Academy Blog: Reliable

So, not too long ago, at least on the scale with which I have articles published, I wrote about the concept of adequacy and being evaluated as such.

Beyond adequate, we have a whole slew of terms to describe judges who perform well: rock stars, exceptional, fantastic, and more.

But there are two terms that are a bit less superlative that I want to focus on today because I think they’re among the most important and highest compliments one can receive:

Reliable and Competent

Tournament organizers, event managers, and staffing leads care about one thing: the job getting done, done well, and done in a timely manner. They want people who they know will get the job done in the way that they need them to, without making more work for them.

So here’s the secret to being reliable.

Know how to be wrong.

That’s it!

I’ve launched more drafts than I can count (so at least ten. I can’t count very high). I’ve done rotisserie drafts, I’ve called drafts, I’ve done zone drafts and redrafts and back drafts.

And yet, every time I’m working for a new TO, I’ll ask “How do you want this done?”

I know how I would do it, but there might be something important to their workflow that I don’t know. They may want tickets distributed as players are eliminated. They may need the buzzers back immediately.

Know that you don’t know everything. Know who does know.

If you don’t have the information, figure out how you can get it. Is it someone else on your team? Your team lead? If you’re Head Judging, have you talked with the TO?

Of course, sometimes you’ll be working with a newer TO, or dealing with something that is unexpected.

Know what you want to do.

Have suggestions ready. Having questions is better than not having questions, but having questions and a tentative solution is even better. If your source is busy, it allows them to say “yeah, do that” and move on, and otherwise continues to prove that you actually know what you’re doing.

Here’s a way to look at it: You know how sometimes players will call you over and explain that one of them screwed something up earlier in the turn, so they executed a backup on their own, made everything worse, and then decided to call you over?

Don’t be like those players.

When you screw something up (and you will), figure out what you’re going to do to fix it. It can be easy to slip into analysis and self-recrimination, trying to figure out why the error occurred, and thus what you can change on a fundamental level to prevent you from ever making a mistake again, but that doesn’t solve the problem now.

Also, when you screw something up (and you will) and it’s something you’re out of your depth on, knowing who to turn to is also important. This means the problem gets solved, but it also means that you’re not running to the TO who is overseeing a lot every time you feel out of your depth. Sometimes you turn to the judge next to you, or someone overseeing the prize wall, or you ask the scorekeeper. This is a reiteration of the previous point – know who does know the answer.

If someone knows what to expect from you, that makes it easier for them to hire you, to put you into positions where you can succeed, and give you opportunities to push your boundaries and grow.

Being reliable doesn’t mean you have to know everything, in fact, it’s about the opposite – it’s about knowing where your limits are, and being cautious when you’re pushing them.

What do you know you know? What do you know you don’t know? Continue the conversation over at the Judge Academy Discord.


  1. Wendel Lemos

    Great post! We were discussing this on a brazillian group a few minutes before this post went live! It’s easy to screw things up when you wanna help. It’s definitely better to take a step back and think twice before rushing into decisions without being sure enough.