Aabs’ first 100 days as MAA are halfway over as he continues to announce a lot of tweaks and changes, including a policy shift that benefits everyone. He also editorializes on a few important standards all members and leaders should skim, and links a Discourse thread for spoiler discussions of the new novel Star Wars: A New Dawn which he recently finished.
This conversation goes back to talks with Kalen about crescent tiers and how things upgrade and downgrade. We initiated a policy that low effort flash and mobile games downgrade one tier, but recently my awesome staff in combination with the Dark Summit finalized new crescent tiering and upgrade rules. They’re all on the renovated Awards page.
Two main changes here. First, Independent House competitions now start at T3 whereas before they were T4. Second, participation upgrades have been coded as a scaling threshold. Right now, T5-4 upgrade is set at "5 participants" while the others remain at "10 participants." This will allow smaller battle teams to still upgrade with good participation. These clearer standards should also result in more Diamond crescents doing around at the DJB-wide level.
These changes went through a few rounds of discussion and jumped back and forth between no change and extreme change. I am happy with the decision and think this sets us up well going forward.
Many are aware some competitions go through multiple steps of approval. This is why it is important to submit competitions early, preferably at least three days before your intended start date. Better safe than sorry.
I have been working with Mav and Val to streamline this process. First, James has been working with Mav to code in Clusters of Ice similar to Clusters of Fire. Word counts will carry over, auto-award when appropriate, all that jazz. The implementation of that is ongoing. Second, a policy change:
All fiction/poetry/run-on competitions inherently award Clusters of Ice based on word count. You no longer need to seek approval, they just do. Organizers still need to email Mav word count totals.
With this, if your competition does not award Clusters of Ice (because, for example, it is an essay piece), that competition is classified as an "Other" comp type, not fiction. Submitting your competition as the appropriate type will help approve it more quickly.
I promised to start an ongoing fictional backstory to the MAA Office both for personal reasons and Brotherhood reasons, and now that ball is rolling. Not everyone cares about report fiction, but I’ve always enjoyed them. I have two posts up now — one details my initiating into the office while the other relates to my August competition winners. Evant and I are looking into what we can do with these, including fictionalized reviews of fleets. Ideally, these will tie into competitions.
Click through to read my first two installments. I hope readers enjoy; feel free to email me if you’re interested in taking part in some way!
I announced additions to the medal upgrades in [my last report], but some of these additions are nameless. Thus, September’s MAA competition - Name That Metal!. Quick and easy. Coolest names win. This month the prize will just be crescents…nothing controversial there. There are a few days left to get in entries; needless to say this competition will be upgrading due to participation.
Clan Taldryan came away victorious, just barely over HOU, in my August challenge to have the highest completion of the Leadership: Rewards SA course. Congratulations! Initially, I said you’d get a ship, but that didn’t work out. Then we toyed with unit-wide titles, special degrees, among other things. We settled, with the assistance of DGM Sarin, on something I think will be very cool if successful (as in, consider this a test of a new type of reward).
Six month governorship over the planet Bosthirda, recently conquered by the Brotherhood during our Fading Light campaign. This MAA treat is meant to inspire continued activity, so it comes with requirements to maintain control. Details can be found in my second fictional update, here’s another link to Discourse.
Need I say this is a testing ground. If successful, future competitions may result in other planets, but all of them will be built to encourage further development. Passing a Shadow Academy course is also not the standard for unit-wide competitions, MAA or not. There’s a lot of testing the waters going on.
Thanks to James giving me the ability to create and manage dossier titles in addition to the research of Howlader in tracking down titles not awarded, a bunch of Independence Games Champion titles were added. There were also a few titles like "ACC Champion" and "Son of Sadow" that didn’t link to the Wiki properly but do now. Howie is still looking into old GJWs, so if you think you are missing a title email him with evidence. He’s given me a few great resources to look for missing items:
Speaking of titles and Wiki updates, I recently went through and updated the Clan Title Census to be, you know, up to date. Everyone has the title they should, and the list is an interesting read. Here’s looking at a certain Jedi unit……
As a general notice, Clan Naga Sadow remains on clan status probation due to falling under the minimum (40) member roster size. This probation lasts until 13 November 2014 at which point we will revisit the issue.
Last month, Clan Plagueis dipped below the minimum (40) member roster size and was notified of their probationary clan status. While they have since boosted their numbers due to recruiting some Rogue members (always a good idea), I interpret the rules as maintaining their probation until 11 February 2015 at which point we will revisit the issue. Not that probation comes with any real consequences in the short-term.
