How to be a site guide

A Site Guide is an experienced SchemingMind user, who helps new members of the site learn the ropes at SchemingMind. The main activity of the Site Guide is playing Welcome Games - the first game that every new member will play. There is a small reward for playing those games; if the new player decides to pay for full membership, the person who played the Welcome Game against him gets two extra months of full membership.


1. How to start playing Welcome Games

There are special options in the ChallengePreferences window. Once you click the check-box I will act as a 'guide' for new players and save this preference, you start being considered as Welcome Game player. You can consider setting also the next option (Allow welcome games even if I am over my quota), if you do this, you will be considered even if it would mean playing more games, than your current Challenge Preferences allow.

Amount of received Welcome Games depends on the number of new users, their nationality (the system tries to assign guides who speak the language of new member) and the number of other Site Guides. Also, you are only considered, if you are active at the moment (currently this means playing at least 10 moves during the previous week) and experienced at the site (currently this means being a member for at least 3 months). See WelcomeGameAllocation if you are interested in details.

There is also another method of starting Welcome Game - if you invite some friend using My Games/Invite Friend option, you will play the Welcome Game against him, whether you are a Site Guide, or not.


2. Welcome Game characteristics

Welcome Games are games of normal chess, played with standard (30+1) clock.

New player is always playing white, while site guide is always having black. The reason for such allocation is that the new player has something to do when they first log on.

Welcome Games are rated (in particular, they help new player to start getting the rating), but they do not impact site guide rating too much (new player has very high RD, see page about rating for details).


3. What are Welcome Games for

There are two main purposes of the Welcome Games:

  • attract the new member, so he stays on the site and becomes a regular visitor,
  • help him to discover interesting site features.

Of course, they are also just games of chess, hopefully interesting for both players.


4. How to lead welcome game

Below some detailed suggestions for site guides.

  1. Try to start the game promptly, and play at least a few initial moves quickly. There are a lot of players who join the site, make one move, wait a short time, and leave (this is especially true for players who have online play experience). Some of them might stay if the game started immediately after they appeared. Even if this is not the case, for some time the welcome game is the only game new members play, so if you stop moving, he or she has nothing to do.

Try and have a bit of a conversation with the new member. If you give him the correct impression of the friendly atmosphere at SchemingMind, he is also more likely to keep playing the first game. If your opponent does not reply, explain him how to conduct in-game chatting. If he still prefers to be silent, let him to do so, but nevertheless give him a few suggestions regarding the site usage. Use new member native language, if possible. A good conversation opener might be something as simple as this: "Welcome to SchemingMind! If you have any questions about how the site works, I'll be happy to help. Hope you enjoy it here."

  1. Try to get the feeling, whether the new member is familiar with idea of correspondence chess. If not, explain him basic concepts and refer him to the docs (we hope to create some content useful for this purpose on this wiki).

If the new member passed second day test (returned to the site a day or two after registering, to play the next move), suggest to him starting some more games, to give him more enjoyment (and explain him shortly how to do it). Of course before making this suggestion check his profile, it can happen that he discovered such option himself.

If the new member keeps playing for a few more days, suggest him joining the tournament. Point him to the correct menu (Community/Find Mini-Tournaments, Standard Chess Tournaments I can join). Before making this suggestion verify, whether there are open tournaments available for new members, if not, create one yourself, or signal the need on the Mini-Tournaments forum.

As the game progresses, consider suggesting to the new user different site functions. Mention variant games, pyramids, teams, forum, and the game explorer. Give suggestions slowly, one by one, so the new user is not overloaded and has a chance to absorb the knowledge given to him. If the new player is curious about variants, you might offer to play a game with him and introduce him to the concepts as you go along.

  1. Take some care of the new member. See whether he managed to start other games, join tournaments, etc - and if not, ask him whether he needs additional help. Check whether he has any problems in other games (say, timed-out opponent), and explain how to resolve them. Contact an admin on his behalf if he needs some help (one recurring example is new member accidentally joining variant tournament, and losing the right to play normal tournament, it is usually possible to ask for giving him this right back).

Of course you are not required to do all of this in every welcome game. Try to adapt to the situation, you will behave differently while meeting active and interested user, who follows your suggestions, and differently while playing somebody who seems to ignore you.


5. General suggestions

  1. Be polite, kind and patient.
  2. Assume that the new member is computer-disabled, unless proven otherwise.
  3. Do not assume the new member speaks English well, unless proven otherwise.
  4. Read the FAQ, know what kind of docs are available on wiki, ask on the forum if you are not sure how to respond to some question.
  5. Try to treat the new user as you would treat somebody, whom you personally invited.


6. A word of warning

A significant number of Welcome Games (sometimes the majority) are never finished. There are (in order of likeliness) games against:

  • people who join, start the game, and leave the site forever,
  • players who start the games seriously, but lose interest after few days or weeks,
  • players who stay, but leave after one game,

We hope that applying advice presented here would turn at least part of them to the preferred category - people, who stay for good. Nevertheless you are likely to meet such problems.

Do not be discouraged! Even if you had to abort your first few Welcome Games, don't despair. You helped protect the site community. If you hadn't played those Welcome Games, problematic player might have started a few challenges, maybe tournament games, and thus spoiled the experience of other site users.


7. I do not get Welcome Games

If you enabled I will act as a 'guide' for new players setting, but do not get any welcome games for some time (like a month), check your Challenge Preferences.

Take a look at the Maximum Games dropdown on the top of the screen and at the Time Controls setting page down. One of the two: either you have Maximum Games set to something low (lower than the count of your running games), or you do not accept Standard clock. Or both.

The former may be overwritten deeper in this screen by marking checkbox Allow welcome games even if I am over my quota.

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