Introducing the New WFTDA Rankings Platform Part 2: The Reworking of Processes

With great thanks to Michael Watson of Rainy City Roller Derby, the WFTDA has been working to build a new and dynamic system to host rankings and game data, scheduled for initial release June 5, 2019. As we work towards this release date, we wanted to give you access to the new site, previews of the pages and more over the next two weeks. We’ll be releasing a series of five introduction articles highlighting the work and the features we will be debuting in 2019 and beyond. Here’s the second article in the series, written by Michael. Read Part 1 here.

Designing a cool, accessible website that allows people to view leagues, results, and rankings data is one thing, but as so often is the case with large digital transformation projects like this, the biggest obstacle revolves around incompatible internal processes and messy data.

The first few months of the project involved a deep analysis of how WFTDA carry out their sanctioning processes, results processes and rankings processes. I’m constantly in awe of all the amazing volunteers involved in our sport, and the sheer amount of conversations and late night Skype calls with different volunteers, hearing how they approve sanctioning, how they submit games, verify results, and confirm monthly rankings is staggering. It became apparent that in order to achieve our goal of creating a system that allows instant results and rankings to be displayed, we would have to rework several internal processes.

A new goal emerged from the project, not only to make a great final product for the public, but to create a system that drastically reduces volunteer time too, and make the management of leagues, games, results, and rankings a smoother process all round. Reduced admin time is a great benefit in its own right, but also paves the way to be able to manage more instant results and changes in rankings in the future.

The WFTDA Admin Portal

The decision was made to create a new central admin portal for WFTDA to allow the various committee groups handling game submissions, sanctioning approvals, results submissions and approvals, rankings, and league information to manage their data in one place. The majority of work over the past year has involved developing this bespoke system to minimise admin time for the volunteers, and to create a robust, expandable system that’s ready to deal with all the oddities we have in our sport- unique ranking algorithms that might change, strength factor challenges, league merges, tournaments, game points.

Publishing rankings is now relatively automatic, with calculations happening on the fly, and a simple push of the button will release these to the public. This is a big step up from the older system which would still rely on a lot of manual effort and Google Sheets.

Since the beginning of the season, the rankings team have been using this new system in tandem with the old rankings calculator. We’ve been working together to add useful features, iron out issues, and get the system to a point where it’s ready to be relied on.

Migrating Data

Bringing through old league information and results was always going to be a challenge, and writing a procedural system that can import all sanctioned games since the beginning of time was a great challenge. We’ve worked really hard together to uncover all leagues games, unpick conflicting or missing data from the past, restore leagues that have been removed, and aim towards a single source of truth that tells the whole story of the history of our sport.

Now that the data has been brought through and polished up, we have access to some really cool sports information that was difficult to uncover before, such as:

  • Which league has played which league the most
  • League’s best ever results
  • League’s closest games
  • League’s highest ever rank

By December 2018 we had a reliable system for migrating the old game and rankings data and a new, single source of truth that we could rely on. It felt like a major step in the creation of the new system.

Introducting the New WFTDA Rankings and Stats Website - ScreenshotIntroducting the New WFTDA Rankings and Stats Website - Screenshot

Got more questions about the new WFTDA rankings platform? We’re hosting another Twitter AMA with Michael on Wednesday, May 22 at 2:00 p.m. EDT (7:00 p.m. BST, 11:00 a.m. PDT) live on the WFTDA twitter. Follow the hashtag #AskWFTDA to ask questions and join the conversation.