Thursday, May 24, 2018

An Alternative Interpretation of Data

Hello!  This isn't the type of content that's been here before, but I have an idea to share, and this is a place to do it.  More rules questions will follow, if that's what you are looking for.



Today, there was an article posted (https://blogs.magicjudges.org/road-to-l3/2018/05/23/gender-bias-in-the-l3-advancement-process/) that analyzes data gathered from L3 candidates over the past several years.  The article examines potential bias against female candidates and concludes that there is no evident bias.  When reviewing the data from the article, I saw a different story that is in my opinion more consistent with what I have seen.  Like the conclusion in the article, this is just a hypothesis, but I think it is an alternative view worth sharing.

Analysis of L3 Panel Data

Representation

The articles notes that women are more likely to pursue L3, with 10.2% of the panels in the data being female candidates, compared to 7% of L2s being women.  Here, I would note that data is being used from 2012 to 2017, which is a very long range in terms of evolution of the judge program.  I would be curious to see how that percentage is weighted over the years.  If most of the women in this sample paneled in the past couple years, then it would make sense that this percentage might be “ahead” of the L2 data, because there are many, many judges who get to L2 and stay there.  L3 candidates are, to my knowledge, more likely to be more recent judges, so the percentage of L3 candidates that are female may be closer to the percentage of L2s certified in the past 5 years who are female than it is to the percentage of female L2s overall.  This is a potential explanation for this result. 

If it really is the case that female judges are more likely to try for L3, another potential explanation is that female judges get a lot more attention, both positive and negative, than male judges on average.  Since there are relatively few female judges, they tend to stand out more, resulting in increased visibility and feedback.  Not all of that is positive for an L3 attempt, as negative feedback is also more prevalent and mistakes are remembered more, but this might be a contributing factor.

Deficiencies

Here it appears that, with a few exceptions, men and women fare about equally in terms of deficiencies.  In Leadership, Presence, and Charisma and very substantially in Penalty and Policy Philosophy, women show deficiencies more often than men.  There are several areas where men have shown deficiencies while female candidates have not shown any, but many of these are old qualities that are no longer scored, which calls further into question how many female candidates were evaluated while those qualities were considered.  Of modern qualities, male candidates showed deficiencies in self-evaluation and in Teamwork, Diplomacy and Maturity while women did not. 

The article concludes that gender bias and stereotypes do not play a role here, because if they did, then Stress and Conflict Management would show a bias against female judges too.  I think there are multiple different stereotypes and biases at play here, and this warrants some further investigation.

Leadership, Presence, and Charisma and Penalty and Policy Philosophy are both qualities that, in terms of their evaluation, involve authority.  Authority is obviously involved in the former, and in the latter, authority is what makes others, including evaluators, take your opinions and conclusions seriously.  In speaking with other female judges, I’ve heard again and again how difficult it is to get others to take you seriously.  From players asking for “a real judge” or not believing rulings to other judges explaining simple tasks to female judges who have done them dozens of times, walking into a group of strangers and being taken seriously as an authority is often a problem for female judges.  There is evidence in many fields (https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/aug/06/catherine-nichols-female-author-male-pseudonym, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11199-016-0586-1) of similar problems.

Stress and Conflict Management falls under a different stereotype, where women are considered less tough than men in similar situations, but I would argue that this is balanced by the stereotype that women are “nicer” and less likely to cause or escalate conflict in the first place.  That, combined with the fact that there is a lot of social conditioning that has caused female judges to typically be less aggressive and more friendly in their interactions, makes me skeptical that a lack of demonstrable difference in pass rate rules out gender bias.  It would be illuminating to see the general reason this quality was failed by male vs. female candidates, but with so little data, that is likely not sufficiently anonymized to publish.

