Player abusing scoring system. Suggestion for fix

Hi, I’ve encountered a user

We played a lovely game

, and when it came time to score he was behind. Instead of accepting the score, he waited the whole time allotted for scoring, then canceled and resumed to reset the clock, just to play a throw away move or pass again and begin the scoring clock again. Obviously a tactic designed to get the victor to resign out of annoyance. I persevered and 20 minutes later had my success but,…

Currently this could be used to prevent a game from ever ending…

My suggestion would be to shorten the scoring time down to 2 minutes or so and to only allow the game to go from scoring back to playing twice. That should be enough to maintain the purpose of that functionality but also prevent its abuse. Thanks for your consideration.

There is a “call moderator” button along the right side of the screen for handling problems like this.

I don’t think that shortening the scoring phase to 2 minutes would fully solve the problem, and might hurt in situations where a valid life-and-death dispute would need to be resolved by discussion (and maybe even sharing variations). A determined time waster could just continue to play garbage moves for a very long time (i.e., playing any and every legal move possible).

I think only a moderator stepping in can fully resolve situations like this.


While there are times we moderators don’t have perfect coverage of the full day and it may be a few hours, we can generally address a ticket labelled “player not scoring / abusing scoring” or something of the like within a few minutes. If that game has not yet been decided one way or the other, we can assign a win to either colour or even declare the game a tie. However, if the game is already concluded, the best we can do is annul the result so that it doesn’t affect either players’ ranking. (and of course follow up with the offending player with warnings / bans)


Shortening the time would have two bad effects. First, it would increase the success rate of score cheaters, who wrongly claim their opponent’s stones or territory, because it would leave little time for a mod to arrive and render a decision (which involves typing a note for the system record). Second, and similarly, it would leave little time for a mod to arrive, sort out a legitimate dispute (such as seki), and render a decision. Best thing to do is call a mod right away.


Why isn’t it possible for the moderation team to reverse results (at least in cases of blatant abuse)? I’m guessing that the reason is a matter of policy rather than technical.

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As it stands, it is impossible for a moderator to do. As to whether it could be possible at a later date, you would need to ask a dev

@anoek, would this be possible in the future? Is this a matter of policy?

Wait, so mods can declare a tie but jigo is B/W +0? xD

Now I know what to do next time one of my games ends in jigo.

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I can’t speak for the mods or developers, but my thinking is reversing a result is riskier than annulling it, both to protect users from a rouge mod/mod+bad-player team, and so mods don’t have to make (and defend) increasingly subjective calls about sportsmanship. (I used to write audit software, and “subjectivity” is always something we were looking to remove/minimize to improve the predictive value of statistics or meta-audit the auditors.)

Example, someone could send a dozen invites or rudely talk to annoy a player and distract them during a tightly timed game. That could easily get a person kicked out of/ignored in a physical salon, but it gets harder to determine online, especially for technically sophisticated jerks.

I’ve had a very small number of people that tried sketchy stuff with stone review, like killing very alive stones when the review window is almost over (hoping I’ve logged off) or just refusing to accept death hoping I’ll give up.

I just don’t play with them anymore, but having the game annulled is enough to avoid rank loss; which might make the player not able to enter tournaments/restricted games or underestimate their skill which frustrates their partners relying on rank to find even games.


My understanding is that we can’t reverse a result due to technical reasons. Even an annulment can be done only within a limited window of time, dependent on one or more intervening games (how many I’m not sure; I’m basing this on the message we mods get when an annulment doesn’t work).

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Score cheating, such as you describe in your last two paragraphs, is grounds for a site ban, usually after a warning. Most score cheating appears to be done in the weaker ranks, rarely stronger than DDK.


Annulling a result also carries risk, since it can erase well-deserved wins and distort the rating system. I think care already has to be taken when mods consider annulments, since that power in itself could be abused. Also, not every game needs to have a reversed result, but giving the moderators an option to reverse or annul could be a useful tool.

What’s left is a question of whether canceling the result or reversing it is more appropriate. For the players that do abuse the system, they may be just as happy to avoid a loss with the annulment. For the victim, having their earned win canceled out due to the bad behavior of others is not an ideal outcome.

Determining whether a game should be annulled could be quite difficult as well. I don’t think this is an argument against what action is taken, but rather when.

I think there are two distinct phases when handling potential abuse:

  1. Making a judgment of whether there is abuse.
  2. If so, making a corrective action to address the abuse.

Step 1 may be difficult and sometimes subjective, and perhaps to be careful, we should be conservative in making such judgments. However, I do not think that should always warrant more conservative corrective action, especially in cases where the judgment is clear.

Consider a case where a cheating player manages to steal a win (from a clearly losing position) by abusing the scoring system or wasting time until the honest player gives up. Annulling such a game is a halfway action that still rewards the cheater (since the response to their misbehavior still allowed them to avoid a loss), and does not fully remedy the victim for having a win stolen. In fact, since misbehaving can allow the cheater to turn their losing position into a no result, they are actually still incentivized to misbehave.


Interesting, I was not aware that there was a time window for annulling a game. However, if it is possible to annul a game within a certain time window, why should it not be possible to reverse it instead? From the perspective of the ranking system, either would require recalculations to be made, right?

I think it’s good that there are harsher penalties for misbehavior, since I do not think annulling games alone properly disincentivizes cheaters, as I discuss in my previous post.

It is somewhat troubling (even if not surprising) to hear that misbehavior is concentrated in the lower ranks, since I hope that would not create a bad atmosphere/experience for the beginner population.

