that we've been having recently, but we were known as an ideas hub for tournament play. Teams were still a significant element of Magic-League, and people knew everyone.

Magic-League of Today

I'm aware some people think Magic-League is dying. The fact is this isn't the case. Having been at Magic-League for as long as I have, I know this isn't the first time activity has been this low - as recently as 2007 we were hitting lower levels of activity than we are at present.

However, the community from my perspective has become splintered. People have moved into groups that interact with Magic-League, rather than the league form groups from itself. While activity is not at its lowest point ever, it is still a cause of concern from my perspective. There two-way respect between judges and players is not at a decent level to me.

The Problems, and the Solutions

From my perspective, there a number of problems that need to be addressed, and a number of points that need to be clarified. The community as a whole needs to get behind this - players, judges and staff. It's about time we get this train back on track.

Problem #1: Antisocial Behaviour

This is by far the most prevalent and the most damaging. While this isn't a new issue, antisocial behaviour is seemingly having an increasing effect on players. This includes trolling, flaming, bullying, slander, acting like a complete brat and breaking channel rules because you feel like it. I know a number of new players who feel unwelcomed because of this, and I also know a number of judges who are becoming increasingly frustrated with the attitudes of players thinking that they can do whatever they wish.

Solution #1: Crackdown

I've already made my stance on this issue public to the judge team (who are responsible for moderating the league channels). From my perspective, this is something that hasn't been taken seriously enough for far too long. This should be a community that players are happy to be a part of, not one that feels like one has to survive in the Wild West.

Therefore, there will be a crackdown on antisocial behaviour. If you decide to troll, flame, bully or similar in league channels, you will be warned once. If you continue, you will then banned for at least 24 hours. For repeat offenders, don't be remotely surprised if you find yourself eventually being banned without warning. For those of you who wish to troll comments or forum threads, don't be surprised if you find yourself banned from these areas.

If you do the right thing you will have nothing to be worried about. Note that we are not planning on making this place as clean as a hospital - this is mature community and as such things will inevitably be said that aren't so nice. However, causing undue strife for other players is something that will not be tolerated.

Problem #2: Splintered Community Groups

Over time, I've seen the number of channels on consecutive networks decrease. I feel this is because of the large number of regular players leave for college and similar. The new members of the community don't have the depth of knowlege about IRC, and as such they tend to keep focused on the tournaments and not their peers.

Solution #2: Get the Community Involved

I believe the simplest solution to this is getting the community involved. A guide on basic IRC commands would do wonders for getting the community exploring beyond the basic league channels, and the aforementioned crackdown on antisocial behaviour should help also. From my point of view, it's about showing the community what it's capable of.

Problem #3: The 'Judge Club'

There are still more players than I like to see who hold these ongoing gripes with the judges of Magic-League because they feel hard done by. While I understand that the reputation of the judge department isn't pristine, by the same token the behaviour of some players is absolutely inappropriate.

This is a significant issue to address, as much as some players may dislike it. The Judge Department is one of the most visible elements of Magic-League. As such, it is often targeted by disgruntled players.

Solution #3: Debunking Myths and Providing Expectations

The first part of the solution involves separating fact from fiction.

Myths

- Magic-League judges don't rule correctly. This is true - to a degree. Whether it be with the DCI, Magic-League or elsewhere, no judge is perfect. A wise judge once told me that rare is the judge that runs an entire tournament without making a mistake - and having been a judge for nearly two years now I can heartily agree. However, the judge department in my eyes in terms of knowledge and skills is at the strongest it's ever been. We have several judges among us who are also judges with the DCI. The current judge director (niknight) has spectacular depth of insight - having spent more time as an administrator with him than any other judge director, I always learn a lot whenever he contributes to a discussion.

One sad example of this was in fact this morning. Two players had approached the judge channel with an issue. It was found that one player had taken control of another player's permanent, causing them to lose their game. Said player after receiving the game loss threw out a snide comment about judge capabilities before leaving the channel. The issue? We state quite clearly in the floor rules that you should never manipulate an opponent's cards. He acted like a complete child for no reason.

