one disadvantage of KGS is, that people who play seldom (or with long absence times) do not find an opponent easily because of their ? after the rank.
One problem is, if they open a game, it will apear at the bottom of the open game list. When I am looking for a game, I first look near my rank, so I do not see the ?-people at the bottom.
An easy solution would be to have their open games between the open games of the ranked people, i.e.
G playername1(8k) 19x19
G playername2(8k?) 19x19
G playername3(9k) 19x19
Still, if someone does not like to play ?-people, he would not. But people like me would see those games more often and play more often against them.
Greetings from Germany (and sorry for my bad English). :)
It was the way you describe until two years ago or so, which was considered more misleading than convenient. The distinctive characteristic of "?" ranks is, they are VERY unsure, actually nothing but a rough guess. Even though the [9d?] issue with people who haven`t lost yet has been fixed, most of what has led to the current way is still valid. Of course, there are pros and cons, but generally, "?" ranks have something in common with both "no rank" and solid ranks. Hence it makes sense to place them in between.
I don`t really see the sorting as the main cause for the difficulties of "?" ranked players to find a game, anyway. From what I know, it wasn`t much easier before the change, either. The point is, many prefer to play with people the strength of which isn`t too far off from what is to be expected. So it seems that some patience is needed to find someone who likes surprises or just wants to help getting solid.
Since CGoban went 3, you can challenge others while offering a game by yourself. That doesn`t resolve the drawbacks of lacking a solid rank, but it should make finding a game a bit easier.
If you get sick of waiting nevertheless, you usually can still regain your rank by playing ranked robots, upto six stones above the latter.
What is a [rk?] guess for, if not for sorting someone into the [rk] list?
When you have a player with an unsure rank, what you want is that he plays rated games so that you can get more confidence in his rank. If you put a mark on the unsure rank, you hinder this process:
Any mark other than [rk] (rk being a rank abbreviation like 12k, 3d) seems to be felt as some sort of stain by the majority of players. As a result, they don't play against them. It almost looks like most people are actively searching for an excuse not to play against someone else (I guess they are in fear for their rank because they lack insight into its calculation, and its importance).
This is stupid, but there is nothing you can do against the General Stupidity (tm). My suggestion would be to keep the extra marks down to a minimum:
Do not use further marks, like:
because those just give reasons not to play someone. Everyone has his own criteria whom to play; everyone should set and enforce these for himself.
Regarding [...]~, you can't force someone to play or to teach anyway, so you can spare the extra code for this.
If you`re stating KGS should hide all pieces of information that could serve as an occasion for someone not to play a particular opponent, I strongly disagree. Playing more games is not a value of its own, it requires two players who like so. I`d even appreciate further details publicly available in the player`s info, like, the numerical value of rank confidence, or the distribution of opponents over ranks. The currently used ? and ~ indicators are rather coarse.
For instance, imagine someone who simply got enough of a certain kind of surprise and seeks a serious, exciting game with an opponent who really matches the own strength. If all [rk?] were [rk], helpful information would be lost.
I do like surprises and frequently challenge, or accept challenges from, questionmarked players. I haven`t encountered anyone searching for an excuse yet, but you may be right that there are some. What I don`t get is: Why do those people believe to need excuses at all? There is no duty to play anyone. Just don`t do it when you don`t like to. If you feel like explaining or discussing the decline, that`s nice, but there`s no need for a justification.
Concerning ~: In the Go community, "games with a stronger player" is a scarce ressource. Therefore, there are fair and not so fair ways to use it. As a teacher, you don`t want to provide the remaining candy to kids who have snatched plenty already, but instead, you`ll give it to the ones who haven`t got so much yet.
For every tilde, there is necessarily some sort of anti-tilde. That is, some other players have "recieved" a significantly lower share of games with stronger opponents. The tilde may or may not affect the attitude of its wearers. Regardless, it already makes sense if it serves as a guide for the stronger part.
I agree with blubb, we need more ways to know who we are playing with (I mean what kind of player we are playing), but I don't like the ~. I play rarely (very rarely, may I point). When I stopped playing, I was 12k (KGS2), so when I got into KGS again, I had to climb up to 11k?, and then be 8k (rank shift). So I played a few games (like 50%) against 16k and 14k with white (I refused to play black), just because I didn't want to have the ~ when my rank got stabilized. But the system doesn't take care about my real rank, just with who I have played. So, being 16k? and defeating a 16k didn't affect this. So now I have my happy ~... not truly (or completely) deserving it. As a way to play weaker people and teach... it is quite unsatisfactory. I can play against 50 15k, win them all, and that's all. I can play just one 15k and comment our mistakes and point out things I think would help him to improve. What is better, as teaching? (just rhetorical question). Just my 2 cents.
The xx? ranks are a problem. When they were sorted with xx ranks, people would complain bitterly about 4d? users who were clearly not actually 4d. So I broke them out and put them at the bottom, now people realize they are not necessarily 4d, but it is hard to find them, so I get complaints about that.
I think xx? ranks should be thrown out completely. Next time I fiddle with the rank system, I plan on instead making them into xx+, where the "xx" is the lowest rank that they could likely be.
So if you have one game, a win vs. a 1k, you would probably become something like a 2k+ or a 3k+, meaning you are 2k or stronger (or 3k or stronger). After a few more games, when the "?" would disappear, the "+" will disappear and you will get a normal rank.
I think this should solve the problems nicely. It shows that the rank is uncertain. In addition, the main complaint seems to be when people get a weaker opponent than they expect. If the xx+ ranks are properly set up, this shouldn't happen (unless the player cheated to get his xx+ rank), and if you get somebody stranger than you expected - well, duh, of course a "2k+" could be 1d.
Anyway, not sure when it will happen, but I've mentioned this in an admin forum a year or two ago and people there seemed to like the idea. But first, I have to finish ploughing through all the 3.0 bugs, and that won't happen overnight...