Meet the Administrators - DrMagnus
rating: +47+x

As a note for future readers, DrMagnus is now retired from staff. Regardless, I hope you still enjoy this interview I had with him!

DrMagnus may be a recent addition to the administration, but that does not mean that he has not already been instrumental in keeping our site afloat from a technical perspective. He has been around the site for quite some time, and although he is a busy guy, he was still kind enough to have an interview with me. ~ WhiteGuardWhiteGuard

Who is DrMagnusDrMagnus?

DrMagnus was officially promoted to Administrator on the 8th of March, 2020, and continues today as a Team Captain for the Technical Team. DrMagnus has been a member of this site since the 20th of May, 2009, and his most popular page on the site by rating is SCP-028-J: PC Load Letter?! at +347. In addition to his various SCP articles and tales, DrMagnus is responsible for the Advanced Formatting and You guide, the CSS Policy guide, as well as being the creator of The Alchemy Department canon. As the developer of our Secretary_Helen pronoun and IRC bot, DrMagnus' impact is felt among the community every day. The following interview will continue the previous format consisting of 11 questions from myself and 4 questions from the community with his responses.

The bold text represents the questions whereas the text within the boxes are DrMagnus' responses.

Interview Questions:

Since it is an interesting question to ask, I will likely keep this one consistent across each of the interviews. How exactly did you come across the site and what was the main draw for you to the site? Your account says that you have been here since 2009, and you mentioned that you took a hiatus until 2016 after accomplishing a BS in Computer Science. What did you learn during your 7-year hiatus that helped prepare you to become an administrator of the site?

So this is a bit incorrect, timeline-wise. I did join the site in 2009, and I was active till around 2012. At that point, I went back to school and finished my degree, and came back around 2016. The honest answer is, I don't remember how I found the site. I think one of my friends who was a frequent 4chan user introduced me, and I joined IRC long before I joined the site. That's the nearest I can remember. As for what I learned during my hiatus, mostly how to be a reasonable adult. I had a lot of flaws before I took time to work on myself, and the time away from the site was mostly spent fixing those.

Did you ever write any before the site? Currently, your oldest surviving article is SCP-773: Voodoo Dartboard. Was this your first attempt to write on the site and what was the inspiration for this article?

Honestly, no. This was my first foray into creative writing outside of school assignments. My inspiration for 773 was basically MC&D. When I wrote the article, they were just being formed as a GoI and all I could picture was a bunch of guys in smoking jackets using this dartboard for their amusement.

From looking into your history as a writer on the site, I have noticed a number of -J articles present, including your highest rated article. Your author page seems to be humorous as well. Would you call yourself a funny guy? Going along with this train of thought, I am curious as to what your preferences are in an article. Do you enjoy reading light-hearted articles more or is it that you just enjoy writing them?

I like to think so. Any staff member could tell you that I make a lot of really dumb jokes. Contrary to my relatively scary reputation, I'm a pretty easygoing, agreeable person. I like humor, and I find a lot of humor in really dumb concepts. My wife is my sounding board for -J's. You can hear both of us singing in SCP-030-J. As for my article preferences, ironically, I have really high standards for articles. Proper formatting, lack of cliche, humor has to land if it's there, dialogue has to be on point, etc. I'm not sure if I have a preference per se for light-hearted articles, but it's definitely easier to appeal to my sentimentality than wow me with writing.

A lot of your works on the site revolve around your Alchemy Department canon. What inspired you to create The Alchemy Department and invest so many works to it? Is it finished in your mind or do you intend to continue writing further tales and SCPs related to it?

Good lordy, no the alchemy canon isn't finished. I've only finished phase 1, I have two more phases to write for the "main" story arc, hopefully culminating in my 001 proposal, down the line. Alchemy came from the phrase "consult an alchemist" which was a meme for the longest time in the early days of the site. I took that and ran with it. Plus, I like writing science fantasy, so I kinda just said "frak it" and wrote what I wanted to read.

From the articles, tales, and other formats that you have written while on the site, what would you say is your favorite work to have produced?

That's a really tough question. Overall, I think my favorite thing I've ever produced, is one of my lower-rated articles: SCP-029-J. It's about Jesus as an uber driver, with a bunch of sarcastic angels for a car. I had a blast writing it, and consider it one of my better articles.

I believe that I will continue this question throughout my interview series. So, what would you say that your favorite 001 proposal happens to be? Would you provide some detail on the reasoning behind your decision?

This one is going to be boring, but DrClef's 001, the gate guardian is my favorite 001. It was the first one I'd read, and it's got so many unanswered questions. I really like articles like that. Honestly, I'm a huge sucker for giant forbidden things that shouldn't be messed with. I'm also a fan of forces completely beyond our comprehension or scale.

From reading into your information found on your Technical Team bio, I understand that you teach historical swordsmanship? I am a sword collector myself as I am a fan of history, and I have studied techniques that correlate to the items in my collection. How did you get involved in such a niche study? You also say that you hold three black belts. Where does the interest in learning these combat styles originate?