Analysis of Questionnaire Data

Representation

Here, the article concludes that women are more amibitious and further along in the L3 process than male candidates.  I would argue that an alternative conclusion that can be drawn from the same data is that women are further along in their judging career and in their process before they consider themselves L3 candidates.  The distribution and advertisement of this questionnaire was essentially to judges who were L3 candidates or former L3 candidates, so the folks answering these questions considered this relevant to their interests.  For men, a large percentage of respondants were not really interested in L3, but considered their opinions relevant enough to answer the survey.  Women, by percentage, appear more likely to not respond unless they were already seriously involved in the L3 path.  Rather than showing that more women pursue L3, it is possible that women are more conservative in considering themselves potential L3 candidates.

In terms of encouragement, a similar picture appears.  The article draws the conclusion that female candidates are more encouraged to pursue L3, but that data could just as easily mean that women wait longer in their judge careers and are stronger judges before pursuing L3, or that women need more encouragement to feel ready to pursue L3.  It also could speak to a higher percentage of female respondants being more advanced in their process than men taking the same survey.  Many of the “no interest in L3” men who took the survey are possibly not ready for L3 and therefore wouldn’t have gotten encouragement towards it.

Perception of Bias

Here, it is overwhelmingly the case that women feel that they are treated and evaluated differently based on their gender.  The article says that women feeling that the L3 process is harder for them is at odds with them receiving more encouragement, but this is far less contradictory if I am correct about the underlying selection bias in this data.  In any case, the fact that there is a trend that men feel the L3 process is slightly easier for them and women think it is slightly harder for them speaks to a consistent problem at least in perception and perhaps in process that needs to be taken seriously and addressed.

Conclusion

I don’t feel that the conclusion of the article, that there is no bias evident and that women receive more encouragement but feel that the L3 process is harder for them, is appropriate to the data.  The confounding variable of selection bias is a major issue here, and as I have outlined, could very easily explain some of the results that the article found to be contradictory.  My hypothesis, based on this data and my experience, is that women are less likely to consider themselves L3 candidates until they are further along in their judging career and in the process than men.  That also means that women were less likely to respond to this survey unless they were further along in the process, because that’s what it took for them to feel that this was relevant to them as L3 candidates.  There is some evidence that gender bias, particularly surrounding authority, could have an impact on deficiencies, but frankly, there isn’t enough good data to draw a real conclusion about that, especially given the change in L3 qualities. 

My conclusion is that while there are some interesting trends in the data, there is very little conclusion to be drawn here, and stating that there is no evident bias is too strong.  The only conclusion that I think is backed up by the evidence is that women feel that there is unfairness in this process, and to me, that means a qualitative consideration of the process is probably needed to examine that perception.  Ultimately, saying that women are just perceiving the unfairness and are being encouraged plenty is what I think a lot of people will get from the article, and that’s not a fair conclusion based on the data.


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Week 5 Questions

Hello and welcome back!  After a brief hiatus courtesy of a new job and a lot of travel, we are back and better than ever with more fun questions!

Also, if you have questions you'd like to see used, here's where you can submit them!  https://goo.gl/forms/BgsKTMu7bdGOWaek1

Easy:  Albert starts his turn, saying "untap, upkeep...", and Norbert tells him to stop, because he would like to cast a Vendilion Clique in Albert's draw step.  Do players get priority in the draw step, and if so, is it legal for Norbert to cast Vendilion Clique then?  Will the Vendilion Clique be cast before or after Albert draws his card for turn?  When does Norbert choose who will be targeted by Vendilion Clique's ability?



Hard:  Natalie casts Kolaghan's Command targeting Angela's Frogmite with both the "deal 2 damage to target creature or player" mode and the "destroy target artifact" mode.  In response, Angela sacrifices her Welding Jar targeting the Frogmite.  What happens as Kolaghan's Command resolves, and does Angela still have a Frogmite on the battlefield after everything resolves?  If Kolaghan's Command had the modes listed in the opposite order, would that change the result?



Corner Case:  Alex plays Life and Limb.  Later in the game, Nathan plays Blood Moon.  Then, Alex puts a 1/1 Saproling token onto the battlefield.  What is it?  Now suppose that Alex played a Taiga instead of creating a saproling token.  What is the Taiga?  After playing the Taiga, Alex then also creates a 1/1 Saproling token.  What is that new saproling, and what is the Taiga?



