One subject that I read about quite often on the forum pages involves the protest system at iRacing.com. I frequently see comments questioning the effectiveness of the system, not to mention suggesting that we are often too soft in administering penalties for members who violate a sporting code rule. In fact, I was on the service recently in an open practice session and a member was driving recklessly. It was suggested on speaker by one driver that the reckless driver should be protested to which I heard a choir of fellow iRacers reply back in beautiful harmony, “it just falls on deaf ears, nobody at iRacing really does anything about it!”

At that point, I made a mental note that I should share some information about protests and talk about our approach.

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First of all, why do we have a protest system? I won’t bore you any more than I have to except to mention the elementary purpose. The in-sim computer software does not assign blame in terms of racing accidents and we obviously cannot monitor the 1,000+ official races first hand that occur each week not to mention open practice and other racing events. I can get into why the simulation software does not assign blame perhaps in another communication but, bottom line, even with an extremely well thought-out and sophisticated model and precise engineering the software would not be very good at it.

Therefore we needed a way to take repeated reckless driving issues to another level to keep iRacing enjoyable for everyone. Our incident point/safety rating/license class system does a great job at organically keeping the racing relatively clean. That takes care of 90% of the issues in my opinion. However, a protest system is also needed and affords a way for a member to take the next step and do their sim racing duty if they feel another member is ruining the driving for everyone by purposely crashing or is chronically out of control.

Secondly we needed a process to resolve disputes privately instead of members elevating and compounding issues on or off the track (in forums, over voice chat, etc) and ruining everyone’s enjoyment. Although healthy debate is fine, most people don’t want to listen to long arguments back and forth between member A and B. Along those same lines, a member needs a place to protest slurs, foul language, etc.

Ultimately we may serve several different roles depending on the protest including moderator, coach, councilor, disciplinarian, race instructor and racing official. The role we don’t serve is judge, jury or arm chair psychiatrist for personal issues between members.

Nim Cross, Chief Steward

Nim Cross, Chief Steward

Most protests simply involve racing incidents and require the member submitting the protest to clearly specify in the appropriate format what exactly they are protesting in the sporting code and fully describe the incident. Most often a replay clip is needed to provide a full replay of the incident for us to really have the evidence to take action on a single incident. Even without a replay, all comments will be logged in the accounts for both the protestor and protested. We also have the option of pulling voice chat or text chat from a session for a particular member to help us determine what is said first hand which can be very helpful as well.

I should dispel a common misconception which is that iRacing never suspends or bans anybody because they lose that person’s membership fee. Nothing could be further from the truth. We actually like to think of ourselves as decent business people. If that is the case, why would we not suspend or ban someone who is ruining iRacing for dozens if not hundreds of people and potentially lose all those customers because of one person? I’ll take the dozen memberships over one membership any day of the week.

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However, it is true we are not as heavy-handed as some people might like. Why is that? Well first of all, we are in the service business and we try to provide good service and treat everyone fairly and with respect. That means, every member is extremely valuable to us and we don’t start banning people unless we find crystal clear malicious intent on their part or without first trying to get a good understanding of the problem and being completely objective. Why was the person wrecking others? Can they learn from their mistakes? Should they be provided the opportunity to learn from their driving mistakes? Was the member simply just driving over their head? Was it one wreck or several? What was the member’s intent? What was the nature and circumstances of the wreck?

We like to hear both sides of the story but like I said, replays are really the most important thing for us to review. We often find the member’s heart is in the right place and they want to be a positive member of the iRacing community. However, sometimes it takes a little while for their skill to match their heart or desire to be here. That means we have to go look at the facts as best we can and be fair to both sides while considering the service in general. Excuses may buy some time for a member causing wrecks but only to a point if improvement is not made.

