Victors have been named, secrets revealed, and the swarm of medals and promotions continues as the Dark Jedi Brotherhood slides into a post-Great Jedi War period of relaxed yet productive clan and house development. Sarin has promised to lay off the all consuming Brotherhood-wide events for a while to allow for more personal recruitment and development, yet it is during times such as these when the relationship between the Dark Council and unit leaders is most important.
Over the last handful of months, my amazing Praetor, Evant, Magistrates, Rial and Teylas, and oh so special Magistrate Howlader have not only kept up a mind-blowing turnaround on requests but also taken part in a slew of policy and guideline conversations. When someone replies all to a denied request with a complaint, we discuss it. These emails pile up, so I want to run through some of our conclusions and mention where guidelines have shifted.
Yeah, We Smacked That
- Titles has been updated to streamline the information and incorporate the policy regarding clan titles while on probation.
- The Codex article for Ranks has been updated (see chart at bottom) to reflect that fact that code-wise Independent Unit Quaestors and Sub-Unit Quaestors have the same promotion authority. This is weird, and I recognize it means Quaestors can promote higher than Proconsuls, but revisiting promotional authority is a conversation point in the coming weeks. From my perspective, authority only matters slightly since every request is reviewed by the MAA Staff. I'm happy to hear people's thoughts on this. Out of politeness, make sure a member’s top superior is involved in a promotion. In Summary: don’t freak out about this weirdness because I promise we’re discussing it.
- Promotion Guidelines has been updated to match current Promotheus requirements and received an information bump with the merger of what was previously "Policy: Equite Class Guidelines." We have for some time steered clear of requirements for Equite ranks beyond time and leadership, so consider these guidelines editorials on what we see as current standards.
- MAA Policies received a few noticeable changes: competitions that go un-judged beyond a month may be judged by the appropriate Dark Council member (Mav judges fiction, Val gaming). Additionally, if you take (45) days or more, the MAA reserves the right to suspend your ability to organize future competitions. In Summary: judge your competitions.
- Additionally, any competition that seeks to be closed with no placements or the organizer as a placement needs to contact the MAA to justify these. Subjectively judged events like graphics or fiction do not allow the organizer to place.
- Teylas created a nifty MAA Sidebar that provides useful MAA Wiki information from all of our pages.
- Scroll of the Master has been tweaked to specify that scrolls are only awarded for mentoring a member to DJK/JK the first time. Someone who restarted their character or was demoted does not need to be told what the ACC is, etc. This understanding is reflected by the Headmaster.
- James and I went through the rest of the “Request Title/Order/Path” forms and added colorful help boxes. We fixed the “Award Type” drop down to list awards in a common sensical priority and tweaked the competition request form to remove pre-filled details text and include a help box like the other fields.
Yeah, He Marked That
Malik’s retirement as Consul of Clan Naga Sadow also brings his retirement as Docent of Leadership: Rewards in the Shadow Academy, a course which he helped write. He’s done great work with it and has handed the reins to Howlader…which we’re confident we won’t regret…
The MAA Staff maintains a Google group called [Log in to view e-mail addresses] that I have now set to public posting. No one can view the group (hopefully, please tell me if this is wrong), but anyone can email us at that address. Please do this. Especially for the big stuff.
Speaking of, everyone has been doing a great job talking with us beforehand on GJW stuff. Some units went ahead and submitted their slew of DC/AC/SC/GC, as desired, while asking our opinions on EQ promotions and other big awards. I’d say the whole process has been going swimmingly. Thank you!
Automatic Level Upgrade
Hopefully a few people noticed battlefield promotions were handled in a more clean fashion this time around. Unit leaders were contacted ahead of time and asked to supply one name before a set rank. As stated, these promotions count as regular promotions (though they are designed as “level up early” gifts), so no double dipping is permitted on GJW activity. BFPs will be handled this way in future vendettas.
Rites of Initiation
When I became Master at Arms, I announced a six-month Magistrate term and one-year Praetor term. Many commented on how that seemed counter-productive. I have not made a final decision regarding if/when I will rotate out my staff, but I want to bring in new blood. A short conversation with Teylas and Rial will prove how much they have learned and I want them to take that knowledge into other positions.
I am opening applications for Magistrate to the Master at Arms. I have instructed Teylas and Rial they are permitted to reapply with the understanding that no more than two terms will be allowed (one consecutive year). I want others to apply as well, especially if you are a younger member looking to get your foot in the leadership/Equite door. I will bring in at least one new person.
The minimum rank is Jedi Hunter/Padawan, no leadership experience required. Include background on yourself, how you see the MAA office currently, and what you hope to learn from the position. Email applications to Evant and myself by 3 March 2015.
Just the Tip
One of our next major projects as a staff is to rewrite the Wiki article on writing recommendations and ensure it is in line with current standards. Recommendations are crucial to a request being approved because while we look at the member’s dossier we also remand a deserved request if the recommendations are bad. Why? Because recommendations turn into standards. When someone asks me why we remanded Z yet approved Y two months ago, they’re making that comparison based on the recommendations.
Here’s a few tips on what we expect when approaching a request. Obviously, the larger the award or promotion the more nit picky we become.
- Do not put report fiction in a request, yet alone paragraphs of it in the primary request. We will remand. Fiction is for reports or a Discourse thread, not the history of MAA Standards.
