Community Welfare and Anti-Harassment Update [April 2021]

Zwift is all about having fun, rewarding, and positive experiences while hitting fitness goals. Lately, we have heard from members of the community that a few bad actors have negatively affected their experiences. Zwift does not tolerate cyber-bullying, hate speech, harassment, threats, or personal attacks—within the game or anywhere else.

We take our community’s welfare, including physical and mental health, very seriously. We have already undertaken a number of changes to support our member’s welfare, and we have two additional changes that will be unveiled next week.

First, beginning next week, we will no longer publicly display Zwifter weight and height in ZwiftPower, Zwift Companion, nor on Zwift.com. Weight and height will continue to be an input requirement for the game but will no longer be displayed publicly in order to deter weight or height related harassment

Secondly, we will be introducing new reporting features within Zwift Companion. An expansion to the existing flagging feature, the reporting feature allows riders and runners to report discrimination, bad language, or other forms of harassment in real time by clicking the three dots in the upper right hand corner of a member’s ZC profile. This feature will allow our team to monitor the situation and enact shadow banning when appropriate.

If you see harassment in game directed at you or others - please report it.

Other actions that have already taken place include:

  • Implemented tools that allow us to more effectively review in-game messaging to ensure in-game behavior meets our community guidelines.
  • Raising awareness on podcasts about disordered eating
  • Removing blog stories, missions, and challenges that glamorize unhealthy weight loss
  • With the full support of community group owners, we have collectively worked to ensure community groups promote health and wellbeing and avoid potentially unhealthy triggers.
  • Tightened privacy rules for ZADA (Zwift Accuracy and Data Analysis) verification videos - preventing athletes from sharing these publicly.
  • Instituting a 2-hour pre-race weigh-in submission window as is the acknowledged best practice across other sports and by the IOC

These are only the first steps. More steps are planned to enhance the features that improve the experience for all Zwifters and mitigate harassment.

17 Likes

Notwithstanding precisely how this change is implemented in ZwiftPower (it will presumably still be possible to calculate rider weight from the other metrics), is there any intention to increase the prevalence of action taken towards those manipulating the system for racing, given that these changes will make it infinitely easier for people to repeatedly change their height and weight without it standing out? This behaviour already spoils the game for other customers, and now everyone will be able to manipulate the game (and thus their speed) covertly.

One solution would be to limit weight changes to certain timeframes and/or quantum of change, and to require height changes to be via Support request only.

35 Likes

Most of these changes are very good and it’s great to see the weight data now made private so that people will stop comparing themselves and seeing that as another form of competition.

This, however, is not an accurate statement. Some Olympic sports allow morning weigh ins for evening events, it is not a standard IOC rule to do a 2 hour weigh in (in fact some are also less than 2 hours). The rule is determined by each individual governing body, not the IOC.

It’s also invalid to base rules for cycling on research conducted primarily on collegiate weightlifters and wrestlers - totally different sports. Also, with all those sports, athletes are competing at the same time of day, unlike with the PD racing where everyone is in different time zones. This new rule has created a huge amount of extra anxiety, not only for those recovering from eating disorders, but also for people who previously described their relationship with food as ‘healthy’.

I’ve asked multiple riders ranging from A+ category to D, male and female, if they would do anything differently on race day if they had to weigh in at 6pm instead of 6am and every single person said they would adjust how they ate and drank that day to normal. Rules like this should not have been changed without consulting experts in eating disorders and sports psychology.

22 Likes

terrible decision, no transparency = more cheating.

35 Likes

You are 100% correct in this regardless of when the weigh in is, due to the heavy importance of body weight in the game, I would always try to adjust my intake to be as light as possible for the weigh in and then pack in everything that I needed to to fuel for the race. For those racing around/after dinner time, I feel that this 2-hour window is brutal. Those racing around lunch time, especially if they are already making concessions at work, during the work week so they are do these races, certainly don’t get any help. The biggest benefit is those that are racing in the early hours of the morning without a doubt. Regardless, I don’t agree with the 2 hour window. Morning of should be sufficient as it will give all athletes equal opportunity to have their “dry” weight and not some arbitrary cutoff that doesn’t take life into account.

6 Likes

Cool. I’m still going to call folk out in the racing pens if they have knowingly signed up to sand bag.

