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Vacations - They Need Fixing. Can You Help?

  • erik
  • on 7/30/08, 6:04 PM.

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!

Erik

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Comments


  • 6 years ago

    xMenace

    The problem children: I don't really care if a person goes on vacation during a private game. It's the tournaments that are really impacted. And it's not just the vacation abusers, it's also the idiot Spartans who feel they need to play to mate in every game. Again that's fine for a match, but it's abuse when it delays a tournament.

    Legitimate Vacation Needs: There are obvious requirements for vacations. I travel for two weeks. There's a death in the family. I get hit by a bus and am hospitalized. In summary there are needs that users know about and needs they do not know about. People should not be penalized for legitimate vacation needs.

    Discourage vacation except for real vacations: As much as possible, techniques should be used to discourage abuse rather than to try and punish abusers. There's no winners when an admin has to click a "banned" button or some other nasty.

    The limiting of vacation time is a great discourager. I've see Platinum players abusing vacation because they can. 90 days time is outlandish. If you dropped it to 30ish max, then they'd have to think before they used it. They'd have to think before they started 150 games they have no hope of keeping up with.

    Another way to discourage abuse is to charge a user a full week (5 days) minimum whenever vacation is triggerred. Make it costly! And don't give extensions!

     

    If you want to protect the enexpected, allow two one-week grace vacations for paid members. If they are not used, $2 off next years' fee.

    Adjudications? If you want to keep tournaments moving, you have to allow adjudications. The details of doing this also require thinking, but there's just too much holding on to lost positions. It really detracts from the site. You should be able to find many volunteers to help do this. One common idea I've read is have a comittee of three assigned to each tourney, at least the big ones. For small tourneys, a qualified non-participating TD should be able to handle it having appeals only go to a standing comittee.

  • 6 years ago

    lukeyboy_xx

    with the gold stars will we have extra vacation if needed

  • 6 years ago

    darius

    Erik

     

    I would give 5 days vacation to all members,extra to paying members is a thought, and each month a member does not use vacation gives one extra vacation day to a maximum for all of 15 or perhaps 20. If more than that is needed it should be at the discretion of the opponent; that is, one player can request an adjournment, and if the other player is enjoying the game and does not want to win by default, then he can allow it, but if he does not feel like waiting he can deny it. Each game is entered into in good faith that each player will move in a timely manner, with a maximum time agreed upon prior to starting the game; I think some part of the allowance of a delay ought to be in the hands of the person inconvenienced.  Players can make max times of 7 or 14 days, that's up to them.

     

    As far as tournaments, I would allow a maximum of 3 vacation day use in a tournament with any further delay at the discretion of the opponent of the player who is asking for the delay; that is if the opponent does not feel like waiting in a tournament, and the 3 vacation days are used up--no adjournment--but if the opponent says okay, I'll wait three days, then an adjournment is allowed.

     

    Just my two cents but either way, even in its present form, I don't think it's that big of a deal whether it's forty, twenty, or whatever

  • 6 years ago

    catholicbatman

    I think 40 days is plent enough, people just need to spend it wisely. An easy way to solve this I have found is to play longer moving games, like 7 days. That way if you can't get on for like 5 days for some unforseen reason, you still are good. Just keep on working hard. I'm sure you'll get it figured out :)

  • 6 years ago

    firestare500

    i think you should give new members 10 days of membership to start off with. Then everyday or other day give them one more day of vacation but with a cap.

    the cap should become higher for every month they play,  but should reach its max around 40-50 days of vacation. paying members should have a max of about 60 days, and shold gain more time faster.

  • 6 years ago

    Hammers

    no vacation unless gold membership or above, it is normally non paqying or small paying members who abuse the system' also put a cap on the number of games people can play, its not to bad ruining a couple of tournaments,but when u ruin 150 plus like a couple of people have that is a big problem

  • 6 years ago

    spraveen2

    If a player goes on vacation or adjourns a game for a while, let us have an option to fix up the date when the player will be back. If the player is not back by the specified date (may be after 1 day grace time), we shall declare the game as timed out.

    Out of the existing days of vacation, let the player set the maximum vacation time (say to about 1 week) that can be availed at any point. This will ensure that any game or tournament can get delayed maximum by a week when one player goes on a vacation.

    Overall, you are doing a wonderful job. Hats off to the chess.com team. Out of all the Chess sites that I have seen, this is THE MOST AMAZING.

