Headmaster's Report #16: Audits, Audits Everywhere


Headmaster's Report #16: Audits, Audits Everywhere



It’s always a good feeling to accomplish things on your to-do list, and fixing up our degrees has been something people have been hounding us for for a long time. Well, good news sports fans! It’s done! Your Shadow Academy Staff has been hard at work this month with various projects that I’m happy to report on. Some, like the degree audit, are done; others are nearing completion. So, without further rambling on my part… on to the report!


I try to be as approachable to our members as possible anytime they have questions, and I hope I’m successful. I regularly receive questions via Telegram (@farrinx) or via email and I always try to give a full and complete answer with our/my rationale as appropriate. Over my tenure as HM, there are some questions and issues I regularly am asked, so I thought I’d take a moment to answer them here.

  • Do inactive courses count against my overall course grade average? The Shadow Academy Society requires certain average grades to unlock ranks, and so it’s not uncommon for people trying to earn those ranks to retake courses. If a course is inactive, it can’t be retaken - which can be frustrating. I’m happy to say that, as confirmed by the code wizard James, inactive courses are not included in the calculations for your average grade.

  • Since you changed (blank), does that mean I have to re-do it/I’ll lose it? As a matter of policy, and this applies not just to the SA, if you have earned something the only way you can lose it is via CoJ action or if it was done in error (i.e. someone accidently awarded a bunch of GLS’s... ). So, for instance, if you’ve completed a course or earned a degree and we change it later you will not have to redo it. There are some exceptions to this depending on how we deploy the changes, however. Whenever we’re making changes to a course, if the content is significantly different (i.e. more than just some corrections) we’ll sometimes retire the old course and create a new one. You still won’t lose credit for having completed the old course, but you’ll also have the opportunity to take the new course if you’d like.

  • Are you hiring? I absolutely love when people ask me if I/the SA needs help. That shows a drive that is impressive. Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, my staff covers everything pretty sufficiently and my staff turnover isn’t super high (although you might want to read on in this report…). The best way to help the SA, then? Submit new course ideas and especially tell us if something is wrong.

  • I’ve got this awesome idea for a new course! Cool! Send it to Laren and I. Or, even better, work up an outline of a potential course for it. Now, I can’t guarantee it’ll be implemented for various reasons, but you never know. :)

Degree Audit

It’s done! Laren and I have looked at where our degrees currently sit and we kicked around some changes. I solicited feedback from the Dark Council and Summit and the ever-incredible James deployed the changes yesterday. Here is what’s changed:

  • Dark Savant - History and Lore still requires the Mavens it did previously (Galactic History and Lore) as well as the DB History courses. It also now requires Astronomy, Planets and Moons, and Regions of the Galaxy. It no longer requires the Legends History courses.

  • Dark Savant - Legends is a new degree that requires the Legends and Historical Legends Mavens as well as Legends Galactic Histories 106, 107, and 108.

  • Dark Sage - History and Lore is a new degree that requires the Dark Savant History and Lore as well as the new Dark Savant Legends.

  • Dark Maven - Leadership has the same time-in-leadership requirement it did previously, though the way to earn the requirement has been altered. Time as CON or PCON and QUA or AED both stack; if I’m an AED for 111 days and get promoted to QUA, the next day will count as 112. Additionally, there is no longer a minimum time for this position to count toward your total. Bubba previously had set this up for good reasons, but I’m confident enough in our MAA and Clan Summits to appoint people to positions who haven’t served for a bunch of one week stints. :P

  • Dark Savant - Leadership and Communication has had CoJ I and IRC 301 removed as requirements. In their place, the two Debate courses are now requirements. The same changes to the position requirement as discussed on the Leadership Maven apply here.

  • Dark Sage - Law has had the Debate and CoJ II courses removed. Eventually, Jac and I will bring our teams together to create replacement CoJ courses and we’ll adjust this degree more when that happens, but for right now Jac and I both feel the requirements are steep enough to allow this Sage to exist as it stands.

Now Hiring: PROF

My friend and former Praetor, Marcus, has had to step down from his position as Professor over the far-reaching Department of Leadership, Law, and Communication. As such, I’ll be looking for someone to take on this position. Interested parties should email an application to Laren and I no later than one week from now, 10/7. You should let us know areas in which you think this department can be improved. Position requirements are as follows:

  • No min/max rank.
  • You must have passed with no less than an 80% most if not all of the courses in the Department. Leadership Proposals is okay to have skipped. :)
  • Absolutely no more than a 24-hour grading turn-around time; 12-hour or less is the goal.
  • Desire and ability to not only mark exams but keep the courses under you current.

Ask the HM!

Alara Deathbane asked: “what would you recommend to an aspiring professor or course writer?”

