Speedrun.com layout update violates user privacy, ups moderation burden

(written by Kube - October 14th, 2021)

Markdown version

Edit (October 28th): Through a support ticket, I asked for clarification regarding SRC's changes and how they fit into the existing Privacy Policy. I've included their response below.

Hello [Kube]! Followed Games fits in under "User Submitted Content". Also as a reminder, you can 1) Export Data collected by Speedrun.com from your profile settings and 2) hide Followed Games through the new Privacy settings (also from your profile)

Edit (October 19th): Recent additions and changes to Speedrun.com make the text below out-of-date.

Quick disclaimer! I'm the creator of paceboard, a simple leaderboard tool for speedruns. I've also contributed to Speedrun.Website.

All of the screenshots I've taken are adless via uBlock Origin. I can confirm that the issues discussed persist with uBlock disabled.

What happened?

Today, Speedrun.com (SRC) introduced "Games & Profile Updates" (alongside a forum thread for feedback).

Here are the relevant changes:

All leaderboards have a new layout (screenshot credit SRC). The new leaderboard layout for Celeste Any%. Game stats are given prominent placement, and IL leaderboards are now accessible via dropdown.
Profile pages also have a new layout. The new SRC profile page for KubeRuns. Sections include Runs, About KubeRuns, Games Run, and Games Followed.
Logged-in users can now leave comments underneath runs. A comment section underneath KubeRuns' Call of the Starseed run listing.

And for reference:

Click to see the old profile page layout (captured by the Wayback Machine). The old SRC profile page for KubeRuns. Notably absent is the Games Followed section.

Regarding user privacy

The new user profile layout includes a Games Followed section. This section includes info not previously or currently exposed by the SRC API.

For every SRC member, this new section exposes:

It's difficult to tell whether or not this data retention complies with SRC's Privacy Policy. Per-page histories don't fall under the Service usage data section, as this text deals with anonymized data.

Rather, it appears SRC stores and fetches this data from its Service logs. To this end, Elo must utilize logs from before its acquisition of SRC, as indicated by certain "last visited" dates.

There's no way for SRC users to disable their Games Followed view, other than by unfollowing all followed games. (Though as of writing, a bug prevents newly-unfollowed games from leaving the list.)

Regarding moderation burden

This update also introduces comments below each run. There's no way for moderators or runners to disable these comments sections.

From a quick peek, it's evident that popular, well-moderated leaderboards are finding it difficult to manage the rapid influx of spam comments.

Moderators received no warning that this feature would be introduced. Comments are highly visible, and often address runners directly.

Also of note: non-moderator runners can't delete comments underneath their own runs.

Other notes

This write-up doesn't discuss all of today's layout changes. The aforementioned feedback thread provides a smattering of opinions regarding tweaks I left unaddressed.