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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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"
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"
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).
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.
by mymLaban on 2010-10-08 00:05 CET
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?
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