Prior to 2005 this award was based on GM ratings slips that all players were encouraged to complete and return to the Registration Desk or submit online up to 30 days after the convention. The intent was twofold—to give us an objective way of determining a winner, and more importantly, a means of feedback for the GMs. Players were encouraged to make anonymous comments that they might not otherwise communicate to the GM. The results were tabulated and returned to each GM so that he/she could reflect on the comments. While recognizing the shortcomings in such a system, we always worked on the theory that any feedback is better than none at all.
Only those Century group GMs with at least ten entrants providing ratings were eligible for the Annual GM of the Year Award. Unfortunately, many people based their ratings on things outside a GM's control—such as the room, the game itself, or events scheduled against it. Still others simply held a higher standard, so missing this group was no claim to shame. To protect GMs from the grousing of a poor sport, the lowest rating was tossed out for every multiple of 10 ratings received. This was the best system we had to single someone out of a group of deserving GMs—and as similar to the Sportsmanship Award in that regard. We may not have actually always picked the "best"—but we certainly were honoring one of the best every year.
Despite our efforts to increase their use, it became increasingly difficult to get meaningful feedback for the ratings. Only 25% of Century events received the necessary minimum responses to be considered—presumably because only those GMs made a concentrated effort to distribute and collect the slips. Of those, 23 scored 9 or higher and seven scored a perfect 10. "Grade inflation" had rendered the numerical ratings nearly worthless and few raters took the time to make non-numeric comments explaining their ratings. Given the expense and effort of distributing, collecting, recording and returning these ratings, we felt our resources were better spent by going to the current, more subjective system to select our GM of the Year.
In 2005, we changed the selection process and upped the ante—awarding a free room for the five days of WBC. This selection process iinstituted a system whereby players were urged to nominate their favorites instead and left the voting to the Board of Directors. The Convention Director reviews the recommendations of the players and then nominates 12 GMs of Century events for the honor based on the following criteria:
- Size of event
- Suitability of Event Format
- Prompt Maintenance of Event webpages for Previews and After Action Report
- Prompt submission of required paperwork
- Firmness & Fairness
- Player comments/complaints
- Scheduling Co-operation
- Playing vs Non-Playing GM status
- Accessability (hosts own web page or newsletters, responsive to inquiries pre- & post-con)
- Bonus services above & beyond the call (newsletters, extra prizes, supporting AREA, etc)
- Length or quantity of service (running multiple events)
- Degree of Difficulty
Each member of the Board of Directors—armed with the Convention Director's detailed recommendations—then casts a weighted vote for each of the nominees ranging from 12 points (most worthy) down to 1 point (least worthy)—thus ranking the 12 nominees from top to bottom using his/her own preferences as to the significance of each category. This results in a maximum possible score of 96 points and a minimum score of 12. The Convention Director votes only as a tie-breaker.