Segment Leaderboards

This is the post for all feedback and feature requests related to Segment Leaderboards.

 

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  • I've been seeing emails ever since I first posted here. It's time to register a new opinion ...
    --> Strava the company should develop leader boards version 2.0. Test it for a while, then announce a changeover date.

    A version 2.0 concept:

    1) Players opt into the leaderboard 'game' - calling it what it is. Sure, let users know this feature exists, but then people take action to join the game. I suspect many users are like me, and aren't interested. Those who do are accepting the rules. It's an opt in, not an opt out, and not a no option (the version 1.0 approach). That change alone I suspect would cut much of the noise out of this game. 

    2) An expanded activity file format, or scheme of files, with digital signatures. The platform which records the activity signs the data with a private key which is tied to a combination of the recording application and the user. So the server side can look at the data and say: this was actually recorded by John Smith with Strava's Android app. This one was recorded by Jane Doe on a Garmin model X. No completely fake data. Let the old applications and file format still work, the content just can't reach to the new leaderboards. With the next firmware update on the platform, it becomes available. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_signature

    3) Capture the accuracy of the GPS data, in addition to lat, long, and altitude. A Google search for the Android API suggests that accuracy can be fetched from the GPS hardware. Set some minimum standard for the recording quality. Every game has its rules like how many stitches are on a regulation baseball. Let this game have some too.

    4) Some algorithm like ... if the result is very high on leaderboard and more than 10% faster than the athlete ever ran it before, prompt the player to positively affirm the validity - that they were not accidentally recording in a car, or recording a bike ride as run. They were not on e-bike.

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  • Jason Lamoreaux

    Hi Jason - I appreciate your recent comments.  Clearly I can only comment on my own Strava user experience which I accept could be quite different to that of others.  I live at the edge of a town in the North of England, a few miles from the sea.  There are quite a few old rail lines that have been converted to cycle paths.  Hence I can start an Activity from my house and easily ride on country lanes, explore urban areas or ride to the coast.  This is enough to keep me interested.

    I use the VeloViewer companion program to Strava (veloviewer.com) - this gives a lot more options for analysing performance data and, for example, downloading it to a spreadsheet (there's a small annual fee but it's well worth it).  VeloViewer shows I have done about 900 bike rides in the last 4 years (4 per week) and attempted about 5400 Segments (excluding the 300 I have hidden due to duplication or being badly created).  92% of the Segments I have done are within 10 miles of my house.

    Each week VeloViewer scans all my old Activities for any new Segments - I can then decide if I should hide them or add them to my "to do" list.  Recently there have only been 2 or 3 new Segments per month, perhaps suggesting that the area is saturated and every road and path is already part of a Segment.  Hence proliferation of poor Segments is not a problem.

    Each week Veloviewer also checks all the Segments I have attempted and reports any changes in my position on the leaderboard.  This then gives targets, for example, to try to get back a KOM (I find I only get notifications from Strava for about 60% of the KOMs I lose).

    Veloviewer also allows me to sort Segments based on their KOM speed - this is useful to highlight bad GPS data or use of a vehicle.  There are usually only a couple of outliers and they tend to be very recent Activities - I therefore conclude that other people are doing a good job of keeping the leaderboard reasonably clean.

    Overall I'm very satisfied with my Strava user experience (as augmented by VeloViewer), with the exception of the recent increase in the minimum length of a bike Segment from 300m to 500m, but that's another story 🤨

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  • Ian Barton, Jason Lamoreaux

    There is definitely an issue with poorly made segments and I really don't think it is an insurmountable problem to appoint some local moderators based on various criteria. I would see this as a group of people who would vote on matters rather than a single all powerful individual. Maybe the whole top 10 local legends just as an example, that would keep a bit more consistency and also spread the work around.

    I don't think there need be any alarm over removing segments. I would suggest that nothing is removed, but made private instead. Although I also really like Ian's idea about "validated" segments (or I might term them "community" segments).

