Friday, August 22, 2014

Smaller Shared Spaces in Social Media

In the Northwest Magic Judges Facebook group, if you post a rules question, you're likely to get a quick reply from new Regional Coordinator Jeremy Behunin, asking you to take rules questions to other outlets. One of the outlets he will helpfully point you to is, a link that takes you to an IRC channel where around a hundred rules experts squat all day and night waiting to answer your rules questions. The link to the chat is also a frequent reply to such rules questions in the r/mtgjudge subreddit.

Why this response? Why not just answer the rules question? (Many times someone does before a Mod can come along and post the link.) And especially in the context of the regional FB group, aren't judges supposed to help each other?

The answer is primarily one of bandwidth and clutter. The FB group and the subreddit are places to talk about the act of judging, not carry out the act itself. People post links to useful articles, ask more in depth questions ("How do I become an L2?"), and share information on upcoming events. If the floor were opened up to any and all rules questions, it would quickly become... a rules Q&A forum, and those already exist in copious amounts all over the Internet. Despite Magic rules being a part of the shared interests Venn Diagram for these groups, it's nice to have some space to get away from it all. The operators of the official Magic Judges Facebook and Twitter accounts have similar regulations against answering rules questions.

Another shared space that people have recently had difficulty navigating are the event forums on Anytime you are accepted to be on staff for an event on JudgeApps, you gain access to a forum that is exclusive to that event. It's like being invited to a club. Once you are in the club, you have to realize that you have a responsibility to not be loud and obnoxious (or the online equivalent). If you are going to make a post, you should ask yourself if the post is necessary for to the event to run well.

The default notification setting for Event Forum Posts is to go to e-mail. That's right. If you're on staff for a GP with 100 other people, you just sent your joke to all of them, something you wouldn't do if you had to manually input all of their addresses. It can be deceptive because those e-mails only have one address in the From field and even puts the name of the person who sent the original message; it feels like you are only replying to one person, but I can assure you that a single reply to the weird forum e-mail will go out to everyone.

Everyone who hasn't already unsubscribed from the thread/forum. Therein lies the real danger of too much spam on event forums. Often there is time sensitive information that needs to be disseminated to staff members, like call times and team assignments. If there is too much spam circulating on the event forums, people may get "Notification Fatigue" and opt out of getting e-mail updates, missing some vital information down the line. I personally have all event forum posts push to my e-mail, and I am very selective about unsubscribing from individual threads. Even if they filled with jokes today, there may be something important posted tomorrow. There are only a few threads that I will opt out of, and that's only because they are set up to be social "spam" threads from the start. While I understand and appreciate why Scott Marshall does his "music thread," I no longer have any interest in the musical stylings of everyone else on staff. It's an easy "unsubscribe" for me. Later, if I am having a slow day, I can go to the forums themselves and catch up on the thread at my own leisure.

Keep in mind that when you post things to specific Facebook groups or an event forum, you are posting to a lot of people. These people have subscribed to this group in good faith and will now be receiving notifications on all posts that go up in the group. Take some time to think about whether you should be asking all 300 judges in your region about something, or if you are better off going to your mentor with it. Yes, sometimes your question might be on the minds of other people, especially if it is about a recent announcement, or you might want to see some discussion about the topic. Other times, it's probably just better to shoot your question to someone 1-on-1.

1 comment:

  1. I would like to know why I was kicked from the NorthWest group. I was told that it was to "keep it local," however, my life partner along with several other judges remain in that group despite their location. I would like an explanation please.