A Primer to Smogon's Communities
The following article is a brief description on each of the communities we have here at Smogon. Written by various mentors, each section contains useful information and relevant links that can help you get started. Feel free to ask any of our mentors (either on IRC or on the forums) for some clarification if you need it! Please enjoy.
Table of Contents
This is the forum where nigh everything that has to do with Smogon's various metagames gets discussed. It's divided into different sub-forums: Ubers, Overused, Underused, Rarelyused, Neverused, Little Cup, Doubles, VGC, Battle Spot, Ruins of Alph (for metagames before generation 6), and Other Metagames. These various sub-forums are each run by a team of moderators with an extensive knowledge of the metagame in question. Within the sub-forums you will find many different threads, which range from ladder challenges (such as Research Week or Dark Horse), community projects (such as Counter that Pokémon and Community Create a Team) and discussion threads (such as the various Suspect discussion, as well as general discussions of certain Pokémon). At the start of every month the usage stats thread will be updated to keep you informed on all the latest trends on the ladder, and more importantly, what to keep in mind when teambuilding! All of the sub-forums also have a "Simple Questions, Simple Answers" thread (or some variation thereof) in which you can ask any question that doesn't warrant its own thread. Intelligent posting in Competitive Discussion can lead to a Pre-Contributor badge and, if you keep up your dedication, the Community Contributor badge.
Ubers was initially a banlist of all Pokémon that were deemed too powerful for Overused, Smogon's standard metagame, but it's now evolved into a tier of its own where Gamefreak's most powerful creations duke it out. It's considered by many to actually be the most balanced metagame Smogon has to offer, in which nigh any teamstyle is viable, from Hyper Offense to Stall. Overused is the metagame that sees the most battles; the name really says it all: it's the tier with the most used Pokémon. Offensive teams are abundant here. Pokémon that have fallen to 3.41% usage stats (determined by players above the 1695 ELO cutoff) or below in Overused find themselves in the Underused tier, one of the most stallish metagames that Smogon has to offer. Once a Pokémon has again reached the threshold where it no longer sees enough usage to keep it in Underused, it falls to the Rarelyused tier. Rarelyused is considered a tier where nigh every playstyle is viable, in a similar way to Ubers. Pokémon that don't see enough usage in Rarelyused fall to Neverused, the tier with the largest number of Pokémon. Neverused is a tier where exciting new possibilites lurk around every corner.
Little Cup doesn't follow the "trickling down" process of the aforementioned metagames. Rather, it's a tier where battles are played with Pokémon at Level 5, and only with Pokémon that have yet to evolve. This means that it has a rather unique banlist, including the moves Sonicboom and Dragon Rage, which are essentially OHKO moves! Eviolite also takes the place of Leftovers as the most common item in the metagame, and as such the primary playstyle in Little Cup is bulky offense. Last but not least is the Other Metagames subforum, where fun and spontaneous metagames are played with quirky rules that limit or boost certain Pokémon, depending on the ruleset. Of these, the most popular is Balanced Hackmons, but new ones pop up all the time!
The VGC forum itself allows discussion on the VGC metagame, popular strategies, and rulesets. However, the largest source of the forum's activity comes from the Event threads. The VGCs are split into three major events: Regionals, Nationals, and Worlds. When the VGC season starts, members of the community travel to the official Nintendo VGC event to play against each other in real life and fight for the chance to win the grand prize or move on to the next level of play in the VGCs. Those that place high enough are rewarded a prize and a travel stipend to attend the next level of play. However, meeting each other in real life is the real prize for many of the community members that attend the VGCs. Getting to meet your best online friend in real life is quite the experience, and many threads of the forum include stories and pictures of these gatherings of Smogonites.
The Battle Spot forum houses discussion on the metagames playable on the DS cartridge games, the rules of which can be read here. You can also discuss specific Pokémon's performance in the various metagames. There is also discussion on Nintendo-sponsored tournaments and what kinds of teams people will be using in the tournaments.
You can find out more about the other forums by reading their rules and their stickied threads!
The Tournaments forum is exactly what it sounds like; almost all of Smogon's major simulator-based tournaments are hosted here. The best of the best of the Smogon competitive Pokémon community duke it out on a regular basis in the large variety of tournaments that take place at any given time. Any user is eligible to participate in (be sure to post "in" when sign-ups for a tournament are posted) or host a tournament, but be warned that hosting is a large undertaking so be sure to read the guidelines and rules here, and apply to host a tournament in the Tournament Application forum. Tournaments are hosted on a scheduled basis, that way there are only so many tournaments being hosted at once. There are also 6 major tournaments that take place throughout the year, four of which are so large that they require their own sub-forum. These are: The Official Smogon Tournament, The Smogon Frontier, the World Cup of Pokémon, the Smogon Tour, the Smogon Premier League, and the Smogon Grand Slam. Each of these major tournaments use Smogon's official rulesets and banlists, as do most of the other tournaments hosted within the forum unless stated otherwise.
