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Ultratitle - a Retrospective :)

Deacon

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In opening with this, I plan to discuss both the good, and the bad, from what I witnessed. I’ll try and make it coherent and non-rambling but… ya know! I’m doing this, not to tear down what was accomplished but to offer suggestions for improvement. I would like to see this continue – maybe not in a year, but perhaps a couple of years.

The numbers
Was it just me, or were we all stoked to have (somewhere near) 100+ writers in this competition? This added an excitement that was palpable in this community, and seemingly spread to other communities. With that being said, it also lent itself to the tournament’s first weakness – inactivity. Out of all those writers, how many didn’t show? Some, I am certain, had good reasons. Others, we should’ve found a way to weed out early.

My suggestion to dealing w/ early inactivity?
Instead of giving everyone a spot, we should’ve had a pool of people and done something akin to a battle royal. This would’ve increased that early energy as everyone riffed off of everyone else in RP battles, and if someone didn’t show up, they would’ve never made it into the legit 64 man tournament. Better to have 64 energized people than 2/3 of a 100. It would work best to have no limit on the # of RPs so people can really just have fun. It may be hard to judge but that’s a problem worth having if people are having fun w/ it. And if we only have 40 who show up? We adjust the tournament early so it’s filled w/ people who want to be there. And the winner of this battle royal? I would give them the ability to switch out w/ anyone once the brackets are established.

Stalled between rounds (Administrative failures).
This was more a result of real life than anything else. Certainly, real life happens and takes precedence over any game. However, I believe that if we would’ve gone into this with a plan, allowing for most contingencies, it would’ve ran smoother. The reality is that anything like this needs a captain. I can remember fWo while Travis went MIA. We kept putting shows out, but they were, by and large, rudderless. UT had the same feel. What could help? Chad needs to have a spelled out plan for the tournament – how many RPs, segments, timelines, how it is judged, who is judging, etc. If Chad disappears, he has someone who immediately steps in at the deadline and takes over all his duties. With the plan already written out, as long as that person doesn’t try to go maverick on it, everyone will know the expectations. This didn’t happen. Pete jumped in, and it’s a good thing because we’d still be waiting on Round 3 (or so) if he hadn’t. However, rules (or setup for the round) were adjusted for expediency, leaving some of us scratching our head wondering what we were supposed to do. I can only speak for myself, but I wrote toward my main moment, climax of the RP’s build-up, and that was erased from the show. Was I frustrated? Sure. Do I think it was unfair? Sure. I wouldn’t have liked the way my RP ended w/o the segment to give some sort of payoff. We need a written plan along with a line of succession of people otherwise uninvolved in the tournament (see judging notes below).

Judging
Oh, what a challenge. First, this was, bar none, a constant challenge. First, the work that goes into this is a lot more than I anticipated. Add to it my own self-inflicted job of giving feedback when I did any judging, and that increases the workload. But, it’s what I feel made the game better. Now, judging is actually a multifaceted problem and I will try to touch on several areas.

Inconsistency. Man, did we hear it when Zero went over Hollywood. And many of the comments were legit, as what SOME judges said (myself included) was not what was decided (because, ultimately, the decision was based on each judges opinion). And the poor writers? They didn’t have a clue who they were writing for. To me, I think our failing was in even having a podcast to set out what the judges wanted because … it made it muddled. I was very vocal about the need to garner a reaction from me, and that the easiest way to do so was to make me laugh. Others, obviously, went for well written emotional prose. With that said, I do think the podcast idea is a solid one, but I think we need to do some tweaking first.
Fixing inconsistency - The judges need assigned a bracket. We could then have a podcast for Bracket 1 where those judges give what they look for, allowing the writer to know how their “game” is going to look (or if they win the battle royal, opt out to a judge more stylistically in their favor).

Appearance problems
Judges shouldn’t be competing in the tournament. At all (ok, maybe if we did use the Battle Royal idea since it wouldn’t have that much impact on the actual tournament). Yeah, that would mean we limit the number of competitors, but hear me out. First, I’m sure everyone knows that the judges were ½ of the competitors in the finals (Ford & Pete). Take it anyway you want, but it does look bad. Do I trust Pete and Ford? Absolutely! They, as much as anyone, see this as a game to blow off some steam. It’s creative writing and a way to practice doing what they love. However, if we are to be honest, we know that judging a competition that you are competing in is questionable, to no fault of either of them (because honestly, both did a bang up job getting there). Yes, Chad addressed this by pulling all judges out in… round 3, I think, but that can lead to problems w/ inconsistency as your way has been working and then suddenly doesn’t, leaving you confused.

