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The art of downgrading, aka personal grades 
 

Some 15 years ago, very few climbers downgraded climbs and even if everyone did know that the grades were too soft in general, for example on Kalymnos and in Ticino, very few reacted. As 8a wanted to present correct news we said the situation was like in the Fairy tale 'The Emperor's new clothes'.

Downgrading, aka screaming that the Emperor is nude, was quite controversial and it had not started before David Graham put up The Story of Two World's as an 8C in combination with an article on 8a where he talked about the grade inflation. Later, 8a started to use the term "personal grade" instead of saying, "downgraded it", which now is actually the way the whole community defines it in order to reduce controversies.

Still, most stay away from giving personal grades and instead sometimes use the words "soft" and "hard" and that is just fine. On the other hand, it seems that some use personal grades to show off or just in order to be disrespectful to the FA-ionists and repeaters, which happens especially in Bouldering.

If you honestly feel that a Boulder is more than two grades wrong and you do not say it in a nice way, you can imagine that you are stepping on some toes. Sure you might be correct but when we are talking about three grades differences, maybe you should try to write it in a polite way in order not to offend some. Maybe you did not do the same Boulder, you found new beta, some holds have gotten bigger or you did not start in the same way etc.

In the 8a system you get the score and the news is based on your personal grade, which hopefully makes the provocative people calm down. We also think that it is good enough to say "soft" if you are not just sure if the line is clearly one grade easier for you personally. What I am critical towards is that in some databases you can downgrade a boulder with three grades but you still get the fame for having done the original grade! I mean that this system creates unnecessary and sometimes unfriendly controversies.