I’m coming up on an annual CS renewal, and while I’ve valued my paid membership to-date, I’m struggling with deciding to renew after seeing something this morning. Streets in my local community are being progressed by someone who lives a good six timezones east of here. While I have to leave room for him coming home occasionally for work or family, there’s other data points to suggest that’s not what’s happening. Taken in conjunction with his Garmin, Strava, and CS profiles marked ‘private’ so we can’t see the actual original runs, it seems almost certain to me that he’s cheating the CS system and therefore all other CS users.
Does anyone else find the various gaming tactics discouraging to the degree that CS isn’t worth paying for?
Are there any coherent suggestions for constraints that could be imposed to detect illogical run uploads (e.g. no run start greater than 1000 miles away from prior run within 48 hours?). I recognize my idea would penalize business travelers, but still leave room for gamers to continue cheating anyway, but there would have to be a trade space associated with attacking this problem.
Not sure anything can be done about cheaters at the end of the day, but I’m finding it difficult to be motivated to compete at (and pay for) something I’m almost guaranteed can’t be won. I recognize I could re-frame my goal to simply be 100% of each city independent of other Striders’ progress, but that loses some of the charm I originally found with CS.
I’m always confused as to what people mean by cheating in the context of CityStrides. There’s no prizes, nothing to win except a ranking and self-satisfaction. If the user is private then they aren’t even appearing on the leaderboard! I don’t mean you’re wrong to be frustrated, we all want to be in first, but Occam’s Razor suggests that people probably aren’t making dubious activities to finish streets.
As far as paying membership, I view the benefits as having access to features that make the platform more useful for my own personal enjoyment, ie, Node Hunter and Route Builder. In addition to supporting the one-man show behind it all! And since he has limited bandwidth to address all our suggestions and complaints, I’d much rather him focus on continuous improvements to processing and functionality than worrying about policing the activity of users who, again, are not actually gaining anything materially even if they are manipulating their activities.
In sum, I think we’d all be happier if we focus on our own personal goals of finishing our cities and exploring more new terrain. But if prizes of some sort are ever introduced, throw out everything I said
I totally agree with what Kevin wrote.
The completion percentage and leaderdord rank is nice and all, but for me it’s the lines on the LifeMap that counts, so my map is public I love showing of my map. Best part is people seeing it and shake their head and ask “But why?”. They will never understand
The data looks valid. The account is set to “Per Activity” with none of the activities being public, so I can’t go to go into the details.
This doesn’t seem to really be a problem, especially compared to things much more visible like the issue of people accidentally not saving their tracked activity before driving home (leaving a long straight GPS track from the end of the activity to the point that they get home and save it) or people tracking intercontinental flights as ‘walks’. Those are real problems.
This confuses me - none of the paid features have anything to do with the lists of people throughout the site. So far, all paid features are very personal in nature - all geared towards helping the individual complete every street.
I find it interesting that you have other people’s achievements so wrapped into the worth of your own achievements. Your progress is great and should be celebrated without regard for anyone else’s progress.
This is also interestingly tied to First, second, third, etc. city completion badge in the same way that I disagree with that idea … Whoever is “first” to complete the city in CityStrides today is not necessarily the first person to complete the city next week/month/year. You can complete your city tomorrow, and someone can join the day after with data from 2010 that fully completes the city - you’re not “first” after that.
I understand and can appreciate chasing your city’s leaderboard, but the goal isn’t to have a higher number of completed streets than someone else, the goal is to complete all the streets. If we all complete all the streets in our town, we all end up in 1st.
I understand how many Striders might derive their enjoyment from accumulating nodes independent of other Striders’ accumulations, and how that could have value to them. I too get satisfaction from adding a new city and progressing toward 100% of a city. I also understand how Striders like yourself and @hjkiddk choose to define your success by progress ‘against the map’.
I, in contrast, also look at the per-city leaderboard(s) and derive enjoyment by overtaking the Striders above me on the board. I further enjoy [appearing to] being the first person to achieve 100% of a city (I can tune out the reality that someone else might have done it first but hasn’t yet uploaded their runs). The mere existence of such leaderboards and notion of “1st place” cries out for a competition to gain rank. It unfortunately also creates a motivation to game the system. I cringe at the thought of what might be happening on the overall leaderboard where total number of streets alone looks suspicious to me.
Seeing the topic from your guys point-of-view, i.e. “Strider vs. Map” or “Strider vs. City” certainly explains to me why there’s value left in CS even in the face of cheating the leaderboards.
@hjkiddk - Count me as one who understands what the “But why?” people cannot.
@JamesChevalier - I’m not sure how you can tell the data is valid if you can’t see the details. My suspicion is the individual is grabbing other people’s actual GPX files from Strava and loading them into a [bogus?] Strava or Garmin account that then feeds CS. [The individual in question does appear to have more than one Strava account, adding to the intrigue]. I’m having trouble visualizing what you as an administrator might be able to see in the database that would be blocked from all other Striders, but the timestamp and the longitude of the first GPS point of each run would be everything necessary to identify this kind of occurrence (of course timestamp and latitude catches a different subset of the same idea).
My view through the website is just like everyone else’s. I also have access to the database, though, so I can see the isolated data that I query for. My database GUI lets me hover over geographical data & it will display the shape over a white background. So, I have no idea where that shape is in the world (without a bunch more querying, which I don’t have time for unless there’s a bug I need to fix) but I can see whether or not it looks ‘natural’ e.g. doesn’t have perfectly hard lines/corners and does have some ‘wobble’ to it that’s typical of GPS recorded tracks.
Yeah, and since I can also see all activity timestamps I also get a view into when progress was made. So far it all lines up as legit.
I do suspect that I’m not looking at the right person, though, because you’re noting things that don’t exist for them. I’d be happy to take a look at the account you’re calling into question if you’d like to private message me by clicking my avatar and then the “message” button. I’d prefer not to share this person’s identity publicly, so if you can profile links with me privately I can poke around.
That is very interesting. I guess it is possible. Perhaps there’s a “dark web” for GPX file sharing?
That being said, while I do find other people’s stats, interesting, like the 98+ percentile, I do CS for me, and what others do, does not bother me at all. Not even the people that only go for nodes, not miles.