I hate Exemplar Salt.
(Nuts and bolts for people not closely associated with the Judge Program. We have a system via which we recognize each other's great deeds. Many of us receive additional gifts as a result of these nominations. This is called the Exemplar Program.)
Some people seem to be complaining about the system because they didn't receive any recognition. They compare themselves to others around them that do, and rather than turn the fire inward to find ways to be even better, they resort to jealousy and calls to cancel/overhaul the entire system since it is clearly broken.
There are also accusations of what have been dubbed "circles of bros" by some, essentially meaning that we all just keep nominating each other. In a similar vein, some deride the entire enterprise as a popularity contest. I'm popular. I have a close-knit group of friends among judges that some number of nominations both ways comes out of. Am I part of the problem?
Reading this type of stuff makes me sad. These people are so negative about something that has brought me so much joy, both in the giving and the receiving. There is usually one nomination per wave that brings a tear to my eye, and I've had people tell me the same about my nominations of them. It drives me to be excellent and to stay worthy of the esteem that is written in the nominations. I also use my own nominations to try to drive my friends to greatness as well.
I know that I work hard, have an impact on the lives of many judges, and I deserve the nominations I've received, but it sucks to be told that it's just because I'm popular or because I know so many judges. It can really take the wind out of your sails. My reaction is to blow harder. (That sounds weird.) I didn't use all of my nomination slots this past wave. Partly this was because the nomination window closed on a Sunday when I was at an event. I had given this feedback in the past, and it got changed to something like a Wednesday, but then it changed back. I don't know why, but it took me by surprise, and I didn't have the energy to put in some more nominations.
I now regret that. If my words and nominations have power, I should seek to use as many as I have. Even on a reduced schedule, I go to more events than most, and I spend more time than all but a handful of people reading Tournament Reports. I see greatness all around me, and I will say so. This extends to Judge Center reviews as well. With the advent of Flash Feedback reviews, I feel more comfortable just entering a review that says "This thing you did was great. Thanks." These might be placeholders for future Exemplar nominations, or they might not, but at least the thing was said to the person.
To that end, I've also been entering nominations more proactively. As a newly-minted L4, I get 15 nominations. I've already entered 3. I intend to use all of them, and if I run out of slots, I will reach out to my RC as I have told others to do.
This dish has too much salt for my liking. Complaining about the complaining is just adding more salt. Time to double down on the sugar. I acknowledge that the system is not perfect. But I refuse to believe that the answer is to take it away. It has brought me too much joy for me to believe this.