Ask the Admins

By shaymin. Art by Blue Frog.
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Hello, everyone, and welcome to Ask The Admins! The purpose of this is pretty simple: administrative candidates are selected by The Player staff, and the rest of the community asks as many questions as they want, regarding things like sim life and personal life. Be aware, however, that not each and every single one of these questions may be answered. At any rate, our chosen candidates for ATA are none other than jdarden, The Immortal, and Zarel! Let's get down to the questions!

Question #1

EpicNikolai: In your eyes, what are the drawbacks of being Leader/Admin? Do you feel like you have a lot of responsibility on your shoulders?

jdarden: To me, the main drawback is that it's hard to kind of hang on PS! just to chill and be a normal user; as soon as you log on, you're getting very regular PMs from people. You can always hang on alts, but I feel kind of bad to sit on an alt while other members of staff are on and moderating. It's something you get used to, and it doesn't bother me very much any more unless I'm having a bad day or something, but at first it was pretty bothersome.

And yeah, there's definitely some amount of responsibility. It's all volunteering, so none of it is super stressful, but I do think that as long as I'm staff it's important for me to keep an eye on both users and staff and make sure everything is running smoothly.

The Immortal: There is a certain burden on you to be a good role model. Yes, I feel it is my duty to monitor those below me and make sure they act fairly and responsibly. In terms of my technical position, yes as well.

Zarel: I don't really see a drawback. Even as the owner, I can pick and choose what I want to do. I enjoy programming, so that's my job. Others might enjoy promoting moderators, so that's their job. There is, of course, a lot of responsibility involved in writing software used by millions of people, but to me, it's always been more exciting than stressful.

Question #2

Xylen: Which part/rooms on PS! do you like the most? What makes you like it? What else do you do other than modding/coding PS!?

jdarden: Well, I do own Health & Fitness, which is great for me because it covers a big interest of mine. I generally stick to there and Lobby as far as chatting goes, but if I had to pick another room in which to hang out, it would be Academics. They have a lot of fun stuff going on, and there's a great range of topics for discussion.

When I'm not on PS!: I spend time working (I recently graduated from college with a degree in biomedical engineering and am working at a local engineering firm while I look for other opportunities), lifting weights/swimming (I coached a swim team this summer and will be helping out with a high school team this winter), and hanging out with the few friends I have that are still bumming around my hometown (;-;).

The Immortal: It used to be Wi-Fi but these days I would have to say Other Metas. I have grown fond of OMs and they are the only formats I play now. The room is also special to me because I helped it become popular when it was one of the most inactive rooms. Right now, looking for a job!

Zarel: Unfortunately, as Zarel himself, what rooms in PS! I hang out on needs to be kept relatively secret. Whenever I'm acting officially and using my "Zarel" account, I get PMed around once every ten seconds, which makes it impossible to get any real work done. :( I make do by using secret alt accounts whenever I want to relax on PS! In my free time, I like to play a fighting game called Hisoutensoku. I also spend a lot of time learning languages; I'm currently working on Chinese and Japanese.

Question #3

SoulSapphire: What's the single most annoying question you get asked?

jdarden: I'd say about every other day I get at least one of the following (poorly worded) messages: "Hey can we battle if I win you give me voice if I lose you ban me" etc. It baffles me that this crosses the minds of so many people. Drives me insane.

The Immortal: "Can you register my server?" I hate that, and most of the time I do not respond. If they actually just say "this is my server, can you register it with this name?" I would do it.

Zarel: It's not a specific question, but a type of question: A lot of people will make a "bug report" about something that happened in their battle, without bothering to look up how the game actually works. 95% of the time when we get a "bug report", PS! is actually working exactly the same way that XY works, and the reporter just doesn't understand how XY works. Once in a while, we even get users who don't care how XY works and demand that we change the game mechanics to make more sense to them. Those aren't very fun. :(

Question #4

Redew: Have you always aimed for being a Leader/Admin?

jdarden: Honestly, in the first few days I joined PS! I thought being a Leader would be cool because they had all the fun commands (this was back in the days of commands like /forcerenameto and /namelock). Obviously I got over that, but I still wanted to be part of staff because I really liked the environment on Showdown and thought the staff seemed like a solid bunch (since then, my judgement has improved, heh). As a Driver/Moderator, I wasn't really concerned about joining senior staff - I just wanted to do what I could to contribute. Now that I'm a Leader, though, I'm very glad to be aboard.

The Immortal: When I first joined, I did not seek any promotion; I just wanted to help with implementing all the mechanics. Once I become a Moderator though, I just aimed for the top!

Zarel: I originally aimed to be a sysop. I only renamed the rank from "sysop" to "Administrator" during the merger with Smogon, when I thought it'd be clearer, and also because we were starting to gain Administrators who weren't programmers.

Question #5

Antemortem: How do you manage to allocate time to put work into the forum/community/server?

jdarden: The good part about working on PS! staff is that it's a voluntary job. We don't want anyone to moderate more than they want to — Showdown is about fun, after all. As such, if I get super busy for a week or two, I know that I don't have to worry about getting online every single day. We have a lot of great staff we can rely on to pick up our slack in those sorts of situations. Being on PS! is something that I enjoy, though, so given that I usually have some down time at work and in the evening, it isn't too hard to find time to jump on.

The Immortal: I am not a very social person, in all honesty, so I did have a lot of free time during university. Now, I should probably spend less time on Showdown.

Zarel: Because it's fun. I guess I'm pretty lucky that I find programming fun, but it really is fun to me. I still remember during my time in university, where if I wasn't tired I'd work on PS!, and if I was tired I'd work on the NEXT mod in PS!. PS!'s mod system is really easy to use, so working on a mod was a pretty good way to relax.