Possible! Very possible! I slacked off a bit on updating, then got back into it. Anyway, continued updates include reflecting crescent tier changes in the Awards page, continuing to tweak the articles in the Medals category, as well as…
Yes, policies. The MAA Policies page has been updated with several new additions. There are two notes about "demotions = promotions" and "probationary member transfers can be denied." Nothing too major, by which I mean the major addition is my new "judge competitions in 30 days" stuff discussed last month. Speaking of which…
Evant has been killing the competition audit, getting in touch with organizers that either did not award crescents or were never judged. Pretty much everyone responded favorably to the reminders as well as willingness of the MAA Staff to help when/if needed.
Luckily, we didn’t have to. Since the audit started mid-August, around (25) competitions have been judged and closed. James performed a mass closure of open competitions pre-2013. If anyone feels they participated in a competition that never closed properly, let us know, but things look tidy now. Oh, and I can use James to segue into…
The validity of the change I’m about to announce is proven by the fact that no one seems to have noticed, but James and I decided to delete the "Creation" and "Updated" emails that went with requests. There are just so…many…emails. "Withdrawn/Submitted/Approved/Remanded/Denied/Deleted" all remain, but we got rid of two of them. Not everyone sees everything, but James and I do and it’s C.R.A.Z.Y.
At the same time, we created a new email to go along with our new "judge your competition" policy. The organizers of competitions not judged within (30) days will receive an email reminding them to do so. Then another email at 35 days…40 days…and at 45 days the MAA Staff will step in and either judge the competition or get a summit member to do so. Let’s not make this a recurring thing.
Evant, James, and I worked together to draft nifty little info/tip/warning messages (complete with color coordination) that appear at the top of reward/promotion/competition request forms. Handy links people will click as needed. We are now working to bring the same accessible but not in your face information to the actual fields of some of these request forms.
ACCLive! and Design are no longer selectable competition types due to being irrelevant. There were a whopping nine "Design" competitions, all of which could be counted as "Other," which should get more use now by the non-Cluster of Ice stuff.
Did you know that members marked AWOL can be manually marked as seen by the MAA? Perhaps an "AWOL Member" responds to a group email thread. We’d like you to ask them to log into the website, but in the meantime email me the proof and I will mark them down.
We are currently working on a Leadership: Competitions Shadow Academy course that complements our Rewards course. Development is going well and I expect that to happen before I post another report.
My goal is to eventually put my fingers on every MAA-related Wiki article and make sure it is up to date and reads accurately. The medals stuff is largely finished and we have recently started diving into policies. One article that will receive a substantial update is Writing Recommendations.
Over the past month, my staff and I have had several informative debates with unit leaders over a variety of requests ranging from Wally’s Elder promotion to some Equite promotions we remanded into merit medals. We, as the MAA people, do not want to remand or deny anything. We like giving out medals and promotions as much as the next Force user, but we’re also here to maintain Brotherhood-wide standards. Sometimes, it can appear we’re favoring or neglecting certain units, but my staff of four geniuses work hard to apply the same expectations all around.
First, when a request with multiple recommendations is submitted, the requesting member's writing is marked as "Primary" with everything else marked as "Additional." This matters. A request is an argument, so the primary recommendation is the introductory paragraph, the thesis. We read that and then scan the remaining recommendations for supporting evidence. This means that if you are submitting a request on behalf of someone else, one of two things should happen. One, your recommendation needs to read as the primary or two, copy/paste the primary recommendation into your slot.
Second, regarding supporting evidence. We do not like secondhand information. When a PCON/AED starts talking about Bob's excellent work in the Herald's office, we wonder if the Herald would agree. This is an important point. If work completed outside of your unit is a major factor in the request, regardless of whether it is a merit medal or EQ promotion, you must speak to the relevant superior. Why? First, that superior may have thoughts on said member, positive or negative (I've seen both). Second, that superior may have their own plans to award the member, so going around their back potentially strips Bob of earning something else. In summary, if DC-level work is not a big part of the request, don't mention it. Leave it off and let the DC'er handle things on their end to avoid double dipping. Promotions, of course, require communication.
Third, I want to talk a combination of concrete evidence and wording. When we review requests, we look at Bob's dossier, but we also know Bob's dossier only says so much. If you describe Bob as a rockstar leader and yet his dossier only shows one competition organized and two reports written in six months, we ask ourselves why. Is his work elsewhere? Tell us in the request. There are many ways to be a leader, but we can't read your mind. Next, requests should focus on the activity more than the awards. I am less interested in the ten crescents Bob earned last month than I am in the ten competitions he participated in. See the difference? Activity over medals-for-medals. We're not remanding anything because you list off statistics, but I hope that Bob's 364 Clusters of Fire are because he is helping lead your unit's growing gaming demographic. Activity. Inspiration.
That's all of my editorializing this go around! And that's all for my report. As always, contact us with questions about policy or requests you have in the pipeline. We're happy to recommend medals for members you send us or review recommendations on Google Drive before submitting them (note that this is redundant for basic DC/AC/SC, but useful for EQ promotions). We love chatting about the system and are always open to discussion with leaders about our standards.