The North American Diplomacy Federation (NADF)
Promoting the organized, face-to-face play of the world's greatest game.
Most of the face-to-face community knows what it is. Some of us do not as it has fizzled in recent years. For those of you that do not know what the NADF is, it is a non-profit corporation that was incorporated by Buz Eddy a few years ago. The mission of the NADF as Buz founded it was:
"To increase the enjoyment of people playing competitive Diplomacy in North America."
The NADF has done just that. For years Buz collected game results and published both game results and a ranking system. He organized voting for the NADF All Stars each year. Masterpoints, Rainbow Points, 'this week in North American Diplomacy,' were all contributions that Buz gave us consistently for years. Regardless of whether or not you feel the ratings accurately reflected playing ability, new players would discuss and compare ratings. It was fun to go online and see how each tournament, each game affected your rating. It was fun following up how other tournaments went that you couldn't go to. It was the one place where you could be sure you would see tournament results after every tournament.
The original website that Buz created to disseminate his information (www.diplom.org/nadf) has been dormant since May 2008.
Succeeding Buz as president of the NADF, Dave Maletsky tried to gather people to craft a comprehensive NADF Charter, so as to outline a formal organizational structure and begin delegating responsibilities. Consensus building in our hobby is challenge at the very least, and key volunteers left the project of reforming theNADF. The process stalled.
In the fall of 2009, the reins were transferred again. Currently, Conrad Woodring is listed as President, Dave Maletsky as Vice President, and Buz Eddy as Secretary. The NADF team assembled to reform the NADF includes two groups. A representative of each major local hobby. Active or not in the NADF, each local hobby should have some sort of representation. That person can either be a voice for their local hobby, an active member of the NADF board, or simply a relay for information back to their local hobby. The hobby representatives whom have volunteered so far are as follows:
Melissa Call - New England
Andy Hull - San Francisco Bay Area
Mark Zoffel - Seattle
Joe & Lori Wheeler - Washington D.C.
Jim O’Kelley - Chicago
This list is by no means a final list. Anyone reading this who wants their hobby to be represented is encouraged to please contact any of the board members (Canadians and Latin Americans are welcome). The second group are the doers. There are more things to do than any one person could do.
Jim O’Kelley - Rules and Standards, Grand Prix organizer
Lori Wheeler - Record Keeping and rankings
Chris Martin - NADF Invitational, Rules and Standards
Conrad Woodring - President
Peter Yeargin - Website Lead Designer
Andy Hull - Technical Working Group
Joe Wheeler - Technical Working Group
Bob Holt - Technical Working Group
Chris Babcock - Technical Working Group
Steve Cooley - member at large
Edi Birsan - ambassador to Hasbro and our peer organizations in Europe and Australasia
There are many things that need to be done and there is still room open for volunteers. Specifically web development and design talent is needed.
The NADF: A Central organization
Let me paint a picture for you. Porthos, a 26 year old college graduate moves to San Francisco to find a job. New to the city, and with free time to fill, he does a quick search about a game he played in high school with his friends. His search brings him to the NADF website. It looks good, it's well maintained, it's up to date. There is a live news feed, updated regularly, about things going on all over the country. In just two clicks he is looking at the results from the last game played in San Francisco. Another click shows him the results from the last tournament. He can read about how the event went, see pictures, see the event history, board history... each click bringing an increasing level of detail. From there he can find out about the Grand Prix, DipCon, World DipCon, everything.
He's excited. He tells his friend's from high school about the website he found and that he's thinking of going to one of the groups gatherings. They look up contacts in their area and now we have 3 of his ten friends wanting to play. He's excited.
That's what the NADF needs to do. Porthos needs to find the NADF out of his curiousity and we need to capture him by looking fun, and then send him to the right places. Currently the hobby exists because of a few isolated pockets of activism. Washington DC, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle are hotbeds for activism. Unfortunately there isn't any centralized entity between these groups, and few bridges/gateways exist to bring in new players to the face-to-face hobby. That’s the heart of what we need to accomplish; The NADF should bring new members to the hobby, and increase event attendance among existing hobby members. We will explore ways to reach out to the following major demographics:
- Existing face-to-face players:
We are looking at ways to get them to come to more events (i.e. make the events better). There are several things that the NADF can do here, but we have to be careful not to get too involved in the events that go on. We want a centralized hobby organization but not one that starts trying to take control of events away from the organizers.
- Online players:
This is a huge group of people that probably just don’t know about all the face-to-face diplomacy that is going on around the country. Reaching out to this group will have the highest return on effort of the three identified here. Drawing online players away from their computers and into cafes, bars, and people’s homes will provide results. The NADF will do it’s best to bridge the gap and help online players make that jump.
- Other gamers:
There are a lot of Diplomacy players out there, they just don’t know they are Diplomacy players yet. This may be the hardest group to turn, and will therefore have the lowest return. This group is our lowest priority.