Anecdotally, I have personally seen at least as many, probably more, cases at the SDK level as well, but that perspective is distorted due to the range of ranks that I typically play against. Usually, such abuse that I’ve personally dealt with is along the lines of what @neko_senpai described:

Actually, in the vast majority of such cases, I wound up dealing with it without reporting it to the moderators. Being experienced with the interface (which perhaps a newcomer to the site might be more easily confused by), I could see what was going on and simply resisted long enough to avoid it. Perhaps, some level of abuse simply goes unreported.


I wonder if a game could be suspended somehow in case of a dispute and later scored entirely by the mod.


In further response to:

I think that making it impossible for moderators to reverse a game after it has been concluded might actually be even riskier. Consider this:

Thus, for a game that has not yet ended, a moderator could erroneously declare a win for one player, perhaps as a mistake or maliciously (if we consider the possibility of a rouge moderator). However, since none of the moderators could then reverse the game, that mistake could not be fully corrected. The best that could be done is to then just annul it, which still robs a win from the player that should won (if the game was in a clearly winning position).

Imagine if a rouge moderator maliciously attacked a bunch of games. Not giving the rest of the moderator team the tools to correct the problem would leave them in a very tough situation.


My own opinion on this dark side?

First time:
(After a necessary check ofc)
please don’t do it again (let’s give a chance)
Give victory to offended

Second time
Ok bye bye (ban)

I know that there is no perfectly working way, whatever you fix there will be always drawbacks, but at least it’s good to try to be consistent.

To react to the original suggestion, basically while this would be a really simple thing to do (and might still happen in the future) it would not really solve anything, hence it is not a priority. If the game cannot be resumed, it does not prevent the very same cheating method of just not passing and playing every legal move on the board, which on 19x19 is as good as endless considering the most popular byo yomi timer… And given the rules and unpredictable nature of go, it is almost impossible to somehow effectively restrict the number of moves or something…

Yes, we have discussed some options internally recently and this has been a popular choice. Might happen (though no promises from me of course :slight_smile: )

Other than that, our usual suggestion is to of course (and sorry to keep spamming it everywhere) report the game to let us know that there is a problem and if noone is responding soon or you are getting impatient just leave the game. At worst we will annull later and while I understand that it is frustrating to not get the rightfully deserved win, among all the tenths of games you addicts are having, what’s one missing victory… Just do not let it ruin your day. Often times the other player is a human too (hehe) and maybe just has some personal problems and really really needed that one “win” today… :man_shrugging:

:smiley: hahahaha. A rogue moderator could wreak havoc! Scary thought :open_mouth:


Still I didn’t understand why the moderators can’t give a win to a won game.

Because of this, anyone not afraid of a ban can, on his own will, modify the result of any tournament.

We don’t control willing but we could afford to not give control on results.

Just to be clear, we can and do award wins, but we can’t reverse the result of a finished game, we can only annul that. As I mentioned before, my understanding is that the reason is technical. So the question is, if we can annul, why can’t we reverse? This assumes that the two actions have the same effect on the system, but I don’t believe that is true. As I mentioned before, there is a small window of time in which we can annul, apparently based on intervening games, not on time per se. This hints at the technical issue involved. Caution here, what I am about to say is my SPECULATION.

Rating changes have a ripple effect through the system, as your change in rating affects the ratings of others you have played against. When a game is annulled quickly, with few or no intervening games (I’m not sure of the exact limitation), it simply restores the system to a previous state. This sounds like a relatively simple adjustment. However, reversing a result is on its face more complicated, as it involves two steps. First the old result would be negated, as in an annulment, but then a new result is introduced. Not being a coder, I don’t know what is involved in making the system do this, but it appears to me to be clearly more complicated than merely annulling a result.

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All this is clearly explained.

The problem I got once is that even if you don’t agree and restrain to not accept the cheated result, then the system itself take decision and put an end ( which was a big surprise to me. Worse the system didn’t chose it’s own idea which was right and same as mine, but the cheated one. Weird). So then it comes back to what I wrote before.

I understand the mess it could be considering the rating system, but isn’t it so seldomly happening so that it could be accepted? What matter most, to not give an incentive to cheat a tournament or a (I assume) neglectible disturbance in the rating system?

Note* I did use the call moderator button and I got one helping me in a reasonable delay. The system was simply too quick to make decision (I couldn’t even take care as I didn’t know he will). There is a submission already to pause the game in the GitHub but here it’s another way with its own pro and cons. Waiting the moderator coming can be more disturbing for some kind of tournament as postponing the corrected result and it’s less constraints on the moderators if they are able to turn the table (I am sure they won’t abuse of it like the problem created by timing out in a massive way in correspondence games which should be completely out of comparison). And the 2 solution are in no way incompatible, we could pause and same time give the ability to change a result. Even more the second would complement the first as players are supposed to have called a moderator first and not to rely on the ability to modify a result.

That’s maybe the main fear of giving this ability, that it takes too big proportion and then get out of control (and make the rating system invalid). But to me it looks like the last chance to keep the things issued by the system or by missusing it, right when they got wrong beyond what a user has to do by himself.

And last, I wrote a bit long because I think that when you go play a tournament you don’t go with the same spirit as a casual game, and you expect everything well rounded, especially how cheating is out of order. You don’t expect to have to fight a war of resume the game/accept the score and then to fail it on time then even to get your victory canceled because the system can’t handle that. One can say it’s just a game, move on but no, it’s a tournament after all not a casual game.