- The Primary Request (i.e. the one made by the person requesting) is treated as such. We read the primary first and expect to be given an introduction to the request, a thesis, with details and a rundown of what others may discuss. Supplemental requests are supplemental - toppings, supporting evidence.
- Recognition is for the activity, not the rewards. We’re not going to give someone a Dark Cross because they earned 100 Clusters of Fire last week. We may give them a Dark Cross because they were your unit’s leading gamer last week, a representation of your unit’s strength to the rest of the Brotherhood. The activity is recognized while the awards provide evidence of said activity. Wording matters.
- Consider “general extenders.” If I write in a recommendation, “Jimmy has participated in everything he can from three competitions, IRC conversations, and the like/and beyond/and more,” we wonder what exactly “like/beyond/more” means. The answer is it doesn’t mean anything. It’s vague fluff that makes us skeptical. These things do not automatically remand a request, but after reading so many the MAA Staff has triggers that cause us to look twice and scrutinize something that makes sense at face value. Wording matters.
- With the above in mind, concrete details are vital. We investigate. Evant is a boss at statistical analysis and Howie loves to tell it straight. If you say good ‘ole Jimmy has been a remarkable Quaestor, yet Jimmy’s dossier only shows two reports and one competition in a six month period that makes us wonder exactly what he’s accomplished. Consider this example Steel Cross from Halcyon, which rocks.
- Appended recommendations cannot be edited on the front end. This means that if, after submitting a request (you can delete them before submitting), you need to remove or edit appended items an email should be sent to James and me.
- Real life stuff. Sometimes recommendations discuss how impressive activity is when the member “lost computer access” or “became a mother” or “travels all the time.” These things do not really matter. All of us have IRL time constraints. I work a full time job, but that shouldn’t be a positive or negative influence on my commitments here. If you want to include a line as a way to mention it, that’s ok, but if it plays too heavily we will remand.
- Long term awarding plans should scale exponentially. Good ‘ole Jimmy shows steady activity for two months and earns an Anteian Cross. Great! Do not request another Anteian Cross for Jimmy two months later. Rewards are not a tradition. Members do not need something every six months. Specific projects warrant recognition. General activity (gaming, competition participation) should scale. Jimmy has an AC, so let’s build toward his first Steel…then Grand Cross. The more experienced you get, the longer the gap between awards, but the awards get fancier.
BONUS TIP — Many of us know the website sends a lot of automated emails. James and I have cut down on these, but Robot Aabs still likes sending stuff. Award notices are sent to the member and all unit leaders, my entire staff, so on. This means there are three options when you want to reply to these emails:
- You just hit “Reply” and email only me, the sender. This happens a lot. If the reply is time sensitive, I tell you to send it to the right person, but if it’s just a thank you I move on…so your leaders never see this.
- You hit “Reply All” and everyone on the chain gets the reply. That’s a lot of people getting multiples automated emails and it can be overwhelming.
- You curate who you are replying to by removing those that don’t need it. If you want to say thank you, let your unit leaders know. If you’re confused about standards, maybe just whittle it down to the MAA Staff (see Hotline section above).
I filter my emails so the automated ones are marked as read in my inbox. I still sort everything, but if you have an immediate question, I recommend sending a separate email as oppose to replying to an automated one.
Denial of the Month
Let’s just say a certain Grand Master (cough-Pravus-cough) accidentally submitted a Golden Lightsaber for someone instead of the fourth level crescent they were suppose to get. Bonus points to Evant for, you know, thinking that was weird.
The Grandest Master
I started to begin my paragraph on Muz Ashen’s influences by mentioning how his term as Grand Master makes up half of my DJB career, but at six years that’s true for a lot of today’s members. These past six years have not been idle ones, for better or worse. Muz has led us through some of the most excited, detailed, and fictionally grand vendettas one could have. We fought the Yuuzhan Vong. We fought Jedi. We fought the One Sith. The “declanning experiment,” as some call it, may or may not have been a total success, but it’s influence on the modern Brotherhood is unquestionable. This place is not the same as six years ago, and Muz has steered through it all. I’ve been Consul twice, Headmaster, and now Master at Arms with his blessing. Thank you, Muz, for everything you have done. I’m excited about the ability to fill out your section in the DB History Shadow Academy course.
I’d Like to Thank the Acade -cue wrap up music-
There are major policies and standards that need to be worked on over the coming months after we have selected our new (sic?) Grand Master. One of our Dark Council goals is to be more transparent, so I'm going to post the list of items currently in my email draft of "things to talk to new GM about."
- Promotional authority - is it needed, how to fix it code-wise
- Clanning expectations and rules for probation status
- Ability for clan-wide vendettas to award Tier 1 crescents
- DB-wide competitions that are not marketed DB-wide
- IRL relationship same unit policy - updating/removing
- Updating the deletion policy to reflect standards for character restarts
- Ability for Rollmasters to remove Rogue students
- Future of the DB Family policy
Personally, I am amazingly-extremely-nerdy excited about The Force Awakens. NEW STAR WARS. I know this is an opportunity for us. I know our new Grand Master knows this is an opportunity for us, and I want to take all the steps an MAA can to seize this opportunity.
I do, of course, welcome any and all feedback on these items in comments or privately, and will extend the conversation point by point over the coming weeks. Meanwhile, apply for the Magistrate position and reach out to me with questions or concerns.
Finally, I used my tax money to buy both an Xbox One and shiny 65'' LG 4K television to play it on, so if anyone wants to friend me on Xbox my gamer tag is "Dexter Pax."