New Automation Features

In the second half of 2021, Masonry began rolling out several new systems for all officers in Lochac.

Below is a Q&A-style overview of the new features. It’s not a user manual – they’re here and here – but in any case the systems are designed to be fairly self-explanatory.

Who is affected?

Most of the improvements are aimed at improving the lot of group Seneschals and Kingdom Officers, but some affect all officers in some way. Almost all the improvements work for officers in both countries which comprise Lochac.

Where do I access the new features?

If you are currently an SCA officer, you’ll find the new features in the new Officer functions menu that is visible after you log in to https://registry.sca.org.au.

NB: For now, even New Zealand-based officers should log in at https://registry.sca.org.au, using the same login you use for the SCA NZ Registry website. After logging in you won’t see any membership functions – those are still handled by SCA NZ – but you will see the new officer functions. Some time next year these new features should appear on the NZ Registry site and you won’t have to visit the Australian one to use them.

What’s this Privacy Agreement thing I see when I log in?

When you first log in to Registry as an officer, a brief popup Privacy Agreement will appear. It’s basically a reminder that, as an SCA officer, you will sometimes have access to information which is sensitive and confidential – such as personal contact information or reports of a sensitive nature. That information is governed by the privacy rules of SCA Ltd and SCA NZ Inc. and also by applicable country or state laws. The agreement asks you to acknowledge this.

Until you accept the Privacy Agreement, you won’t see the new Officer functions menu. That means you’ll have the same experience on the Registry website as a regular member, except that you’ll be asked again about the Privacy Agreement each time you log in, until you accept it.

So, what are the new features?

There are two main systems coming on line in 2021. Both are in phased development, meaning that extra features and capabilities will steadily appear over time.

1. The Regnumator

This is a tool for managing warrant and Regnum information for all groups at all levels. That is: “who is an officer, where, in what role, and for how long”? The main users are: all group Seneschals, Kingdom officers and sometimes Baronial/Shire officers, who may have downlines to manage at Canton or College level.

Apart from helping everyone easily keep track of who is who and how to reach them, the Regnumator also provides a dirt-simple way to generate up-to-date public Regnum listings for group websites. For example, one line of WordPress code generated this sample Kingdom Regnum, or this group one. Before long it will also do this for officer listings on Kingdom Officer websites, and in publications like Pegasus and Royal Journals.

2. The Appointinator

To promote fairness and transparency, Lochac has a well-defined process for advertising and appointing new officers – it’s documented in the all-important Lochac Procedures Manual. The Appointinator is a steadily-evolving system designed to greatly assist in that process. It starts by making the advertising task much easier. Quite soon, it will also help with the application, commentary and appointment steps.

The key users of The Appointinator will be those who run the advertising and commentary process for each role – typically outgoing officers or group Seneschals. Note that this often isn’t the person who makes the final appointment decision, which is usually the relevant Kingdom or (sometimes) Baronial officer – see the “Who Appoints Who” appendix in the Lochac Procedures Manual for more detail on this.

What should I do with these systems?

If you’re just a regular group officer – not responsible for any downline officers – the main thing you would do is check your own warrant/regnum information – including details such as your preferred pronoun (he/her/they – or nothing) and preferred form of address, e.g. Lady vs Baroness vs Armiger vs Nobilius etc – whatever best matches the awards you have, and your persona. You can’t change your warrant dates, but you can mark yourself as retired – or easily request a warrant extension from your upline officer.

A regular group officer can also use The Appointinator when ready to advertise for a successor, unless your Seneschal or upline is running the process for you.

If you’re a Seneschal or upline officer, you would use the “Manage Warrants” feature to update someone’s warrant, or to replace them with the next officer for that role, or to appoint a person to a new or vacant role. There’s a handy colour-coded listing of all the officers you are responsible for, so you can see which ones are nearing the end of their terms, or whose memberships may have expired.

Note: just because a Seneschal can change an officer’s warrant date, doesn’t always mean they should – remember “Who Appoints Who” in the Lochac Procedures Manual? Nonetheless, in the first instance, we trust our Seneschals with the ability to edit warrants for every group officer, while expecting that normally the relevant upline will be doing it.

Can I access these features from my smartphone as well as my PC?

Yes. Just use your phone’s most capable web browser for best results. You shouldn’t need to tell the browser to access the “desktop site”, but you can do that if it makes anything easier for you – it’s completely up to you.

Are there any important consequences of these changes?

Apart from time-savings and a reduction in errors for all uplines, Webwrights, Seneschals and Kingdom Officers, the main consequences of introducing these two systems is:

  • More data-entry work for group Seneschals and, to a lesser extent, Kingdom Officers – to keep their officer listings and warrant information up to date. Sorry about that! Our hope is that the benefits will clearly outweigh the extra effort required, especially if/once you use the Regnum generation feature for your website.
  • Completing the standardisation of all public officer email addresses in Lochac. That is, from here on in, we expect that public email addresses of the form officename@groupname.lochac.sca.org will always work for every officer in the Kingdom, no matter what actual mailbox they might be using behind the scenes. The Regnumator logic provides a lot of background help with that standardisation, and Regnum generation will automatically publish the standard public addresses. If you are a local Seneschal or Webwright in either country who looks after mail aliases for your group,  please go with the flow – support the standard addresses and always use them in all your public documents, web pages, brochures and other communications – if you aren’t doing so already.

Is there more coming?

You bet! As well as continuous improvements and extensions to each of these two systems, there are additional ideas in the pipeline which build on the strong base that they provide, especially the Regnumator.

Until now, there’s been no universal and up-to-date way to know “who is an officer?” in Lochac – and therefore to provide extra automation for each office – for example, to help with communications and information management. That aspect just got a whole lot easier for the future.

But please do be patient – getting this level of development right takes time – it’s objectively hard and also time-consuming – plus of course everyone involved is a volunteer. Nonetheless, we always want to hear from you if there’s something amiss – and also if you have an excellent idea for the future.

Who should I thank?

Most of the detailed development work for these new features – and many upcoming ones – have fallen on the shoulders of these gentles, who should be showered with chocolate and treated at all times with considerable patience:

Master Nicodemus Novello

Lord Ælfred se leof

Baron Karl Faustus von Aachen

…with support from:

Mistress katherine kerr

Master Bartholomew Baskin

Mistress Ginevra Isabella di Serafino Visconti

Olympia Da Negropontte

Baron Sorle Maknicoll

…and many others who have provided inspiration, testing, data entry, moral support, motivation and ideas.

What if I need help?

Contact Masonry with as many details as possible and the right person will get back to you.

By Lochac Seneschal | Link