Saturday, April 1, 2017

Week 4 Answers

Easy: Angela casts Transgress the Mind targeting Nicholas, and Nicholas reveals Walking Ballista and two basic lands. Can Angela choose Walking Ballista? Later in the game, Nicholas casts Walking Ballista for X = 3. Can Angela counter it with Horribly Awry? (credit: Jarrod Feight)

Answer: When Angela resolves Transgress the Mind, Nicholas will reveal the Walking Ballista with a mana cost of 'XX.' A mana cost of 'X' is defined to be zero unless the spell is on the stack, so Walking Ballista's CMC will be less than the required 3 to be chosen by Transgress the Mind. For the second part of the question, Walking Ballista is on the stack, so the value of X = 3 results in a total CMC of 6. Walking Ballista cast with X = 3 will thus not be a creature spell with CMC of 4 or less and can't be targeted by Horribly Awry.






Hard: Allison and Norm each control a copy of Death's Shadow. Allison is at 6 life, and Norm is at 9. Allison attacks with her copy of Death's Shadow, and Norm blocks with his. Allison casts Temur Battle Rage on her copy of Death's Shadow. Assuming Allison would assign all possible trample damage to Norm, what is Norm’s resulting life total? (credit: Jarrod Feight)

Answer: Norm's life total will be 2. Since Allison starts at 6 life, her Death's Shadow will be a 7/7, and Norm's will be a 4/4 as he is at 9 life. Since Allison's Death's Shadow will have double strike and trample as a result of Temur Battle Rage, Allison will assign 4 damage to Norm's Death's Shadow and 3 damage to Norm during the first strike combat damage step (again assuming that Allison will choose to assign all possible trample damage to Norm). When state based actions are checked after first strike damage is dealt, Norm's life will be at 6 and his death's shadow will be a 7/7 with 4 damage marked on it. During the normal combat damage step, Allison is required to assign at least 3 damage to Norm's Death's Shadow because of the 4 damage already marked on it. This will leave an additional 4 trample damage that can be assigned to Norm. Since Norm will take 3 damage during the first combat damage step and 4 during the second, he will take a total of 7 damage leaving his life total at 2.




Corner Case: Abigail controls Painter’s Servant (naming blue) and Sword of Fire and Ice. Noel casts and resolves Sudden Spoiling targeting Abigail. What happens if Abigail tries to equip Painter’s Servant with Sword of Fire and Ice? (credit: Jarrod Feight)

Answer: Abigail will be able to equip Sword of Fire and Ice to Painter's Servant, but the sword will "fall off" the next time state based actions are checked.

Prior to Noel casting Sudden Spoiling, Abigail's Painter's Servant sets everything's color to blue. After Sudden Spoiling resolves, we have an ability attempting to set the color of everything and another effect which removes that ability. Since we have multiple continuous effects interacting, we use the layer system to determine which ones apply first. (For reference, it's Copy, Control, Text, Type Color, Abilities, and Power/Toughness in order). Since Painter's Servant's ability attempts to set color and Sudden Spoiling attempts to remove abilities, Painter's Servant will set the color of everything to blue before Sudden Spoiling's effect can remove it. Thus everything is still blue, including the Sword of Fire and Ice. When Abigail equips Painter's Servant with Sword of Fire and Ice, the Sword of Fire and Ice will grant +2/+2 and the abilities of protection from red and protection from blue. Since both Sudden Spoiling and Sword of Fire and Ice attempt to add or subtract abilities, both of their continuous effects operate in the same layer and we use times stamps to determine which abilities are present and/or absent. Since Sword of Fire and Ice grants the protection abilities to Painter's Servant after Sudden Spoiling removes all abilities, Painters Servant will have protection from red and blue. When state based actions are checked following the equipping of Sword of Fire and Ice to Painter's Servant, the game will see a blue Painter's Servant with protection from blue now equipped with a blue Sword of Fire. State based actions will thus remove the Sword of Fire and Ice from Painter's Servant.