Question #6

BetaHousing: Who would you say is a prime example of a great user/battler on the server?

jdarden: My man hangman (h_n_g_m_n) gets a shoutout here for being a stellar co-owner of the health/fitness room and also currently being a 2-0 boss for our PSPL team :^) Not many tournament players are on PS! very frequently (or at least not in the rooms I frequent), but there is my buddy Sweep on staff, who is an excellent battler and a great staff member.

The Immortal: Tough question. I can think of good users, and I can think of good battlers but not both. Off course, good users are the ones that get promoted. Darnell is a prime example of a great user. As for great battler, Molk in standard formats. As you would know, word in OMs.

Zarel: I'd have to say chaos, since he pays for the server. Paying for things that benefit me is a pretty great thing to do, in my opinion.

Question #7

Clefairy: What is your favourite meme? What got you into Pokémon?

jdarden: SANIC/sonic oc

When I was 6 (or 5? something like that), I was just getting into video games. I had just gotten my Game Boy Pocket after knocking my brick style Game Boy into a (mercifully unused) toilet at the dentist's office, which I realize is a weird tragedy to befall a Game Boy. Anyway, after several weeks of begging my dad, who was a big fan of now-retro games like Pac-Man, Centipede, and Arkanoid, he finally brought home a copy of Pokémon Blue version. I destroyed the Elite 4 and Gary with my monofire Charizard and became pretty hooked. My interest petered off after Gen III, but when I was a junior in high school I picked up Diamond Version for nostalgia's sake and got re-interested. Eventually, that lead me to Smogon/PS! as well.

The Immortal: rof.

I watched Pokémon on TV when I was growing up. When I was in seventh grade in school, a friend let me play with his Pokémon Ruby (or Sapphire, I don't remember exactly), and that's how I got into the games.

Zarel: A friend showed me this:

I was eight when Pokémon Red and Blue came out in the US, and at that time everyone got into Pokémon. There was maybe one person in my entire third grade class who didn't know what Pokémon was. I stopped playing after I beat Gold, but got back into Pokémon when I was in China with nothing better to do when I was 18. Since then, I read a lot of analyses on Smogon but didn't actually start playing until four years ago, when a friend made me try PO.

Question #8

Hippopotas: What was the hardest/most frustrating/most annoying part of PS to code?

The Immortal: The client is the hardest and I stay away from it.

Zarel: Scaling is always the most frustrating part. When writing new features, there's no deadlines, and you're adding something new that a lot of people want, and it's nice to see the change, and everyone is super happy about it. When scaling, PS! just can't handle the new number of users on the server, and you have to get that fixed ASAP, and the only reward is that PS! continues working the same as it did before. There's a lot more pressure and no real reward.

Question # 9

Nani Man: When did you first start learning to program and how did it lead to contributing/creating PS!?

The Immortal: Around seven years ago, I was into AdventureQuest at the time and found some trainers for the game (a trainer is basically an application that allows you to cheat). I thought to myself, "I can do better than that" and made what is till this day the most popular trainer for the game. Since then, I loved programming and developed a flair for it. When I found PS!, it took me a short time to learn and start contributing.

Zarel: I started learning programming when I was ten. I got a TI-92 for Christmas (I'm a nerd, I don't care, it was the best Christmas present I've ever gotten). The manual had a section on programming, and that's how I learned that I now had the power to make the calculator do whatever I wanted.

My first program just had a simple conversation with you; it would do things like ask "How old are you?" and let you type in an answer and then respond "Cool" no matter what you typed in. I totally impressed the girl sitting next to me in class with it, and that's how I became super popular with girls — I mean, became a programmer.

Question #10

Th!nkPi: Will the BETA label ever be taken out of Pokémon Showdown?

jdarden: I guess this one is for Zarel/TI, but PS! is a site that we're always trying to improve and will generally be in constant development (especially with new gens coming out occasionally), so expect the BETA tag to be part of the look for some time to come!

The Immortal: BETA forever!!

Zarel: Yeah, it'll probably come off pretty soon, actually. The main thing we were waiting on is triples, but triples is mostly done now. Once we get a few other things finished off, I really do plan to get rid of the "BETA" sign. Or we might keep it. It's been there long enough that it sort of belongs there now.

Question #11

Kasumi♥: Do your friends, family, parents know about your contributions to Showdown? If yes, how did they respond to that?

jdarden: A few of my friends and classmates know and have made PS! accounts of their own because of it (my roommate got voice through the random battle challenge a year and a half or so ago). Beyond friends with whom I'm in constant contact (as in, people who have seen me on it at some point), I don't really talk about it, just because people generally don't care or find it particularly interesting. As for family and parents, nah, it's not really something I bring up, just because again, it's not something they really care about. I don't imagine there would be any particularly interesting response if I told them.

The Immortal: No.

Zarel: My friends have always been really supportive. My family didn't really understand at first, but my mom's pretty proud of me now because her friends' kids have mentioned playing PS! and she gets to tell them that her son made it.

Question #12

Genesis7: Zarel, what is the significance of DOGARS to you, and is it the only easter egg on PS!?

Zarel: In Black and White 2, there's a gym leader (Homika) who's also a musician, and she asks you to listen to her song. The song in question is just her repeatedly spelling and saying "Koffing" (whose Japanese name is "Dogars"). A lot of the community thought that was funny. It actually wasn't me, but a different programmer, Bill Meltsner, who added the song to PS!


There you have it, folks! Three members of the administrative team of Pokémon Showdown sharing their thoughts as well as letting our readership gain a bit of knowledge as to who they really are behind the screens. Interesting stuff, isn't it? Unfortunately, that's all we have for now, but no worries, because Ask The Admins will be back again with three more members of the administrative team ready for your questions!

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