Simplify privacy settings

A while back, I set up some New Privacy Settings … I’m happy with that change of providing more privacy control within CityStrides, but I don’t like that I kept the existing multi-choice privacy settings.

The privacy settings are split into three areas:

  • Activity Privacy: This applies to whether anyone will see any of your activities at all.
  • Location Privacy: This applies to maps, completed/progressed streets, running cities, and the leaderboard.
  • City Privacy: This is for City / Street / Leaderboard listings. This applies to being present in City pages/lists, and sharing your list of Cities.

There are three options for the Activity/Location privacy setting (City privacy is either public or private):

I’m perfectly happy with the Everyone/Friends/Just Me/Per Activity choices. :+1:

I want to condense the three areas (Activity Privacy, Location Privacy, City Privacy) into one “Privacy” setting. If a user is not marked as “Privacy = Everyone”, then nothing about that user would be visible anywhere in the site.

Please vote if you agree.
If you have any thoughts or opinions, please share them here.
:running_man: :running_woman:

I’m all for people being able to choose their privacy levels and I think removing the 3 areas makes sense as you outline above. My question would be, if people make their account totally private, should they be listed on the leaderboards for each city?

I guess I am unsure exactly what a “vote” would be supporting.

I THINK your proposal is:

Layer 1: Account is Everyone, Friends or No One
Layer 2: If account is public, individual activities can be Everyone, Friends, No One

How would the friends or No One privacy level affect leader board? Challenges when they go live?

I’ve updated the original post in an attempt to clarify.

I definitely have to figure out how the “Per Activity” setting works in the new scenario I’m describing. :thinking: It may be that the privacy settings are user-based, with the automatic allowance of hiding specific activities from the site (making the ‘per activity’ option redundant).

If a person chose “Just Me” then they would not appear on any city pages, leaderboards, or Challenges.


Alright, I just released this change.

There’s now a single “Privacy” setting, with the options of Everyone, Friends, Just Me, Per Activity.

The “Per Activity” option is effectively “Just Me” for most scenarios right now. I think I can swap that around if there are complaints, but this seemed like the safer way to set things up.

// @matts @jpbari

I think a lot of people really don’t care, understand or know about the privacy settings.

Have seen a lot of new striders in my cities not sharing lifemap and activities, but if you go to thier Strava page, you can see their runs.

I’ve regularly seen people share their lifemap/activity not realizing they are the only ones that can see it.

With the new change a lot of people are gone from the cities.
The leaderboard now loads in just 5 seconds, used to be like 20 seconds

Personally i’ve never understood the whole prvacy thing. I think it all started with the soldiers sharing thier runs from military bases. Not good, but why a boring average Joe needs to hide his runs in the burbs i don’t get.

I think all profiles should be public as default and privacy should be something you choose.

In know that’s probably not a popular opinion, so perhaps some sort of topborder on their profile page warning them that their privacy settings exclude them from participating in the city leaderboard.

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This is a wildly nuanced topic, where a lot of aspects of it deeply affect people. I want to be thorough in my reply, because of how important this topic is. We might disagree a lot here :point_down: but I think it’ll work out as long as CityStrides is built in a way that it doesn’t exclude any one. You (and others) sharing your perspectives/opinions helps me accomplish that. :smiley:

There are a lot of people who definitely care a great deal about privacy settings.
I’d agree that the previous activity/location/city privacy settings were difficult to understand - I’m really happy with the move towards a single privacy setting for this reason.
It’s possible that people who have been around for a while weren’t given the same ‘welcome’ flow. New signups all go through a three page flow where I (try to) explain how things work and present all the site settings. The link that starts that is if you want to check it out.

One interesting reaction I’ve seen is that people are put off by a public LifeMap. They’re generally ok with sharing each individual activity, but get uneasy about sharing them all at once in one screen.

Oh, that’s interesting - I haven’t seen that happen yet.

Yeah, I had noticed some weird privacy setups - people who would not share their activities but would share their location. This probably touches on your earlier point about people not understanding the privacy settings. Part of my effort in this move was to correct that - when I decreased the number of privacy options, I move all accounts to the most private of their three settings. It seemed the most responsible thing to do.

There are a lot of reasons for someone to keep their activities private. The military base issue comes very late in the conversation of privacy. Those of us who can safely be public about our activities should be thankful that we can.

No. I’m on the “privacy is a right” side of this conversation. It’s why I try to limit my use of third party services as much as I can (and list them all in the Privacy page).
I’ve also received too many complaints and seen too many people leave CityStrides due to privacy issues to go this route. CityStrides defaults to private, and provides the option to be public.
While I understand that I could go the route of saying “CityStrides is a public endeavor, so do not join if you do not want to do so publicly”, I don’t think that there’s anything about CityStrides that inherently requires public sharing of anything in order to get the benefit out of it.