    Best wishes.

  • 6 years ago

    hptchess

    Eric,

    Never had a signifiant problem with vacations personally.  A couple people may have tried to gain an advantage using vacation: never bothered me: never played with them again: not in my friends list.  I realize that vacations could use some adjustment.  The ideas mentioned seem good.  Fix it and let's play chess.  Chess is the purpose, vacations are a distraction. 

    Many of the people who have problems with vacations and complain the loudest will still find something wrong after you fix the current complaint: the need to complain is not related to the problem but to the person complaining in many cases.   Nothing is perfect.  Nothing is tamper proof.  Nothing complaint proof.  Make the needed adjustments and go play some chess.

  • 6 years ago

    pdmura

    Here is an alternative for your consideration:  "Adjournments".

    Is “vacation” the correct metaphor?  The proposed model is based on the idea of accruing time to be “taken”.  Another idea is to call it an “adjournment” and when taken, the player specifies when they will make their next move.  

    Mis-Managed Time:   If the adjourned player does not make the next move by their deadline, they forfeit.   The adjournment could be based on the time control per move (say no longer than 100% of the agreed to time control). Another idea is that the adjournment be negotiated by the players (I accept that you need 14 days to visit Tahiti, or I do not accept your request to adjourn). There is potential for abuse of denying adjournments but I think this is at least partially addressed below.

    It seems that tournaments could tighten the use of adjournments, after all, to agree to be in a tournament is making a commitment to the other participants to play your games with integrity.  Perhaps allow one per game.

    Abuse:  Record the number of adjournments a player uses as well as grants and denies as a player property.  Then I can see if I want to accept a challenge from this person, or restrict participation in tournaments to some number of adjournments.   This suggests to me that the adjournment count should reset periodically. 

    Not Enough:  Don’t limit the number of adjournments.  They will accumulate and as players label themselves as potential “adjournment abusers”, they will naturally get fewer games.

    Food for thought!  :)

  • 6 years ago

    muzza2

    I like the idea of people who have been on the site for longer gaining vacation time, if it was set with a starting number when a player registers and a maximum number of days that you can reach I think it would definitely help.  It would as you say cut the new members who start a few games get bored and press vacation and delay tournaments for ages.  If you didn't have a maximum it would of course get out of hand if one of the more experienced members went on vacation and then never returned to make any moves for some unforeseen circumstances.

     

    All in all good idea I think most would agree with that.

  • 6 years ago

    freezenyr

    Erik; there's no perfect solution but I agree with all of your ideas.  one more thought: if someone uses all their vacation time and they ask for more, the answer has to be "sorry, no."  we are alloted 40 days and a certain number, depending on the person's situation, should not be touched in anticipation of possible emergencies.  It's the same thing at my job.  why would I use all my vacation time knowing I might need/want some later ? as always, my thanks to you and your staff for addressing a problem and searching for solutions. 

  • 6 years ago

    ADK

    I think it's a good idea...

    BUT can we still keep the: Reset Vacation Time every Janruary Feature.

    Other than that I'm HAPPY with the "Vacation Time" on chess.com.

    ADK 

  • 6 years ago

    MarkForbes

    Erik, as I once said, one of the greatest things about this site is the chance we users have to give feedback and constructive criticism.

    So here are my observations:

    It would seem to me that 40 days per year should be more than enough vacation time for anyone, no matter what the circumstances.  Anyone wanting more than this should keep in mind that there are over 20,000 people on the site, and after all, most of us are here to Play Chess, not to take extended leaves of absence from the site.  And as someone here correctly pointed out, if I need more than 40 days' vacation from the site, I theoretically should have enough free time on my hands to log on and make my moves.

    That said, and keeping in mind that this is correspondence chess after all, my opinion is:

    - Vacation time in general should apply only to normal games (non-tournament games).  I like the idea of players being able to accrue vacation days as time goes by, whether they are new players or chess.com veterans--like you said, one day's vacation for every week of "gameplay/membership"; a cap should definitely apply, and should vary according to each person's membership level, but 40 days should be the absolute max.  I wouldn't complicate things by offering "additional paid vacation time"; if you want more vacation, then upgrade your account! :)  As an example, if I'm a new player at the site, I could start out with 5 days' vacation time; every week that goes by adds on 1 more day.  If I reach 10 days' vacation, then consume 7 of them, I'll fall back to 3; after another week of play I'll climb back up to 4 and so on... up to the max my membership allows me.

