Questions and Answers - Ask the Admins

« Previous Article Home Next Article »
Teaching Alakazam

How much of your personal time does it take to moderate a website like this? Would you say that in the end, it is worth the personal cost?

—Oddish on Fire

The key to moderating and managing a site like Smogon is that you do it in your own free time, when you can do it when you want to. This way, it's never going to take away time from anything else you wanted to do. Of course, that's kind of assuming a perfect world where you aren't doing Smogon things when you should be doing things for school or work. Personally, I never have that problem since I'm not engaged in either of them at the moment. For the others, one of the reasons the admins are admins is because they're good at managing their time.

In addition, you will find that most of the admins don't moderate the forums as much as, well, moderators. We'll lock, move and infract when we feel it's neccessary, but generally we have other projects and personal responsibilities to take care of. Examples include the Suspect tests, the Tutor program, and several programming objectives.—Mekkah

Did you ever feel somehow separated from the community because of your rank?

—Wombat Sky Forme

Short answer is no. I've grown slowly towards the double star for around four years now, and I'm not suddenly going to ditch anyone just because my rank is the highest. My best friends here include people I've tutored, other staff members, badgeholders, and people I just bump into on IRC. I know that it's the same for most, if not all other administrators. Or you could even say, every single staff member or badgeholder.—Mekkah

What does it take to be a good admin on the site?


About the same things it takes to get into a higher position anywhere. You need to know the rules and their purposes, as well as when to apply common sense. You should also know that when you're not sure on what to do, you have a team of other administrators to turn to for help. It's never a solo project: communication is very important.

In addition, accessibility is important. If anyone contacts me for help in a friendly way, I will do my best to help them. Even if I don't know you, I'm generally up for a loose conversation about anything. What does my rank matter? I'm still just a normal human.—Mekkah

When you joined, did you always have the intention to become an administrator/ someone important? Or did you just take the oppotunity when it arose?


When I joined the Smogon forums in February 2006, I joined for only one reason: to play and discuss Pokemon. I never had any intention of becoming a moderator, let alone an administrator. At that time, the Diamond and Pearl games were soon to be released, and discussion about them was rife, especially about what the new moves, items and abilities do. I realised that I could help in discovering that, so I did, and that's how I started contributing to Smogon. I didn't stop there, however: I continued contributing, and that's how I eventually became an admin.

So no, I never intended to become an administrator or someone important in Smogon, but, when you contribute, you automatically become an important person. You don't get the opportunity of becoming an admin in Smogon unless you contribute to the site, so there was no opportunity I could have taken to become an admin; rather, I created my own opportunity by contributing to the site, kind of.

As for whether it's worth it, I don't think you will ever hear anyone say it isn't. As an admin, you have all the freedom to start, approve and decline things as you wish. You easily get in touch with about anyone you didn't already know, and you're generally always able to help people out if they ask something.—X-Act

Does it annoy you that admins get some haters? (I'm not one!)


I believe that every person is naturally annoyed, to a varying degree, if he or she is hated, especially if the hate is for no good reason. However, when you realise that, no matter what you do, you never get the plaudits by everyone, this becomes rather second nature. Some people will praise your work, others will remain indifferent, others will offer suggestions on how to improve it, while others will criticize your work unfairly. It is important not to get discouraged by the latter group of people, and just ignore them... or ban them if it gets too bad! Sometimes this is not easy, but we are mature persons and have got used to it.—X-Act

What is an admin's view of the average person on smogon?


Plain and simple, Smogon is about "the average user". Everything we do here is focused on creating the richest environment possible for Pokemon fans across the world to interact with others who share their interests both on and off the battling simulator. Given our mission and focus, the administration recognizes that it is the average user that keeps this place alive... not very top levels of the organization. As such, we hold a great respect for our users; always keeping their best interest in mind when it comes to policy choices.

