I’m a new player (of about 2 days), and I agree the default rank of 13k is daunting. I think it would have been more off-putting if I hadn’t already seen this thread, so I knew to expect my rank to plummet immediately.
In particular it was a sad moment when my rank dropped so low that even Master Mantis started refusing to play me.
I’ve been thinking about how we could adjust this. At the risk of writing a wall of text, here’s my thought process, which I hope will make it easy to disagree precisely:
At the moment, weak new players find themselves thrown in with experienced mid-rank players. They inevitably see their rank go down quickly after their first few games, which they predictably lose.
Meanwhile, mid-rank players have to put up with games against much weaker new players.
We want experienced mid-rank players to get matched against other players who genuinely have a similar rank, so they have better games.
Weak new players should be start by playing against other new or weak players, so they don’t always lose and see their rank drop precipitously.
Strong new players should still be able to earn a good rank fairly quickly.
Glicko-2 requires that a new player’s rating must be somewhere in the middle.
The rating uncertainty for new players can be any amount, assuming it’s the same for everyone.
After enough games, a player’s rating uncertainty becomes small.
For the purposes of matching players, use the lower bound of a player’s rating.
When displaying a player’s kyu/dan rank, use the lower bound of their rating.
A player’s actual rating is still calculated the same way.
New players start with a very large uncertainty, so that the lower bound of the start rating is about equal to the actual rating of the weakest experienced players.
For example, if my actual rating is 1500 ± 600, the matching algorithm treats my rating as 900. (I don’t think the matching algorithm uses the uncertainty value, but if it does, it can treat my rating as 900 ± 600.)
I get matched against other players whose lower bound is around 900. My kyu rank is calculated from the lower bound of the rating, 900, so I appear as 29k and seem suitably unintimidating.
After playing a few games, my rating might end up as 1300 ± 300. Now the matching algorithm treats my rating as 1000, and I appear as 25k. My actual rating has gone down, but the uncertainty has gone down more, so the lower bound is higher. I appear to be making progress and don’t become disheartened!
If a new player is actually pretty good, their rating may quickly become 1700 ± 300. The matching algorithm treats them as 1400 and they appear as 15k.
For an experienced player with a small uncertainty, 2000 ± 100, the matching algorithm treats them as 1900, and they appear as 5k. This isn’t very different to now.
There’s a certain logic to this: the site can be (95%) confident that the player has genuinely achieved at least the rank it shows. It shows the humblest rank of which it can be confident for that player.