Dear friends,

As the active Discord-users among you know, there was a recent situation that rekindled the discussion about our real life rank policy - both among our users and within the admin team.

The “Real life rank policy” was introduced last July as a response to some cases of botting allegations and admitted cheating during tournaments, leagues and teaching games. Since we want to provide a fair and respectful environment for everyone we had to respond. We did feel that knowing the real life rank of our strong players would help us make a more educated decision when looking into allegations of botting or other means of cheating.

While we still think that this will help us when deciding individual cases, we received your feedback, both on Discord and in our forum, that the current policy has some issues.

Currently we ask every user who is 5d or stronger to provide the admin team with their real life rank to be active on OSR - which includes participating in our tournaments and leagues. However - we have come to a number of realizations:

  • We understand that there are reasons why people want to stay anonymous online. By asking everyone above a certain skill level for their real life rank we are effectively also asking them to identify themselves, even if only to the OSR team. It is not our intention to gather that sort of information and we do not want to exclude anyone based on their privacy concerns.
  • We also understand that asking everyone above a certain strength to reveal their rank may unfairly affect players who have done nothing wrong. Our intention has never been to make people above a certain rank a suspect.
  • We have not clearly defined which rank counts and the rank differs widely among different countries and different online Go-servers. It may be seen as unfair if we for example ask a Fox-5d to reveal their real life rank but don’t ask an EGF-4d. We want to give everyone the same fair treatment and realize that our wording was not accurate enough.
  • We also have not made clear what exactly happens with the real life rank information and what consequences not revealing their real life rank has to the user. We aim to be as transparent as possible and do not intend to have some secret process of gathering and using information in some mysterious ways.

We had some fruitful discussions among the admin team and have come up with some ideas that we would like to discuss with you, our members, before deciding together which of them we want to implement. Instead of having a “Real life rank”-policy we would like to implement it as a general “Fair play”-policy:

  1. We are considering to remove the general policy of asking users above a certain rank to provide their real life rank to participate on OSR. This would remove most issues that come with the current policy.
  2. In cases of cheating accusations we may still ask users, independent of their rank, to provide us with proof of their real life rank to help us come to a decision regarding that case. This is considered as one piece in the puzzle and mostly seen as a way for strong players to give evidence that they really are as strong as claimed. We do understand that there may be a difference between online and real life rank due to a number of reasons and this will be taken into account when making a decision.
  3. If there are suspicions of cheating/botting we will ask the user making the accusation to provide some proof for their claim. Gathering such evidence is a difficult and time consuming process for which we, the OSR team, simply do not have enough manpower. This is also meant to stop allegations that are purely based on bad sportsmanship and where there is no real indication of cheating or botting.
  4. If you have suspicions of cheating or botting but have no proof, you may report the player to a member of the OSR team. We will not be able to react directly to the allegation but we will register it. If we should see a number of allegations by different users against the same player we will look into it.
  5. If you encounter other types of unfair play, like your opponent trying to time you out or being rude, please also report these to the OSR team. We are trying to create a friendly atmosphere for everyone and do not accept toxic behavior by our members.
  6. Another consideration is to change the way we award prizes to our users. Currently our users can win prizes for successfully participating in our leagues (the monthly ones and the Meijin league). Some ideas for changes include:
    • Removing prizes for league winners which would also remove any incentive for cheating. Our question to you would be: Does this also remove the incentive for participating in the league or are you mainly playing for fun and honor?
    • Having prizes for “Best teacher”, “Best reviewer”, “Eager learner” or similar. These would likely be given using some voting-system on our website. Our focus is on teaching and learning so we feel there should be more rewards for people who try their best to improve and help others to improve.

Please head to our Discord (either tag @team or use the “admin-request”-channel) or the forum and let us know what you think about these ideas. The Open Study Room is a community and as such we want to represent the views of you, our members.