Headmaster's Report #5: GTD Edition


Headmaster's Report #5: GTD Edition



The last five months as your Headmaster have been quite a ride, and it's a really good feeling when the hard work that the SA staff has been putting in is finally beginning to see the light. We've gotten a lot accomplished in the past month after a fairly light August, and I know that next month's report will have even more to show for it. It's truly an exciting time to be a part of this organization, and I'm glad to contribute at least in some small way to its awesomeness.

Getting Stuff Done in Project Happy Fun Time

If last month's report seemed a bit light, this report is bursting to the seams with stuff the Team SA knocked off our to-do list:

  • The amazing Daniel "Seraphol" Stephens knocked out a rewrite/update to the entire Department of Legends. The Lightie COREs didn't really need much in the way of updating, but the Dark COREs definitely did. DS knocked out both halves and made for a much stronger Department.

  • The equally amazing Zachary O'Maille (aka Bentre) has completed a number of rewrites and updates for the courses he's over, including most recently the Mandalorian Studies, Races & Species, Galactic Languages, and Philosophy I: Views courses. Philosophy II is very close to completion as well... although they're both likely to be renamed. :)

  • The M:FISTs, especially Celahir, have been great resources to fix some issues in our gaming courses - and they don't even work for me!

  • Our two amazing Magistrates, Ophelia and Rinsz, are also making some solid strides, with our Capital Starships, Fighters, and Freighters/Transports courses all receiving some much-needed love to bring them back within canon. These three courses are close to completion, and I imagine you'll be able to see their efforts in the next week or so. The Combat Tactics courses (including a new one!) are also nearing completion thanks to the efforts of these two.

Journeymen Competitions

Though I'd love to see even more entrants to them (hint, hint Clan Summits) I've been enjoying our Journeymen competitions. I'm still brainstorming ideas for linked competitions - a JM one and an EQ+ one - but I'm not there yet. It's difficult enough to come up with interesting-ish prompts just for the JM! Speaking of... the latest JM competition is running now. It concerns itself with whatever your companion is/was during your stay in the SA, and can be funny, serious, or a combination of the two. I look forward to your amazing entries!

Dusty Exams

Anytime we have an update to a course (beyond just simple edits like fixing typos), we're faced with a decision: we can either retire the old course and put the new one in its place, or we can override the notes/exam of the old course with the new. There are pros and cons to both scenarios: by retiring the old course, we allow everyone to take the course again (this is also a con, to some), but James is forced to recode any degrees/Promotheus changes that course covered; on the other hand, overriding the old notes/exam with the new keeps the course number in the database the same (thus alleviating the concerns about breaking Promotheus) but members who have already taken and aced the exam cannot retake it. Because of the burden on James, it has been standard procedure since before my tenure to opt for the second option.

However, this option does cause one small issue, and that's if you saved (but did not submit) an exam with the old questions and try to resit it. This results in things getting all jacked up (James can correct me if I'm not using the right coding terminology). Next month, we'll be implementing a policy that will only hold onto saved exams for six months; after that period has elapsed, your answers will be emailed to you and your exam will be automatically deleted. Unsure if you have an exam saved but unsubmitted? You can see here quite easily!



Everyone likes statistics, right? There are/were 86 courses in our audit queue when we started this process. 23 have been completed by the SA Staff, 17 are not being audited (the History Department is being condensed, the Writing and Law Departments are special projects, and the two IRC courses are potentially dying), and many of the remaining 46 are currently being audited right now. Am I happy with the pace? No, I'll be honest and say I'm not. My RL has kept me from pushing as fast and often as I'd planned on it, and the amount of courses needing substantial changes is much, much higher than I thought it'd be. However, our efforts in this phase will truly pay dividends after the audit is over as we begin remaking the Shadow Academy in ways that I hope will make it more user-friendly, useful, and interesting.

Shadow Academy Staff are currently engaged in the following projects:

  • SW History Department Rewrite - Aabs, Lexic, & Farrin: Because of the evil Darth Mickey, my beloved Galactic History courses aren't fully canon anymore. This project is still, embarrassingly, not done. I'm fairly comfortable with the non-Legends history course that resulted from me combining and paring down some of the existing history courses, and Lexic's post-ROTJ course is shaping up nicely. However, paring down the remaining Legends History courses is proving exceptionally difficult. We're seeing movement, but this is still not done. Estimated completion: End of September, 2016

  • DJB History I & II Update/Rewrite - Alishu: Alishu's work was excellent here (you can read more in the SC he received for his work as my Magistrate), but with the further changes in DB canon there are parts of his courses that need to be reworked. This is on hold until a new VOICE can be installed and clear it up. Estimated completion: End of September? October?, 2016

  • The Dreaded... AUDIT! (non-SW courses) - PROFs/DOCs, Farrin & Ood: The non-Star Wars courses will be audited for accuracy, typos, etc. Exams are going to be reconfigured and updated. We continue to make strides here. Expected Completion: October, 2016

  • The Dreaded... AUDIT! (SW courses) - PROFs/DOCs, Marcus, Rins'zler, Ophelia: The Star Wars-based courses will be audited for accuracy, typos, etc. Exams are going to be reconfigured and updated. I was expecting this to be completed by this month, and while we didn't make that goal we made a huge dent in it. This should be done very soon. Expected Completion: October, 2016


  • 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 audit takes precedence, but expect to see more about this later on this summer. Because of the delays in the audit, this has been pushed back slightly. Expected Start: 10/2016; Expected Completion: 11/2016

  • Operation Prereq - Farrin: In order to make a more focused new member experience, different options are going to be explored to create prerequisite courses before other courses open up to a member. This is on the back burner for now, as the SA Staff has more pressing matters (y'know, the stuff above this item) and it'll require some tweaks on the coding end. Expect more info on this over the summer as well. Expected Start: Unknown; Expected Completion: Also unknown. :)

There are some other really exciting things in the planning stages that aren't quite ready for prime time yet, but hopefully will be within the next couple of months. Stay tuned, sports fans.

Top Exam Takers

Name # of Exams # of ACs
Neophyte Tarvitz 30 24
Neophyte Jon Tin'Kodak 20 10
Captain Blair Augusta Dearg 16 27
Proselyte Lord_Jewell 13 8
Warlord Valkas Tamalar Palpatine 11 5

Note: these numbers cover the period from 8/17/16 to 9/22/16.


The Shadow Academy covers tens if not hundreds of thousands of words, and those words were written by imperfect humans (GASP!). 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. At the very least, you'll get the thanks of a grateful HM... that's got to count for something, right?

In Darkness -
Farrin Xies,
Headmaster of the Shadow Academy

First!! But seriously, nice report. Can't wait to see what comes up.

Thanks for the report, Farrin! I'm excited for DJB History to finally drop! crosses fingers for new VOICE to come soon

Ooo! I like the project on controlling the availability of exams to new members.

Look forward to all the hard work you guys are doing! Thanks for being awesome!

Best Farrin as ever. I still love that it's Project Happy Fun Time.

Will keep pushing JM comps, fear not. ;p

congrats Valkas!

But I do work for you.... :P

Great job all you SA folks, thank-you guys for all the hard work you put in for us to learn

Happy indeed to hear it's been such a productive month on this end.

And thank you indeed for the award, I am most honoured.

Lol, you know what I meant Celahir. :p

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