That said, it is really important for individual users to find out how they fit into the organization and what constitutes acceptable etiquette in the context of this community. As long as users watch, learn, and behave in a way that jibes with the long standing culture of this place... they will be treated with nothing but the greatest respect.—Aeolus

What have been the best and worst experiences from being an admin at Smogon?


Certainly being an admin has its ups and downs. Having the opportunity to be at the center of every major shift that has occurred in the organization over the past several years has been a privilege. Shaping Pokemon policy and developing competitive and community driven programming for the Smogon users has been my absolute favorite part. Having a seat at the table to determine the direction of one of my favorite hobbies is really great.

The worst part about my position is having to say "no" to people. Many times people come to me with ideas and suggestions for new or different things and it falls to me to say "no" sometimes. When it is your responsibility to care for the well-being of the entire organization, you have to assess suggestions at a larger level of granularity. The question becomes, "Does this advance an organizational goal and is it a help to Smogon as a whole?" instead of "Does this accomplish goal xyz". Tunnel vision is no longer allowed, and the singular pursuit of one goal may be to the detriment of another part of the organization. There are tons of examples of this, and I wouldn't want to bore anyone with those... but one can imagine the level of inter-connectedness that exists here among different parts of Smogon. Changes in one part have implications in others and the effects are sometimes more far-reaching that one would originally realize.—Aeolus

How would you say the admins are dealing with the image that admins are 'out of touch' with competitive Pokémon battling?


On the surface, I’d say that this depends more on one’s own definition of “out of touch” than anything else. This definition is going to vary widely depending on who you are talking to. DougJustDoug may never have played a competitive battle on the Shoddy Battle server he runs, but regularly admits to being a “stat junkie” when it comes to actually perusing and analyzing the half a million battles’ worth of statistics he personally generates for our community every month. I doubt many of the battlers at the top of the leaderboard are as in tune with the subtle nuances and trends of competitive battling as is Doug. Or take X-Act, another admin who very rarely battles. He wrote and revises the formula that determines our OU and UU tiers and updates it every quarter, in addition to calculating the most popular moves and movesets for OU and UU. I’d wager it isn’t a very far step for him to analyze the meaning of this data as it relates to competitive Pokémon battling if he does not do so already.

And those are arguably the most “out of touch” admins. Aeolus still battles regularly in addition to running the Smogon Tour, and Mekkah still battles and is currently a Smogon Tutor. Blue Kirby just earned a Checkmark for his participation in the last Suspect Test round (which was our most involved at three months long), and I defy anyone to state that Colin’s rating on the Standard Ladder is more important than his efforts towards actually creating the battling simulator we all depend on, and the smoother, more detailed one we will when Shoddy Battle 2 is completed. Yours truly would tell you he’s always no more than a dozen battles away from being completely in touch with the current competitive goings-on in Pokémon, given his tireless involvement with the aforementioned Suspect Test Process, consistent presence in #stark on IRC (perhaps the “new” pulse of competitive battling), and unmatched attention to and enthusiasm for our Policy Review forum.

I don’t have to speak for any of those admins, or the remaining Misty and chaos, but the former very literally wrote the philosophy on competitive Pokémon to which Smogon still adheres, and chaos created our community as we know it. If their current attention to graduate school makes them appears more “out of touch” than they once were, so what? All of our fingerprints are all over every inch of the mantle of this community, whether or not a given user can determine whose prints belong to whom or how long they’ve been there.

What’s most important though, in my opinion, is how in touch the administrators of our forums have to be with competitive Pokémon battling in the first place. So to directly answer your question, I’d say we aren’t “dealing with” it at all, nor are we inclined to. Our job isn’t to sit atop some lofty competitive perch, taking on all courageous challengers no matter what. We’re administrators of the battle simulator and forums of the Smogon community, not members of the Elite 4. This is an image that I would say only the younger and more naïve members of our community still cling to, and we administrators should continue to partake in the many activities that will improve and strengthen this community, if only to demonstrate that logging 100 battles a month isn’t one of them.—Jumpman16

« Previous Article Home Next Article »