Ah vacations... they are wonderful, right? Going to the beach or the mountains or travelling to an exotic land...
Oh wait. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about "Vacation Time" on Chess.com. Here are the problems:
- ABUSE: People can delay games and tournaments with vacation time. This is an especially big problem since new players can join the site, join a few games, join a tournament, go on vacation after stalling and then POOF - that game or tournament is delayed by 40 days by someone who never intends to come back to the site.
- MIS-MANAGED TIME: You take a bunch of vacation at the beginning of the year thinking you won't need any later and then suddenly you do! And then you are short and there is nothing you can do :( We're already starting to see this and it's only July. People are saying they used their time and now need more.
- NOT ENOUGH: Some people just legitimately take a lot of vacation time and could use more.
All that said, here is what we are thinking:
New members start out with only a little vacation. Maybe 7-10 days. That way if they start games and then immediately bail, it's only 7-10 days of hassle.
Then, members start accruing more vacation time as they spend time on the site. So instead of just resetting in January, it just accrues. Say 1 day of vacation time for every week or 2 on the site.
Still, there would be a cap on max vacation time at any point. So if you hit your cap (say 40 days), then you wouldn't accrue anymore. This prevents someone from having 240 vacation days after a few years and then POOF! :)
We're also probably going to make the ceiling higher for Premium Members. Why? Because by paying they have shown an extra level of "verification" of their intentions to stay and act in good faith. They also stand to lose their paid membership if they abuse vacation :) It also is a good incentive for those who want to take more vacation. Paid members will most likely accrue faster as well.
A few of the outstanding questions we have are: what do we do about tournaments still? For example, one suggestion is that if the only games left in a tournament are on VACATION, that those games are forfeited so that the tournament can proceed. So, you can use vacation time in a tournament, but not if it slows down the event. Or maybe this only applies to major Chess.com tournaments with hundreds of players potentially impacted?
One other suggestion is to let people pay to add vacation time. They still wouldn't be able to go above their ceiling, but they could "fill up" their vacation time for a small fee. Why? Because there is nothing worse than somebody who has been an excellent Chess.com member but who is facing the dilemma of timing out on 20 games because of a vacation or unforeseen event. If they timeout on those games, it ruins their stats and they will probably be bitter about the whole thing and leave Chess.com :(
Anyway, those are some thoughts. I'd love you to weigh-in with some ideas or what you think of what we have said!