    You could make these validated segments more special. These would be calculated first by Strava servers. You could say that you only get a XOM on these segments and others you get a 1st Trophy. Strava could apply more thorough checking on these segments for ebikes, vehicles, GPS errors, etc. Also the local moderators could apply a bit of human level checking on these.

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  • Ian Barton - I totally agree that each person's personal experience is going to be a little different and not everyone is looking for the same stuff out of a given application.  I do find it interesting, though, that you claim you are happy with Strava's product, but yet you still feel the need to pay extra money to a separate application to get what you want out of it.  If you are so happy with what Strava provides as-is, why do you need a separate program?  Some of us feel that when we see improvements or things we would like to get out of a program that don't currently exist, maybe that program can improve.  

    You also keep mentioning "new" segments, ones that have been created recently.  I'm not nearly as concerned about new ones (although it would be nice to send a note to someone if they create a poor one asking for them to consider tweaking it to fix a start/end point or use a better GPS file), as I am about the multitude of old segments that clutter the system from the last 10+ years.  You wouldn't need to have 300+ hidden segments if there was a mechanism to either fix or remove them.  Unfortunately, early on in the Strava evolution, a lot of people created segments that were suggested by Strava programming and those with little understanding of the program just went with it, resulting in tons of bad segments.  I can't begin to count the number of segments titled "unnamed road climb" or other similar generic name that means nothing and often isn't even on a road in the first place.  Strava has improved over the years, but that hasn't fixed what was already logged into the system previously.  Just like you want the results in segments cleaned up for erroneous activities, we want the segment database cleaned up for erroneous segments themselves.

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  • Alex Dimitriou

    Hi Alex - you suggested cutting the number of Strava Segments by at least 96% (from 32 million to less than 1 million).  Based on my experience, that would be excessive.  Here's the analysis of my last ride showing the Segments...

     

    The above certainly shows some Segment overlap, especially between miles 20 and 22, but I don't see any actual duplication (I don't think the overlap is anywhere more than 80%).  Maybe 1 or 2 of the Segments on this Activity could be removed but most seem just fine to me.

    How does this sort of Activity summary compare with what others see ?

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  • I doubt there are anywhere near that many segments that should be removed, but there are certainly a large number that should be edited.

    This is an example:

    I'm not saying this is typical but there are duplicates at several points.

    But really I'm less worried about overlap and more worried about the start and end points. One of those almost duplicates is because it turns onto a major junction and then carries on for 20 metres. I fear a lot of these are because users selected start and end points at max zoom.

    Also this would negate the need for the hazardous segments feature which has been abused as a means of removed perfectly valid segments on the say so of a single anonymous user. It is obviously so much better to report such segments to a panel of local riders who can actually fix the segment (if required).

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  • it seems to me that, since Strava can tell when we ride in a group/paceline, it should consider creating two categories of leaderboard efforts: 'group,' and 'solo.'   I'm not a leaderboard fanatic, but it is a bit disappointing to see my efforts ranked lower than people I know to be slower than I am, just because they achieved their times in chain gangs.  

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  • Dan Dan Monk - Strava can't tell if you are riding in a group or solo.  It isn't even remotely accurate.  At best, it can tell if you are in the general vicinity, but that is about it.  No way it can determine if you are in a paceline or working together in any way.  It is fairly common that I get back from rides and have Strava note that I "rode with" so and so, someone I don't recall even seeing or maybe just caught up to and passed at some point.  Even in races, it says I rode with a number of others when we were never even close to each other except for at the start line, often out of sight of each other.  I totally get the frustration of people getting faster segment times when they work in a group, but the reality is that Strava does not have any accurate way to determine that with their data analysis.  Heck, GPS positioning isn't accurate enough to determine that if it wanted.  The GPS is often off by 20' or more, so no way it is going to tell which one of you is drafting off the other.