  • An aspiring professor should be familiar with the course(s) they want to be over and then of course pay attention to my reports to wait for an opening. An aspiring course writer should research and create an outline for an area they think the SA could benefit from and send it to Laren and I :)

Wally asked: “Do you think the SA is better served as a learning tool than a contest system? Should exams be focused on who can get the best score, or who can retain the most information and learn from the exam? Is there room for both philosophies?”

  • My initial thought is the GIF of the girl with the taco shells - why not both? It's a little bit deeper than that, though. As someone who cares about education IRL (since it's my actual profession) I want people to actually learn things from the courses they take. However, there also needs to be a degree of game-ification (sp?) since our courses in the SA are obviously tied to a larger system designed to create a place for people to have fun in. Most people don’t consider learning for the sake of learning fun. :P

Wally also asked: “Who is your favorite DC-Professor… not named Drac? Or Vyr.”

  • Atra is my favorite DC-adjacent prof. :P

Kelly asked: “What, out of the things you’ve done so far as Headmaster, are you most proud of?”

  • I've been HM for... a year and change now? I think the thing I'm most proud of is consistently hiring excellent members of the SA team. I've had the best two Praetors that exist in the DB (the rest of the DC can fight me on this), great M's, and a cadre of excellent PROFs/DOCs. All of that has enable us to accomplish a lot of work in a high-quality and efficient-ish manner.



Shadow Academy Staff are currently engaged in the following projects:

  • Leadership Proposal Update - SA Staff: This is the only course pending review and audit from last month’s completion of the Leadership Dept. changes. We are still working to determine its fate (rewrite? removal?). Estimated completion: TBD

  • DJB History I & II Update/Rewrite - Alishu: Alishu has completed first drafts of both courses and they've been sent to the DC for approval. The DC has a lot on its plate right now, but I think we'll see some movement on this soon to get these courses released for all to enjoy. Estimated completion: TBD

  • Operation Remodel - SA Staff: In an effort to streamline the organization of the Shadow Academy and make it easier to initially get to information and then to find similar information, the SA will see a fairly extensive reorganization. The first phase of this is done, and the graphical elements will begin shortly. Reworking degrees took precedence over this, but it should completed soon. Estimated completion: end of 10/2017

  • Operation Remodel (Degrees) - SA Staff: The reorganization, as well as the addition/removal of various courses, has left some of our degrees a bit outdated. So we fixed them. Estimated completion: DONE!

  • Writing Department Update - SA and Voice Staffs: Wally Q. Wallerson, his staff, and my staff are combining our considerable talents/nerddoms to overhaul the Writing Department. The goal is to make it an invaluable resource for all who engage in any sort of writing activity in the DB. A Fiction Studies primer is nearing release, while most others will need to wait post-GJW. Estimated completion: some soon, others not :)


  • There are a couple of things in the earliest planning stages, but aren’t quite ready for prime time. Stay tuned for more.

Top Exam Takers

Name # of Exams # of ACs
Acolyte Drae'lath Rahath 73 24
Commander Gaius Julius Caesar 47 45
Commander Dek Ironius II 32 43
Neophyte Zeline Nemesis 31 23
Knight James Malum 26 58

Note: these numbers cover the period from 9/1/17 to 9/30/17 and count both initial attempts and retakes.


The Shadow Academy is an amazing resource, created and administrated by some imperfect human beings who strive for perfection. We try our best to catch and fix any and all errors before we release courses, but we're not always successful. Because of that, we will always need your help. If you spot an error, please report it to the SA Staff using this simple form; if it's a major enough error, or you spot enough, you'll be rewarded. With cookies. And an SA team thankful for pointing it out. And a Headmaster thankful to scold his staff. I kid, he gives us cookies, too.

In Darkness -
Farrin Xies,
Headmaster of the Shadow Academy

I'm told I should fight you. :P

Nice report - thanks for the details and answers!

Teylas is awesome. Teylas is an awesome P:MAA. Laren is more awesome. Laren is a more awesome P:HM.

Silly panda. :P

I would insert words of praise but since I am part of the work, I will instead take a moment to praise everybody except that Benny-jerk Magistrate.

It is good to see the Academy evolving.

Fight night in-bound.

But in all seriousness, thanks to an amazing staff for all your hard work thus far. And thanks to Farrin for having me along for the ride.

And thanks to the Academy for this incredible award. I would also like to thank...

Wait!! There is a gameification to the SA??? And to think all of this time I was learning for the sake of learning! Though in all seriousness I have been. ;P

Don't stop, get it get it

73 exams? Holy cow!

Thanks, for the millionth time, for these new degrees. Many are rejoicing at their inbox content this week.

Very nice surprise to see those new degree emails! I love how the SA has evolved throughout the years, especially during your term. I didn't always agree with everything but this has turned out to be one heck of a great decision and am glad to see it all worked out well. Krath at heart, SA for Laif.

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