Friday, March 24, 2017

Week 3 Answers!

Easy:  Abigail controls a Tarmogoyf and has a land and a sorcery in her graveyard.  Her opponent Naya has no cards in her graveyard.  Naya casts Lightning Bolt targeting Abigail's Tarmogoyf.  Does the Tarmogoyf die?

Answer:  As Lightning Bolt resolves, it deals 3 damage to the Tarmogoyf, which is a 2/3 as that happens.  As the final step in the resolution of Lightning Bolt, however, it is put in the graveyard, which immediately makes Tarmogoyf a 3/4, because Lightning Bolt is an instant, which is a new type in graveyards.  Since Tarmogoyf's power and toughness is a characteristic-defining ability, it does not use the stack to change.  It updates constantly, no matter which zone it is in.  Then, just before players would receive priority and after Lightning Bolt has already resolved and gone to the graveyard, state-based actions are checked.  At this point, Tarmogoyf is a 3/4 creature with 3 damage marked on it, and it will not die.





Hard:  Ansil activates his copy of Inkmoth Nexus and attacks Nicole. Before damage, Nicole casts Collected Company and puts Melira, Sylvok Outcast on the battlefield. If Nicole assigns no blocks, how much damage is dealt and how is it dealt? What if Ansil activates Inkmoth Nexus’ ability a second time before damage is dealt? (Credit: Jarrod Feight)

Answer: Melira has an ability that removes certain abilities from creatures, and Inkmoth Nexus has an ability that grants certain abilities to itself. To see how to apply these abilities, we have to look at layers. In particular, we are looking at the Abilities layer, as that is where both of these abilities function. Since there is no dependency, we apply effects in timestamp order. That means that first, Inkmoth Nexus gains flying and infect until end of turn, and then Melira causes Inkmoth Nexus to lose infect. Inkmoth Nexus is now a 1/1 Blinkmoth artifact creature with flying that does not have infect and will deal regular damage in combat. If Ansil activates Inkmoth Nexus' ability again before damage, it remains the same creature, so it gets to stay in combat, but we now have another new ability to apply. It is last since we are still using timestamp order, so after Inkmoth Nexus gains and then loses infect, it now gains infect (and flying) again, because Melira goes not prevent a creature from gaining infect. That means that Inkmoth Nexus will deal infect damage, which is in the form of poison counters when damaging a player. Since Melira also says that Nicole cannot get poison counters, however, the damage will do nothing. It is still dealt, but its effect has been negated by Melira's abilities.






Corner Case: Nathan controls a Burrenton Forge-Tender. Antonio casts a Goblin Guide. In response, Nathan sacrifices Burrenton Forge-Tender, choosing Antonio's Goblin Guide on the stack as the red source. When Antonio attacks with the Goblin Guide that turn, will it deal damage?

Answer: A player can choose basically any relevant permanent, object, or spell when an ability calls for a source of damage, as long as the choice fits any requirements (here, "red"). That means that Goblin Guide is a legal choice while it is on the stack. Furthermore, according to CR 609.7a, if that source is a permanent spell on the stack, the prevention effect applies to both that spell while it is on the stack and the permanent it becomes on the battlefield. Even though the Goblin Guide is a new object when it resolves, the ability of Burrenton Forge-Tender will still prevent the damage from Goblin Guide.

Week 4 Questions!


Enjoy another week of questions! I encourage you to send me more questions and/or feedback via Facebook or Judgeapps!

Easy:
Angela casts Transgress the Mind targeting Nicholas, and Nicholas reveals Walking Ballista and two basic lands. Can Angela choose Walking Ballista? Later in the game, Nicholas casts Walking Ballista for X = 3. Can Angela counter it with Horribly Awry? (credit: Jarrod Feight)





Hard: Allison and Norm each control a copy of Death's Shadow. Allison is at 6 life, and Norm is at 9. Allison attacks with her copy of Death's Shadow, and Norm blocks with his. Allison casts Temur Battle Rage on her copy of Death's Shadow. Assuming Allison would assign all possible trample damage to Norm, what is Norm’s resulting life total? (credit: Jarrod Feight)




Corner Case: Abigail controls Painter’s Servant (naming blue) and Sword of Fire and Ice. Noel casts and resolves Sudden Spoiling targeting Abigail. What happens if Abigail tries to equip Painter’s Servant with Sword of Fire and Ice? (credit: Jarrod Feight)






Thursday, March 16, 2017

Week 3 Questions!

