New player OGS user experience

Today I had the opportunity to teach someone I know how to play Go.
After we went through one of the many ‘tutorials’ one can find online about the rules and basic concepts, we decided to try log-in with a new user and try to find a suitable game on OGS.

Unfortunately this proved to be a very lackluster experience.
We did not encounter any question about our experience level/rank and from what I understand we were instead given a provisional rank.

This meant that whenever we queued up for a blitz/live game, we were presented with opponents around the 10 kyu range, which makes no sense to play against for someone who has just learned the rules of the game.

We tried to create a custom game and restrict rank, but unfortunately we could not ask for opponents lower than 15 kyu, even after having lost a couple of games.

It appears that the intention is that a new user should go in and lose a good amount of games in a lopsided fashion against experienced players, to finally have the chance to face other beginners?

I fail to see how this is not just a demotivating experience for any new player that wants to play Go on OGS.

I would strongly suggest to have some sort of way for a new account to select that they are new, and perhaps give some hints as to what they are supposed to expect from using OGS.
If this is already possible, it means that it was not obvious enough, and the suggestion is instead to make it clearer to new users how to adjust their rank


It has been a long-standing “feature” of ogs that you do not need to specify your rank on joining as it will be adjusted “quickly”

Whether or not this is still the best solution with the new rank system I don’t know. But it seems that the answer is still “play (lose) a few games and it will sort itself out”.

thats example of not friendly AI
It optimizes ranks but don’t cares about experience of beginners in Go. All beginners should lose and suffer.


I was under the impression that the humble rank system put new players in at beginner level, by treating their rank as the lowest part of the uncertainty range.

Apparently I’m incorrect.

after a lot of good discussion, solution proposal etc “Humble Rank” has been implemented to address the concerns raised in this post.

Did this go out of the window with the 2021 rank update?

I feel sorry for that experience. OGS should take note at least on it.

My own personal advice would be to ask for custom games with more appropriate settings or even to play unranked games for a while.

I hope you’ll find more games with players beginners and fun to play and stay here, OGS is really a nice place with friendly players.


There’s was definitely some suggestions that ranks weren’t behaving properly with respect to pairings

Even the user list in chats, groups etc tended to put ? mark accounts up with the 2kyus when sorting by rank.

Re the op, I do know what you mean, that it could be better to just specify ones rank or just pick “new player” or “beginner” which could just be assigned 25kyu or 30kyu etc.

I think this could work with other ratings systems, but I believe I’ve read that one needs to have new players slot in at a default rating for Glicko to work (assuming it is working properly now).

There have been some issues too where a, let’s say 10kyu plays a new beginner and the 10kyu just resigns because the new player is doing new player things. But then this makes it even harder for the new player to get down to their true rank.

I don’t know what the solution is really…

That said, probably playing a bunch of 9x9 games quickly ~ like 5-10 could work. At least they’ll be short with probably all the stones dieing and then one can get down to a low rank quickly.

But then the issue is that it’s the system to be adapted to the players and not the reverse. And even more when we are considering beginners

Wouldn’t this be largely solved if provisional players (those with question marks) were automatically paired only with other provisional players? Is this possible, or is it too complicated to code for that? Also, the provisional players could be barred from using custom settings, so they couldn’t evade such pairings. This would also solve the the problem of inadvertent airbagging mentioned by @shinuito.

But, tell me if i am wrong, provisional players are not always beginners?
I would prefer a volontary procedure where the player announce himself to be a beginner.

Yeah, that’s the rub. Even if you pair [?] with [?], you’re not solving the problem. On top of that, it insulates ratings so whatever they’re rated after provisional will still not match their rating across the site. I think the best solution would be a “I’m a beginner/intermediate/advanced” dropdown on sign up, and adjust the humble rank accordingly.


Yes, you and @Groin are right. I momentarily forgot that they would not be able to get rank that way. As I understand it, however, the trouble with what you propose is that it would no longer be Glicko. In other words, changing the humble rank is not a minor tweak; it would overthrow the current system.

Edit: As I mentioned in another thread, one advantage of Glicko is that it greatly limits the effective life of an alt sandbagging account.

My own view:
We should firstly welcome and offer the greatest experience to a beginner.
So the pairing should be made with other beginners then with lowest ddk…
Pairing them with 10k is rude as they will just get crushed.
Glicko is not an excuse, i don’t see why pairing beginners together will affect the glicko system.
Helping against some sandbagging is taking the wrong priority or the wrong means to deal with. But even i don’t see how the glicko system woould be affected by giving the right entrance point to a beginner.

In conclusion, it seems that the system of entrance of today is accepted but that’s no proof it is well done. I don’t expect that many beginners will come and complain on their crushes because it’s hard to tell others how weak you feel and that sort of things. And the system will prove you that it’s ok you see you are getting quickly better…


I thought humble rank was just superficial, on top of the rating system. That is it has nothing to do with the actual ratings, but only used for pairing purposes, not for the rating calculation? Maybe I misunderstood though.

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What about having new users play a series of “calibrated strength” bots on 9x9 games to estimate new user’s strengths? Perhaps you could setup user accounts for these bots and get DDK volunteers who have been playing a bit (over 20 games?) to play these bots to determine the bots’ ratings, using the same rating algorithm as humans use. Just a thought.


As I said before, I don’t know why not ask players for their rank. It’s ok to modify Glicko if we need to. We played couple of years with broken Glicko altogether and nothing happened.

If we really don’t want to touch enshrined Glicko we might make new players pick their humble rank and then slowly join humble rank and real rank. But that would require new variable, so I can see why it may be undesirable.


Is there any evidence or indication that Glicko breaks when new players can set their initial rating?


Send beginners play bots instead of pairing them together?
Are you serious?

This would violate the advice I repeatedly give to beginners to not play bots but play other human beginners.


Letting new users choose their rank (with appropriate guidance: "Are you are a new player? then choose 30k) and setting that as a normal rank but with high volatility so that it quickly corrects if they picked wrongly seems a pretty obvious good idea to me, that I’m not going to even bother reading all the old threads about it and learning what ‘humble rank’ is :slight_smile: I appreciate that some people may innocently or maliciously choose a too-high or too-low rank, but with a high volatility that shouldn’t matter much. Indeed the current system of plonking in beginners at too high a rank causing their strong opponents to resign in boredom and inflate their rank further is obviously far from ideal already. And I am presuming that the number of real beginners who are not malicious and want a good first experience on OGS is far larger than the number of troublemakers who purposefully pick the wrong rank to damage the hallowed ranking system, please correct me if I am wrong.