One Year On

Written by Weedmonkey on November 16, 2010

The end of this month will mark one year since Flippi first approached me with the offer to become Coverage Director on Magic-League. In the year that has passed, Magic-League has seen its ups and downs, and the league has both contracted and expanded. 

I want to take this article to take a look over the past year through the eyes of one of the admins, and to put forward my own feelings of my successes and failures of 2010, as well as set some goals for 2011.

The Year in Review

The directorship at the helm of Coverage was very much a baptism of fire, and I certainly wasn't prepared for what was to come. The first month was met with a lot of personal attacks on me for becoming an administrator. This combined with my own stresses of trying to overhaul coverage ended up with me writing a nice long rant regarding it. It has been a steep learning curve to ease into an administrative role (and one I underestimated). However, as the months have ticked past I have felt more comfortable being where I am now.

As time has passed and the initial fire for attempting to do everything I wanted to do as an admin began to come under control, I began to settle in to my role as a site director. Coverage began to die as the team I had working with me all left the league in favor of their personal lives, and I was more focused on trying to fix/add/improve non-coverage elements of the league at the expense of the role that I was in charge of.

I have said before that when I first became Coverage Director that I felt more like a level 2 judge that was promoted based on my personal and professional qualities (such as being able to identify improvements to the league, develop a project and implement it), rather than my raw judging ability.

Do I still believe I'm only a level 2? Not anymore. I have only been a judge for 18 months, and ultimately my swift promotion to where I am today has meant that some areas of my judging (such as rules knowledge) haven't had the time to become as concrete as others. However, I do feel I know where my strengths lie, and where I should focus my energies in improving my abilities as a judge.

I am quite happy with where I stand today. I have learned an immense amount about myself and my professional identity through working with the other directors, and I hope to continue to learn much in the years to come. The team we have today is without a doubt the strongest we've ever had, even though it isn't always possible to see behind the scenes.

So, what do I feel has been the good, the bad, and the ugly of 2010?

The Highs of 2010

The Coverage Site + Team

This I feel was a great step forward for Magic-League. For a long time, coverage was almost nonexistent. In the middle of last year, myself, neosystems and EarthPunk took the initiative to relaunch it ourselves, with great positive feedback. People loved that Magic-League had its own tournament coverage, and were more than happy to contribute to it.

It was sad to see the site die. The team due to personal reasons couldn't maintain the energy they had devoted. I couldn't sacrifice sleep to run tournament coverage, and things began to deteriorate. It started to become too much of a chore for me to set everything up, and I lost the drive to try and keep it moving. I do take full responsibility for coverage to dip off the radar. However, I also feel that while it was alive, the Coverage Site was a big thing for the site.

Do I want to bring it back? Not necessarily.

The Role of Liaison

I feel that one of my strengths since taking on an administrative role is that people aren't afraid coming to me with their ideas and concerns. I have been told by people before that they appreciate me hearing them out and doing my best to find solutions to their problems, and this does make me happy to know that I can network the community with the judge and staff if necessary, and do it well.

On Magic-League, I am a player first and foremost - being an administrator comes second to that. Me becoming a director is my choice, and I feel strongly that this should not come at the expense of my own enjoyment on the league. I still run my own channel, I still talk to everyone, and I still play in tournaments (although I don't have a laptop at the moment, I do play on here - try not to look shocked). I believe strongly that one of the strengths that defines Magic-League is the community, and that's why I work so hard to ensure that the community is cohesive - part of that involves being able to explain things to people in detail if need be and act as a liaison between different community elements.

Burning the Midnight Oil

Part of why I was asked to become an administrator was that I was capable of taking initiative to improve Magic-League. Gerrardfo and Flippi gave me a lot of independence regarding writing articles and submitting tournament coverage even as a level 1 judge.

So, what have I done exactly?

* The Floor Rules document I initially developed. The community was wanting a document that clearly outlined our policies, what we expected from players and why we do what we do. I took this up and developed this.