Judging responses and reasoning behind choices must be required. To my knowledge, I was the first to post my judging notes. It was a reaction to requests over the whole Zero/Blaine issue, and I read some great points of why this was necessary. I won’t rehash but to say – if someone took the time to write something for my entertainment, then I should be willing to give back some. It didn’t take me that long, and if I hadn’t had other responsibilities in the tournament, I could’ve knocked all of that out in half the time it would’ve taken Pete to write the opening sequence to the Finals match. This opened the door for someone to question my judgment, which is fine. Note that I voted for Melton to win the finals and Melton ended up in last place. My judgment is far from foolproof (though I think Steve would argue in my favor). But I should put it out there. If our goal is to grow the community and improve it, then we should be transparent and willing to give and receive tactful feedback.

Match results

I will take some blame for this. My early matches weren’t what Chad wanted – too spelled out. However, after having some decent opening matches, we closed later rounds with…

Joe beat Bob in 15 minutes

Just so we could keep the thing moving. I get it, I really do, but it didn’t help build the story of the tournament. By the time it got to the end, we should’ve been at a fever pitch, but it was an afterthought – too much time had passed, we hadn’t done anything to build the internal stories and the buildup suffered. I agree, that RPs are where the fun is, but the matches are the payoff for putting in the effort. Getting a “Joe beat Bob” shows the competitor that though they put out 2,000 words of effort, we’re going to give you 5 in response. And that’s the final for you. It just feels…bleh.

Now, IMO, if we fix the administrative glitches, this shouldn’t be an issue. The only problem should be finding someone to kick out the matches when the time comes.

Summary –
Inactivity – have a battle royal that will weed out those not serious.
Administratively – Have a clear chain of command of those not competing in the tournament. Have written expectations for each round. The administrator will then simply have to follow those instructions.
Judging – Judges are assigned a bracket, are not competing in the tournament, and provide written feedback on why they went the direction they went.
Match results – Come on, man! Seriously, just give people the payoff.
 

User Poets

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Most of this is spot on, some of this requires some commentary, and I'll be writing a response tomorrow. But the short of it is, I think Warren is right in that if the administrative problems were fixed, most of the rest of the non-creative side of this would have followed suit.

More. I want more comments.
 

User Poets

The Shadow Pope
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I'm just going to hit this point by point.

The Numbers/No Shows

I fully agree with you on this point as far as trying to get every spot filled with someone who wanted to be there in the series proper. Considering the fact that we had I think only one no-show no-call in the entire tournament after the first round, it would make sense to weed out the losers right off the bat.

The problem would be, how do you make the distinction? How do you decide who's in or who has to qualify? I would say that the later signups would be the logical source as people who really wanted to be there got in early (evidenced by the fact that the Final Eight all signed up inside the first 40 entrants). But I'm trying to wrap my head around this concept and its' not working for me. I think the idea of a 'wild card qualifier' type round would have worked fine to weed an interested party of 70 down to a field of 64, but we had a legitimate 112 (or so) entrants, so it was less time consuming to build that up than it was to weed it down. For my part, Chad was motivated to get going with the jobber fill ins and I know better than to try to bog him down when he's actually motivated because it leaves so quickly.

Leading to...

Administrative Failures

From the beginning, I said this tournament should not have a website and fancy graphics and complicated Internets code because I understand none of it. Put it on the boards, give it access to the admins, that way when Chad inevitably disappears he's not leaving 64 or 32 or however many hanging with the few of us left who were helping out holding the bag and trying to answer questions. I told him that at any point at least two people should be able to coordinate and post the shows. And he still managed to bungle that.

I believe it was either the first half of round 2 or the second half of round 1, the show was several days past its posting time and Merritt was off at RAW and people were asking me for an update. Of course, all judging and all matches were sent to Merritt all by his onesie so I spent a night IMing, Emailing, and texting all the people that I assumed were judges to try and get the thing put together. I think the results went up that night.

Round 3 was where it all went to hell. I had said from the start, I will help out, but I don't want to run things. I don't have patience and I don't have people skills and trying to deal with the large pool of writers and judges, some of whom I still don't know if I ever officially met, and assigning shit to people based on whatever whacked-out criteria Merritt used was not appealing to me. Fortunately I learned, and the judges were instructed to send their votes to me, too, so at least I had that. But that was the moment that Merritt decided to leave for vacation and then get sick for three months.

Vacations are fine. Getting sick is terrible. But if you're Chad Merritt and you don't tell anyone that you're going on vacation, your track record is going to make me assume that you've run out of enthusiasm for the project and are going to let it drop.

See: Gold Rush 2006, released in the fall of 2007.

I recruited everyone under the sun to try and get the matches written for round 3, I think I did half the field and got the rest doled out (big ups to Sagawa-John for pinch hitting, and big ups to Stanton for helping out with something literally every round.)

