Northshield A&S FAQ

So you have some questions about Northshield’s Kingdom A& S Competition…
I have some answers for you!

(Please note that the below refers to Northshield’s Kingdom A&S Competition that generally takes place the second weekend in February. Please note that in 2017, the Kingdom A&S will actually be held on MARCH 4th!
The details of other competitions may vary – check with the coordinator of that specific competition.)  

Why should I enter Kingdom A&S?
What can be entered?
Why do I have to enter in advance?
How do I choose a Division or Tier? Is it chosen for me?
Why do I have to submit documentation in advance?
How long does my documentation need to be?
How are judges assigned? (Or, how do I know I will get a fair judge?)
Do only Peers judge?
How does the judging work?
How is judging a pie against a bucket fair?

Why should I enter Kingdom A&S?

At its core, Kingdom A&S is meant to be a learning experience. It is a place for artisans from across the Kingdom to come together and share their talents and labors with the rest of the Kingdom. It is a time to receive constructive feedback about your piece as well as resources and contacts that might be helpful to you in the future. It is a place to meet other artisans – both those doing things similar to your arts and those doing things you did not even know they existed – and get to engage in some high-quality geeking. It is a time to celebrate the greatness that this Northshield. There may be resources you are unaware of or better ways to express your findings or just people doing neat things that are unrelated to your art. If you keep yourself open to opportunities and feedback, it can be an amazing chance to grow in your art or discover a new one. Even if you are not sure about entering, COME! See all the awesome things and bring something to put on the display-only table!

What can be entered?

Briefly, if it was something that was made, eaten, drunk, performed, or otherwise used or experienced by someone in the Middle Ages or Renaissance, it is probably something that can be entered into Kingdom A&S, as long as it is both safe and legal under modern understanding and law. The exception to this is the research category where, rather than being a representation of a medieval or Renaissance object or experience, it is a paper providing insight into a medieval or Renaissance topic. The details of the rules governing entry (including the lists of prohibited or restricted items) are in the Northshield Kingdom A&S Competition Handbook. If you are in doubt, contact your local MOAS or the Kingdom MOAS.

Why do I have to enter in advance?

It is no fun to judge a project when you know nothing about it and it is not fun to have judges who can’t intelligently comment on your entry. Preregistration gives the event organizers time to figure out how much space will be needed for each category and what sorts of judges will be needed. This increases the value of the experience for everyone.

How do I choose a Division or Category? Is it chosen for me?

The Divisions as laid out in the Kingdom A&S Competition criteria are to allow participants to compete against other gentles who have a similar level of experience. There is a non-competitive display and commentary division where you can just show your work to the populace, but are not scored by judges, as well as three competitive divisions. The current competitive divisions are:

  • Introductory Division: for gentles new to an art or science (either one of their first five tries at an art or science or in the first year of trying that art or science) OR for gentles that have not entered an A&S Competition before. This Division is not open to Laurels.
  • Open Division: the general competitive division where each gentles is judged on a single entry.
  • Triathlon Division: the division where you must enter three different entries in three different categories.

The Categories group together similar types of entries. This means that someone can both enter and judge the Competition without conflict of interest, as long as they are judging in a category that they are not entered in. The other place where the categories are important is for the Triathlon participants, where each of their entries needs to be in a different category. The intent is to provide for diversity across the entries so that a Triathlon member shows a breadth of research, rather than submitting three very similar entries.

The entrant chooses the division and category they wish to compete in when they enter the A&S Competition. However, if you either are not sure where your entry belongs or if it seems ambiguous, you can always discuss your situation with the KMOAS. (Gentles who register for a clearly incorrect category (a pie registered as a performance, for example) may also be asked to justify or revise their registration category, but this should be a rare occurrence.)

To learn more about Divisions and Categories, refer to the Northshield Kingdom A&S Competition Handbook.

Why do I have to submit documentation in advance?

Similar to why we ask for registration in advance, in order to provide a quality judging experience, documentation is requested in advance so that the judges have time to review the written component BEFORE going into the judging session. This allows them to be more prepared and often allows them to look of additional sources that may be of interest or assistance to the entrant. Currently, research papers and documentation that is more than 10 pages, including bibliography and appendixes, is required to be submitted early (check the current event webpage for deadlines).

