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CAP 5 - Policy Review Summary

Discussion in 'Create-A-Pokémon Project' started by DougJustDoug, Nov 25, 2012.

  1. DougJustDoug

    DougJustDoug Knows the great enthusiasms
    is a member of the Site Staffis an Artistis a Programmeris a CAP Contributoris an Administratoris a Battle Server Admin Alumnusis a Smogon IRC SOp Alumnusis a Tiering Contributor Alumnus
    CAP Leader

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    We need to address several issues with the Create-A-Pokemon Project in the Policy Review period between now and the start of BW CAP 5. Unlike some of the more recent Policy Review periods, I will be taking the lead role in driving those PR threads. I have been discussing many of these issues with CAP moderators and working on the PR threads behind the scenes for several weeks. This period of Policy Review will likely be one of the most significant and in-depth CAP reviews we have had in years.

    Some of the upcoming policy review proposals are very, very long. I will bring up a lot of CAP history, dating all the way back to the very beginnings of this project. I will be going into a lot of detail about past and current CAP operations, dissecting what I believe to be key elements contributing to our problems, with the hope that it will give us a better foundation to figure out how to address those problems. I tend to write a lot anyway, so I apologize in advance for slamming you with some large walls of text!

    Here is a summary of the Policy Reviews that are upcoming:


    CAP Leadership Compendium
    This is not a normal policy review, because it doesn't contain any proposals per se. It lays out a LOT of information that has never been presented before about CAP leadership at all levels. I document the founding history of the CAP project and my role as head administrator of the project. I also lay out many of the key operating principles that we try to follow when leading Create-A-Pokemon as a whole community. This thread is intended to serve as a base for anyone interested in understanding how to lead CAP or why CAP leadership is the way it is today.

    Topic Leadership
    Most of you don't know this, but me and the CAP moderators do -- CAP 4 topic leadership was a big, complicated mess. In this PR thread, I go through all the problems and complications in exacting detail. I also summarize the history of various CAP topic leadership policies to date. I end with several proposals to make significant changes to CAP topic leadership, including the possibility of abolishing the position of Topic Leader entirely.

    Recruiting
    CAP has a big problem with the current inflow of new talented project participants and new potential CAP leaders. I will explain what I think are some of the key reasons for this, and explain the negative impacts to the project if we don't do something about it. I end with a few proposals to try to turn things around and get more high-quality contributors involved in Create-A-Pokemon.

    Abilities
    CAP Ability discussions are a big shithole, and I'm sick of it. Many other people feel the same way I do. I intended to do this PR after BW CAP 3, but I procrastinated too long and missed the window. CAP 4 ability threads were predictably terrible, and they added a few additional problems to the already large pile of ability issues to be addressed. I will present a few proposals to improve things, and I suspect new proposals will be added during the discussion.

    Flavor Steps
    We need to change the way we organize all the flavor steps in Create-A-Pokemon -- Art, Sprites, Name, and Pokedex Entries. This has some overlap with the Topic Leadership PR thread, but I didn't want to muddy that already complicated PR with a bunch of flavor proposals. So I pulled this into a separate Policy Review. I will make proposals to codify some previously "traditional-but-not-documented rules" for how we handle flavor steps, and I will propose a few new ideas too.

    Leadership Structure
    Leadership is obviously a recurring theme of many of these PR threads, and this one will wrap it all up. I'd like to change up the CAP leadership structure, add some new positions, and clarify the roles of all the different leaders in CAP. In the early days of Create-A-Pokemon, we had a diverse leadership structure that accomodated a variety of talents and personalities. In recent years, we seem to have lost a lot of that. I have some proposals to try and create a new hierarchy that follows on some themes from the early days of CAP, but acknowledges the practical reality that CAP is different than it used to be.​


    I am not posting this to start any of these discussions here. I'm just giving you an idea of what to expect. If you want to participate in these discussions and you think you have the appropriate experience and background to contribute positively to the policy reviews, then sign up here to be a member of the CAP Policy Review Committee. I look forward to everyone's involvement as we chart the path ahead for Create-A-Pokemon.
  2. DougJustDoug

    DougJustDoug Knows the great enthusiasms
    is a member of the Site Staffis an Artistis a Programmeris a CAP Contributoris an Administratoris a Battle Server Admin Alumnusis a Smogon IRC SOp Alumnusis a Tiering Contributor Alumnus
    CAP Leader

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    Here we are, over two months later, and we have completed one of the biggest Policy Review cycles in Create-A-Pokemon history. If you read the OP and cross-reference that with the threads in the CAP Policy Review subforum, you will see that we tackled every single issue that we intended to cover. It was a much longer and harder process than I expected, and I'm definitely "worn out" when it comes to talking about CAP policy. But I'm glad we put in the time and effort to vet all the issues properly, and I think the CAP project will be better off for it in the future.

    Thank you to all the members of the Policy Review Committee for their efforts in helping shape the policies of this project. I realize that many of our intrepid PR members had no idea what was going to be thrown at them when they signed up. You were deluged with a lot of CAP history and details that exposed some of the uglier parts of the CAP project, and I appreciate your patience and understanding as we worked through every thread. Hopefully you got some good stuff out of it too, and learned some new and interesting things. I've been doing CAP longer than just about anybody, and I learned a few new things myself, so I appreciate the knowledge everyone shared.

