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The QAT Gazette: September 2017

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Have you ever wondered what the Quality Assurance Team get up to besides looking at beatmaps? Then look no further! The QAT Gazette will be your monthly update regarding ongoings in the mapping and modding community, detailed insight into the ranking process, and also news of any potential future developments!

To those of you who have been following this blog at its previous home, welcome back! We’ve shuffled through a bit of a lean period on account of the summer holidays (or in my case, even more work than usual), but I am happy to bring you the return of The QAT Gazette! Feel free to skip down a little if you’re already familiar with our humble blog and want to get straight into the news, but if this is your first time and you’re wondering what all the fuss is about, read on!

A little over a year ago, the Quality Assurance Team formed a blog to give people an idea of the work that goes on behind the scenes, the internal topics that come up for discussion, and our visions for shaping the future of the osu! mapping and modding community.

There were highlights of upcoming projects and events, reviews of past occurrences such as Beatmap Nominator tests and the Best of 2016 awards, and sometimes opinion pieces simply giving our thoughts on various aspects of the community, the mapping meta, and so on. With the growth of the mapping and modding community over the past year, as well as the significant changes to the role of the QAT, more and more people rightfully ask, “What the heck do you guys actually do now!?” Hence the birth of regular updates, and now, a move into the mainstream for all to see!

Updates to the Beatmap Nominators

Removal of the Tier system

After a trial phase which received mixed reactions, the Beatmap Nominator Tier system for osu!standard will be abolished, meaning all existing Beatmap Nominators will be able to both bubble and qualify mapsets again. The Tier system will be replaced by a "Probation" phase, whose members will be able to bubble beatmap sets, but not qualify them. The Probation phase will be applicable to all future Beatmap Nominators, but existing Beatmap Nominators demonstrating unsatisfactory behaviour may also be placed on Probation by majority consensus of the Quality Assurance Team.

Whilst in this probationary period, Beatmap Nominators will be closely surveyed on their general attitude (forum posts, in-game chat, modding and icon activity, etc.) to ensure they receive the assistance needed to properly fulfill their roles as gatekeepers of content in the mapping and modding community. After a maximum of two months, Probationary Beatmap Nominators will be either promoted to full member status, allowing them the power to qualify mapsets, or removed from the group if their activity, behaviour or proficiency are found to be below our expected standards.

Trialling the Probation system

To test this process, we are currently reviewing applications from a new batch of fresh-faced modding aspirants! The latest application process for the osu!taiko, osu!catch and osu!mania! game modes has recently closed, with successful applicants expected to be promoted in the coming week.

With Beatmap Nominator tests being recently discontinued, new applications will consist of an activity check, as well as submission of the applicant’s “best” modding work - either as a standard mod post, or series of suggestions in the moddingv2 panel.

For those that meet the activity requirements, the Quality Assurance Team will then supplement this with additional random, anonymised examples of the applicant’s modding work from the past three months and evaluate these examples on a number of criteria, such as structure, helpfulness, knowledge of the Ranking Criteria, and so on. These modding examples will be voted on by the remaining members of the QAT who were not involved in selecting examples of applicant modding, to avoid bias.

Those with a majority of positive votes will be promoted into one of the available Nominator Subdivisions, as Probationary members. Feedback will be made available to all applicants on request, regardless of whether they were accepted into the Beatmap Nomination Group or not.

Removal of inactive Beatmap Nominators

Lastly, a number of existing Beatmap Nominators will be departing to pursue other opportunities. Many thanks to -Kamikaze-, Dellvangel, Koiyuki, Kuo Kyoka, newyams99, Nivrad00, snowball112, Sonnyc and Xinely for your contributions to our community over the months and years!

Updates to the Quality Assurance Team

With Beatmap Nominator tests no longer a factor, there have been further reshuffles to role distribution within the QAT. In addition to having more time available to lead and monitor their respective Beatmap Nominator subdivisions, additional roles undertaken by some members are listed below:

Additionally, please offer a warm farewell to alacat, who will be departing from his role in metadata checking for newly qualified beatmaps. Many thanks for your hard work over the years, and we wish you the best of luck in your future endeavours!

The future of the Beatmap Nominators / QAT

As some of you may be aware, a series of proposals were recently put forward detailing some radical changes to the way the Beatmap Nominators and Quality Assurance Team will operate. In addition to the removal of the osu!standard Beatmap Nominator Tier system mentioned previously, there are plans to introduce greater rewards and recognition for long-serving and highly-active members, who will additionally receive a purple username on the forums for easier identification once again. We'll also be seeing changes to the workflow and leadership of the Quality Assurance Team, with elections for a "QAT Manager", scheduled to take place over the coming weekend.

These are just a few highlights of what may be to come - a full list of the proposals can be found in the discussion thread. Please be aware that not all of these proposals will be brought into effect immediately however, and some may undergo significant changes before doing so to ensure agreement between all parties.

Summary

If you’re still reading and the above has interested you in any way, thanks a lot! Together with my colleague Feerum, we’ll be bringing new issues out monthly from here on, covering the summaries of QAT meetings, insights into our work, and much more! If there’s an aspect of the Quality Assurance Team you’d like to know more about, a burning question you’d like us to answer, or simply an aspect of osu! mapping and modding for us to dissect and discuss, feel free to put it to us in the comments below!

With that being said, I’ll call time on this issue, with a promise of more to come next month of course! More information on both past and upcoming articles, as well as my partners in crime who may also be contributing from time to time can be found in the QAT Blog Compendium.

Thanks for reading!

—JBHyperion