21 Likes

Rediculous decision for the community racing decision, step backwards instead of forwards

26 Likes

Maybe instead of a blanket solution allowing users to specify privacy settings on their data would be more useful. For those who still care about transparency there is the option to setup an eBioPassport profile (not affiliated with zwift). If you have privacy concerns you can specify privacy settings on each individual piece of data you upload.

20 Likes

I am 100% with you that harassment in game should stop and eating disorders should be addressed, but is this the best option?
If you continue to display watts and w/kg in ZwiftPower, you are still showing the weight. Are you going to hide w/kg also?
I agree with others this will just ruin even more the races for others because this will increase the cheating in game and none of your actions will prevent this.

18 Likes

I’m sure the weight data could easily be available on the organiser system, like with CTT and BC organiser systems where the race organiser gets a whole host of private information that is not on public display. So organisers could spot those cheating with unrealistic weight fluctuations rather than trial by social media happening, along with individuals being able to compare themselves and target being someone else’s weight. A young athlete told me that as she was a similar height she should be able to ‘get down to’ the weight I am - we are totally different types of rider. If I wasn’t on Zwift she would have no idea what my weight is.

6 Likes

I’m really unsure the thinking behind this. Riders weight/height data is a key part of a race pretty much like power. Maybe we should just hide everything?

The majority of any bullying/harassment has come from zwifts lack of action on trying to provide a fair racing platform. 3 years and we can’t even get riders put in the correct categories.

If this is just zwift taking a further step back from trying to provide a fair racing platform the harassment of other riders is only going to get worse not better.

As for the 2 hours pre race weigh in seems madness. Now i have to starve and dehydrate myself all day before an evening race to compete with others in different time zones???

I’m all for doing anything we can do to help the mental wellbeing of all riders but this seems like a bit of a sledgehammer approach which actually has more negatives than what you are trying to improve.

31 Likes

What about giving race organizers the option to require this data? If a race organizer requires you to opt-in to participate in the race/series, then you must acknowledge. If you do not, you can’t participate in that race/series and find another one where the organizers does not require this?

5 Likes

How many people are actually getting harassed about their weight when it’s not related to blatant cheating?

29 Likes

I suppose if Clubs ever actually becomes a thing, you could do it that way. Though in reality it’d probably end up being monitored and enforced through Facebook groups etc rather than Zwift.

1 Like

While i certainly understand why some of these measures are needed, and Zwift doing what it can to prevent abuse or actions which can cause damage mental or physical is 100 % a positive thing, this will cause an increase in cheating riders. A lot of the transparency measures that the community inplemented themselves have been removed these last few months, and unfortunately there was a very good reason these things became sort of a requirement, with it being pretty much the wild west without them.

I and my team decided to do what we could to ensure fair racing, and it seems that even the possibility of making that choice is being slowly removed, and by it some of the incentive to race. Its just not fun being beaten by someone where you are 99 % sure something is off, but little possibility of doing anything about it. I will start linking to my ebio passport on zp, which i think is a great initiativ from Oliver Dowd but even here im not actually allowed to share my weight video under the new rules.

All of this would not be a problem if Zwift had a proper anti cheating system/software like pretty much any online computer game, but right now its a free for all requiring flagging a rider in game or reporting after the fact, to a slow and in my experience questionable sanctioning team. The gaming companies have understood that harsh measures against cheating are required, because the short term loss of banning or closing one account is more than offset by keeping it fair and the real players happy. Unfortunately Zwift has not understood that yet

35 Likes

Completely agree. Those who say ‘it’s just a game’ always seem to conveniently overlook the effort actual video game companies put into trying to maintain fairness for the vast majority of their subscriber base. They aren’t 100% successful of course, but at least they try.

15 Likes

Whilst I admire Zwifts attempt to control an issue it’s very light touch. I agree with your actions to hide the data but you must also include some form of control for polar actions.

I assume we will still see average watts and w/kg?
I assume w/kg is the measure to monitor sand baggers even on the flattest of races?
I assume weight will be the main driver for success in Zwift physics? (Many kids weighing less than 40kg are very successful in B/C categories)

If you are going to deal with an issue. Deal with it. All you have done here is slowed down efforts rather than prevented them.

7 Likes

It could and should but I’ve never seen any evidence that Zwift would be interested in implementing something like this. This kills community racing.

10 Likes

Needless to say, this has gone down like an excrement sarnie within the Zwift racing community.

6 Likes

Well I hope you guys have planned something else to compensate yet another killing of a transparency tool. I mean there were always rumors that you give a … about community racing. This would definitely be another proof of it.

7 Likes