* The Judge Test overhaul this year I also played a role in. I pushed the judges to help with adding new questions. 100 new questions were added to the question pool, which is a big accomplishment.

* mrbotski's been rewritten to reflect the new format of Gatherer. Although players won't notice this so much, this is a great help to judges in the case of rulings.

* The aforementioned coverage site, which took a lot of hours to set up the way I wanted it. This included structuring, writing up the appropriate information pages and getting people set up to submit coverage.

This has taken a lot of free time on my part to design, plan and implement these changes. While they haven't always been smooth implementations (niknight no doubt wanted to ring my neck when he noticed errors in some parts of the judge test that I added), I have always tried to do the best I can to make the changes I wanted to change.

That being said, it has been a steep learning curve, and I have learned a lot in the past year as an administrator. I have made a lot of mistakes, and I'm not afraid to admit that. However, I have always endeavoured to learn from them and become stronger as a result.

So, what exactly am I talking about?

Lessons Learned: 2010 Edition

Coverage Site + Team

This was both the greatest step forward in my year as Coverage Director as well as the greatest example of my failings in understanding what Magic-League Coverage should be about. The reason it failed was because I neglected what was in front of me in favor of the ideal.

I'm a writer that plays Magic. What I failed to understand was that for most members of this community, they are players first and writers second. They come here to game, not to write articles. There is no great pursuit for most people to improve their abilities as a writer, and the standards I had set were too high for a lot of the community to reach. In short - I lost perspective on what the community wanted for the sake of quality assurance.

The submission process for tournament coverage and writing articles has been far too stiff and formal to suit the league. People should not have to jump through half a dozen hoops just to submit tournament coverage, and I shouldn't be trying to force my own standards down peoples' throats (that's not to say there shouldn't be any benchmarks at all - however they should reflect the community's standards and not just my own). Furthermore, I don't want to have to spend hours every day having to work in coverage - I am a player too. I don't want to get so lost in working on the league at the cost of being able to play in it.

Organization is Key

When I asked for feedback on my progress as a site administrator a month or two ago, Flippi gave me some sound feedback in telling me that I start so many projects that they often lie half-finished. This is entirely true.

Although not a lot of players see it, there are some projects of mine that have never seen the light of day. When I see something that I can do to improve the site, I'll put everything else aside and focus solely on that. Then, if something new comes up I'll move on to that...and leave what I was working on behind.

The other half to this lesson is that there are times where I'll jump into something without taking the time to thoroughly plan everything and check everything out before implementing it. Jumping the gun has caused things such as the aforementioned errors in the judge test that needed fixing. I get so caught up in getting things done and implemented that I forget to take the time to ensure that everything is where it needs to be before it can be implemented.

Nowadays, I try to take the time to plan things out and take my time in completing steps to make sure I don't repeat the same errors I've made in the past. While it can be difficult to balance my own drive with the steadfastness that organization provides, in future it will be of better benefit to myself and the league as a whole if I take the time needed rather than rush headlong into things.

Provide information responsibly

This has been one of the most significant lessons I've learned, and this is only a relatively recent one at that. In the midst of the previous site host shenanigans, I accidentally let slip about when our contract with our previous host was set to expire. In a Chinese whispers-style communication, the following days and weeks resulted in people hearing and believing things that were different to what I said. This only created confusion in the facts, and it were entirely possible that if our host hadn't shut us down that people could have been disappointed when the 1st rolled around and we were still on the same host.

The fact is that there is only so much information regarding league functions that would be of benefit to the community to be informed about. While I am all for accountability and transparency (and it's something I do endeavour to provide for coverage considering I'm at the helm of that part of the league), there is some information that would not benefit the community in knowing.

I would rather not tell the community something and have them be pleasantly surprised than tell them something and have them be disappointed.

Goals for 2011

I want to set myself some goals to shoot for in 2011. I feel there's only positives to be gained from wanting to improve yourself, and I do want to do what I can to improve this league.