So it was at that point, I guess, that the tournament officially became mine. I wanted to keep the momentum going and pick up the fact that we'd lost 90% of it by the Round 3 delay, so everyone who criticized the one line results of round 4 and the longish-short form results of round 5 were absolutely correct in the sense that the first two rounds should've been one line/short form, the next three should've been what the first two were, and the semis and finals were what they were.

At that point my goal was to keep the people who were still interested interested, by getting the results out the day they were promised. And the only way I knew to be guaranteed that I could do so was to do it the way I did.

Judging and all of its warts and scars

If I was going to run this tournament myself, first of all I never would because f'k all that work, but I would've done what Katz said to me weeks ago and what Warren said in his note: 5 dedicated people who are not involved at all.

When I took over, I did the next best thing. I asked people that I knew were honest and unbiased, and had proven it to me over the long term. For rounds 4 and 5 and the finals, my judging team was a base of Stanton, Brunk, and Biron. I had Katz and Chrisanova (both of whom were not involved at all) filling in where I needed a tiebreaker or an extra set of eyes, and my finals judging team was Stanton, Brunk, Biron, Warren, and Mad Dog.

Again, if you can find evidence of bias, please share it with me. Then please find somewhere else to call your FW home because none of them are anything but fair. Please note, that while Ford and myself were also on the judging team at one point, neither of us judged our own brackets and starting with the round of 32, had zero voice in who won what.

On that subject, some rumors need to be addressed. I've heard thirdhand conversations about how some matches were voted on politically to either 'thin the field' to keep a stronger competitor out of the later rounds, or how the finals were 'worked' to ensure an 'all NFW' final or some ridiculous BS like that.

To the first point, I disagree with exactly two of the results: Zero over Blaine and Jeff Andrews over Triple X.

In my opinion, Zero was writing an angle fed style story while Blaine was competing in an RP based tournament. They were two different creatures from two different worlds competing in only one of those worlds. I could take a look at the judges but my guess would be that aside from Stanton, whose blood we're still cleaning off the wall from when it shot out his ears during the aneurism he suffered when the results came out, the other judges were all from one or another angle fed. And the reason I can say that with decent confidence is that in my experience, angle fed writers in a competitive style, for some reason, don't like to include wrestling in the story.

(See: everything that PTC ever ran)

Andrews vs. Triple X, just a difference of opinion. They both RP'd well and either of them could've won.

But those are the only two cases where I disagreed with the end result. Every other match, I fully believe that the consensus of the judges was the correct conclusion and that the winner wrote better stuff than the loser.

Stacking the deck for the NFW... well, considering two of the characters in the Final Four aren't in NFW, the accusation is laughable. My guess is that this sentiment came up from the fact that when I took over, I started using judges that were really only from FW Central, creating what may have been interpreted as an unfair bias toward FWC homegrown writers.

Like I said before, I stuck with the people that I trusted to be fair and a good judge of good writing. Is it really easier on your little egos to believe that you were discriminated against than it is to acknowledge "Yeah, that guy wrote really well and I can see how he won."

To play devil's advocate, that's why I encouraged judges to share details, that way people could see that.

In conclusion

I'd put the question forward, would anyone ever be interested in another board-wide event later on, and nobody really answered.

I'm not running it. But if the question ever came up, I'd have three (or 5 or 7 or whoever) judges chosen from the start and made public, I'd tell them what kind of writing should win (Hint: It should be about wrestling), and I'd have a hard cutoff and screw y'all for showing up late.

But it was an experience, and I just hope that the final show was worth it for everyone who actually read it.
 

brusch

Main Event Caliber
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It is a tricky balance between weeding out people who may flake vs. discouraging new signups. As a personal story, I only began efedding at all because my friend asked me to sign up for the ULTRATITLE with him. Also, I was pretty terrible when I started (even 8 months later I'm still in the early-goings where I now know maybe 20% of what I'm doing).

Still, I would NEVER have gotten into all the other things I now find myself doing (got an interesting feud going in IWF, a new character running in EPW's King of the Cage, made the finals of the first IGC title event, might have something going on in NFW) had I not been given the opportunity to compete in ULTRATITLE despite being completely new. It was particularly in my match against Orphan where something clicked for me that this hobby can be so much more interesting than "yeah i'm awesome lol you suck", and could fill a creative writing void I had.

Voss had something he required for the most recent IGC card, and that was a 500-word-maximum RP. It shows at least a certain level of commitment to their entry, rather than a "yeah count me in" alone; almost like a RP-security-deposit, and may be a way to confirm entries for another board-wide large event in the future. Maybe make the word count 1000-maximum or something, so no one is reading novels but things could be fleshed out to show who seems really locked in; it could even be used as a de facto seeding system, as better entry RPs could face jobbers/worse RPers.