While I don’t agree with the underlying tone/messaging of “warning” a person that their account is private, I am interested in the idea of making this setting more visible throughout the site. Perhaps some kind of small open/closed eye icon, with text that appears on hovering over it which explains the privacy setting & links out to the Settings page. :+1:

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Not trying to rock the boat :smile:
Just noticed the change right away when looking at a city page. There used to be more than 10 striders in the city. Now there is just 3.

I think most people just see the next button :slightly_smiling_face:
If you set the default to “everyone” in the dropdown, i would guess very few would change it to “just me”.
Perhaps a list of choices where you would have to actively tick a the box of your choice before you could advance in the setup process ?

How about every time someone ask you a question in foum and you tell them you can’t help them because thier lifemap is set to private ? :wink:
Also seen people “sharing” their map on reddit and twitter.

No no, I get it. It’s also tough because you haven’t had the years of experience in handling questions that I’ve had - which is a huge factor in how I decide these things.

Possibly, but neither of us know that for sure.

I’ve had first hand experience with the opposite. Early on in the life of CityStrides, I just carried along whatever privacy settings were in your run tracking service. I had a fair amount of people angrily email me about how surprised they were to have “everything public” and demand their account be deleted. I got sick of explaining the privacy settings, and gave people the option to override them during the welcome flow and in the settings page - now I don’t get those angry emails.

I’m not sure how different that is from the ‘next’ buttons. Just because someone clicks a check box or the next button doesn’t mean they read what’s next to it. :man_shrugging:

I’m not convinced that those people in the forum think they’re public. I’ve had a number of those people message me privately that they thought I had some kind of “admin view” that circumvented privacy (I don’t).
I haven’t seen those people on Twitter, and I keep a close eye on the word “CityStrides”. I don’t watch Reddit at all. :flushed: :grimacing:

I appreciate you taking the “privacy-first” option, I think it’s definitely better to have this as default than everything open. One thing that comes to mind is that the majority of striders interact with the forum only when something doesn’t work, and these people will not see the announcement. Maybe a change like this, where folks need/should take action to set their preferences, could be communicated more forcefully? Perhaps via an email, or even better with a banner over the actual CS site for the next 5 visits (maybe like the “OK, synching now” overlay) so that the change gets noticed by everyone.

I know that the whole purpose of the change was to simplify the privacy settings, so I hope you don’t mind me bringing a further option into play :grimacing:. I think city leaderboards should not be subject to privacy considerations at all. There is no detailed geographic or temporal information attached to that data, it’s almost the same privacy tier as being listed among the users. If I’m the 73rd person to reach 100% I don’t want to be going around bragging about being first just because I didn’t know about the others…

Edit: maybe striders who don’t want to be shown can just be “mystery striders”, for me it doesn’t really matter who it is, just how far they are along.

I think defaulting people to the most private of settings is the way to go. People can then choose to open their privacy to everyone if they wish. For some people privacy is a huge thing so I think keeping their lifemap to themselves is all good. If they are really into the privacy thing then removing them as ‘striders’ from a city page is the right move as well IMO as they probably won’t want to show what city they run in or where they have been. But I could be wrong on this and am open to hearing what others think about that.

To further what just one more street said, maybe put a banner at the top of the home page for each user explaining they should check their privacy to see if its set to what they want?


First of all thanks for creating and maintaining CityStrides, it’s been so much fun running roads again with a reason where I used to resort to treadmill during the darker months coz trailrunning in the woods was pointless without the views.

I understand why the default privacy settings should be like this last change to protect people from themselves, but can the leaderboard percentages be defaulted to public?
They’re almost empty now in my region, it took away the competitive aspect :scream: :sweat_smile:


I was surprised when looking at my account that I had disappeared from the city leaderboards, as did all of my friends who I know are striders in my area.

When I checked my account, it was set to “per activity”

To be honest, I do not know what my account was set to prior to the change.

Perhaps this is a big enough change to the way things operate that an email blast informing all registered members of the change, what each of the new categories mean, and a quick blurb about how to adjust it if you would like.

This is fixed now so that the “Per Activity” definition more accurately changes to:
You’ll appear in all lists/leaderboards/etc, but each activity will have its own public/private setting which defaults to the setting in your activity tracking service

:thinking: I might be able to further simplify this definition to “You’ll appear in all lists/leaderboards/etc, but be able to hide individual activities if needed”

Prior to this simplification, there was a privacy setting for “location” and another privacy setting for “city”. At the time of building out that setup, my thought process was “your location settings may be Per Activity, but you may want to be shown in lists, so let’s add an option to allow that” but now - upon reviewing this setup last night - I could not determine a reason to hide yourself from the city page, but show your maps.