Exemplar Ruminations

     This is the first time that we’ve done a text blog entry on Judgecast.com, and it might be the last, who knows. This started as a response in a Facebook thread, but it grew into something that I thought I’d share with everyone. I wanted to address this while the iron is still hot, and hopefully get it out for people to think about while they’re still thinking about exemplar recognitions.  -Jess

Exemplar is upon us, and everyone seems to be doing their recognitions at the last second. You might notice that you have fewer slots than you would like to recognize people. One of the reasons that we have limited slots for the exemplar program is that we want to make sure that the judges that we are recognizing actually are exemplary, and we’re not just giving out a bunch of foils to our friends via the system.

On the other hand, some of you might find that you’re not able to use all of your slots. That’s ok, it doesn’t make you a horrible person. It might actually mean that you’re taking this seriously and recognizing truly exemplary behavior. Good for you!

However, I have recently seen a lot of people complaining about not being able to “find” enough judges to give exemplar recommendations to. Some of them have gone so far as to ask for names to add to their lists to fill the open slots. This has caused a bit of a backlash on the internet, including a great article by Justin Turner and a bunch of posts on Facebook, like this one from Josh Silvestri, which created the discussion that prompted this post.


The discussion this prompted was about whether or not this was OK, and somebody eventually referenced Kim Warren’s excellent post from January 4 Judge Blog about Exemplar wave 2. I’ve included the relevant section in the quote below.
“Feel free to discuss recognition ideas with other people from your area or from your region if you have more people to recognise than you have slots. It is possible that there other judges with spare slots, or other people already recognising the judge for the behaviour that you have noticed and thus freeing you up to recognise someone else instead. There is no harm in multiple people recognising one individual, but there is nothing to stop a group of judges coordinating their recognitions if they want to.”
Aside from the inexplicable “s” in “recognize,” I believe that there’s a fundamental difference between what she’s describing and what we see happening. I was asked to elaborate on this difference, so I’m going to do my best to explain it.
In Kim’s example, the problem is having more judges to recognize than you have spare slots. However, what we are actually seeing people complain about is having more slots available than you have judges to recognize. In the former, going out of your way to find judges with extra slots will still get solid recognitions into the system. In the latter, you end up with people advertising that they have blank spots they’re looking to fill, leading to a watering down of the system when less then exemplary judges are added with vague or ambiguous reasons “because there are slots left over.”

As mentioned in Justin’s article, this also has the “feel-bad” factor for those who don’t see you having difficulty recognizing people in a positive light. However, I will just tell you to read that rather than beat a dead horse.

I do think regional or area coordination of exemplar recognitions is really important. In AL and MS, for example, there are a total altogether of 4 active L2s and 1 L3 (me). Coordinating to make sure that all the exemplary people are hit and we don’t all stack them up on the same guy is a really good idea when we’re that spread out. This way, we can manage to hit all of them and still have slots unfilled. If somebody from FL or GA came to us and said “I have this awesome judge that I want to give a reco to but I’ve filled my slots,” we’d try to figure out if we have overlap he or she could drop before giving up one of our unused slots. Then, if it was still unable to be done, one of us could use an open slot. We would never want to advertise that we had slots available though, because that invites people inventing reasons to give exemplar recognitions to less than exemplary judges.
You might think dropping recognitions is no good, but keep in mind that once your name is in for exemplar recognitions, it’s in (they apparently don’t stack), so there’s nothing keeping you from calling them out for being awesome on FB or other mediums, which is just far more likely to be seen anyway. As was pointed out by many judges regarding this, giving feedback, especially reviews, is an integral part of the judge process, and we should be sure to give it to exemplary judges even when it isn’t that one week a season when it’s time to think about foils. Now I just need to take my own advice and write some reviews.