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And now some personal opinions
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jducoeur
[Disclaimer: this is *really* unofficial -- I'm going to make my points for some of the more interesting questions in the survey. Note that most of these opinion-oriented questions are towards the end, after the factual stuff.]

Other Peerages: One of the questions asks whether you think that other activities (fencing/archery/equestrian/etc) should be recognized with Peerages; if you answer Yes, you get a fairly detailed set of options asking how -- within the existing Laurel/Pelican/Chivalry, with a new Peerage, etc. I'm going to make my usual point: IMO, there should be an option of the "plain Peerage", that gives a Patent without requiring that somebody quite fit into any of the established buckets. (Probably polling all of the Peers, to ask about the fuzzy "peerage quality" stuff.)

The thing I really don't want to see is the growth of Yet More Damned Awards. We already have so many that people are having trouble keeping track of them, with the result that they're slowly becoming meaningless in the eyes of the average participant. So I'd rather see us combine existing awards in *fewer* buckets, rather than add more of them. I've been a peer long enough to come to the strong opinion that peerage-the-rank matters a hell of a lot more than the bloody pigeonholes do; we really ought to refocus the system a little, to emphasize that.

Same-gender consorts: I'm Carolingian -- you can guess my viewpoint here. But please read the question carefully: the language came out a little complex, so make sure you're saying what you think.

Note that we deliberately separated the question of Crowns vs. Barons, because in discussion it became clear that they don't necessarily have the same answer. (I'm strongly of the opinion that we should allow same-gender Barons, because the group they are ruling usually have a fair amount of say in the selection -- the local group should be able to make that decision for themselves. I'd like to allow same-gender Crowns as well, but I can somewhat understand the other view, so it's a less strong opinion.)

Make the experience more similar from place to place: I think this is a popular but rarely stated viewpoint. I'm *passionately* against it. One of the Society's strengths is its diversity.

Make a clearer connection between work and awards: Again, popular but rarely voiced as such. IMO, this leads to purer merit badges. Yes, it would be "fairer", but I believe very counterproductive. Our award system mainly rewards service and leadership -- the rest is actually noise. I think that this would actually be a very bad idea: the subjective leeway we have for awards is a crucial strength of the system.

Remove the NMS: Yes, they actually asked. This is one of the main reasons y'all need to go voice your opinions. There are actually a lot of questions in the long page on "possible changes" that are about reducing requirements and bureaucracy, as well as corresponding questions about increasing them. We actually worked pretty hard to make this section balanced. (Indeed, that was more or less a Board mandate.) I know that many folks care as passionately about these topics as I do; this is the first chance we've ever had to formally voice our opinions about them. It doesn't cover every question I care about, but they do actually ask about a lot of the crucial ones.

Please go voice your own viewpoints on The Census, whether you agree with me or not. And I encourage those who are going to Pennsic to talk about this stuff there: if nothing else, I'm hoping that the survey gets people thinking and talking face-to-face, not just flaming on email lists...
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"Make a clearer connection between work and awards:"

My feeling is that greater transparency in decision making is the fix for this... and socially encouraging people to appreciate the good deeds and good works they see with personal thanks, and glowing letters to crowns and peerages, so that they can know the good works being done.

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Ah -- are those questions only going to people who are currently active? That wouldn't surprise me: it's not something we specifically discussed, although I could argue the point either way...

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more than that. I am currently active, but I never got asked any of those questions. I am not sure if that's because of what awards one has or what...

I don't think so, although the branching logic seems to have confused some folks. There's a question asking whether you're interested in getting into the deeper stuff, which I *think* is what is sending some people astray, but I'm not completely sure where people are going off-track. (I may go re-do part of the survey, to see if I can figure it out...)

Odd. When I simply skip through, answering *nothing* except "do you currently participate", I still get to those questions. I'm not sure where you're branching off...

"Same-gender consorts: ... please read the question carefully: the language came out a little complex, so make sure you're saying what you think."

Honestly, that question is so poorly worded that I wouldn't trust the data it produces. Which is a shame, because I'm interested in both the issue and the answer. But it's way too easy to read the question as the exact opposite of what (on a careful read) it actually is asking.

Yeah, I've brought that topic up on the Committee list. The usual danger of people knowing the subtext too well: despite the survey having been run past at least 50 people before going out, it still suffers from some shared assumptions...