I would personally have fun competing again in a future event now that I have a bit more experience; that being said, it would be important to implement the administrative ideas discussed above. I did my best to continue reading and providing some feedback from a fan's perspective as the tournament progressed, but with the delays and the momentum halted, I began losing interest. Firm deadlines, both for RPing and for results posting, is the #1 key.
 

Deacon

Member
Joined
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Messages
309
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Mostly w/ the Battle Royal idea, it would be a way to toss everyone into a "match" at one time. Everyone who competed and at least gave an effort would survive and go into the actual tournament with the winner getting a bonus of some sort. I think it'd be easier to write everyone out in one cluster match like.

"Deacon, Mark Maverick, Leyanda De Ocho, Eli Flair all sent out of the ring in the first 4 minutes (not even really giving much of a story to those who didn't bother to RP). From there, Impulse and Troy Windham stole the spotlight for a bit until Troy hip tossed Impulse out. (gives a small storyline for the tournament, especially if they're in the same bracket.)

Go on from there until the victor is set.

But I certainly see your point, trying to encourage while decreasing the likelihood of flaking out. What other ideas are out there? Do we just say it's an inevitable part of the game?
 

Ernie

El Gringo Loco
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I'm just going to hit this point by point.

The Numbers/No Shows

I fully agree with you on this point as far as trying to get every spot filled with someone who wanted to be there in the series proper. Considering the fact that we had I think only one no-show no-call in the entire tournament after the first round, it would make sense to weed out the losers right off the bat.

The problem would be, how do you make the distinction? How do you decide who's in or who has to qualify? I would say that the later signups would be the logical source as people who really wanted to be there got in early (evidenced by the fact that the Final Eight all signed up inside the first 40 entrants). But I'm trying to wrap my head around this concept and its' not working for me. I think the idea of a 'wild card qualifier' type round would have worked fine to weed an interested party of 70 down to a field of 64, but we had a legitimate 112 (or so) entrants, so it was less time consuming to build that up than it was to weed it down. For my part, Chad was motivated to get going with the jobber fill ins and I know better than to try to bog him down when he's actually motivated because it leaves so quickly.

Leading to...

Administrative Failures

From the beginning, I said this tournament should not have a website and fancy graphics and complicated Internets code because I understand none of it. Put it on the boards, give it access to the admins, that way when Chad inevitably disappears he's not leaving 64 or 32 or however many hanging with the few of us left who were helping out holding the bag and trying to answer questions. I told him that at any point at least two people should be able to coordinate and post the shows. And he still managed to bungle that.

I believe it was either the first half of round 2 or the second half of round 1, the show was several days past its posting time and Merritt was off at RAW and people were asking me for an update. Of course, all judging and all matches were sent to Merritt all by his onesie so I spent a night IMing, Emailing, and texting all the people that I assumed were judges to try and get the thing put together. I think the results went up that night.

Round 3 was where it all went to hell. I had said from the start, I will help out, but I don't want to run things. I don't have patience and I don't have people skills and trying to deal with the large pool of writers and judges, some of whom I still don't know if I ever officially met, and assigning shit to people based on whatever whacked-out criteria Merritt used was not appealing to me. Fortunately I learned, and the judges were instructed to send their votes to me, too, so at least I had that. But that was the moment that Merritt decided to leave for vacation and then get sick for three months.

Vacations are fine. Getting sick is terrible. But if you're Chad Merritt and you don't tell anyone that you're going on vacation, your track record is going to make me assume that you've run out of enthusiasm for the project and are going to let it drop.

See: Gold Rush 2006, released in the fall of 2007.

I recruited everyone under the sun to try and get the matches written for round 3, I think I did half the field and got the rest doled out (big ups to Sagawa-John for pinch hitting, and big ups to Stanton for helping out with something literally every round.)

So it was at that point, I guess, that the tournament officially became mine. I wanted to keep the momentum going and pick up the fact that we'd lost 90% of it by the Round 3 delay, so everyone who criticized the one line results of round 4 and the longish-short form results of round 5 were absolutely correct in the sense that the first two rounds should've been one line/short form, the next three should've been what the first two were, and the semis and finals were what they were.

At that point my goal was to keep the people who were still interested interested, by getting the results out the day they were promised. And the only way I knew to be guaranteed that I could do so was to do it the way I did.

Judging and all of its warts and scars

If I was going to run this tournament myself, first of all I never would because f'k all that work, but I would've done what Katz said to me weeks ago and what Warren said in his note: 5 dedicated people who are not involved at all.

When I took over, I did the next best thing. I asked people that I knew were honest and unbiased, and had proven it to me over the long term. For rounds 4 and 5 and the finals, my judging team was a base of Stanton, Brunk, and Biron. I had Katz and Chrisanova (both of whom were not involved at all) filling in where I needed a tiebreaker or an extra set of eyes, and my finals judging team was Stanton, Brunk, Biron, Warren, and Mad Dog.

