Why are handicaps disabled by default?

OGS is different from most other go servers I have seen in that handicaps are disabled by default. Unlike on say KGS or IGS where it is usual that the default is there is a handicap in a game unless it is disabled.

Of course, people should be able to choose whether to play with handicap or not - but it is a very unusual design decision to take what is meant to be a core part of the ranking system and one that should hopefully mean more people play closer more exciting games and disable it. Because it is disabled by default, this seems to have led to a cultural norm on OGS where fewer people play handicap games (I notice if I do enable handicap it takes longer to get a game) and of course that just becomes a reinforcing spiral.

So my question is what is the reason behind the decision to disable handicaps by default? I don’t see how it improves the experience for players.


Well, one could also say: by default, games are even :wink:

That said, I think making games default to automatic handicap does make sense to me. Have you checked our UserVoice system whether similar suggestions already exist? If not, you could create an entry there and paste the link here.

I think the reason for the no-handicap culture might be the lack of players resulting in high handicap games combined with a not very trustworthy ranking system in the past (It is probably better now).

There’s no particular reason that even games were set as the default. As you’ve noticed, most games on OGS are even. Whether it’s because it’s the default or because people who prefer even games simply gravitate to OGS, I can’t say for sure. I will say that 1) it’s very easy to enable handicaps and 2) while it does sometimes take longer to get a handicap game, in my own experience the wait hasn’t been significant. As you point out, a lot of people also prefer handicap games. As @trohde said, if you think it’s a significant issue, you can make a feature suggestion on UserVoice to change it.


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