Simming Prize Handbook

Revision January 2018

Thank you for serving with the Simming Prize.  Your work here will lead to a wonderful result – rewarding the best within our community.  Each of you know the time and energy it takes to bring life to our creations, the only tool at our disposal being words on a screen.  Each of you have experienced the unbridled joy of people sharing their imaginations.  Think now of how wonderful it is to celebrate.

Below you will find information about the Simming Prize – our goals, our organizational structure, and the nuances of how we review, judge, and ultimately select our laureates.

1.0 Overview

1.1 Goal

The goal of the Simming Prize is to be the Nobel Prize of the simming (play-by-post online role-playing community).  In reality they’ve never been that grand, but it’s an ideal for us to strive towards.

1.2 Mission

Up to five Simming Prizes are to be awarded annually to individuals, sims, clubs, organizations, or other entities who exemplify (1) service, quality, and dedication within the simming and play-by-post role-playing community; or who (2) pioneer new technology or techniques within the community. The Prize’s can recognize a significant onetime accomplishment, or sustained contributions over a period of time.

1.3 Name

The official name of the Simming Prize is The Prize for Simming and Online Role Playing in Memory of Seth Cotis.

The Simming Prize honors the memory of Seth Cotis, founder of the Starfleet Legacy Alliance and a long-time leader within the Simming League.

1.4 History

The Simming Prize was established by the Simming League in 1999.  Modeled after the Nobel Prize, Simming Prizes were initially awarded in five categories – Internet Technology, Literature, Management, Peace, and Service. These categories were discarded in 2007, and since that time the Simming Prize has been issued without a category.  Following the death of Seth Cotis in 2005, the Simming League proposed to establish a Seth Cotis Medal of Honor in his memory.  Ultimately, the already established Simming Prize was instead renamed in his honor.

After the Simming League ceased operations, responsibility for the Simming Prize was transferred to Ongoing Worlds for 2011, and to SimEnc for 2012 and 2013.  In 2014, responsibility for the Simming Prize was entrusted to a group of trustees.  The Simming Prize is now issued in the name of the trustees and is no longer associated with a larger organization.

1.5 Laureates

Individuals and entities awarded a Simming Prize are entitled to use the honorific Simming Prize Laureate.  A list of laureates can be found at the Simming Prize website

2.0 Personnel

2.1 Trustees

Five trustees oversee the Simming Prize.  The trustees are responsible for:

  • Ensuring the integrity of the Simming Prize
  • Setting policies for the Simming Prize, and ensuring compliance with established policies
  • Selecting Simming Prize staff
  • Filling trustee vacancies

Trustees are expected to contribute money to the upkeep of the Simming Prize website and related technology, or to serve in one of the staff roles listed in 2.2.

Trustees should strive to ensure that the ranks of the trustees, staff, and judges reflect the breadth and diversity of the simming community.  Trustees should strive to facilitate periodic replacement of trustees, staff, and judges to avoid burnout and maintain a continued infusion of new personnel.  Trustees should remove trustees, staff, or judges who are not fulfilling their duty or who are violating the trust of the Simming Prize.

2.2 Simming Prize Staff

Simming Prize staff consists of the following positions, listed below.  One person may hold multiple roles.  An individual does not have to be a trustee or a judge to serve in a staff role.

2.2.1 Administrator

The Simming Prize administrator is responsible for managing the staff and the day-to-day operations of the Simming Prize.  The administrator is further responsible for guiding the judges and facilitating a thorough and timely review of eligible nominations.

The administrator may not serve as a judge.

2.2.2 Treasurer

The Simming Prize treasurer is responsible for domain registration and ensuring timely payment of bills related to the Simming Prize.

2.2.3 Secretary

The Simming Prize secretary is responsible for creating, maintaining, and retaining forms, documents, and records necessary to facilitate Prize nominating and judging.

2.2.4 Programmer

One or more programmers responsible for the upkeep of the Simming Prize website and related technology.

2.2.5 Outreach Coordinator

One or more outreach coordinators responsible for advertising, public relations, and maintaining Simming Prize social media accounts.

2.3 Judges

Simming Prize judges are responsible for reviewing and evaluating, in a timely fashion, eligible nominations in accordance with this handbook and directions issued by the administrator.

The following are eligible to serve as judges:

·      Individuals who have personally won a Simming Prize

·      Duly appointed representatives of games or organizations that have won a Simming Prize

·      Simming Prize trustees

·      Select individuals within the simming community, who in the opinion of the administrator and the trustees, have distinguished themselves via service or accomplishment within the simming community

The administrator may not serve as a judge.