Goal #1: Overhaul Coverage (again)

Now that I have a better understanding of what is needed to make coverage a long-lasting element of Magic-League (and with Azania actively working on the new site), I feel that I can now correctly plan and build coverage for the ground up.

This will take time to plan properly - I only really have one shot at structuring coverage if I want it to be integrated into the new site. I have a lot of ideas, and I know the direction I want to take coverage.

There's also another project that I have planned, but it will require a lot of skills that I don't have (it'll involve PHP, Javascript and more). I'll provide more information when I feel that I'm ready to look at executing it.

Goal #2: Complete projects that I've started

This is something I really need to do. I've already marked one item off my list (mrbotski), and I need to finish off everything else I've started before diving into new projects.

So, what's the checklist?

* Judge Script (in progress)

* Finish off the additions to mrbotski that are needed

* Restructure Coverage

* Steve the Helper Monkey 2.0 (which isn't an absolute necessity)

Anything else after that is gravy.

Goal #3: Continue to improve as a judge

This is something that I feel I need to do. While I don't feel so much like a level 2 anymore, I also have a good idea what my strengths and weaknesses are as a judge. One area I particularly need to improve upon is the application of my rules knowledge - while my rules breadth is excellent, the depth isn't at a level where I feel it should be. Because of that, there are some times where I miss certain minor points in making a ruling and I make a mistake (although those have become fewer over the past year).

Another area where I want to improve is my investigative skills. Having to disqualify someone for cheating or unsporting conduct is not a nice thing to do. I want to be absolutely sure that I'm making the right call, and at times that means lengthy investigations. When I'm taking 20 minutes or longer to investigate, it really is a strain on both myself and the players involved. What I need to do is refine the questions I ask so I'm not taking so long to get the information I need in order to make an educated decision (and for the record, not all investigations take this long).

Final Words of Wisdom

Last month I completed my final year of university (for the moment). Going forward, I wish to leave you with a couple of pieces of wisdom that have been given to me over the past four years:

"Where other people are involved, you must have passion for what you are doing. The day you no longer have that passion is the day you have to walk away."

"Power does not change a person - it makes them more of who they already are."

"There must always be balance - while you should feel good in striving to improve professionally, it should not come at the cost of your personal life or happiness."

- Roo

Back to Magic: the Gathering Articles

by Steveman on 2010-11-16 00:19 CET

I'll help you with goal #3 by barraging you with even more Humility questions

by Farseer on 2010-11-16 00:22 CET

Well, all I have to say is, you are by far one of the friendliest and most approachable senior judges here. Just a real pleasure to work with.

As the Austrians say, "Four more years!"


(edit: I stand corrected.)

by DTrooper on 2010-11-16 00:25 CET

You're doing a truly great job, despite unfinished projects and whatnot. That just means you're a man full of great ideas. It's incredible how much of yourself you give to this website and community and I must praise you for it.

Thank you.


by EatsMortals on 2010-11-16 12:54 CET

<3 you. You have been doing a great job :). Wonderful article.

by wiltstorm on 2010-11-17 00:42 CET

my only problem is, that you dont play in enough minis, i believe that for the work you out in you should paly some

by wiltstorm on 2010-11-17 00:42 CET

my only problem is, that you dont play in enough minis, i believe that for the work you out in you should play some

by moscowdemon on 2010-11-17 03:32 CET

great article roo, dont forget about our project! need to get that going more :)

by TacoMaster on 2010-11-18 18:18 CET

Crai moar.

by seedub on 2010-11-19 02:39 CET

keep up the good work weedmonkey, m-l is lucky to have ya!

ps, that u're hard on urself and looking for things u can do better is absolutely the best outlook and y im sure u WILL improve on everything u set out to

btw this coming from a guy u banned last time we spoke lol so ur definately doing something right

and pss, humility will never be a judges nightmare the way chains of mephistopheles is. humility just actually sees play. ;) really if u understand timestamps u can answer any humility question tho

o, and americans dont say "four more years", austrians do (arnold shwartsanenanfdakj)

by jfc on 2010-11-21 22:07 CET


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