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And now some personal opinions
[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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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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