Today we welcome a generous guest post from Kiwi, Darryn Gordon about the trials and tribulations of Strava and their system of self-validation.
The article came about from a Facebook post on our page, which discussed some of the recent allegations of athletes, gaming the Strava system. One comment from Darryn particularly caught my eye, as the real underlying story is not about the athletes, but the reputation and rating system that Strava uses.
It’s of particular interest to me right now in another field of work that looks at ‘disruptive’ businesses and their ability to harness communities to effectively validate their business model through reputation rankings. These business models can be incredibly risky, yet also highly rewarding and so it’s particularly interesting to note what Strava’s role is here. Should they police the system, or should they focus on what they do best, which is to provide innovative ways for us, the consumer of the product to play around with and enjoy.
There’s no right or wrong answer here, but for Strava to survive, it needs a delicate balance of both, but a majority focus on what it does best, which I’ll let Darryn ably discuss!
In the wake of the Thorfinn Sassquatch controversy, tensions are simmering about Strava’s role in regulating the performances of elite athletes and weekend warriors alike. They shouldn’t be.
I challenge anyone to argue that performance-enhancing drugs aren’t a blight on modern-day sport. Punishments should be severe. Athletes should feel the wrath of their sporting body, fellow competitors and fans alike. But not Strava.
Honesty and integrity – let’s keep it real, Strava is rife among both the running and cycling communities…and for good reason. Gamification. We simply love the element of competition Strava’s added to what we do and long for each day; getting on our favourite roads/trails and gaining social kudos against our peers on a virtual leaderboard. It’s a case of strength in numbers.
With so many users worldwide, you can rest assured you’re pitting your skills against some of the best local and international talent. And the beauty of it is that every one of us has embraced Strava’s system of self-validated results.
Does it irk me that performance-enhancing drugs may have aided the King of the Mountain on my favourite Strava segment? Youbetcha. But equally as irritating is the turkey that holds the course record when cycling a running segment; or the goose that sits King of the Mountain because they forgot to turn Strava off after they drove home with their bike on top of their car.
Honesty and integrity are critical to the success of Strava; the onus for keeping it real falls with each and every Strava user. Staying ahead of the curve Strava, isn’t in the business of social responsibility and nor should they be. They are not a governing body handing out titles or enforcing strict rules/regimes.
You could go as far to say that Strava owes us, their users, nothing. The reality though is that Strava needs us, as much as we need them. Without the critical mass using Strava, their business model falls over. Conversely, without the constant improvements and added features, there’s a real risk we’ll fall out of love with Strava and move onto something bigger and better.
The choices are pretty clear. We can hold Strava accountable for enforcing social responsibility, and chances are they’ll need time and resource to find a way to make that work. The other option is we can embrace their self-validation model through our own integrity and honesty, and let them focus on making our experience with their product even better.
Yes there will always be some dishonest critters that ruin it for others, but I know where I’d rather see Strava invest their time – staying ahead of the curve.