An Inside Look at Global Staff and Policy

By shaymin. Art by faxxifer, Magistrum, and Andrew.
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Hello, everyone! My name's Shaymin, and I'm here to give you more of an insight as to how Pokémon Showdown! is run. Some of you may be curious as to what the Admins and Leaders, as well as the rest of the staff, deliberate over behind the scenes that makes PS! such a wonderful place to be; don't worry, we'll get to all that! I'll be interviewing several PS! senior staff/policy moderators throughout this article. No worries: there'll be one or two questions per person to keep things condensed. It's through this that you will get first-hand experience with the every day discussions that range from what's decided only at the top of the ladder (Leaders and Admins), to the discussions that encourages staff-wide participation.

Before we dive straight into the questions and interviews, I'd like to start off by defining something:

What exactly is policy?

This is a pretty simple word, though I completely understand if it might be unfamiliar to some of you! Generally, policy is the act of debating changes that would affect the Pokemon Showdown! simulator as a whole. Think about possible rule changes, staff changes, room changes, anything of that nature! Those fall under policy changes, and you can bet that we globals discuss a whole lot of them!

Obviously, I can't tell you anything specifically (we have to keep a certain degree of secrecy about things that we're planning for the future of the sim, y'know?), but what can and will be revealed are generally, as stated in the introduction, first-hand statements from both PS! senior staff members and policy moderators about their perspective on what it's like debating the very decisions that affect you, the user.

Without further ado, let's get started!

First, I'd like to interview jdarden. As a PS! Leader, he's had some pretty extensive experience with debating and discussing all sorts of things that affect the staff of PS! as a whole as well as the userbase. But let's get started on one particular subject that may intrigue some users: promotions!



jdarden, on the subject of promotions, what seems to be your personal criteria for a promotion? Is there a huge difference for you when concerning Voice, Driver, and Mod?


Well my primary criterion is an Elo of at least 1800 in Randbats.

Already starting the review with a joke. What a great sense of humour.




In all seriousness, for a regular user to be promoted to Voice, what I typically look for is just an active presence who consistently sets an example by following PS! rules, and (most importantly) consistently contributes something of substance to PS!. Since we're only talking Voice, this thing of substance could be something as little as consistently leading quality discussions in the Lobby. Or in other rooms, for that matter.

Voice-to-Driver promotions are certainly different, though. The gap between these two ranks is, to me, more significant than any other gap in usergroups. If you're looking for my support for drivers, you really need to convince me that you are mature enough to handle the position.

Seems rather simple, but is it? We'll find out!


One of the most redeeming qualities for a user to have when being considered for a global staff position is experience working as a staff member in other rooms. It's really the best thing you can put on your PS! resume, as it generally means you are capable of dealing with most issues you would have to deal with as a member of PS! staff, such as contributing to policy discussion or appropriately disciplining users.

The gap between Driver and Moderator isn't as significant, but it's still an important one.

This is rather interesting... especially so because some people in our readership base might want to become moderators at some point.


I'd say that Drivers typically receive promotions to Moderators when they have developed a few key qualities. Namely, they need to have proven they're capable of handing out appropriate discipline and they need to be able to communicate with the remainder of staff very well (particularly with respect to policy discussions on the forums).

So not only being levelheaded with moderation commands, but also being approachable, responsible, and mature in regards to policy? Definitely something to note. However, there has been something that has been bugging me...


A lot of PS! regulars have approached me about this, and so, for our readership, I ask this: How rigorous would you say the promotional process is for becoming a global staff member? Also, is there an exact time frame? That is, does one get promoted after x amount of time being in a certain position, or is that irrelevant?


Well, the second question is easier for sure: no. There's definitely no set time frame. Different people end up being promoted at different rates based on the qualities we observe. As for how rigorous the process is, I'd like to say it isn't particularly so. I'd say plenty of people have been nominated for and promoted to global positions without even intending to—as long as they want to contribute to making the site better and try to do so. If you try to force your way into a global position just so you can have the power, you'll probably have a harder time than most.

Heh. Basically, sycophancy is definitely a no-no here!


Alright, thanks! It's been awesome interviewing you, jdarden!


No problem! Glad to help, Shaymin. :)

As jdarden leaves the interview room, I begin to reflect upon what he said. Truly powerful words and advice, and one would do well to follow them to a T.

I hope this helps our users who are aspiring to be global staff one day! Following jdarden's advice, if you really want to help PS and go for the extra step forward, you have plenty of opportunities to do so!

However, for those of you who are especially new to Pokemon Showdown!, you might not even know what a leader is/the purpose of it. It's here that I turn to another one of our leaders, Scene!

What is a Leader?

I shake hands with Scene as we enter the interview room. He seems like a really nice guy, average height I believe, and for the sake of this interview as well as imagery, he is wearing cool glasses as well.


So Scene, some of our readers might not be used to the staff hierarchy that PS! has. Most know that Drivers and Mods basically moderate the chat, and Admins administrate. However, a lot of them have never really been made aware of what a "Leader" is before. So, in your eyes, what defines a Leader, and what is the purpose of the rank?