Hello and welcome back for another week of awesome rules questions!  In honor of the release of Modern Masters 2017, we'll be focusing this week on questions you might find in Modern!

Easy:  Abigail controls a Tarmogoyf and has a land and a sorcery in her graveyard.  Her opponent Naya has no cards in her graveyard.  Naya casts Lightning Bolt targeting Abigail's Tarmogoyf.  Does the Tarmogoyf die?





Hard:  Ansil activates his copy of Inkmoth Nexus and attacks Nicole. Before damage, Nicole casts Collected Company and puts Melira, Sylvok Outcast on the battlefield. If Nicole assigns no blocks, how much damage is dealt and how is it dealt? What if Ansil activates Inkmoth Nexus’ ability a second time before damage is dealt? (Credit: Jarrod Feight)





Corner Case: Nathan controls a Burrenton Forge-Tender. Antonio casts a Goblin Guide. In response, Nathan sacrifices Burrenton Forge-Tender, choosing Antonio's Goblin Guide on the stack as the red source. When Antonio attacks with the Goblin Guide that turn, will it deal damage?



Week 2 Answers

Hello again!  Welcome back for for the answers to Week 2's questions! 

Easy:  Abby controls a 1/1 thopter token and no other artifacts. Nevin targets the thopter token with with Release the Gremlins (X=1). In response to Nevin’s Release the Gremlins, Abby casts Unlicensed Disintegration on her thopter token. Does Nevin create a gremlin token? How much damage does Abby take?  (credit:  Jarrod Feight)

Answer: Since Release the Gremlins no longer has any legal targets, it will be countered upon resolution. Therefore Nevin will not create any gremlin tokens. 

When Abby resolves Unlicensed Disintegration, she will not take any damage. Since we resolve spells in the order written, Unlicensed Disintegration will first destroy the thopter token, Abby will no longer control an artifact to fulfill the "if you control an artifact" clause, and Unlicensed Disintegration will not deal any damage to Abby. 




Hard:  Allie casts Sram's Expertise, and would like to use the second part of Sram's Expertise to cast Collective Effort.  Can Allie escalate Collective Effort, and if so, can she tap the tokens from Sram's Expertise to do so?  (Credit:  Eric Dustin Brown)

Answer: Allie will be able to use the tokens created by Sram's Expertise to escalate Collective Effort. Since escalate is an additional cost, Allie can pay for escalate even though she is using an alternate cost to pay for Collective Effort. Sram's Expertise will resolve in the order written, and the three tokens will have been created by the time she casts Collective Effort. 




Corner Case:  Arnold has an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn in his exile zone as well as a Yixlid Jailer and a beast token on the battlefield.  Nathan processes the Emrakul with his Wasteland Strangler, targeting the beast token.  Does Emrakul's shuffle trigger work?  (Credit:  Mitchell Wetherson) 

Answer: Emrakul's ability will not trigger when Wasteland Strangler's ability moves Emrakul from exile to the graveyard.  Some kinds of triggered abilities, such as "leaves the battlefield" abilities, look back in time in the game to determine if they trigger, meaning that they trigger from the battlefield, and not from the graveyard.  This is an exception to the normal rules of Magic, where triggers typically trigger from the zone the card goes to.  Abilities like Emrakul's, however, which trigger when a creature enters the graveyard from anywhere, are never treated as "leaves the battlefield" abilities and are not an exception.  This means that Emrakul's trigger would trigger from the graveyard, but it cannot because Yixlid Jailer says that it doesn't have the ability in the graveyard.