- Magic-League judges rule in favor of their friends and other judges. This is definitely not the case. The appeals system as well as the administrators serve as effective checks and balances to ensure that judges are completely impartial. I myself have disqualified the odd judge in my time. We aren't perfect, but we do the best we can.

The normal case here is that a player disagrees with a ruling, and so a player goes off raging over a ruling they disagree with. If I ask how the ruling is incorrect, usually it involves a reference to a different judge ruling during a "insert high-level tournament name here". There is no evidence in the rules to refute that.

- Magic-League judges are lazy. Ultimately, judges are community members too. We have our own lives to live, and cannot spend all day every day running tournaments for players that want them. We have however made steps forward in this area. The past two activity checks we have run have resulted in the dejudging of first a third, then a quarter of judges. If judges don't fulfill their requirements, then they get dejudged.

An additional note I want to make here is that a lot of staff members work behind-the-scenes. I know that as a player I had the perception that the administrators sit around and do nothing - this isn't the case. Sometimes things are a bit slow to put into action - and that's okay. This ultimately is a volunteer effort. However, we all do the best we can, and I feel the present team is more effective than any before it.

Facts

- Players unfairly give judges a bad rap. Whenever I hear players complaining about judges (especially in the judge channel), their rantings are rarely if ever unfounded (I could easily use one hand to track the number of well-founded complaints). The fact is that judges are not perfect - and when a judge on Magic-League gives a different ruling than one you've had before, it doesn't necessarily make the current ruling incorrect. That's why we have an appeals system in place - if you disagree with a ruling you can appeal it and have it reviewed by a judge of a higher level.

- Judges can get it wrong. Judges are human. In my State of the League address earlier this year I mentioned that it is only recently that I have considered myself a level 3 judge rather than a level 2 who demonstrated the capability to fulfill a needed role. I don't believe my rules knowledge is perfect - I would be foolish to believe that. However, I do know that I am capable of making mistakes from time to time. When judges get it wrong, don't start arguing about why that judge is terrible - appeal the ruling. If need be, take time to read the rules documents also so that you understand why the ruling was correct or incorrect.

- There has been communication missing between players and judges. Part of the problem with this is testosterone. A typical scenario would involve a player coming to the judges channel in need of a ruling. The judge makes the ruling, which the player disagrees. Said player then makes an unbecoming remark towards the judge, the judge becomes defensive, and then it's on for young and old.

Both parties are to blame here, and this comes from being human rather than the difference in position. This is something that is fixable.

The Expectations

For Players:

- Don't start getting angry at judges when a ruling doesn't go your way. Appeal if you disagree with it. If necessary, look at the rules and study why the ruling was made that way.

- Treat the judges as fellow members of the community. Judges have chosen to take the time and effort in order to dedicate themselves to improving the site. This is a volunteer effort, and at a bare minimum there should be respect for that.

- If you disagree with judge conduct, don't be afraid to talk to an administrator. I'm more than happy to hear any grievances players have regarding judges, even though I'm not judge director. If there are reasonable grounds, I'll give you the course of action you need to take. If I disagree, I'll take the time to explain why I have the point of view that I have regarding the situation.

For Judges:

- Make sure to keep your conduct professional. Even though this is a volunteer effort, you are still a role model for the community. This means to refrain from rules lawyering, arguing with a ruling and insulting players. If you disagree, then we can discuss it just like we would with any other player.

- If a player disagrees with a ruling, take the time to explain why. There are a number of judges that I have seen who after making a ruling that a player disagrees with order them to return to their game without at minimum trying to explain their ruling again. This is a poor show of communication. If you find yourself getting frustrated with the player because they refuse to listen, then tell them to appeal or return to their game.

Problem #4: Retaining New Players

With the high turnover of 'regulars' over the past year or so, I've found that we've had less and less players stick around when they first join Magic-League. We've made a really positive step forward here in the new How to Start guide - it is light years ahead of the original guide.

The big issue here is the community itself. When new players ask how to start, generally they're insulted or ignored. Feeling unwelcome, they leave with a negative view of the league.