Many times we don’t have all the facts, the protest was not filed with correct information or there is no video replay available and what “evidence” is available often inconclusive. As mentioned, we keep track of every single protest in our CRM system for every member including all pertinent information, files, e-mails, conversations, etc and refer back to that any time a new protest is made. That factors heavily in our decisions as well. We track every protest on both sides not just the person who is protested.

We do find that most protests against most members are spread months or years apart or even a single occurrence. We have learned that more often than not, the member just needs some simple coaching, instruction or reminders and then they are fine. Other times a friendly warning or even a stern warning does the trick.

If you are looking for a real-world analogy to our philosophy, we have found that taking the Skip Barber Racing School approach is probably the closest to how we manage this. If the evidence shows that it is not obvious that the member was intentionally wrecking, we try and coach him or her on ways to avoid that mistake again or point out the mistake and then provide positive reinforcement to enable him or her to overcome that mistake in the future. Depending on the mistake, if it keeps happening we warn him/her before taking further action which on occasion does becomes necessary and is the best thing for the service overall.

We often find the member’s heart is in the right place and they want to be a positive member of the iRacing community.

That is not to say, we don’t just suspend or ban people immediately after one protest. We have received video of drivers just going up and down the track, picking off cars left and right and driving backwards in a race and in cases such as that we suspended them on the spot.

We also have the ability to suspend people from just the forums or the race chat function – but allow them to continue racing – if communication is the major problem but the driving is clean. We often do that.

We don’t like to post or feel the need to list the names of the people who were protested against or suspended or banned. In our opinion, that does not help us achieve our objective. However, because many members are curious, I can provide some general statistics about the protest system. We get an average of 133 properly submitted protests per month since we opened the doors of iRacing in the summer of 2008. When properly submitted we open a case for the protest and the case must be closed. We also get an average of an additional 100 improperly submitted protests per month in which we get back to the member telling them the problem with the submission. Those are not opened as cases.
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More recently for example we opened cases for 144 in January, 124 in February, 122 in March and 168 in April. When you consider the number of people racing each day and week and the number of sessions that is not too bad and frankly about what we expected.

We notify everyone who has a protest/case filed against them and confirm to anyone who has a filed a protest that it has been received. We also follow up with notification to the person that was being protested with the results of such protest. In fact, 70.46% of the people who have been protested have received some personal coaching/instruction/advice, whether it was concluded that some fault or no fault at all, to avoid a similar incident in the future which could include a friendly warning. 14.86% of the protests we recorded the incident but concluded no fault at all and did not provide any personal coaching or recommend any course of action. 2.51% of the protests we determined that the protest was frivolous. For 11.02% of the protests to date we suspended the member in some way for some period of time. Lastly for 1.15% of the protests we suspend the member indefinitely which means no time table for return. Indefinite suspensions could mean forever but we sometimes leave the door open for reconsideration in the long term.

Anyway, just thought I would provide some general information in regard to protests. We have learned some valuable things at this point by handling over 3,000 cases/protests to date and have certainly improved the process and approach but we are still learning and trying to improve. Who knows? Maybe further automation someday becomes a bigger part of the equation. Thanks for taking the time to submit the over 3,000 protests to date and work with us in that regard. We know you are not always happy with the outcome or perceived outcome but I think we are much better at the process than we were even a year ago and it truly is making this a better service for all involved.

Good Clean Racing!

Tony

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33 Comments

The work of Nim is mostly for punishing swearing in race chat, such work could be easily done by chat filter or chat bot. They should really concentrate on the incidents.

Mertol
June 2nd, 2010 at 1:50 pm

Can I just correct one thing, We do not actually get told of the resutl, only that there is one.

I quote “Case # XXX-XXXXX-XXXXXX has been resolved and the member being protested has been notified of any action taken.”

We never know the actual result. That’s why it is so unsatisfactory. We don’t know if it’s just been a slap on the wrist, or suspension or what?

JR
June 2nd, 2010 at 2:55 pm

It would be very helpful and just if SR points were returned to the innocent after a successful protest.