Again, if you can find evidence of bias, please share it with me. Then please find somewhere else to call your FW home because none of them are anything but fair. Please note, that while Ford and myself were also on the judging team at one point, neither of us judged our own brackets and starting with the round of 32, had zero voice in who won what.

On that subject, some rumors need to be addressed. I've heard thirdhand conversations about how some matches were voted on politically to either 'thin the field' to keep a stronger competitor out of the later rounds, or how the finals were 'worked' to ensure an 'all NFW' final or some ridiculous BS like that.

To the first point, I disagree with exactly two of the results: Zero over Blaine and Jeff Andrews over Triple X.

In my opinion, Zero was writing an angle fed style story while Blaine was competing in an RP based tournament. They were two different creatures from two different worlds competing in only one of those worlds. I could take a look at the judges but my guess would be that aside from Stanton, whose blood we're still cleaning off the wall from when it shot out his ears during the aneurism he suffered when the results came out, the other judges were all from one or another angle fed. And the reason I can say that with decent confidence is that in my experience, angle fed writers in a competitive style, for some reason, don't like to include wrestling in the story.

(See: everything that PTC ever ran)

Andrews vs. Triple X, just a difference of opinion. They both RP'd well and either of them could've won.

But those are the only two cases where I disagreed with the end result. Every other match, I fully believe that the consensus of the judges was the correct conclusion and that the winner wrote better stuff than the loser.

Stacking the deck for the NFW... well, considering two of the characters in the Final Four aren't in NFW, the accusation is laughable. My guess is that this sentiment came up from the fact that when I took over, I started using judges that were really only from FW Central, creating what may have been interpreted as an unfair bias toward FWC homegrown writers.

Like I said before, I stuck with the people that I trusted to be fair and a good judge of good writing. Is it really easier on your little egos to believe that you were discriminated against than it is to acknowledge "Yeah, that guy wrote really well and I can see how he won."

To play devil's advocate, that's why I encouraged judges to share details, that way people could see that.

In conclusion

I'd put the question forward, would anyone ever be interested in another board-wide event later on, and nobody really answered.

I'm not running it. But if the question ever came up, I'd have three (or 5 or 7 or whoever) judges chosen from the start and made public, I'd tell them what kind of writing should win (Hint: It should be about wrestling), and I'd have a hard cutoff and screw y'all for showing up late.

But it was an experience, and I just hope that the final show was worth it for everyone who actually read it.

I'd be interested in another board wide event in the future.
 

DBrunkGXW

Consigliere
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I don't think anything happened with Ultratitle that anyone who has done this for a long time couldn't have anticipated no matter what was done.

The truth is, in any functioning organism/business, the more people that are involved, the more chance that it will all go to hell.

Tons of judges? Bad move. I'd have preferred Chad and two other judges just judge the thing.

No-shows? Unavoidable. Never in the history of e-fedding has a tournament gone without no-shows. If there has been one, I'd really love to see it.

Delays in card production? Again, did any of you actually know the people RUNNING this tournament? Were you not all aware that the CSWA UNIFIED Champion has held the belt for four YEARS, because of no card production? Why don't we dig up Richard Nixon and appoint him the head of a new ethics committee? No? Why not? This time it'll be different.

Judging decisions. To be blunt, there were judges judging these matches in some cases who should never judge a pie eating contest, let alone a roleplayed e-fedding tournament. I saw some justification for judging that absolutely boggled my mind, and I'm a hard guy to shock. It's hard to believe that a group like ours that has taken some pride in putting out quality shows over the years, whether it be CSWA, NFW, EPW, or any of the other successful feds on this circuit over the years, would be such bad judges of WHO WOULD MAKE A GOOD JUDGE.

Finally though -- and really, this is most important to me:

THE RIGHT GUY WON.

The best character and the writer on the biggest roll in the hobby right now won the tournament. If you want to complain about the issues above, that's fine, but I'm hear to tell you that they are inherent difficulties of the hobby. You might as well try to stop the sun from rising as try to prevent no-shows, flaky handlers and production delays. If you want to prevent bad judging, make 1-3 judges tops and stick with it. You can be fine with those judges, or you don't have to play. Simple. Don't substitute quantity for quality. That's why I have and will always run a one-judge system in EPW. You don't like a result? Blame me. You like a result? Thank me. Either way, it's one vision, one direction (that's why it's beautiful), and no reason to bitch about anyone else.

As for future events -- we'll do them I'm sure, and guess what? It'll have issues. Might as well prepare yourselves for them right now.

But what do I know?
 

Deacon

Member
Joined
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Messages
309
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The truth is, in any functioning organism/business, the more people that are involved, the more chance that it will all go to hell.