Solution #4: Stop Being So Lazy

It really is this simple. It's not difficult to direct new players to the How to Start guide or point them in the right direction for downloading software. We aren't expecting you to hold their hand through the entire process - at a bare minimum you should be able to expect them to read and understand the How to Start guide. However, just ignoring new players when they ask a question is really scummy. Have the decency to point them in the right direction - it's only a dozen words you need to type out.

Epilogue

It's time that we take the league in the direction we want it to become. The issues that are present aren't beyond a solution, and it doesn't require moving heaven and earth to achieve.

Keep Magic-League great.

Roo



Back to Magic: the Gathering Articles

Comments:
by P_P4E on 2010-10-07 02:57 CET

another article nobody wants to see as it paints judges in the light ALL JUDGES PAINT THEMSELVES IN.

Simply put, a large number of judges here do not give a crap about anything and only do what they want to do. If it weren't for people like Chefy or Djinn this place would be unvisitable. Nobody currently here has been here as long as I have that I know of, and I'm 100% sure this is the least active the site has ever been on all fronts except for maybe outsider trolling for decklists.

Fixing sealed i think will help this, and maybe figuring out a better way to do drafts. I want to test limited without a huge hassle.


by Steveman on 2010-10-07 05:59 CET

"Simply put, a large number of judges here do not give a crap about anything and only do what they want to do"

This observation also applies to 99.9% of ML members


by six on 2010-10-07 14:15 CET

"Simply put, a large number of judges here do not give a crap about anything and only do what they want to do"

What's wrong with that? As far as I've been here, judges only doing what they want to do has been perfectly acceptable.


by AppleofEris on 2010-10-07 16:17 CET

Well, it all goes back to the old saying that judges are volunteers. You can't expect them to treat this like a job (unless you started paying judges, speaking of which, how much of the advertising revenue this site brings in is able to cover the hosting costs? A little transparency here would be nice).

I've been here since Kami-Rav, and I've seen all sorts of things happen. From Noremac getting banned for the rest of his life, to PV going to Worlds. This place is single-handedly responsible for improving my game to the competitive level. I do have a list of things I have noticed in my time here, and you can take note or ignore them:

1.) The fact that there are two leagues is beyond logic. I can say that the other league has a decent sealed generator up (nowhere near as good as the old ML one tho) and it has drafting on the site (I helped test it and I've seen it go from a buggy mess to a pretty good means of drafting). Now please note I'm not advertising for this other site, but rather, I'm just suggesting that if both leagues worked together, everyone would win (not that I expect the "Lord" of the other league to actually work with you guys, I mean, he has his good points and I think he's an alright guy, but he also suffers from d-bag disease every now and then).

2.) Personally, I've helped a lot of people get started. Some of them I still talk to today, and I've seen them go from noob to pro. It really is rewarding to set someone off on the right path, but with that being said, a lot of people (I've noticed foreigners and kids being the largest group) are just too lazy to read a walkthrough. No matter what, you're always gonna have people who want their hand held through the entire process. Granted the learning curve is steep, especially if they don't already know the actual rules of Magic. I have an idea for this. Perhaps once every time period or so, have someone run a channel to teach people Magic and how to use all the relevant software. This person doesn't even have to be a judge, just a volunteer. This will increase the retainability of new people greatly.

3.) Trolling and flaming. Recently, I chastised EngrishSkill on the boards for bashing this one dude who was working on mono green infect. We had some words, called each other a few names, and that was it. Emotions run high with dorks on the internet, it's just a fact of life. But even though we both expressed disapproval of each other, I still respect his gaming skill and we can still discuss theory back and forth. This is called being an adult: you're gonna act like an idiot some times, but I think we should all be able to respect each other as the losers that we are (<3). With all that being said, a lot of judges (I'll be honest here, I've seen almost every judge ever do this at least once) has abused their power to ban people. I would like to suggest muting people in the main chat before actually banning them. That way, they can still play in tournaments and won't be as likely to become hostile to the league. Sometimes people just lose their cool. We've all done it before and we should try to be a little more understanding, especially if people are having problems irl.

