Judge Academy Response to COVID-19

Judging in 2020 has had some unique challenges and the team at Judge Academy has been working on a plan to address them. We’ve decided on a series of steps that we believe will help judges be prepared for the future of Magic events, continue to build the Judge community, and make it easier to maintain their skills and certification in this difficult time.

Membership Renewal Fees in 2021

We are waiving all renewal fees for 2021 Judge Academy memberships, and extending all memberships through the end of 2021. New Level 1 judges that certify will still have an initial cost in order to establish their certification and membership with Judge Academy. 

To facilitate this extension, starting tomorrow we will be canceling existing auto-renew payments our members have set up, and Judges will keep their current level (or new level, if they advance) until the end of 2021. This will come with some changes to our services in the interim, which are described below.

Digital Judge Conferences 

We recognize that Judge Conferences play a critical role in bringing the Judge community together. When in-person gatherings became limited or prohibited in much of the world, we made the difficult decision to stop supporting physical conferences. However, the community has shown an immense passion for finding new and innovative ways to still come together, teach, and share experiences. We are proud to support the Digital Conferences that have arisen from this desire to improve the community. While physical conferences around the globe will remain on hold for the time being, our support for Digital Conferences will be expanding next year. We will be increasing the number of conferences we sponsor. We will also be creating learning materials to help members that are interested in organizing or presenting at them. 

Promo Cards for 2021

In the next few weeks, Judge Academy will be announcing next year’s Magic Judge promo cards. In 2021 all promo cards will be given as conference support instead of member mailings. 

Previously, judges were eligible for two promo mailings during the year of their membership. Most current Judges have already received those mailings. If you joined after the mailing deadline at the beginning of 2020, you have only received one member mailing so far. If you are in this category of judges, the first time you attend a Digital Conference in 2021 you will receive extra promo-packs (determined by Level) in addition to what you would normally receive for participating in that conference. For members who joined after the July mailing deadline, you will receive extra promo-packs at the first two Digital Conferences you attend in 2021.

This also applies to newly certified judges, who will be eligible for promos at conferences the same way as described for current members above.

Reason for Change in Distribution

In order to avoid charging renewal fees for current members, and with shipping fees and delays increasing worldwide, we knew that we would have to find a more cost-effective way to distribute promo cards. We also knew that encouraging judges to connect with mentors and the other members of the community would be an important focus for the upcoming year. The conclusion we came to is one that we believe accomplishes both of these goals while maintaining our commitment to serving our members.

Community Consultants

In 2020 we relied on Community Consultants for advice on conferences and testing, as well as insight into regional communities. However, with the dramatic reduction in revenue for 2021, we’ve had to re-evaluate Judge Academy’s expenses and reallocate the resources we do have available. One of the things that this means is that when the current Community Consultant contracts end, we will not fill those roles. 

By reallocating these resources, Judge Academy will be able to continue producing classes, including those for the upcoming Digital Events certification, and continue to support the community through Digital Conferences.

While we will still be utilizing contractors in geographic areas where shipping requires us to have extra help for conference support, the roles previously filled by the Community Consultants will be handled by employees of Judge Academy directly. As always, we will continue to provide member support in multiple languages.

Conduct Evaluation Committee

One last change is the Conduct Evaluation Committee (CEC). The CEC belonged to an external company that investigated reports and made recommendations for action to Judge Academy. However, the line of what behaviors we could police, where we could enforce those rules, and who was ultimately responsible for each situation was often unclear. We’ll be creating an updated Code of Conduct to address these issues and incorporating those changes into our Certification and Exam Agreement. Moving forward, issues will be handled directly by Judge Academy on a case-by-case basis.

We will ensure that spaces we have control and ownership of are welcoming and inclusive. This includes the Judge Academy website, forums, Discord server, and other platforms. In cases where issues arise outside of those platforms, we will do everything we can to connect affected individuals with those empowered to assist them. However, there are obviously some behaviors that are so egregious that we may decide to suspend a Judge, even when the behavior didn’t occur on one of our platforms.

A Final Note

The Judges here at Judge Academy are in the same situation as many of our fellow members. While we miss our friends, events, and in-person conferences, we are very optimistic about the future of our community and our favorite game. We promise we will be doing everything we can to keep the community thriving through the next year and beyond.