3.0 Nominations

3.1 Application

The Simming Prize shall make available, at all times, a publicly accessible nomination application.

3.2 Nomination period

The administrator shall set a date each year at which time the nomination period will close.  The administrator will ensure sufficient public notice is provided prior to each closing date.

Eligible nominations received between the previous closing date and the most recent closing date will be reviewed.

3.3 Eligibility

Nominations can be for any entity, person, or group of people from the simming community.  People can nominate individual sims/games, entire clubs, people, events, sub components of an organization, websites, leaders, simmers, assistants, hosts, web support, etc.  We’ve probably had every aspect nominated over the years, and have given out awards to all sorts of people and things in our community.

A nomination will not be considered to be eligible if the administrator deems it to be:

  • Spam, fraud, or abuse
  • Not related to the simming community (e.g. a nomination for a video game)
  • For an individual or entity that was not active within the simming community during the period between the previous closing date and the most recent closing date
  • For an individual or entity that has been awarded a Simming Prize within the last three years
  • Substantially related to an individual or entity that has been awarded a Simming Prize within the last three years (e.g. a sim was awarded for excellence in a prior year, and now the host has been nominated for leading an excellent sim)

The administrator must inform the trustees of nominations deemed to be ineligible.


3.4 Incomplete or incorrect information

If the administrator discovers incomplete information in a nomination, or information that appears to contain an error, the administrator, if possible, shall contact the individual who submitted nomination and ask them to provide revised information.  If revised information is provided in timely fashion, the administrator shall share it with the judges.

4.0 Judging

4.1 Review period

The Simming Prize judging process begins when administrator transmits the eligible nominations to the judges for their consideration.  However, voting will not begin until the judges have reviewed the nominations.  The administrator will establish a reasonable window of time for the judges to review the nominees (typically two to three weeks, depending on the number of nominees and other factors).  When appropriate, the administrator may grant limited extensions.

During the review period, judges must review the nominations and submitted supporting material (including linked items).  Where submitted supporting material is not publicly accessible, the administrator will facilitate access to those resources.

It is important that all the judges have access to the same information.  Judges are free to conduct their own searches and review publicly accessible websites, sim logs, etc, related to the nominee.  However, judges may not reach out to nominators, nominees, or related parties to ask questions or request information be sent to the judge.  Instead, if a judge wants further information, judges may make reasonable and timely requests of the administrator during the review period.  The administrator will facilitate outreach and provide to the judges any additional information received.

Judges may discuss the nominations with their fellow judges via the Simming Prize e-mail list during the review period.  Judges who are familiar with a nominee (e.g. they are a nominee, they know the nominee, they serve or have served on a nominated sim, etc) are encouraged to speak up and briefly share their views (pro, neutral, or con).

All discussions must be conducted in a respectful manner towards fellow judges and towards nominees.  It is possible to share points of view with out engaging in an out and out debate, and to be respectful without being critical.  The administrator will moderate all discussions.

Judges may not discuss nominees outside of the e-mail list; we do not mean to be difficult, but again, it important judges have access to the same information.  And we do not want to create any appearances of collusion among judges.

4.2 Changing the scope of a nomination

The ultimate purpose of the Simming Prize is to reward the best of our community.  Nominations are a useful way to learn of the amazing creativity within our community and frame our decisions, but we should not be bound by a strict adherence to the scope of nominations.  Put another way, judges cannot swoop in and add new nominations to the pool, but nominations can be consolidated, expanded, or shrunk where appropriate.

For example, there can be instances where nominations are closely related:

  • People are nominated for the same thing (Person A saved the club; Persons B and C saved the club)
  • Entities are nominated for similar work (Blog A is a great simming blog; Blog B is a great simming blog)
  • A person and an entity are nominated for generally the same thing (Host A has made the USS Bob great; the USS Bob is great)

During the review period, judges may also come to realize people or entities not listed in the nomination are deserving:

  • A host is nominated for leading their sim, but the entire crew equally does fantastic work
  • A simming resource site is nominated, but the site is really the work of one person

On the flip side, during the review period, judges may also come to realize that where multiple people or entities are listed, one or more may not be deserving, for example:

  • Three simmers are nominated for outstanding writing, but one has only contributed short, infrequent posts

In situations like these, the administrator, in consultation with the judges, may change the scope of the nomination.  When this occurs, the vote will be on the revised nomination, not the original nomination.  If a judge believes the scope of a nomination should be changed, they are encouraged to speak with the administrator.