Tons of judges? Bad move. I'd have preferred Chad and two other judges just judge the thing.

No-shows? Unavoidable. Never in the history of e-fedding has a tournament gone without no-shows. If there has been one, I'd really love to see it.

Delays in card production? Again, did any of you actually know the people RUNNING this tournament? Were you not all aware that the CSWA UNIFIED Champion has held the belt for four YEARS, because of no card production? Why don't we dig up Richard Nixon and appoint him the head of a new ethics committee? No? Why not? This time it'll be different.


Finally though -- and really, this is most important to me:

THE RIGHT GUY WON.

The best character and the writer on the biggest roll in the hobby right now won the tournament. If you want to complain about the issues above, that's fine, but I'm hear to tell you that they are inherent difficulties of the hobby. You might as well try to stop the sun from rising as try to prevent no-shows, flaky handlers and production delays. If you want to prevent bad judging, make 1-3 judges tops and stick with it. You can be fine with those judges, or you don't have to play. (SNIP)

As for future events -- we'll do them I'm sure, and guess what? It'll have issues. Might as well prepare yourselves for them right now.

I did some snipping to Brunk's comments so if you want the full version, scroll up already!

The main problem I had was the idea that "things are what they are because people are involved." I can agree w/ this sentiment - the argument could be backed by more data than I could possibly ever counter. Except in one way - things are the way they are, but we should always try to find ways to do it better. Humans were involved in the creation of computers, cars and countless other systems (political, scientific, etc.) over the millenia. Those were improved because people took a look at what they had and wanted to put a system in place to make the new thing better. I work in a business that deals w/ people and the crap they can throw into well-laid plans, but if we go into a situation w/ a flawed plan knowing someone is going to throw it off (and yes, they do), then we're just playing defense and poorly played at that. My hope in doing this is to get some clarity, look at the "warts" that came to light, and then consider a way to do it better. Will it fix everything? Doubtful, but I'd rather take a few moments to consider how to make it better than to just complain that it isn't better (or not complain and walk away from the hobby, or at least away from something like this).

Now that I've commented on the general comments, I want to touch on some of the other points.

Judging (and/or Judges) - I can't argue w/ the point of having 1 judge, at least as far as consistency goes. I can state that only having one judge would be quite an undertaking, at least initially until you settle down into the sweet 16 or so, but the plus, assuming someone had the time, would be undeniable. But, it would be a task, and one I'd gladly pass up, no matter how much I want this to be consistent (or at least more consistent).

I'd also like to comment on "the right person won", using Castor's recent run as validation. I'm thinking I am reading more into this than intended, but it seemed the logic was about Castor's body of work, and not that he wrote more engaging stuff (or whatever criteria is/was used) in the tournament. I can't argue that Castor is on a roll. I can't argue that he's done amazing work. I can't even say he was bad, lukewarm, whatever in the tournament, but I can say I hope we didn't choose him based on work in NFW (or wherever else the character is). I'm only saying this because of that rumored NFW bias Pete mentioned. I've not heard it, but I thought I'd toss the question out there to keep it above board instead of rumbling beneath that it proves anything about a bias. Obviously, for whatever reason, Castor didn't connect w/ me in the finals. More obviously, I was in the minority in my reaction to his work. Of course, that's the one flaw if I were the only judge - I wouldn't have given it to Castor.

wf
 

LQJT86C

Where's my money, Chad?
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Until the results are nullified and Spooky Doom is declared champion, the right guy did not win.

That said, I think Warren's original feedback is pretty spot on in terms of what could have been better about this tournament. It's no secret that my biggest gripe about UT 2012 was the judging. Kind of an odd stance, considering I won the damn thing, but the judging noticeably improved once a bunch of guys were weeded out/dropped out. What we wound up with were a handful of guys, all consistently proven as top writers in this hobby over the last several years (or more), giving detailed feedback and making consensus decisions. So when I criticize the judging, let me be clear: the first three rounds yielded some suspect decisions, not much feedback, and the judging pool was too large, with some guys who, though I won't name them (and they are all nice guys), didn't really belong there. Sorry, I know it comes off as cavalier, especially from the guy who won, but it's my honest opinion.

Overall, however, I thought the tournament was a success. Brunk makes a good point about the expectation level, so with that in mind, the results really weren't that late. Honestly, if you would've told me back in April that we would have a winner by late September/early October, I would have been shocked. A big reason for that (probably the main reason) was that Pete stepped in during the later rounds, gathered up a good team of people, and they finished everything. Chad did a good job getting the first two (gigantic) rounds out, but Pete got us home. Great job.

I don't think it will be difficult to follow some of the structural suggestions that Warren suggested, but when it comes to results and no-shows, it's basically impossible to prevent it. This time around, it was about as good as it's ever gonna get. Late results and no-shows weren't half as bad as they could have been, and have been in the past.