    This latest PR cycle started long before the posting of this thread, with planning discussions as far back as the summer of 2012. I started writing the Leadership Compendium post in July or August, iirc. For me personally, this PR cycle has been my top priority in Smogon for the past five months or so. I have a deep attachment to this project, and I felt like we needed a course correction of sorts. But CAP has a history of enacting change as a group, not via executive edict -- so I knew big changes would require a big group effort. So I treated this PR cycle almost like a CAP pokemon creation.

    With the help of the mods, I laid out a series of steps, each of which would build on the steps before it, and enlisted help from the most active and interested participants in the community. I had a clear idea of what each step was intended to achieve, and had proposals for every issue -- but I never assumed all the proposals would go through. In fact, I EXPECTED all the proposals to change. My goal was for us to address every issue, and I didn't really care HOW we addressed them. The proposals I put forward were more as examples of how to address the issue, rather than firm "my way or the highway" commands. Each PR thread went in directions I could not have foreseen beforehand. In some cases, we chose to NOT take specific actions on some issues. And that's perfectly OK with me, at least we discussed the issues and made an overt choice to not change anything. In other cases, we made dramatic policy changes that you will see implemented starting with CAP 5.

    I don't completely agree with all the policies we ended up with, but I feel like the process of developing those policies was the result of a good collaborative effort. So I think this PR cycle stayed true to the oft-quoted CAP motto, "It's about the journey, not the destination". Thank you to everyone who helped in this endeavor.


    ------------

    Immediately following this post, Birkal will post a summary of the key changes made during this policy review cycle. After that, this thread is now open for posts from the community. If any other Moderators or PRC members want to give their own summary or comments, then you can use this thread as home base for "Reviewing the Policy Review Cycle", so to speak. If any other CAP enthusiasts or newcomers have been following the policy reviews from afar and want to comment on the PR cycle in general now that we're done, go right ahead.

    This thread is NOT to be used for purposes of trying to change policy or make specific change proposals, so please direct your comments accordingly.
  3. Birkal

    Birkal We have the technology.
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    CAP Head Mod

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    For those of you who have not been following the Policy Review Committee closely over the past two months, have no fear! I'm writing this post to provide a summary of the new changes we're implementing to the CAP process. I will try to be as thorough as possible, but there might be a few small details that fall through the cracks. Therefore, feel free to bring up any questions, comments, or criticisms that you have in this thread. Also, if you're reading this as a guest to Smogon's forums, that means that you cannot view our Policy Review forum. If you wish to see its contents, make an account here!


    • We started out journey with the CAP Leadership Compendium. In it, DougJustDoug detailed the history of the Create-A-Pokemon project, from its creation to the philosophies we uphold. We didn't create any new policy there, but it was a fantastic way to put everyone on the same page. I highly recommend reading his post if you're interested in the history of CAP.


    • Next, we talked about Topic Leadership, which resulted in the largest changes to this project. We've moved on from our old system where the Topic Leader (TL) had almost full sovereignty over the project. Now, we've implemented a Topic Leadership Team (TLT) to provide more leadership positions to the project. There will be four members to the Topic Leadership team, and each will be responsible for leading one specific, competitive aspect of creating a Pokemon (typing, abilities, stats, and movepool). Each TLT member will be making the slate for their area of specialty. The TL will provide the slate for Concept Submissions and run Threats Discussion.

      Furthermore, the TL has the power to veto a slate of the TLT in a system we call -1/+1/veto. In essence, a TLT member will make the slate for their designated leadership area. The TL then will review the slate and make sure it is consistent with the concept of that particular CAP. They can then remove one of the options (-1), add another option (+1), or veto the slate entirely. A veto will result in the CAP moderators reviewing the slate and making changes that agree with the community consensus. You can expect the TL to provide reasoning for their -1/+1/veto at the end of each thread.

      Elections for the TL and the TLT will be held publicly. Everyone will get to vote on who should be TL, and which four members should be on the TLT. Specific position on the TLT will be based on how well the candidates did in the poll (e.g. the first place winner will get their first pick of position, second will pick second, and so on).

      The full details of the TL and TLT roles can be found in this post if you're interested in reading up on the subject.


    • We then moved into Recruiting, where we discussed ways to improve the public optics of CAP. We discussed many things that can be done to bolster our numbers, including lowering the length of posts and making CAPs for non-OU metagames. Theorymon also made a great post on topic ideas that anyone can post in the main CAP forum at anytime. The only official result of this thread is the addition of Panel of Experts during the playtest period. In a nutshell, the Overused moderators and myself will invite respected battlers in the community to try out our new Pokemon. They'll also provide an Expert Review to summarize their thoughts and answer some questions for us. You'll get to see this new feature in action during the CAP 5 playtest phase.