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  • Jason Lamoreaux - I agree with your assessment of GPS accuracy in Strava. The inaccuracy of various GPS recording devices, combined with Strava not interpolating the segment start and end data points, means segment times can be off by several seconds. As far as Strava determining that someone was drafting behind someone else; it is simply not going to happen. The timestamp on the logged GPS data points is coming from the device’s internal clock, not from the GPS signal. Depending on when a device’s time was updated, there could be a difference of a couple of seconds. The leaderboards are good for a rough comparison of performance, but should be taken with a grain of salt.

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  • Jason Lamoreaux

    I totally agree with you that Strava can't tell, however it would be nice if people could tag their own rides as group rides.

    Either as a "type of ride" or as a "tag".

    Either way this requires honestly on the part of the rider, but what doesn't in Strava?

    Perhaps Strava could provide some incentives for riders to do this? Group achievements? Group map types? Group flyby feature?

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  • Jason, I think you’ve got the wrong Dan!

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  • We love the dialogue happening here, thanks for all the great suggestions and contributions, we'll definitely take all of this into consideration.

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  • Filtering segment results doesn't work. It just loads indefinitely for me. Btw all I did was select "This week".

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  • I see a big need for a "This ride was on the this segment" flagging option. 

    I ride several MTB trials/segments that run on embankments, with a tarmac road next to it (40-60 meter away). Road rides are often mistakenly marked as on those segment.

    The MTB trail has elevation changes, so it's very easy to see if a certain ride is on segment or not. Currently the only option to "clean" the leaderboard, is to flag the whole ride, but that don't seem fair, as there is nothing wrong with it. So there really need to be an option to flag it as not being on the segment. Makes sense to put it on the activity->overview with the segment open.   

     

    This is one example. The first 3 rides as of today, are on the road (Selinevej)

    https://www.strava.com/segments/28385808

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  • Jesper Nygaard 

    Thanks for your comment. Because our system allows for some small margin of error to account for GPS drift, if a segment runs parallel to another segment and the two are close enough together, it may not be possible for Strava to provide mutually exclusive results. This means that athletes riding or running on the road may match on the different segment, and vice versa. Unfortunately if the two paths are close enough together for this to be an issue, the only way to improve your chances for accurate matches is to move the segment endpoints further away if you're the segment creator. 

    You can read more about optimizing segment creation: How to Create Good Segments

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  • Soren - I think most of us understand the issue with GPS drift and the margin of error with regards to segments adjacent to other trails/roads.  That is exactly why many of us are requesting the option to flag individual segment efforts rather than entire rides.  We don't want to impact someone's entire ride that is perfectly legitimate just because they happened to fall within the margin of error for a nearby segment.  We want to just be able to flag the specific segment match that was in error.  Please pass that on to your developers.  It would significantly reduce the number of support requests you get or complaints you get from people who had whole rides flagged for no obvious reason (to them).  

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  • Jason Lamoreaux Jesper Nygaard we absolutely understand the reasoning behind this request and we hear your need for wanting to isolate a specific portion of an activity for flagging. The examples are much appreciated, too. I will gladly pass this on to our product team.

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  • Alternative segment tolerances/ margin of error for other Sports. 

    I might not be using the correct terminology here, but what i would like to see is an ability to make a useful segment for an alternative activity like outdoor swimming or kayaking. 

    Currently, you can make a segment, but it will hardly ever be picked up on a subsequent effort, because slight changes in conditions mean you never follow exactly the same line twice.  

    I imagine the GPS tolerance/margin of error for following a cycle or running route is maybe 10m or so.  I wonder if it would be a fairly easy system tweak to experiment with a wider tolerance for some other designated sports. Maybe 30m for kayaking?

    I think this would increase usage of the app in these alternative activities.

     

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  • I have seen lots of comments about such things as GPS tolerances and their impact on leaderboards.  One of the factors that significantly affects performance is wind speed and direction.  From my own experience I estimate that each 1 mph of wind speed affects speed by about 1% (does anyone have more informed research on the subject ?).  Hence with only a modest tailwind it's possible to significantly move up a leaderboard.