Personally, the only result I care about is Chad's bank account resulting in a -$125 withdrawal at the end of the business day. Don't make me get a debt collector, Chadwick! My uncle Vincenzo runs a mean operation.
 

DBrunkGXW

Consigliere
Joined
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Messages
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A couple of points back at ya, Warren. :)

Of course I'm not saying that everything is flawed, therefore be happy with what you got. That's not my point. As you know based on your work experience, and as I know based on mine, performance improvement is an ongoing process that never ends. You look at what works and what doesn't, you fine tune, and you move on. However, I will offer up this one distinction...

This is a hobby.

As long as this is a hobby and not a paid profession, you will never be able to get this many people together for an undertaking like this and eliminate the issues you're talking about. How long has this circuit been around? They started CSWA in 1988, right? So that's 24 years right there. Are we to assume they never considered how to stop no shows? Are we to assume they never thought about the problem of late results? Are we to assume that no one cared about any of these issues over the last two and a half decades? Of course they did. But ultimately, when you're dealing with a hobby, you choose your battles, emphasize what's working and accept the collateral damage. If ten people join a fed, how many do you expect to be good, long term contributers? In my experience, I'd say if you get one great contributer out of that, you're doing okay. Two and you should be very happy. Any more than that and it's a grand slam home run. I'm not going to concentrate on the 7-9 people who flaked out and disappeared, but rather build around the 1-3 who stayed and can become the cornerstone of a healthy league.

I don't think it's realistic to expect contributers to a hobby where you don't pay, don't get paid any prize money (usually) and ultimately can ease in and out of as time permits, to spend a lot of time on issues that have been part of the hobby from the very beginning.

To my mind, 90% of the problems can be fixed by a much smaller pool of judges, a single organizer with a backup who follows through on their commitment to do what they've committed to do, and realistic expectations. Truth be told, the problem in this hobby if you ask me, bigger than ANY of these is people volunteering to help with things who then don't help, or are never heard from again. I have a simple way to deal with these people. I don't depend on them anymore. I go into it with my eyes wide open. I would rather have no volunteers to help with card production than ten, with only four who come through.

And again, paramount in this discussion is that this was a CS-organized tournament, and if you didn't expect these issues, you're nuts. Doesn't matter what a good guy Chad is. That's not the point. The point is, when you join circuit-wide events like this, you have to ask yourself.... who is running this and what is their track record? Pete shouldn't have had to do what he did. If I started a circuit-wide event and then disappeared and someone else picked up the ball for me, barring a catastrophic injury/illness/divorce or other such life changing event, I'd be embarrassed to show my face around here. Anyone wanna talk about the last TEAM event while we're at it?

Point being, you can expend energy looking for ways to make it better, but to me, the ways to make it better are very obvious, and they're people-based. If you can't follow through with a commitment, again barring any sudden real life event you can't avoid, don't make it. That's how I try to go through this hobby, and I take my word seriously. I'm not sure that's true of everyone, and that's the biggest problem here.

Second point...

Regarding Castor, yes you definitely read way too much into that. I judged solely on what he did in the tournament. He pretty comfortably won the judging in the final four, and he wasn't challenged much in the early rounds. I don't read any fed I'm not in, so I haven't read Castor in NFW since I left. I'm saying the right person won, because in my opinion, he was the best when it mattered most. I assure you, if there was any rumored NFW bias, no one would say I'm biased toward NFW. If anything, Katz would probably expect me to be biased AGAINST NFW. I'm not, and I respect the hell out of Katz, Gregg and JN, but we've had our solid differences of opinion on booking over the years. Anyone who knows me knows that.

Regarding how you voted, everyone has their own opinion, Warren. That wouldn't be a flaw in a one-judge system, because we know what makes you tick. I have a pretty solid idea of what you like and what you don't like based on your comments on the board and your feedback to things over the years. Even if I don't agree with you, I'd prefer to know up front what the deal is so I know how to adjust my writing if needed, or not sign up at all if needed. Trust me, I've had to make plenty of adjustments over the years in the various feds I've competed in to excel in feds with fed heads who may think differently than I do. The point isn't finding someone you agree with. The point is finding someone who judges consistently.

I did some snipping to Brunk's comments so if you want the full version, scroll up already!