Always nice to meet a fellow swordsperson! I got into fencing a very very long time ago, when I was a teenager. I fenced in high school and found myself a teacher in Italian Longsword in my late teens. I'm Italian-American, and I can trace my ancestry back to the renaissance, so I figured it was a good way to connect with my heritage. As for the black belts, I had to take a physical education in college, so I took Muy Thai, Wing Chun, and Okinawan Karate, each of which ends with a black belt at the end of the semester. I've always been very interested in martial arts and self-defense. Of the three, the only one I keep up with is Wing Chun, and I practice a couple times a week with it.

Of course, a major project that will largely rely on the Technical Team in the future is Project Foundation, the site's migration away from Wikidot to our own standalone platform. There has been a number of proposals in the past regarding this project. Would you mind briefly explaining to the community the importance of moving away from Wikidot as a platform, and are there any details about the current proposal that you would be able to share at this time?

Another doozy. Okay, so Project Foundation is in a nutshell, getting on to our own website. This is critical, because Wikidot, as a software product, is pretty dead in the water. It functions, the bills get paid, but there's no new development, and there are things we'd like to change about how it works. Our current and most successful approach is basically completely dependent upon the drive and brilliance of my co-captain, Bluesoul. I don't want to give too many details, because it always sparks a lot of speculation, but our current approach is to get our own version of Wikidot running, based on the open-source version on GitHub from several years ago.

So, you have been on the site for 11 years, a member of staff for 3 years, and became an administrator this March. Throughout that entire period of time, what are some of the major changes you have observed take place, good or bad? What desires do you have for the Wiki and for yourself in the future?

The largest change I've observed has been social. We've gone from basically being 4chan-like in our attitudes, to being significantly more progressive. It used to be that "crit" was "This sucks, try again." or even worse things. Now we have policies to make sure criticism is constructive, and our staff, in general, is so much better organized. The quality of writing has improved tremendously as well. I'm really proud of our standards, and practices.

On your author's page, you have a link to non-SCP poetry. Do you still happen to write any poetry?

Tons. Most of it by hand in my journals, I just don't have a lot of time to transcribe it. I write poetry as a way to destress and tend to write 5-6 per week. Anything from simple couplets, to longer pieces. Most of it is trash, honestly, but I enjoy writing it.

"His master's insisting tone unbidden to mind,"

"Repetition is the best teacher one can find." :)

The following questions were picked out from the community feedback present on the previous interview's discussion page. The bold text represents the questions whereas the text within the boxes are DrMagnus' responses.

Community Asked Questions:

As the captain of the Tech Team, what're your sentiments about using an infrastructure that is, as we all know, not the best to use? ~ The PigheadThe Pighead

Honestly, Wikidot is a good platform as far as platforms go. It does a lot of things very cleverly. It does a lot of things very not-cleverly. If it was still maintained, I think it would be a stellar product, but it's relatively stagnant at this point. The development required to make it good isn't difficult, we just don't have access. We also use IRC, so I don't think we have a lot of stones to throw about outdated infrastructure.

Would you say you're at all similar to how you were when you first joined this wiki? How has your experience here changed you? ~ DianaBerryDianaBerry

Absolutely not. The Magnus of 2009 and the Magnus of 2020 or even 2016 are so vastly different. I am a significantly kinder, more empathetic, mature, and just….better person than I was back then. To paraphrase one of our staff members, when I was first writing Secretary_Helen and asked to bring her into #site19, their response was "Wait, Magnus wrote a pronoun bot? What?!"

How did you come to learn all your coding and technical knowledge? Was it voluntary for the site, or something like a running theme in the family? ~ chiifuchiifu

I'm the first programmer in my family, for sure. Funny enough, I didn't even own my first computer until I was 18. I started programming at 23. I'm a professional software developer in my regular life, and I've been in the industry for about seven years now. Web development is ironically one of my weakest points, so I tend to leave a lot of the coding for any of our projects to the experts on the team when at all possible. I've also been an IT professional for a few years, and a server technician for several months so I've got a good grasp of hardware. I just can't write you a website. But if you want to do a huge volume of electronic trading using big data and risk analysis, I'm your guy.

This is more of an IRC based question, but what inspired you to create Secretary_Helen and/or any other past chatbots? I've always wondered that. ~ Mew-ltiverseMew-ltiverse

Good question. So originally I wanted to write Helen to be a dice bot. Then someone suggested that I write a pronoun setting/retrieval function which was the first major "CRUD" function for Helen. (CRUD functions are create/retrieve/update/delete operations. Basically holding information for you, such as with .tell or .pronouns). With that, I felt that Helen had a lot of usefulness as a bot in #site19, and I approached chat staff to bring her into #site19 officially. From there, I started to expand her functions a lot, and when Jarvis started to become less reliable I tried to copy as many features as I could get my hands on. Eventually, she became the primary bot, and after a large push a year ago or so, I'd call her mostly feature comparable with Jarvis. There are a few quirks here and there, but she's solid in general. Chatbots are fun, you can really do a lot with them. They're basically command line interfaces you can show off with.

This concludes the interview. I hope you enjoyed it! I would like to give a big thank you to DrMagnus for agreeing to do this with me. Thanks again to the community members who provided questions: The PigHead, DianaBerry, chiifu, and Mew-ltiverse. My next interview will be with DexanoteDexanote. If you have any questions for him you would like for me to ask, feel free to leave your question in the discussion portion of this page, I will choose my favorites from among them.

Thank you for reading!

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