Paul Smith
June 2nd, 2010 at 3:49 pm

Thanks Tony…

This is good to see that the iRacing staff is actually hearing the community, but personally I still think they’re missing the point. On top of that, the last time I tried to voice my opinion, I got a nasty e-mail, so I’ll keep it to myself…

Matt
June 2nd, 2010 at 4:22 pm

JR, its out of our hands at that point, no longer something we need to be involved in, our work as drivers is done once the protest is submitted, at this point we can focus back on the racing and leave the rest to the people we’re paying to manage it on our behalf. Its kinda cool really.

Dean
June 2nd, 2010 at 5:02 pm

It could be argued that the present level of a members ability to protest is sufficient, though my opinion is that there are other, better alternatives that will hopefully come into consideration somewhere into the future.

I think this flimsy level of protesting at the Pro level and especially the DWC level is VERY ordinary though. Dive bombing and rear ending should definitely be protestible at these levels.

Byron Forbes
June 2nd, 2010 at 7:51 pm

Nice blog post, Tony. This answered a lot of questions for me. Very interesting to hear about the total number of protests per month (I thought it would be higher!) and also the distribution of how they’re dealt with.

Jason Noble
June 3rd, 2010 at 2:40 am

An online form to submitt a protest would be very helpfull, along with a more detailed outcome of the protest. Never knowing to outcome is like it falls in deaf ears. Maybe a SR points deduction or License degrade would be a good punishment.

Steve Claeys
June 3rd, 2010 at 9:13 am

Dean, letting the driver who protested know the actual punishment handed out would increase confidence in the protest system dramatically. It is the only reason to do it. It does not need to be made public, just let the driver who filed the protest know.

JR
June 6th, 2010 at 2:10 pm

I applaud Nim for banning you, Darcy.

qwerty
June 7th, 2010 at 2:45 pm

Darcy, you got banned because you repeatedly gave a certain group of members a hard time after being told repeatedly to stop. If you wouldn’t and your buddy Junior hadn’t been such asses, you guys wouldn’t have been banned.

And you want to talk about not being told things. I was kicked out of Juniors Star Mazda league because of who I associate myself with(had nothing to do with the league and i never did anything wrong in the league) and he didn’t have the balls to tell me. He moved the server passwords to a section of his forum that he passworded then wouldn’t give me the password.

To be honest, I’m glad your not coming back because all you did was cause problems

Have a nice day.

allenkrier
June 7th, 2010 at 3:01 pm

Quick thought: there should be, in the instance of an on track incident, two little white spots on the steering wheel to show where the driver was steering (ex carl edwards at Atlanta) this could help to bring the culprit through, or even better (gasp) full car telemetry on the accused person(s)

Cliff
June 7th, 2010 at 4:27 pm

Thanks for the post Tony. For everything that the iRacing site an service handles, people sometimes lose sight that not everything can be done to their satisfaction. In fact I will be filing a protest this week for a driver that attempted to ruin the Rookie Road America 200 race. I’ll make sure that it is formatted properly 🙂

Trevor Cameron
June 21st, 2010 at 2:15 pm

to Alan Krier,

Someone told me about this post and I felt it needed to be addressed.

My series was run 100% professional and I put a ridiculous amount of time and effort into the imva live strong star mazda series. I had a excellent sponsor in the LAF, a better sponsor then anyone in iracing could ask for to be honest.

The series had some really good drivers imho. With some average to not so good drivers (like myself). I ran leagues before in n2002 and n2003, leagues that had roughly 500 to 600 members(anywhere from 25 to 100 drivers at one time racing 4 series) and a full staff of 6 to 10 admin. I always ran it as professional as I possibly could. Papyrus put out my favorite pc games to this date. I helped literally hundreds of new people to get started online and actually sold copies to people at cost to promote my hobby because I was so passionate about it. I have give pc parts wheels, t shirts and hats out of my own pocket countless times.

