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I'm going to take a stab in the dark and guess that you're reading this article because you have aspirations on Smogon. You might be a power-hungry megalomaniac, or perhaps you're really entranced with pixel art. Whatever the case, I'm here to facilitate your endeavors here. Smogon has over 100,000 registered users and just about 400 badgeholders, including moderators and above. With these kinds of numbers, it seems like the odds are pretty slim to get one of these nifty trinkets and access to the Inside Scoop, the not-so-secret staff forum where badgeholders get a first look at new site policy as well as the ability to chip in with their own suggestions. That's just not true though – we're constantly scouting talent. In fact, the numbers mean nothing – it's all on you. If you kick yourself into gear and start contributing to Smogon, your (Pokémon) desires will become reality.
While you may be dying to emulate Bloo or Philip7086 and have a line of badges that is literally wider than your postbit, I'm going to let you in a little secret: it's not about size, but how you use it. Once you get your first badge, whether it's a basic Pre-Contributor (my first badge) or a more debonair Moderator badge, adding more badges does not actually give you more access on Smogon – the notable exceptions are the staff badges, namely Site Staff (gives you access to cache updates to the site), Tournament Director and its ilk, Super Moderator and Administrator. Playing jack-of-all-trades, master of none may make your postbit look pretty, but the lack of specialization will mean that you're never quite the right choice to promote to represent a certain area. Moderators are chosen because they're supremely dedicated to an area of the forum and are therefore fit to govern it; likewise, Super Moderators are selected based on their position as forum leaders, excelling in leading things such as tiers, C&C, or large-scale projects such as this very own e-zine.
This isn't to say that branching out is a bad idea. In fact, branching out, which I'll touch more upon later, shows that you aren't just a one-trick pony, as well as getting your name out, but it's always a good idea to specialize first. Running around from forum to forum, assuming you're still working on making a presence, will leave you shafted with lesser jobs that don't get you as much recognition. Even the Super Moderators and Administrators have a forum that they can call their home, and that's generally where they started their own Pokémon journey and got their first leadership position.
Soon that Pre-Contributor will turn into Contributor and eventually C&C mods, or that Team Rater will turn into RMT mods, or that Tutor badge into Battling 101 mods. Soon the leader will move on in life, and you'll be left in charge. Soon, all your hard work toiling in the Smogon workforce will be paid back in spades.
There are main big hurdles in getting a badge: having people know who you are and proving that you are responsible enough to act appropriately with a badge; this is why it's much easier for badgeholders to get more badges. Both of these are easily solved by involving yourself in the community and getting to know the people with power. Nobody likes a suck-up, but having your name be seen helps infinitely when we're looking for staff members. I'm the Pre-Contributor and Contributor badge leader and I can tell you firsthand that I don't stare at C&C all day, searching for potential badge candidates. Instead, I rely on the legions of helpful C&C contributors to be my other hundred sets of eyes; they suggest users to me to nominate for the badge. Even if I don't personally know you, having somebody to got to bat for you and sing praise of you and your ancestors goes a long way towards getting a badge.
The best way to get involved in the community and get to know people is to come on IRC. Smogon has an impressive presence on the SynIRC server with its huge #Pokemon channel, usually filled with upwards of 150 people, as well as the large #smogon, and the hundreds of small splinter channels like #C&C and #grammar. If you hop on and start chatting with us, you'll not only gain status (if you speak in #Pokemon or #smogon) that goes towards a badge, but we'll get to know you and trust you, allowing us to not have to question your attitude when your name comes up for a badge. To read more about getting on IRC, you can visit the IRC page.
It's important to remember that a lot of the most coveted positions on Smogon, such as Simulator Mod, Forum Moderator (or higher), and Tournament Director, are ones that are based on trust. In order to be a good moderator for Smogon, we need to trust that you have a good head on your shoulders and will be fair in your dispensation of holy justice. Making nice with and proving yourself to the leaders in these areas before just jumping in blindly hoping to get noticed will mean that you'll be on a short list to get an authority position when the need arises.
Ah, the dreaded warning – the moderator's harshest tool in the fight against trolls and malicious users. Warnings, also known as infractions, get a lot of bad rep and it's easy to see why, since they're given out as punishment. However, the reality is that they're exactly what they sound like – warnings. A warning is nothing more than a poke saying, “Hey, this post isn't OK, maybe you should try something else.” Good people can make bad posts, and they are easily forgiven if they actually turn around, realize their error, and move on in a better direction. I have never actually seen somebody be rejected for a badge because of a single infraction; you need to be a persistent troublemaker to get turned down, but even troublemakers get chances and some go on to become some of the site's greatest users. You would be surprised at how many Super Moderators and Administrators have been infracted in the past.
This isn't to say, of course, that the moderators' word is gospel. As a member of the forums, you have the right to respond to warnings, but I would caution you to think carefully about how you go about doing it. While it is not always the case, most of the time, moderators do in fact know best, so you aren't liable to get anywhere. Make sure to be wary of sounding hostile, because there is nothing moderators and administrators hate more than self-righteous, malicious users. Keep in mind as well that, although an infraction will not permanently scar your Smogon record, an enemy moderator or, God forbid, Administrator can definitely put a kink in your plans to rise through the Smogon meritocracy.
You might be raring to go at this point. Your head is cleared, you're in the zone, and you're ready to sign up for the rest of the NU analyses or to rate every single team in the Rate My Team forum. Easy there, tiger. Some people really load themselves up with work extremely quickly, leading them to stop enjoying their time on Smogon. Remember that Smogon is, first and foremost, a hobby, and that your work is totally voluntary. You won't be getting a paycheck in the mail from Smogon Inc., nor will you be given job references from any of the Administrators. The work you do is motivated by your own enjoyment in Smogon, so don't do something that will make you lose that spark.
From a more cynical standpoint, it is also more likely for you to get promoted if you pace yourself on Smogon. Very few users have a rapid ascension through the ranks, and if you burn yourself out quickly, you'll never be able to reach your full potential. In addition, people who burn out often leave a lot of unfinished things in their wake, which is another way to annoy other would-be contributors as well as the people to whom you promised the contributions.
The most important thing to keep in mind when you're working for Smogon is that these things take time. We're all human, so sometimes we miss or overlook people and their hard work. Don't lose faith though. We have lots of great, dedicated people who will make sure you get recognized for your own dedication to Smogon. Know that we do appreciate you and what you've done for us, regardless of whether you've completed one analysis or a hundred grammar checks. Know that we will eventually notice you, however dismal your prospects seem. Most importantly, though, know that we, contrary to the beliefs of some, do actually want you to succeed. Good luck, and keep plugging away.
Of course, if you can program, that's another story. Please PM me as soon as you read this and I'll pin so many badges to your e-lapel that your head will spin. Seriously. PM me.
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