4.) Whatever happened to judge rewards? That used to be a great way to ensure minis all the time!!!!

In closing, playing Magic online isn't life or death. A lot of people make it out to be more important than it is. I hope with time, this league is able to flourish again.

Btw: When are you guys ever gonna change hosts???


by Weedmonkey on 2010-10-07 21:02 CET

P_P4E: What light exactly? I'm pretty sure I clearly said that both parties aren't absolved of blame here. This is an effort that the community as a whole needs to take.

Sealed SHOULD (emphasis on the should - I'm not 100% sure on this) be back online when we switch to our new host.

ZeMuppet:

1) As I've made my opinion on this clear before, I fail to see the reason behind it. I'm more than willing to discuss this issue in detail.

2) Agreed. As for your idea, I think it's good if you can find someone willing to do it :). A caveat though is that it can't be a staff member for this - we don't need the lawyer brigade on our case again.

3) Right - I wanted to emphasise the fact that we aren't doing a cleanout because this isn't a Yu-Gi-Oh forum. I'm not expecting perfect behaviour - you are right in everyone losing their cool from time to time. However, the antisocial behaviour needs to stop.

4) They're still around. The issue is two things. The first is that we're actually performing activity checks. The second is that our new judges aren't undertaking the 'Three Month Mini Binge' that normally happen.

5) Contract ends next month. I'm pretty damn sure we'll be doing everything we can to get our asses off this cesspit of a host as soon as we can :)


by mymLaban on 2010-10-08 00:05 CET

Good post.

As a new player, i have been here for about 3 weeks i must say that your Problem #1: Antisocial Behaviour was a bit of a problem for me aswell.
No one wanted to help me out when i first join the mIRC channel and asked why the "how to get started" didnt mention what program to download. It took about 30 minutes before someone told me why it wasent mentioned and where to get it.

That being said it didnt scare me away (i already have about 80 matches played) and thats not counting all the casual matches. But i think theres a reason for that, i have played tons of games for many years, and i have used mIRC for as long as i can remember. So i guess im pretty tough and rather hard to scare away!
However i fear that alot of new players will be scared away with things being as they are.

But as you said its REALLY easy to fix this! We all just gotta take the time to welcome new players and help them out!

Anyway im glad i found this place, it is clearly my new home and i see 1000 of matches in my future for sure!

1 last but not least everyone here is not "bullies" or "trolls" i have already been helped out many times by different players, so all hope is not lost!


mymLaban.


by TacoMaster on 2010-10-08 08:02 CET

Crai moar, emo kid.


by AppleofEris on 2010-10-08 14:27 CET

Is there any expected downtime regarding the end of this month?


by Weedmonkey on 2010-10-08 23:49 CET

None that I am currently aware of. If the previous host switch is anything to go by, the domain name magic-league.com won't be able to be accessed for 24-48 hours at the time we make the switch. We'll provide a URL to access the site in the intervening time :)


by Tidus- on 2010-10-09 14:22 CET

I would just like to say sorry to any people i have pissed off over the last few years being it insulting, whining or general ruleslawyering. I feel i am a judge you either love or hate and I am going to strive my hardest to win round the haters and change my ways. This place needs to be a family again and i really think that weedmonkey is the person to start this.


by plusua on 2010-10-11 15:37 CET

This article is long overdue and appreciated, its the enforcing of it that will make all the difference. TY Weedmonkey.


by AppleofEris on 2010-10-13 06:23 CET

Magic-League is gonna be a gayer place...which is fine with me.


by R4nd0m on 2010-10-14 12:16 CET

]= I find this article offensive towards trolls. You know, they are humans after all (humanoids?). If you act accordingly all trolls will perish and nobody likes extinction right?


All content on this page may not be reproduced without written consent of Magic-League Directors.
Magic the Gathering is TM and copyright Wizards of the Coast, Inc, a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc. All rights reserved.


Contact Us | Privacy Policy
Join Swagbucks!