Tell me Allen Krier what have you done for your hobby? To this day no logical reason has been given to me of why I was banned from the forums (go read my posts) . They gave me a refund and I walked away unfortunately leaving my series behind that was well sponsored, well organized and had a good mix of drivers.

I was happy to have you as a driver Allen and almost always would go out of my way to say hello in non IMVA events. You would log into the server not even bother to say hell or kiss my axx, thank you, or anything.
As far as changing the passwords go, part of the deal with the series was participation, several people did not show up for many weeks then would show up for circle tracks or there favorite tracks.
I’t was mid season and we decided to change passwords as a group not just me alone. In years previous in n2003 server passwords where often changed for several reasons. I think you took i’t way way to personal.

I got pulled into that circle track BS, part of the reason why I went to race road tracks is because there was way to much craziness in oval racing. Not to mention it is not fun having people constantly wreck you.

I think Tony Gardner is a fair guy and Iracing will get straightened out as he takes more time to learn whats really going on and how certain people are not doing there jobs according to the iracing code..

I promoted league racing 100% and was a HUGE fanboy/booster of league racing and what was extremely vocal on how to clean up open hosted racing.

Mike S if you read this I thank you for all your support and kindness.

Good Luck and Best Wishes to Iracing and to you Alan.

-jp

jp
June 22nd, 2010 at 10:54 am

The reason you guys got banned is for harassing our group or the “O Budday Crew” and attacking people on the forums after being repeatedly told to stop and changing your from tag to “O Budday Wrecking Crew” which in my opinion was very childish and uncalled for. You and Darcy were just so embarrassed by getting your a$$es handed to you in hosted races and official races alike by the “O Budday Crew” you turned to personal attacks which resulted in your termination.

Thank you come again.

Jeff Peteson
June 28th, 2010 at 2:25 am

Yes I understand it is a Sim, but you cant really do this in real world racing. At Charlotte’s summer shootout I have been wrecked plenty of times and there isn’t one thing you can do about it. But oh well……

bk
June 30th, 2010 at 12:35 pm

Well, I read that entire article. Just like in real racing, The “officiating crew” handles the problems of the masses, when 90% of the problem is that either niether of the drivers or only the one wants to solve it quietly. I have raced months on this simulation, never been protested, never protested. I find myself lucky that I have the sense of good person and say; “hey sorry dude” or something in that nature. Have I wrecked someone in this sim…Hmmm yeah I have, but the thing is…is that we solved it ourselves. I mean its like saying to the teacher he hit me. You know, no proof. Replay’s dont really do anything, because it doesnt SHOW intent, because intent is something you have to be thinking of. Its really sick that there is this all godly officiating crew. I believe if your going backwards, yes ban is in affect. But if you wreck someone, or flame someone out? That is the nature of real racing. Hell, If you just ruined my day, I dont think I would say meet me at my house for a cup o tea?! Come on, As for JP and Darcy, I dont understand why you got banned. Darcy, You helped me with my wheel. So I am greatful. and JP great that you have done so many things for people. The little whiners who constantly say “he wrecked me on purpose” constantly are the ones who will win. It just shows that the Sim is turning into a b****ing match. And to be honest if the guy in the article would say ban 1 for 12. So if your the 1, your satisfaction doesnt count? Just ceases to amaze me.

Matthew White is my username.

Matt
July 9th, 2010 at 7:12 am

The problem is the system only handles the most obvious and blatant offenses. Among drivers with decent car control it would be downright impossible to tell what their intent was. It’s not hard to “accidentally” over drive a corner. And you never really know because sometimes that really can happen.

If someone is driving on the track backwards or doing extremely dumb things, I have complete faith something will be done. Those aren’t the problem. The problem is those are about the only thing the system will catch.

CC
August 8th, 2010 at 12:03 am

THX for sharing.