Well, the idea behind a Leader in my eyes is kind of similar to the idea behind the Driver rank. Both kind of take the flak for the respective ranks above them; you wouldn't want to be bugging Admins for everything Mods can't do, similar to the way Drivers are generally less busy than Mods.

It's not a perfect comparison, though. While most Drivers end up as Mods sooner or later, being an Administrator has unique responsibilities, and it's not as justified to claim that Leader is a "stepping-stone rank" like Driver. Anyway, the practical purposes are nothing too fancy; Leaders "mod the Mods" and do a lot of policy work, as well as certain jobs such as promotions and server registrations.

Seems fairly straightforward. I can see Scene adjusting his glasses as light refracts off of them, kind of like he's in an anime or something.

Pretty informative, I'd say! I definitely hope that helped the lot of you that were in the dark about that rank! But... there's more that needs to be covered. What is debating the decisions that ultimately affect the userbase like? For this broad topic, I'll turn to two people, who will give two different perspectives: Shame That, a PS! Moderator who has extensive experience participating in staff discussions, and Hugendugen, a PS! Administrator who has been a part of the policy decision-making scene for a long time!

Debating Policy


Hiya, Shame and Hugen! From my observations, it seems you've both definitely been a part of a lot of staff discussions; there is no doubt that there some of those decisions concern the PS! userbase as a whole. Can you share what that experience is like?


Well, I've been involved with simulator policy since way back in 2011, when Smogon used Pokémon Online, so at this point it feels almost like second nature. It's inevitable that on a website as big as ours, there are bound to be different visions and conflicting interests, so when it comes to policy, the most important thing is to have perspective. You need to stay level-headed and keep looking at the big picture. Many decisions affect the simulator in ways that may not be apparent immediately. The more experience you have as a policy maker and with the sim, the easier it becomes to predict these side-effects.

You can tell he's been involved with policy for a while.

Shame That

It often feels daunting to contribute to discussions that could change the way PS! operates in the future, and it can require a lot of deep thought and time to get right. Still, it's something I'm passionate about and something that makes me feel like I'm legitimately helping to make PS! a better place.


I see! Some of our readers might want to know: Is being a part of global staff particularly challenging for you in this sense? It could be that a good part of our readership is completely unaware that Moderators might also take part in large-scale decisions that affect them.

Shame That gives quite the intense look. I can tell that his next answer is going to be a great one.

Shame That

I'd say so. Whereas moderating rooms on PS! is usually very clear-cut and reliant on basic snap decisions, discussing policy among other staff is the true test of a mod's capability and commitment. Criticizing and scrutinizing the ideas of others is a challenging mental task, and even more challenging is to come up with possible policy reforms of your own. Staff are all on the same team at the end of the day though, and we only criticize each other to ensure the best possible outcome for the users of PS!. It's difficult, but worth it.

For the sake of some of our readership's curiosity, I have one more important question to ask Hugen.


Hugen, being an Admin, there's no doubt that there have been some tough decisions that you've had to make for sim policy, but some of our readers might want to know: Is being an Admin particularly arduous in this sense? What are the most challenging aspects of being an Administrator, both in itself and in regards to policy?


To be honest, probably the most arduous part is the amount of PMs you get when you join the Lobby. I'd estimate that I get about one or two new PMs every minute, when I'm there. I try to deal with as many as I can, but that makes it tricky to participate in the chat at the same time. The most frustrating part is that most of the PMs are things that they're better off asking elsewhere, like room suggestions, which we have a subforum for, or fairly simple things that most staff members can deal with. That's definitely not to say I don't like getting PMs or talking with the users; it's just that as Admins, we tend to have quite a lot of things on our plate. It can also be a little draining having to act as an intermediary when various room auth or staff members have disputes.

He lets out quite a sigh after this reply. It is quite mentally taxing having to deal with these kind if situations, after all!


Oftentimes, people just need to step back and consider what it is they're actually arguing about. The disputes often seem pretty silly from an outsider's perspective, and I suspect that most of the users involved would see that too if they took a moment to think about it. In the years I've been here, I've learned that when you disagree with someone over a policy issue, you get much further by being friendly and getting them on your side, than by crushing them in argument, even if you think that they're entirely wrong. Being a good policy-maker is just as much about being able to compromise as it is having good judgement and being good at arguing your point.


Awesome! Thank you both for your time. I'm sure our readers have learned a lot from this valuable information!

Shame That

No problem, and thanks for coming to me. :)


My pleasure! The comforting thing about Showdown is that we always have smart new users eager to help wherever they can.


Well, there you have it, everyone! From the mouths (well, keyboards, in this case!), of the policy staff members themselves, I hope everyone has gained some amazing insight on what it is like to make some of the most important decisions that affect Pokemon Showdown!. Truly, it is quite a task, and it is by no means easy, but personally speaking, I believe it is quite rewarding.

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