Now I'm worried about how I answered it. I *thought* I had read it carefully, but now I am second guessing that. And it is something that I really care about.

I'd really like to comment on this one, because it is a complex issue, but there doesn't seem to be a comment box. There are situations in which I'd be okay with it and others where I would not.


Make a clearer connection between work and awards: Again, popular but rarely voiced as such. IMO, this leads to purer merit badges. Yes, it would be "fairer", but I believe very counterproductive. Our award system mainly rewards service and leadership -- the rest is actually noise. I think that this would actually be a very bad idea: the subjective leeway we have for awards is a crucial strength of the system.


I'd say the system is supposed to reward service and leadership, the question is whether it rewards that directly, or if it rewards popularity which often (but not always) comes with such work. The argument for linking more clearly to the actual work sounds to me like an argument to reduce the "popularity contest" aspect somewhat.


Fair argument (and part of why I frame this as "my opinions"). But in practice, the problem is subtle enough that I believe it's very hard to frame in a clear and legal way. For instance, if someone does a great deal of work, but in the process pisses people off and drives them out of the Society, is that something we should reward? That's not a hypothetical: it's a very common situation in polling discussions. (The term "toxic service" has become almost cliche in such discussions.)

Separating cases like that from pure popularity contests is tricky at best (since a lot of it comes down to hard-to-nail-down dislike of how someone does their work), and may be impossible to do effectively with legal terminology. So I prefer to leave the Royals with broad discretion, in the hope (usually although not always well-founded) that they will use that discretion wisely.

Frankly, knowing the system pretty well from the inside, I think it's a good deal fairer than most people think -- indeed, of the several activities I play in, I think the SCA does the best job of recognizing its contributors. IMO, the real issue is less one of the system being bad, as that we do a poor job of education about both how it works, and why it works the way it does. Heck, half of the cases people grouse about fail on step one: everybody expect somebody else to write a recommendation letter, so nobody does so, and people fall through the cracks because the Royalty don't even *hear* about them.

So I honestly don't think the system per se needs much changing, but I do think we could do a *much* better job of internal education, about how to use it and what to expect from it. I've started to do a little about that myself (in the form of a Wiki article on recommendation letters), but there's a long ways to go...

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Worrying, especially since rufinia seems to be having a similar problem. Thanks for mentioning -- I've reported it...

Hmm..those options didn't come up on my survey either, so I was left to talk about awards in the "what 1 thing would you change" box.

(i.e. proper period titles at proper levels - AoA/entry rung Nobility = knight, Peer = Lord, the Naked Peerage with option for induction into high-prestige Orders like the Garter...err...Chivalry if it fits. Eliminates this "should we make Fencing A&S 'cause the Chiv complain?" felgercarb.)

I can see the "merit badge" distaste, but I also lean towards the college-based mindset of "I worked hard for 4+ years to *earn* my degree, not to maybe get it sprung on me if the Dean was feeling favorably."

More for Justin's clarification when myself and my So took it we both got the questions... He took his this afternoon and myself last evening.

Seeing the questions requires me to fill out the survey, which I frankly don't have time to do, so I will not see the same sex consort question. Any chance you could simply reprint it?

For what it is worth, I do not support same sex consorts. Being consort is not like same sex marriage. No. Really. Not. Nor is the personal desire of an individual to give his/her the ultimate kewpie doll in our little costume party the determining factor. Because unless this debate has changed at all in the last 20 years, the argument boils down to: "I should have the right to give my significant other the ultimate kewpie doll because this is just a costume party and we have kewpie dolls and I want to give my SO the ultimate kewpie doll because that would be sooooooo cool."

Seeing the questions requires me to fill out the survey, which I frankly don't have time to do, so I will not see the same sex consort question. Any chance you could simply reprint it?

Not trivially -- I don't have the final text to hand myself, aside from the survey itself.

Do note that the survey will be open for 2-3 months: this is just the initial push. (Which is part of why I find the "OMG, you can't do this during Pennsic!" a bit overblown.) So you may want to check it out later, if life gets a hair quieter...


Let's go back to the original idea from The Party. The winner gets to crown the Queen of Truth and Beauty. The winner gets nothing. Even if they make it a King of Truth an Beauty, no big deal.

Sure, if that is the game we're playing.

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