    - On the other hand, I would handle vacation time on tournament games differently: to begin with, I'd label it differently, call it a "Time Bank" (for example), and I'd give each Tournament Director the prerrogative in establishing the amount of time available in the Time Bank for each tournament, from a minimum of 5 days to a maximum of 40 days, in which the "5 day minimum" would be a consideration for unforeseen emergencies.  Unlike "Vacation time", the Time Bank wouldn't accrue days as time goes by, which would considerably shorten those "neverending tourneys."  We should all remember that joining tournaments is completely optional; if I don't like the characteristics of a certain tournament (including its vacation time), then I shouldn't join it--I should join a different one, or create one of my own.

    Handling tournament games in this fashion should have the following results:

    • Players ought to choose a bit more carefully which tournaments they'll participate in, or risk losing games due to insufficient time banks.
    • Players who like lots of "vacation time" will be able to participate in tournaments with large Time Banks, whereas others (like me) who are exasperated by enless stalling, will play in tournaments with smaller Time Banks.
    • Therefore, "Abuse" should tend to disappear altogether... In normal games, if you suspect someone of delaying their games using Vacation time, you can simply choose never to play against that person again (unless the person legitimately was on vacation and was courteous enough to let you know).  And in tournament games, "you made your bed, so sleep in it" (if you accepted a smaller Time Bank, and you lost games because it turned out to be insufficient... too bad; and if you preferred a larger Time Bank, then you shouldn't complain if someone seems to be using it up).

    I hope these observations are helpful to you, Erik!  And congratulations on a great site!

  • 6 years ago

    Marshal_Dillon

    Think, people! 40 days is already almost 7 weeks of vacation time. How many people realistically need more than this per year? I have never even  known anyone in my entire life who ever got more than 3-4 weeks. 40 days is more than enough for anybody, paid or not. Increasing vacation time for paid members is only going to lead to more vacation abuse, not less.

  • 6 years ago

    osd1

     I'm sorry I'm of no help. I just resign my games if I'm not going to be back for an extended period of time. However, I do think that your ideas are good for those that care about that sort of thing.

  • 6 years ago

    londonplayer

    Erik

    You have come up with some great suggestions and I do applude the vacation time building up to a max. However having said that each member should start with a minimun of lets say 5 days and each month you stay on the site you get (2) days added providing you have actively logged on x times in that month. ( i know this will be a programers nightmare)

    Paying members as you say have already made a commitment so would start with a higher number of vacation days depending on their commitment to you. Suggest 10 days for silver, 15 for gold and so on to the max.

    I cant see how no vacation rule can ever be applied. I dont have a crystal ball that tells me what I am going to do in the next 2 mths in a torney. Even without Vacations a torney game could last 120 days assuming 40 moves.

    I think the one thing we are all agreed is the current vacation ruling needs to be changed to stop abuse or time wasters. I am in torney at the momnet and it was a small torney with just 5 players which started in May and is being held up by one player who has 5 games left and will use up his vacation in 2 days.

    Thanks you for a great website .

  • 6 years ago

    Eventhorizon

    Sensible ideas, at least some of them should be implemented... Cool

  • 6 years ago

    zlhflans

    all the suggestions seem fair.  something for tournaments though. start a seperate round for members on vacation. this way instead of slowing or stopping the tourny, the vacation winner can...... i'm not sure, advance somehow or earn a playoff.     new members starting with less time is very good i think.

  • 6 years ago

    Joetheevilchesplayer

    Ok here’s my idea, you start out with a certain amount of vacation time, and the more active you are the more vacation time you get. So if you play like 20 games you get you get like 30 minutes or something (with a time cap). Second  idea, you can forfeit a certain amount of games without it effecting your record. To keep people from abusing this you can’t play or maybe even login for a certain amount of time, and it uses some vacation time.


    -joetheevilchesplayer

  • 6 years ago

    IPA-Ray

    3 days vacation is too short for new members. It might keep people from joining and playing if they are going to forfeit most of their games due to a scheduled vacation. Two weeks should be a reasonable minimum. What I don't get is why people can't find the internet on vacation to maintain play. I was in the Rockies for a week and didn't take a vacation day or time out on a game. I don't have have a problem going away for long weekends because I don't play in games with less than 3 days per move.

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