    In Track and Field athletics records are only accepted for relevant events if the wind speed is less than 2 m/s (about 4 mph).  Most (but not all) of my bike Activities show wind speed and direction as recorded by Strava so it would be possible to estimate the relevant wind component for each Segment.  Perhaps any performances on a leaderboard with wind assistance above some agreed threshold could be flagged as "wind assisted" with filters available to identify only performances without excessive wind assistance.

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  • Ian Barton - Strava is not measuring the wind speed that is impacting the rider/runner during their activity.  They are sourcing the weather conditions, including wind, from nearby weather stations.  As you are surely aware, wind speed can vary greatly from one spot to another, especially around buildings, trees, vehicles, etc...  There would be no realistic way for Strava to accurately deduce what wind speed/direction is actually occurring at any given instant where a rider/runner is at.  

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  • Wind is part of cycling, like it or not. So is rain, sleet, gravel on roads or fresh pavement, traffic and groups or pelotons. A global change to back out environmental conditions (heat saps performance too) is not realistic.

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  • Ian Barton

    You can already do this with https://mywindsock.com/ although you might need premium these days.

    They do it much better than a simple filter system as well.

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  • Where I live, there's a cyclist that appears twice in every segment he's in the top 10.  Exact same ride, date, time, etc.

    I've added comments to some of his workouts asking him to fix whatever needs to be fixed so he only appears once.  No change.

    I've flagged him in Strava support.  No change.

    If I'm the 10th fastest in a segment and he's there twice, I get pushed to 11th and do not appear in the top 10.  We're both in the top 10 in quite a few segments but I feel sorry for the 11th place guy that won't be seeing his name because of him.

    Anyone have any suggestions or comments?

     

     

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  • Johnny Mawer - when you say you "flagged him in Strava support", what exactly are you doing?  Are you flagging the athlete's profile or are you flagging the specific activity?  You most likely aren't going to get anywhere by flagging the profile.  What you need to do is flag the duplicate activity itself.  You can only do this from the web access to Strava (for some reason they don't have the flagging feature in the app yet).  Just open the activity, click the three dots and select "flag", then select "other" and explain that it is a duplicate file.  Maybe he will get the clue after a bunch of his duplicates are flagged and removed.  Otherwise, I have had success by opening a support ticket with Strava and explaining that this is an ongoing issue with a specific athlete and they have been able to take care of it by reaching out to them directly and potentially suspending the account.

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  • Johnny Mawer

    Yes, similar issues here. I've tried reporting the duplicate account, but Strava don't seem to care.

     

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  • Johnny Mawer I assume it is because he is recording his rides on 2 devices ? ie using his bike computer and the Strava app on his phone, or perhaps a sports watch ? So the activity gets recorded twice. If so then the only option I know of is to flag one of his activities. A couple of months ago I noticed someone with an incredible result in just a few days of a distance challenge, on looking at his rides I saw that he had used his Edge 830, his Forerunner watch and his phone app to get triple the distance total. So I flagged all his activities as duplicates.

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  • Jason Lamoreaux - I flagged one of his activities that shows the duplicate entry.  When I drill down I see the only listed device as a Garmin Edge 530 on both entries.

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  • Johnny Mawer - After seeing the other replies, I realized I misinterpreted what you said originally a bit.  Flagging the activities is still a good option to remove duplicate files from Strava just as a general practice, but it appears that what you are seeing in this case is someone with duplicate accounts altogether.  If it were just duplicate recordings for the same account like I had originally assumed (incorrectly), they would still show up just one time on the leaderboard since each account can only hold one spot on a leaderboard at a time.  Since you are seeing the person listed twice on each leaderboard with the same times, then what is likely happening is they have two separate Strava accounts and are uploading the same file to each of them every time.  This definitely requires a contact with Strava Support.  I would strongly suggest using the "submit a request" link at the bottom center of this page to submit a support request on the subject.  Strava technicians can go in and remove or restrict duplicate accounts.  

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