The main problem I had was the idea that "things are what they are because people are involved." I can agree w/ this sentiment - the argument could be backed by more data than I could possibly ever counter. Except in one way - things are the way they are, but we should always try to find ways to do it better. Humans were involved in the creation of computers, cars and countless other systems (political, scientific, etc.) over the millenia. Those were improved because people took a look at what they had and wanted to put a system in place to make the new thing better. I work in a business that deals w/ people and the crap they can throw into well-laid plans, but if we go into a situation w/ a flawed plan knowing someone is going to throw it off (and yes, they do), then we're just playing defense and poorly played at that. My hope in doing this is to get some clarity, look at the "warts" that came to light, and then consider a way to do it better. Will it fix everything? Doubtful, but I'd rather take a few moments to consider how to make it better than to just complain that it isn't better (or not complain and walk away from the hobby, or at least away from something like this).

Now that I've commented on the general comments, I want to touch on some of the other points.

Judging (and/or Judges) - I can't argue w/ the point of having 1 judge, at least as far as consistency goes. I can state that only having one judge would be quite an undertaking, at least initially until you settle down into the sweet 16 or so, but the plus, assuming someone had the time, would be undeniable. But, it would be a task, and one I'd gladly pass up, no matter how much I want this to be consistent (or at least more consistent).

I'd also like to comment on "the right person won", using Castor's recent run as validation. I'm thinking I am reading more into this than intended, but it seemed the logic was about Castor's body of work, and not that he wrote more engaging stuff (or whatever criteria is/was used) in the tournament. I can't argue that Castor is on a roll. I can't argue that he's done amazing work. I can't even say he was bad, lukewarm, whatever in the tournament, but I can say I hope we didn't choose him based on work in NFW (or wherever else the character is). I'm only saying this because of that rumored NFW bias Pete mentioned. I've not heard it, but I thought I'd toss the question out there to keep it above board instead of rumbling beneath that it proves anything about a bias. Obviously, for whatever reason, Castor didn't connect w/ me in the finals. More obviously, I was in the minority in my reaction to his work. Of course, that's the one flaw if I were the only judge - I wouldn't have given it to Castor.

wf
 

Deacon

Member
Joined
Apr 1, 1998
Messages
309
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18
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A couple of points back at ya, Warren. :)

SNIP
To my mind, 90% of the problems can be fixed by a much smaller pool of judges, a single organizer with a backup who follows through on their commitment to do what they've committed to do, and realistic expectations. Truth be told, the problem in this hobby if you ask me, bigger than ANY of these is people volunteering to help with things who then don't help, or are never heard from again. I have a simple way to deal with these people. I don't depend on them anymore. I go into it with my eyes wide open. I would rather have no volunteers to help with card production than ten, with only four who come through.

SNIP

Point being, you can expend energy looking for ways to make it better, but to me, the ways to make it better are very obvious, and they're people-based. If you can't follow through with a commitment, again barring any sudden real life event you can't avoid, don't make it. That's how I try to go through this hobby, and I take my word seriously. I'm not sure that's true of everyone, and that's the biggest problem here.

Funny how you put it, but I think we actually agreed.

(my original post...)

Summary –
Inactivity – have a battle royal that will weed out those not serious.
Administratively – Have a clear chain of command of those not competing in the tournament. Have written expectations for each round. The administrator will then simply have to follow those instructions.
Judging – Judges are assigned a bracket, are not competing in the tournament, and provide written feedback on why they went the direction they went.


You focused more on Chad "manning up" and meeting his committment. I focused on having a backup plan that would allow for administrator-disappearances for whatever reason. I can't argue w/ your logic, again. In the end, if we say it, we should do it - that's a major reason why I put my judging responses out there every time. It would be best if that always happened, but in a hobby where one person flaking can affect so many other things happening, it'd be nice to at least discuss ways to improve it and maybe, just maybe, enact them to see if they work.

But you're right again - this isn't my job. Or anyones. I'd just like to look into ways we can improve what we do (both creatively and logistically).

wf
 

DBrunkGXW

Consigliere
Joined
Sep 11, 1997
Messages
4,815
Points
36
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Location
Katy, TX
You're an idealist and I'm a realist/pragmatist. :)

Nothing wrong with either.

Funny how you put it, but I think we actually agreed.

(my original post...)

Summary –
Inactivity – have a battle royal that will weed out those not serious.
Administratively – Have a clear chain of command of those not competing in the tournament. Have written expectations for each round. The administrator will then simply have to follow those instructions.
Judging – Judges are assigned a bracket, are not competing in the tournament, and provide written feedback on why they went the direction they went.


You focused more on Chad "manning up" and meeting his committment. I focused on having a backup plan that would allow for administrator-disappearances for whatever reason. I can't argue w/ your logic, again. In the end, if we say it, we should do it - that's a major reason why I put my judging responses out there every time. It would be best if that always happened, but in a hobby where one person flaking can affect so many other things happening, it'd be nice to at least discuss ways to improve it and maybe, just maybe, enact them to see if they work.

But you're right again - this isn't my job. Or anyones. I'd just like to look into ways we can improve what we do (both creatively and logistically).

wf
 

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