How long does my documentation need to be?

Documentation, even good documentation, need not be extensive. It is possible to provide basic documentation, including bibliography, on a single page. Generally, however, in order to do your project justice, documentation of 3-7 pages is usual. Remember, a lot of that content is often pictures of your project, the extant exemplars, and your materials or process, so you’ll be surprised how quickly the pages stack up! Pure research entries are usually longer that documentation for a thing and documentation that exceeds 10 pages is requested to be submitted early so that the judges have time to read it before they have to judge it. If you have questions about what documentation should contain or how to go about writing it, see the documentation tutorial or the examples on the Northshield  KMOAS page (under Resource Links).

 

How are judges assigned? (Or, how do I know I will get a fair judge?)

Judges are volunteers and all entrants are strongly encouraged to judge as well as enter. Don’t worry – if you are a new judge, you’ll be assigned judging partners who are more experienced. As stated above, one of the reasons we ask for registrations so far in advance is to give the staff time to both find judges that are familiar with your art or science and to make a schedule that makes sense for the entrants, judges, and site. In the Open and Triathlon Divisions, every effort is made to make sure that at least one judge on the team of three is an expert in your field or in a related field. (If your field is particularly esoteric, your documentation may be requested in advance so that your judging team has time to become familiar with the subject.) As part of their registration, judges are asked if there is anyone they should not judge and this generally includes close friends, dependents, or anyone who would present a conflict for the judge. If there is a judge you particularly don’t want on your judging staff, you can put this in the “Comments” field of your registration and the scheduling staff will try to honor your request. If you have a concern about a judge you have been assigned – either before or after the judging – please be sure to address it with the head judge or the KMOAS.

Do only Peers judge?

As the above answer implies – NO! Peers are not the only people eligible to judge. Judging is actually an interesting and important part of A&S Competitions and all entrants are strongly encouraged to particulate. It can be very helpful to the understanding of the process to see how it works from BOTH sides of the table and new judges are always paired with at least one experienced judge. Judging is hard work, but can be rewarding and fun – don’t let your lack of a peerage or other award or credential keep you away from trying it! If you would like to learn more in advance, some tutorials are available and the current judging criteria are posted on the Kingdom A&S Competition page.

How does the judging work?

During your assigned judging period, three judges will meet you at your display. Generally, the process is done face-to-face and is more of a conversation with the entrant than the judges simply talking amongst themselves. Information provided in the discussion may be counted as part of the documentation, so it is beneficial to engage with the judges as much as possible.

Most sessions will begin with a round of introductions – your judges to you, you to your judges, and you presenting your project to your judges. If the judges have not had time or opportunity to read your documentation, they may do so at this time.

Introductions completed, now the main judging process can begin. The judges will ask you some questions about the project – either things that were unclear from the documentation or that they are curious about or about resources or contacts they want to make sure you know about. This is usually followed by going through the judging sheet and discussing each component of the judging rubric (amongst themselves and with the entrant), writing down comments and suggestions of resources, and finally assigning a score before moving on to the next component. At the end, the total score is tallied and there is time for the entrant to ask questions about the scores or judging process. The score sheets are then turned in to the judging room to compile the scores.

Remember that each judging team will have a different “flavor” since each team will be made of of a different blend of judges, so don’t be surprised if one judging group seems different from another – they all use the same rubric for they type of entry and do their very best to assign scores that are uniform and fair. (See also the question below.)

How is judging a pie against a bucket fair?

In the most simple sense, it’s not. While the criteria strive to be applicable across all arts and sciences and to make the process as uniform as possible, we are always comparing apples to oranges and the judges are always human volunteers. Unless we all agree to always make the same project from the same sources (booooring!), there will be variability. There will even be mistakes. However, the important components of the A&S Competition are not the scores or the eventual announced winners. The most valuable component of the A&S Competition is the constructive criticism and feedback you will receive, the wonderful entries you will see, and the amazing artisans you will interact with. Winning a prize is fun, but whether or not you are awarded top honors in your division, focus on these benefits and it will be a worthwhile experience.

If you have any additional questions or have a suggestion for an addition or correction to this FAQ, please contact Eithni!