NADF Store and Fundraising
The NADF currently has no funds. Lengths are being taken to minimize expenses. We are doing our best to use all volunteer labor as is clear from our advertisement this issue and from this article. Costs are inevitable and we are gladly taking player donations to cover costs as they come up.
A series of NADF designs will be created and made available on shirts and things through an online store. Money generated from the sale of merchandise will be used to support the NADF website and various other initiatives. We will of course accept donations.
In an effort to create transparent organization we will be publishing Minutes from our monthly meetings online so that interested persons can read and comment on them. This will be one of the first features of the NADF website once we get it operational. It is our hope that we can avoid the fracturing hobby disputes of the past in this way. Our hobby is currently too small to afford any feuds. We also hope that in addition to creating a transparency to the organization, publishing meeting minutes will allow interested parties to follow along with the process and share our enthusiasm.
Our goal will not be to referee the face-to-face hobby with lots of rules. We will do our best to prevent something like what happened in Maine from ever happening again. Other than that, we will do our best not to hinder the diversity and innovation of the current events in North America. Events that are successful are successful because their organizers do a good job. We do not want to step on anyone’s toes and try and change that. Events that do a poor job creating a well run and fair tournament will not be the tournaments people go back to, and thus their importance in the hobby will remain small and insignificant. Establishing basic standards will help burgeoning events and hobbies get some guidance. This will help organizers create the kind of tournament people want to go to.
The NADF will resume tracking player ratings. The rating system will most likely change. One of the hurdles we have to cross is how best to rate games. It is a question that we are trying to answer right now, and it will probably be some time before a complete and comprehensive answer is out there. The NADF will continue to the fine tradition of the Grand Prix. The master-points system may or may not disappear, and we invite outside input as we are considering the issue.
A new initiative, spearheaded by former diplomacy world champion Chris Martin, will be to host a NADF invitational. The development of this idea is still in its infantile stages, but it is something that Chris is excited about, and that the rest of the NADF board supports. The criteria for qualification will be clearly laid out so that there is no mystery as to who will be invited. This falls in line with our spirit of having an open process.
In 70's our hobby did a great job utilizing the technologies available to it. Using phones, snail mail and publications, tournaments were organized and players came together. Now we are approaching 2010. Our hobby is as small as it has ever been. The technologies available to us today are vastly more powerful than even 10 years ago. As a hobby we are lagging behind in structure, technology and organized activism. By addressing just one of these themes, we can make great strides forward.
The new NADF will be a conduit for communication. To this end, we are building the foundations for a new community website that will allow our hobby to share, form and debate the ideas that affect us all. We are exploring how we can best enable and support the national hobby with social networking tools such as web forums, blogs, comments and player profiles. We are also exploring the potential of aggregating games organized on sites likeMeetup.com and Facebook and presenting them in a single event calendar of Diplomacy house games and tournaments in North America.
The NADF must exist to support the local hobbies. Part of our goal in building a new community site is carefully balance what content should be shared at the national level and what is best handled by the regional hobbies. To this end we are working on a model to allow regional sites to publish important content such as tournament invitations and schedules to the NADF. The new site will comprise the information back-bone for the hobby.
A rich and high-profile website gives us the greatest chance to reach-out to online players and other curious gamers. Online players in particular are already at their computers playing diplomacy online, we just need to introduce ourselves into their online diplomacy experience and draw them out to events. There are many people out there who are simply not informed about face-to-face events, whom we will reach out to.
Finally, we have formed a small working group to define a single electronic file format that can describes the state of any standard Diplomacy game, either in-progress or finished. A simple yet expressive, human-readable file format will enable tournament results to be published electronically and electronic games to be exchanged between judges and supporting tools. The group has chosen XML to fulfill this need and are currently working on an XML Schema, a special type of XML file that describes the layout of the file format in a manner that is understandable by both humans and computers. The NADF offers a community incubator to rapidly develop the initial version of the standard that we will subsequently open to the wider hobby. We are aiming to capture the attention of the developers of Diplomacy software by growing a critical mass of support around the format. Simply, the wider the base of tools that use our format, the more incentive there is for other tools to also support it.
We plan to have the new websites, design and structure done by April 1st, 2010. We will do our best to get as many of our core features ready, but we have a prioritized list of features to implement and will do them in order. We do not currently have a target date for our full package of features to be finished as we will undoubtedly run into obstacles along the way. More than likely, the website will be an iterative process that may very well run a year. The website project will be the single largest and most important deliverable that we have planned for 2010.
We also plan to foster a relationship with Hasbro and get the company to support the hobby at least as much as they have already been doing. In addition to building and maintaining a relationship we will be building relationships with our peer organizations around the world.
We hope that everyone else in the hobby is as excited about this as we are. We encourage everyone interested to send us feedback or volunteer to get involved in the process.
written by Andy Hull and Conrad Woodring