About this picture
Results of the Diplomatic Pouch Survey
The 400 replies tells us that we have at least 400 readers. However,
it's difficult to gauge the true number since there are undoubtedly
many readers who did not take the time to fill out the survey.
It is also interesting to note that the number of survey replies
dropped off somewhat from the initial surge right after the survey
went up, but that after that early drop the number of replies
coming remained pretty steady and didn't peter out. Based on
that fact, the fact that we did receive 400 replies, and the hit
counts for our front page (several hundred hits per week), I'd
make a rough guess that we have somewhere between one and five
thousand readers (though quite a few are not regular visitors).
If anyone has any information about web access statistics or
hit counts in general that could lead to a more accurate estimate,
I'd be interested in hearing it.
The results from the survey are presented below. One of the things
I was most interested in finding out about was what kind of people
are reading The Diplomatic Pouch. I've heard it said that The
Pouch is by and for PBEM players/rec.games.diplomacy readers,
and that other player communities don't know about or don't utilize
our resources. I've long felt that this was an inaccurate portrayal
and this was one of the motivations for my creating the survey.
A few comments on this point accompany the statistics which follow.
The first question in the survey asked what percentage of player's
Diplomacy play was spent playing face-to-face Diplomacy, postal
Diplomacy, judge play-by-email (PBEM) Diplomacy and non-judge
PBEM Diplomacy. The pie chart below shows the overall percentages
for the respondents. On average, half the peoples' time is spent
playing judge PBEM diplomacy, and another 13% play PBEM without
judges. This is not surprising since being an Internet resource
limits our readership to people with computers, which biases us
toward people who use their computers to play. I suspect that
many people would have expected an even higher percentage of PBEM
The above chart provides an interesting overall picture, but since
players may play Diplomacy in more than one way, it is a limited
picture. It is also interesting to look at what the primary mode
of play is for the respondents. I also wanted to look at only
people who are strongly dominated by one type of Diplomacy play.
I decided to create a similar chart, shown below, which was limited
to who played a given way between 90% and 100% of the time (the
90% lower bound was decided on more or less arbitrarily). Almost
exactly two thirds of the respondents had a dominant mode of play;
the other third were left out of the tally. It is interesting
to note that well over one third of the readers who play Diplomacy
almost exclusively one way, are not PBEM Diplomacy players.
The next question in the survey asked readers how often they visited
The Diplomatic Pouch, on average. Readers could pick from once
or more per day, week, month and blue moon. The results from
this question are shown in the chart below. When I was creating
the survey, I wondered if I should bother creating an option for
once or more per day, since I wasn't sure anyone would select
it. But it looks like we have a nice core group of Pouch addicts
who stop by at least once per day on average.
Next, we wanted to know how useful the readers found each of the
sections of The Diplomatic Pouch (The Zine, Online Resources,
Email, Postal and Face-to-Face). People could select from not
useful, somewhat useful, very useful, or can't
live without it. First, to get a rough idea, I assigned each
of the above categories values of 1 to 4 and looked at overall
averages. The Online Resources section was the most useful section,
followed by the Zine and Email sections being almost exactly tied,
followed by the Face-to-Face and Postal sections as fourth and
The graph below gives a slightly more detailed look at the distribution
of data instead of just average values.
In retrospect, this is probably not the most useful question.
The relative rankings of the Email, Face-to-Face and Postal sections
do little more than reflect the demographics of our readership.
If most of our people play PBEM Diplomacy as their primary mode
of play and the fewest play postal Diplomacy, it's not surprising
that the Email section comes out first and the Postal section
comes out third. What may have been more telling would have been
to look at what the dominant BPEM players thought of the Email
section, the dominant postal players thought of the Postal section,
etc. Unfortunately, I didn't have the patience to correlate the
data to that extent.