    • Next, we moved to discussing Abilities in the CAP process. Historically, our Ability Discussions have been lackluster; they are often confusing to read. This thread featured a lot of discussion, and that resulted in us majorly shaking up the way we run abilities here at CAP. Here is a full list of changes:

      • We've banned custom abilities from the CAP process.
      • We won't be altering the position of Ability Discussions during the CAP process. Primary ability will come after typing, and secondary ability will come after stats. Furthermore, we won't allow the secondary ability to be significantly better than the primary ability.
      • There will only be two competitive abilities maximum on each CAP.
      • We will now refer to NCA as "ineffective ability" for the sake of accuracy.
      • Flavor Ability Discussions will now take place after all competitive threads.
      • The Ability Leader will keep a "Discussed" and "Not Discussed" list in the original post of each ability discussion to help guide the conversation.
      • We've created an Ability Banlist. We've created three tiers of abilities. Some abilities are completely banned from the CAP process due to their ability to derail discussions. Some abilities are banned from secondary ability discussions due to their overpowering nature. And finally, some abilities are banned from competitive discussions because they have no competitive purpose, (e.g. Honey Gather).

      I know this seems like a lot, and it is. Don't worry though; we'll refresh all of you on this when it comes around to Ability Discussions in the CAP process.


    • Finally, we discussed Flavor Steps and how they will be run in the CAP process. As a result of some good discussion, we concluded as a PRC on the following resolution. All flavor slates will consist of every legal final submission. The CAP moderators will perform the job of collecting all legal final submissions and putting them onto a poll. As a result, our slates for flavor polls are going to get massive. Therefore, some new rules have been implemented to add quality to all submissions; you may view them here. Again, these will all be re-emphasized during their respective time slot in the CAP process.


    And that's about it! We're finishing up a final Policy Review thread on Leadership Structure right now. I'll keep you posted on the results of that thread once they have been decided upon. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns about these new process rules and guides, now is the time to post them in this thread.
  4. Spiffykins

    Spiffykins

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    Are the abilities created for previous CAP Pokemon banned from the process as well? I think, especially since two of the previously created abilities are outclassed by some real abilities, it might be worth keeping them on the table for discussion. Maybe.
  5. Pwnemon

    Pwnemon judges silently
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    As per the abilities thread, yes. All future CAPs will only have abilities that appear on real pokemon. Good question though!
  6. Deck Knight

    Deck Knight A Knight for the Aegis
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    So I figure I should be next to make a big mean summary post.

    Rather than go over the history again since Birkal and Doug covered that pretty well, I'll just give my overall impressions of the policy results going forward.

    CAP Leadership Compendium: All of you should read this or I will hunt you down. Yes, YOU. Not the other members of the forum who may have read this post in the past or will in the future. You. NOW. DO IT!

    Topic Leadership: Leadership has always been a crucial aspect of the CAP Forum, and since the beginning we had always trusted one person to be able to lead discussions and take stock of community consensus. What started with what we called the "mini-mod" resulted in the "Weak TL" Model. When our community got larger, trying to get consensus really got unmanageable. CAP 8 literally had 52 Concepts to select from in the first round, and this was before we developed IRV. So afterward we decided not only should our Topic Leader assess the consensus, they should also help drive and focus it toward competitive ends. This gave us the "Strong TL" Model.

    I go over this only to point out a certain irony in that we eventually relied on our Strong TLs so much that they effectively became "mini-mods", right down to giving them actual Project Mod status. The intent to drive and focus discussion competitively morphed into a way to drive and focus toward the Strong TLs goals - more subtly in some cases that others. It was the obviousness of the abuse of that policy in CAP 4 that brought the current policy to a head.

    I've been in that hot seat for 1.5 projects. It is extremely difficult to tow the line between being forceful and being overbearing, and the prolonged stress can definitely lead to a burnout if you aren't prepared for it going in. As much as I think we accomplished a lot with the Strong TL model, the restructuring is going to take the boil off of the TL and keep the discussion focused on the competitive elements like it should be. I was very clear in what I thought a policy change should look like and I'm glad my skeleton for the restructuring was adopted.

    In the end I don't think it was just one person who couldn't properly handle the job. The job itself had become too big, and was too much to balance on one plate given the growth in the community. We are a far cry away from the participation in projects like Syclant and Revenankh, and the competitive scene became far and away more complex in the 5th Generation. While I still think it was amazing to see one person able to take on a project and I will miss that, I think the restructuring will allow superior leadership to shine through without burning a person out.

    Recruiting:

    I've always been fishing for ways to get more recruits, and I think Theorymon had the right ideas on this one. We've also done a lot to try and make the main CAP Forum less cloying with fewer process threads and more open threads, analyses, teams etc.

    Abilities:

    As a general rule I am opposed to hard bans, but I am pleased we came up with a discussion control mechanism that will hopefully be of great help in CAP 5 and beyond. I feel it is unlikely we will revisit these lists before Gen VI comes out (when we will have to revamp them anyway), but I think the resolution we came to will serve us well.

    Flavor Steps:

    Mmmmmm. Flavor....

    Meting out a policy here was important for the process, even though I'm not a huge fan of long rulesets. Ultimately I think it will be a good control mechanism and prevent drive-by postings, or at least make action against them justifiable.

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