Wednesday, January 9, 2019

View Retrospective: Proposals

 On Writing Proposals
by Tucker "Temorse" Noyes
[Editor's Note: originally published on January 15, 2015]

This is a short guide to writing proposals that will hopefully help people trying to make changes during this proposal season.  Included is the basic proposal structure that will help you communicate efficiently and concisely.  In doing so you will allow your readers to better understand what you're trying to accomplish and enable them to give you more effective feedback.

This should be the meat and potatoes of exactly what you are doing, much like the abstract in a professional paper.  Having a clear concise message will give readers a good idea of what the proposal is all about.

Your rationale should include just that, a set of logical reasons for the change that you are making.  This is where you should identify the problem or area of improvement that you are addressing with your change.  These reasons should be logical and not just “Because it’s cool.”  If more people can identify with the problem at hand, the more people will likely vote for or give helpful criticism of the proposal.  Here you also want to include your reasoning on how these changes will address the problem you have identified.  When you can try to reference specifics from the omnibus and stay away from anecdotal evidence.

Here you should include the specific changes you are making to the omnibus text.  Use the html guide to the left of the text box while you write the proposal to properly highlight the removals, additions, and changes you are making to the text.  This section shouldn’t include anything but the text changes to the omnibus.

Finally after the changes I like to include any relevant notes that might not be obvious changes or any updates I make to the proposal for the sake of record keeping and helping people keep up with the comments.

Make sure you always review your proposal before you submit it, I recommend vetting it through a group of people who may have experience in the area that you're proposing something in (ie. if you changing the Healer path, you may want to have some well known Healers review it first).  This will give you a more polished product to present to the greater public and let you deal with any glaring issues outside the limelight.

And on a final note, although this is more personal opinion, you should always have a good reason for a proposal.  This doesn’t mean taking a “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” attitude, because innovation is a very important part to a thriving game, however proposing things just because you think it seems cool, is generally not a great basis and leads to a lot of wasted time and effort.  Good luck on your proposals this year!

Reviewing Proposals 
by Tucker "Temorse" Noyes
[Editor's Note: originally published on January 24, 2015]

This is a short guide on commenting and critiquing proposals, both online and at the meetings.  This set of guidelines will help you assess and give advice to those people putting up proposals.

In general, there are a few things to consider when reviewing proposals.  First is having decorum throughout the entire process.  Most proposals have had a lot of time and effort put into their inception and creation, so taking a hostile stance against a proposal will likely not help you get your point of view across.  To truly analyze a proposal there are three questions to ask;

Are there any errors within the proposal?  This first question is just assessing the proposal itself.  Are there any glaring errors such as removing a spell from the system that would leave a gap in the path or by changing a weapon material requirement a certain weapon type may no longer function.  These generally are more objective errors than subjective.
Does this proposal fix the addressed problem?  Some proposals aim to fix a problem in the game, others aim to make an improvement to some aspect.  Here we want to question if the proposal actually does this.  For example, if I were to propose we fix Heal Limb, the changes made probably shouldn’t only affect how long Magic Items can be backed for.  This is where we will start to move into some murky areas where both subjective and objective opinions can both be valid.
Is this a good chance.  So finally we ask if the proposal is intrinsically and ultimately a good change for the system.  This tends to be very subjective and where people opinions and outlooks on the game clash.  It is important to keep in mind game balance, not just what is beneficial to ourselves or friends.

Now when we are discussing proposals and asking ourselves these questions there are a few things to keep in mind.  First of all we should try at all time to use objective information as the basis of our arguments.  Now this gets tough because we don’t have any studies or spreadsheets to reference (well, most of us), and a lot of our evidence comes from our experience in game.  That being said it is important to be as specific as possible when it comes to giving evidence and that it is more empirical than anecdotal.  Also for those making proposals is it helpful to remember the importance of compromise and critique.  If there are ten people saying that there is a specific issue with a proposal, it is probably worth looking into.  Likewise sometimes other people are the ones who can come up with major improvements to your proposal, and recognizing when that is can help make your proposal even stronger.

As someone who has a proposal going to the EHC/PM you may also have the opportunity to accept amendments to your proposal.  Anyone may offer an amendment to a proposal, but it is up to the proposing EH (or the Players Rep in case of a Player Proposal), to decide whether or not to accept one.  An amendment is a suggested change to the proposal, generally with the hopes of making an improvement without changing the roots of the proposal itself.

For those of us attending the EHC/PM it is extremely important to come prepared.  This means looking over and reviewing the proposals before showing up at the meeting.  Every year there are a lot of complaints over how long these meetings take, but oftentimes this is due to the fact that many people who attend haven’t looked over the material they are going to be discussing.  If you have any questions or major concerns about a proposal we have a great forum to discuss theses things over on, and if you are uncomfortable posting there most people making proposals wouldn’t mind a private email or message asking for clarification.

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