To get an idea of what our readers did relating to Diplomacy when
they weren't playing the game or reading our pages, two questions
asked people about other zines they read. The first asked how
many electronic zines people read aside from The Diplomatic Pouch,
and the second asked how many postal zines people read. The most
interesting thing to note here is that 15% of the respondents
subscribe to postal zines. That means that even though only a
couple of percent play almost exclusively postal Diplomacy, as
discussed earlier, there are many other people who are involved
in the postal Diplomacy community.
Another question asked people whether or not they read the rec.games.diplomacy
newsgroup. No chart is required here -- the results were split
almost perfectly down the middle, with half of the respondents
replying yes and the other half no. I mentioned above that I
didn't think The Pouch was only for PBEM Diplomacy players, but
that result surprised even me. I expected that a much higher
percentage of people would be r.g.d. readers, but I was happy
to be wrong on that point.
The next question asked how people rated the design and aesthetic
appeal of The Diplomatic Pouch on a scale from one to ten with
ten being best. The average was an 8.2 out of ten.
For the earlier question on how useful people find each of the
sections, I wanted to get an idea of the big picture so I didn't
try to filter out any replies. However, players who play PBEM
and FTF all the time may not find the Postal section useful. Asking
everyone how useful a section is partly related to the popularity
of a section.
This next question asked people to rate the content of each of
the sections on a scale from one to ten. Consider the same player
who plays FTF all the time -- that player may not care about the
content of the Postal section, or may not read it enough to comment
on it. So here I specifically wanted to limit replies to people
who have an interest in a section since they are in a better position
to rate the content. So for this question, players could select
a numerical rating, but if the section wasn't one they were interested
in they could also select "N/A". The chart below shows
the percentage of people who had an interest in each of the sections,
which is to say people who didn't select "N/A".
The next chart shows the average ratings given by the interested
readers for each of the sections. This chart is qualitatively
similar to the earlier one for the question about how useful each
of the sections are. The ordering is almost identical, with the
Online Resources first, followed by the Zine and Email just about
tied for second, then FTF, followed by Postal. However, as expected,
the spread between the highest and lowest ratings is smaller because
the ratings of the less popular sections was not affected by popularity
as it was with the earlier question.
Well, that's about it for the results of the data gathered from
the survey. The last question asked for comments or suggestions
for improvement on the design or content of any part of The Diplomatic
Pouch, what people like, what they don't like, and what they'd
like to see. We received some flattering praise from people who
love The Pouch, and a bunch of "thank you" messages
from people who use our resources often and from newbies whom
we helped get started. Disappointingly, however, very few of
the people who gave low ratings took the time to give feedback
about what needs improving or suggestions for what they'd like
to see. A bunch of people submitted questions with their replies.
I answered these where possible, but not everyone included an
email address with their replies, so if you never got a reply
from me feel free to contact me directly by email.
We did receive a good number of suggestions, though. The variant
summaries on the variants page were prompted by a suggestion received
through the survey, as was the new link added to the front page
for quick access to the maps page, and the link to the openings
list at the top of the Online Resources section. We had a few
suggestions for topics for zine articles, some of which we are
trying to follow up on and get them into coming issues of the
zine. A couple of people suggested indexing The site and making
it searchable (this was already in the works and is one of the
reasons The Pouch moved to a new site). But probably the biggest
impact of the survey was a comment regarding difficulty of getting
into PBEM games. Although this comment didn't suggest the idea,
it sparked the idea of the creation of the new game queues which
make it easier for people to get into popular types of games and
have resulted in the creation of dozens of games.
That's only a sample of some of the changes we've implemented
resulting from survey comments. We're always interested in finding
out how to improve The Diplomatic Pouch. The survey is no longer
up (maybe we'll put it back next year to see if anything has changed),
but if you have any comments they can be sent to me by email at
the address at the bottom of this page.
If you wish to E-Mail feedback on this article to the author, click on the letter above. If that does not work, feel free to use the "Dear DP..." mail interface.