4.3 Legacy prize

Where a nomination is for a simmer who has recently passed away, and the administrator deems the person’s achievements worthy of a Simming Prize, the administrator may, with the consent of the judges, award a Simming Prize to the deceased nominee.  The decision to award a Simming Prize along these lines must be made prior to the commencement of voting.

4.4 Voting

At the conclusion of the review period, voting will begin.  The administrator will provide a reasonable window of time to cast votes (typically a week).  When appropriate, the administrator may grant limited extensions.

Judges may cast a vote for up to five nominees (or if a legacy prize is awarded, 5 minus the number of legacy prizes).

The ultimate goal of the Simming Prize is to reward individuals, sims, clubs, organizations, or other entities who exemplify (1) service, quality, and dedication within the simming and play-by-post role-playing community; or who (2) pioneer new technology or techniques within the community. The Prize’s can recognize a significant onetime accomplishment, or sustained contributions over a period of time.  In otherwords, when voting, a judge should ask him or herself is this nominee the best of the best?

A judge should only cast a vote for a nominee he or she believes is deserving of a Simming Prize.  This can result in a judge casting less than the full amount of votes he or she is entitled to cast.

4.5 Tabulating the results

The administrator will tabulate the results.  Nominees who received the five highest totals (or if a legacy prize is awarded, 5 minus the number of legacy prizes), provided such total is equal to at least half of the number of people who voted (so if 10 judges cast a vote, at least 5 votes), will receive a Simming Prize, except as noted below.

In the event of a tie for the final spot, the administrator shall break the deadlock; the administrator may choose that none of the tied nominees receive a Simming Prize.

Trustees are entrusted with “ensuring the integrity of the Simming Prize,” and while very rare, the Trustees may have to exercise this power by choosing to not award a Simming Prize to a nominee who has been selected.

4.6 Awarding the Simming Prize

The administrator will contact the new laureates individually and congratulate them, and also publicly announce the new laureates.

5.0 Ethics

5.1 Confidentiality

Trustees, staff, and judges must keep all nominations, deliberations, results (except for the final official results), and related information strictly confidential.  Trustees, staff, and judges shall not discuss, share, disseminate, or reveal such material, in part or in whole, to any outside individual or party.

There may be pressure, honest sincere pressure, of people asking about their nomination, why they didn’t win, etc, but as much as you may want to tell them, you must not.  It is a slippery slope to do otherwise.  People could be embarrassed if it comes out they were nominated but not selected.  People could take statements made about them during deliberations the wrong way.  On the flip side, when reviewing nominations, you want an honest discussion, and you’re not going to get that if other judges fear what is said could come out.

5.2 Neutrality

Judging must be neutral.  In practice, this means evaluating nominees solely on their merits, without regards to any personal preference.  Where a judge is unable to meet this standard, the judge may not cast a vote for the nominee.

Neutrality can be undermined by conflicts and bias.  We expect Simming Prize judges to be aware of potential conflicts or bias, and to be truthful to thine own self.

Conflicts are generally easy to identify.  If a judge stands to personally benefit from the awarding of a Simming Prize, that is a conflict of interest.  In our community, a personal benefit won’t be monetary, but it could be prestige, bragging rights, publicity, etc.  Conflicts of interest include:

·      The judge is the nominee

·      The judge is the host of a sim that is nominated

·      The judge is a senior leader within an organization that is nominated

·      The nominee is under the command of the judge

Where there is a conflict of interest, the Simming Prize takes a hard line.  A judge cannot be neutral with that nominee.

Bias is harder to identify.  Where there is a conflict of interest, there is inevitably a bias, but not all bias will rise to the level of a conflict of interest.  Even where a judge has never before encountered or heard of a nominee, there could still be a bias.  Perhaps the judge hates the TV series upon which the sim is based.  Perhaps there is a character within the sim whose lifestyle or political views the judge disagrees.  It’s even possible to have bias towards technology; perhaps the judge uses the NOVA system for their sim, and gets flustered when trying to navigate a sim with a different system.

Bias can also exist as a result of relationships or past experiences, even if they do not rise to the level of a conflict of interest.  For example, perhaps a judge has had a long working relationship with the nominee.  Perhaps the judge used to be a member of a club that is nominated.  Perhaps the club nominated is a rival of the club run by the judge.

The key is for the judge to be honest and aware of potential bias.  If a judge honestly believes they can put a potential bias aside and evaluate the nominee solely on their merits, without regards to any personal preference, the judge should proceed and vote for the nominee if they feel so inclined.