“But I don't have any books!” Commenting without Sources

by Juliana de Luna

Many of you doubtless feel that you don't have anything useful to say about the new Letter of Intent, because you don't have a great library and you aren't really comfortable with conflict checking. But there are still a lot of useful things that you can do. And many of them don't require any heraldic knowledge at all.

  1. When the name is in submission, or already registered, check that names are spelled correctly - Believe it or not, submitters sometimes don't spell their own names correctly. Sometimes, their name was changed and they haven't yet been informed; sometimes, they just forget the spelling they submitted. You can check them in two ways:

    • Go to a copy of the Ordinary and Armorial, like that at http://oanda.sca.org/ and click on Name Pattern Search Form.
    • Go to a search engine like Google, and search on the name and site:http://www.sca.org or site:http://www.antirheralds.org

    Also, when previous devices or badges are mentioned, you can check that the blazon of the item is correct; again you can search through the Ordinary and Armorial or through a search engine. Just a few weeks ago, I found an old device listed on an LoI as “Per fess” when it was actually “Per pale.”

  2. Check that online documentation says what the submitter says it does. A recent submission was documented from an Academy of Saint Gabriel April Fools letter, which discusses names for a “Scottish-Gaelic Klingon” (no really, check it out at http://www.panix.com/~gabriel/membersguide/apr1998.html). Only one commenter noticed.

  3. Read over each submission and its documentation to fill in any holes. Even if you can't providethe information, pointing out something that's missing is helpful. What are some common things that are missing?

    • URL's for online documentation
    • dates of registration for items
    • evidence that someone has the right to a restricted charge (i.e., the date of a knighting, county, etc.) - these are found in the kingdom Order of Precedence
    • tinctures in blazons
  4. Point out things that you don't understand. If you don't understand it, the explanation probably needs to be rewritten, at least to explain it to the submitter.

After you get comfortable with those things, there are more things that you can do. Some of them include:

  1. Look up supporting data for name documentation. The main sources for good articles to do this are:

  2. Check for style problems. Some basic style rules are pretty easy to apply. Last month's Herald's Page had a brief style checklist. Once you are comfortable with it, you can also use the “Argent Snail's Armory Insta-Boing Check List”.

    Other articles discussing armory style can be found at http://www.sca.org/heraldry/laurel/education.html. Try them; that's how you learn.

  3. Try your hand at conflict checking - A basic guide can be found at http://www.antirheralds.org/education/basic_conflict_checking.html. Take a look, and give it a try. There are many copies of the O&A (Ordinary and Armorial) online; a list of links can be found at http://www.sca.org/heraldry/OandA/index.html. Make sure you explain why you think two items are in conflict. Don't worry if you get it wrong - it takes time to get good at conflict checking. One way to keep getting better is to check out Lions Blood decisions to see if she agreed with you.