The Mentorship Program is to help the new users of Smogon to get integrated into the community easily and effectively. In the main forum, you can find The Introduction Thread that you can utilize to introduce yourself and a Simple Questions and Answers thread that you can ask for help if you are confused on anything; however, don't make a thread in this subforum unless you are a mentor. The Mentorship Program is run by Hollywood, skylight, Cherub Agent, Ace Emerald, Plus, and Redew. Along with these leaders, the Mentorship Program gets a lot of help from the Mentors. These Mentors can help you in any part of the site (if it is the right Mentor.) The Mentorship Program also has an IRC Channel called #mentor that you can join to get additional help.
Battling 101 is Smogon's tutoring program. A dedicated group of experienced battlers volunteer to share their wisdom and increase the skills of newer players through one-on-one tutoring. There are usually tutors available for nearly any metagame or tier you could want to learn more about. Tutors are assigned to tutees on a scheduled basis; the schedule of which can be found here. The tutors are then free to tutor their tutee in any manner they see fit; their main goals being an increase in player skill and induction into the broader Smogon community. The format for posting in the sign-ups will be provided in the sign-up thread. Be sure to sign up as soon as you see the sign-ups posted, as spots tend to fill up very quickly!
Rate My Team is one of the simpler forums in terms of what actually goes about on a daily basis. People post their teams to accrue rates, and give rates of their own to other people's teams to improve them. One section of Rate My Team is dedicated solely to OU teams, with another section dedicated to teams from other metagames, which can be denoted by a tag placed before the thread title. The RMT Archive is a subsection that is dedicated to the preserving of RMTs that chronicle the development of Smogon's various metagames through well-built, excellently-presented, and most importantly, successful teams. Rating Activites is where aspiring team raters can go to learn more from established team raters. There are a few rules, seen here, that must be followed at all times.
Rate My Team's IRC channel is #ratemyteam. Presentation is a critical aspect of RMT, moreso than other forums, and Bloo's guide to successful RMT presentation, an incredibly handy resource, can be viewed here. Harsha's snippet on how to rate is another recommended post to read before posting.
Pokémon Showdown! has been Smogon's official simulator since we transitioned from Pokémon Online in July of 2012, and get this: it's browser based. That means you won't have to download a thing. Just click that link and you're off! Here you can try your skills against experts and casual players alike in one of the many formats on offer. You can also just kick back and chat about anything from Pokémon to your favorite TV show, if that tickles your fancy. However make sure to read the rules and the FAQ first to avoid getting on the bad side of one of our moderators. The mods are all super guys and gals so as long as you follow those rules and make sure to be friendly and light-hearted (although maybe not too friendly), you should be fine.
The Wi-Fi main forum deals with nearly everything about the game cartridges aside from in-game discussion. The bulk of the forum is dedicated to users' trade and giveaway threads where you can trade or receive Pokémon from the owners of the thread after trading friend codes. Most of the Pokémon that you can receive are what's considered "perfect Pokémon." This is where the other half of the forum comes into play. A major function of the Wi-Fi forum is research on the inner-workings of the cartridge games, including RNG (random number generator). The Wi-Fi forum has some very specific rules for posting and reporting, so be absolutely sure to read the rules before posting.
The sub-forums of the main Wi-Fi forum are dedicated to Wi-Fi Tournaments. In Wi-Fi Tournaments, one user will get a tournament approved by the moderators and then host said tournament within the forum. Any user is free to join the sign-ups, and they are then responsible for organizing to have a battle over the DS Wi-Fi connection with their opponent via the forums. This is for any in-person tournament that is not the VGCs. Be sure to read the guidelines before posting!
Orange Islands is the forum where everything non-competitive about Pokémon is discussed. This is a more relaxed board, where you're free to share your Pokémon stories in the appropriate threads. In addition to these threads, there are numerous in-game challenges such as the Nuzlocke Challenge and Scramble Challenge, and a smattering of Let's Play threads. It also houses the official speculation thread for the upcoming Pokémon X and Y, although this thread is a bit intimidating and the discussion is always changing! Some competitive aspects leak into Orange Islands, though; there are in-game tiering threads for just about every Pokémon game, and the Orange League is a small tournament of in-game challenges. Want to get even more involved? A large part of Orange Islands culture is located not on Smogon, but #orangeislands on IRC. The channel holds movie nights every Thursday at 10:00 PM GMT-5.
Contributions & Corrections is where the work for the analyses and articles you see on-site gets done. Analyses can be reserved in various index threads scattered throughout the various analysis subforums (Ubers, OU, UU, RU, LC, VGC 2014, and Doubles, and even OMs!). You can write analyses for any official Smogon tier and the current VGC season. Once an analysis is reserved, a bullet point outline of the analysis should be posted, which will then be reviewed by the Quality Control team and eventually written up for the Grammar-Prose team to check over (this guide might be of help). After that is all done, your analysis will appear on-site! More on formatting your analysis can be found here. We are always looking for writers with new and innovative sets to post; it's also a great way to improve your English, for foreign speakers. If you demonstrate proficiency in a certain metagame, you may even be able to join the Quality Control team of that metagame and ensure the analyses of others are concise and informative. If you want to check grammar, try applying for the Grammar-Prose team (look at this guide for some tips). Just remember to prove your abilities before requesting to join these teams, as you will otherwise be summarily rejected.
