New Strava algorithms announced

September 13, 2012 § 53 Comments

Strava CEO Michael Horvath posted an entry on the company blog today about sportsmanship, competition, ethics, and a new focus on the social media site’s core users. “After doing a six-month analysis of rider usage patterns,” he wrote, “we were able to pinpoint the key characteristics of our avid regular users and of our paid ‘premium’ users. Our user review team has classified our customers as something known in the industry as ‘delusional assholes.'”

According to Horvath, Strava’s current KOM/QOM algorithm no longer correlates to the behavior of the web site’s most dedicated users. “KOM’s started out as virtual datapoints to mark your progress. Unfortunately, they’ve become real in the minds of countless users. People actually believe that because Strava describes them as a KOM, they are in fact the king of some mountain somewhere.”

Horvath relates the fistfight that broke out between cyclist Elmer Thudpucker and a local landowner when Thudpucker claimed feudal demesne rights to Pighumper Mountain in western Arkansas by virtue of his Strava KOM. “First they beat him senseless, then they tied him to a post, then they made him grunt like a pig. We decided something needed to be done.”

Too much of a bad thing?

Problems also arise when KOM holders interact with other actual cyclists and get their shit handed to them on a plate, according to Horvath. “The cognitive dissonance that arises when you think you are the king of a mountain, but then on a group ride you are the last person up the mountain you’re supposedly king of, creates so much depression, self-doubt, anger, and disillusionment that our most committed members are letting their memberships lapse,” he explains.

“We’ve decided to revamp the KOM algorithm so that all of our Strava users know exactly what their KOM’s really mean, and hence aren’t so dejected when they get crushed by the kid on restricted gears who hasn’t started shaving yet.”

Preview of the new, improved Strava rankings

“We’re in the process of gathering more personal data from our users in order to perfect the algorithms, but in a nutshell here they are. This entire system was dreamed up by Steven L. from San Diego, so we owe him a big debt of thanks even though he won’t see a dime from all his hard work, as we intend to pirate the shit out of his idea.”

COM: Chicken of the Mountain
Indicates that the rider never rides with others, and instead sets all of his best times alone.

FOM: Faker of the Mountain
Indicates that the rider never tells others he’s going for a particular segment, so they will do all the work as he moves from the back to the front of the group to collect the FOM.

POM: Peon of the Mountain
Idicates that the segment has been ridden less than 500 times, and the rider is literally a smallish-fish-in-the-tiniest-of-ponds.

WOM: Wanker of the Mountain
Indicates that the segment has never been ridden by a UCI pro or Cat 1 roadie.

Cit-OM: Citizen of the Mountain
Indicates that the rider doesn’t do road races.

FROM: Fraudster of the Mountain
Indicates that the rider is the one who created the segment.

SPROM: Sprunter of the Mountain
Indicates that the segment is less than 5k in length.

CHOM: Cheater of the Mountain
Indicates that the rider achieved the time with motor pacing or other pacing assistance.

EPOM: EPO of the Mountain
Indicates reliance on PED’s.

KOV: King of the Valley
Indicates net decrease in elevation, ergo it’s not a climb, stupid.

LOM: Lawsuit of the Mountain
Indicates idiot took outrageous risks on a descent or other twisty, dangerous road in order to score points on a stupid web site.

TOM: Triathlete of the Mountain
Indicates that the rider isn’t even a cyclist.

DOM: Delusional of the Mountain
Indicates that the rider thinks that his performance on Strava correlates to his racing ability.

“This is just the outline; we’re hoping to get it tweaked in the next couple of weeks,” writes Horvath. “Once we’ve gone through the AMA’s Index of Psychiatric Disorders to fully categorize our customers, we should be ready for launch.”

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