Articles and letters (letters are basically shorter and slightly more colloquial versions of articles) can be reserved and worked on in their respective subforum (past generation articles go here). Are you an expert on a specific strategy? Can you analyze the game well or give tips on how to play it? These are the types of ideas we want for articles and letters. These will also go on-site, usually under the "Articles" section, though some letters will appear in various tier hubs. There is a rigorous process for getting articles and letters on-site; quality over quantity is taken very seriously, but quality is usually something that can be fixed, so long as it isn't too bad.
If you have technical ability, Contributions & Corrections is looking for people like you. First off, you need to check out this, this, and this before going any further. Anyway, once an article or letter has reached the GP phase, it is ready for HTMLing, and the first person to gets to it is the one that gets to do the HTML. Again, be sure to check differences in HTMLing for Smogon, as there are numerous elements of the content management system that reduce the workload required. If your technical ability goes a bit further and you've created some sort of program that might be helpful for competitive battlers, show it off in the Projects subforum! Competitive battlers are always looking for the next cool applet. All of this is the Contributions & Corrections subforum; there is sure to be something you can help with. Check out #C&C and #grammar on the SynIRC network if you have any other questions.
The Social Media portion of the site encompasses the Facebook page, Twitter page, and the Youtube and Twitch channels. There's a distinction between the video portion and non-video portion of Social Media. The Facebook and Twitter pages are responsible for posting miniature articles about various events on the Smogon forums, in addition to directly addressing the public. They're also responsible for obtaining and distributing Pokémon that are given away on the two pages. If you're interested in any of these things, contact darkie, tennisace, or Treecko. They gladly accept any and all suggestions and Pokémon donations.
The Smogon Youtube (and Twitch) pages are where videos relating to Smogon are published, which include among other things Smogcasts and narrated battle replays. The Smogcast is a live stream where few Smogonites come together to talk about one of Smogon's Official Metagames in each cast. The Smogcast goes over many different aspects of a metagame, some of which include: Suspect Pokémon, Team Building, Underrated Threats, and more. The main channel for this is #smogcast, where the streams are organized and talked about. If you're interested in Smogcasts, you should definitely contact Ace Emerald, who organizes them.
This project is entirely unique from anything you will find on the Internet. As a community, we create a Pokémon by voting on every single aspect of its being, from typing to Pokedex entries. But the best part is that it's a competitive project; our end products are posted on Pokémon Showdown and can be used in real battles! If you're interested in becoming involved in CAP, you'll want to check out our Newcomer's Guide and Mission Statement. CAP is entirely public, so head on over and vote whenever you like. Make sure you read the rules at the start of each thread, and you'll be creating Pokémon like a pro!
Congregation of The Masses (or Cong, for short) and Firebot
Firebot is a long standing forum located in the seedy underbelly of Smogon. Its culture has long-developed over its established users throughout the ages. The humour is very unique to any other part of the forum, because we are particularly ruthless in this area. If you post like a mongoloid, you will be treated like a mongoloid. For this reason, you should probably lurk for a while to fully understand the goings on (this also applies to the rest of the forum but is especially worth noting here.)
Its sister forum is called Congregation of The Masses, which is a much more serious forum, where users debate over topics and usually end up thinking lesser of the opposing party. This is where you will see threads about politics or social issues. It may seem a little dry, but trust me it is quite fiery.
The sub-forum of Cong is the Sports Arena. Any non-Pokémon discussion dealing directly with sports belongs in this forum. This can be anything from American football to tennis to hockey. Anything not sports-related belongs in the main forum.
The Great Library is also there for you to discuss anything from American cartoons to manga. There is also discussion of different kinds of music, and even different video games. Movies are also accepted as something being able to talk about! Be sure to be positive that there is not already a thread made about a topic you are wanting to talk about.
Circus Maximus is a lax subforum, compared to other, more serious aspects of the site, such as C&C and The Smog, where users generally relax. Circus is predominantly filled with games of mafia and variations thereof, though other non-Pokémon related leisure activities and games are held, such as Yu-Gi-Oh and Chess. Role-playing games and formats can also be experimented and are hosted, such as Philosopher's Stone War. With the exception of no-outside-communication mafia games, pretty much all Circus-related activities are held in various IRC channels, usually stated in each game's respective original post. To get an understanding of how the mafia system works, all users are required to read the Circus Maximus rules.
Artists unite! Smeargle's Studio is the home all things artsy, from individual painted/digital art threads to the creation of unique Pokémon sprites and banners. Some of the most popular threads are community art projects that can range from the creation of a deck of Pokémon-themed cards to a Secret Santa art gift exchange, or even the XY Sprite Project! Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the regular contests that are hosted within the forum, the most popular being the Monthly Art Contest (MAC). There are also miscellaneous threads where you can express yourself in creative writing, music, or photography as well. If you're an artist, be sure to set up an individual art thread (the only condition being your original post must have at least 3 pieces of your own, original art in it). Smogon is always looking for great art, and there are a lot of avenues outside of the Studio for our artists to venture into, so keep an open mind when posting your thread! Also be sure to visit #smeargle on IRC to chat about all things Smogon art.