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January 1st, 2011 at 2:18 pm

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January 1st, 2011 at 6:25 pm

LOL Leon Landry, You are a wrecker plain and simple!!! I have watched you wreck FULL GRIDS numerous times! Over 80 incidents in one FORTY LAP race!!! You have a 300 irating and 0.00 SR in Oval….. Go back to Need for Speed please.

LOL Leon
January 27th, 2011 at 5:59 pm

I think its unfortunate that , some American drivers tend to team up on people from outside, blaming the guy for allmost everything, and saying they gonna get him banned and so on, My Iracing is high A i still get blamed by the kids for wrecks and blocking and god nows what, even when i decide to start last from pits some of the wrecks are my fault 🙂

tbone
February 23rd, 2011 at 2:29 pm

Interesting read around here. I see they at least didn’t ‘delete’ posts from members bashing Nim Cross. They get a point for that. Anyways, Nim Cross truly has a big challenge. As some of you have accurately pointed out, he doesn’t always get it right. That’s a fact. No matter how much experience he has acquire thru these few years with those 3,000 + incidents, he will never ever be able to determine intentions and motives behind incidents. And that is the biggest problem with their arbitrary system. As long as there is a human being doing those calls, there will always be mistakes and misjudgements. How can there not be. We just have to be realistic.

However, i give credit to him for at least trying. He’s doing his best. Not always right as to expected from a mortal, but better than nothing. I trust he will keep learning from his own mistakes.

As we all.

JuanLopez2
June 16th, 2011 at 9:25 am

I think there sould be software in place that monitors inc’s within each series and when it reaches a certain level, lets say an average of 4.25 – 4.5 per race that person can no longer race until they complete an x amount of practice time before racing. To me over 3.75 – 4.0 is getting dicey.

Joe Marks
December 3rd, 2011 at 1:52 am

The “Mute Driver” feature works great. Keeps my races nice and quiet.

Manny
October 26th, 2012 at 2:24 pm

i need help when i click on “test car on track” it loads and says joined session then it launches the iracing.com simulator 64_bit dx11 but then the windows 10 window pops up saying iracing had stopped working…..where can i go for help plz i want to play so bad

RS Du Toit
September 4th, 2016 at 11:53 am

System not fair I can win a race go up in points and then through no fault of mine drop down farther than were I was. I started today at 3.31 worke my way to 3.70 and then right back to 3.31 after 10 races. It`s not my fault someone spins and blocks the track and yet the penalties are worse than the rewards. I understand there is not enough people to police all the races I just think mabe the penalty system should be less severe. Only tracks that are safe on oval side is daytona anf talladega were you can just ride way behind everyone and mabe finish. If someone hits me why do I get a penalty just needs some work this is the third time I have tried IRacing just for this reason I probaly wont stay again. Run lap after lap and never get anywhere.

Randy Hilton
April 11th, 2020 at 6:51 pm

The biggest problem I have found in I Racing is the SR points. I completely understand the reasoning behind it, but there is so many people who just don’t care out there and I have been in races with more caution laps than actual racing laps! I am sure I speak for a lot of people when I say I am sick of losing SR to lap down drivers or people who just don’t understand racing period! I guess the protest system is what that’s for but does it give you back your SR points that were destroyed by other inconsiderate drivers? There is a couple people each race that could be protested because they just don’t care about others and what it does to there I rating AND their SR points! How about half the feild not qualifying and then holding back and getting up to full speed by the green coming out and wrecking loads of cars on the first lap or every restart! There needs to be something done about qualifying! When half the feild doesn’t qualify and then they are the ones who usually cause wrecks trying to get to the front on the first lap! I know it must be hard for I racing to babysit this many people but who really wants to file a protest every race? But that’s almost what this SR system causes! I know personally I get freakin pissed every time I am in an accident and get a 4x from some idiot running into you under caution laps or a 12x from someone causing a wreck that takes you out when you did nothing wrong! The higher the liscence, the harder it is to get that SR back, so at least me personally that makes me more mad than anything losing SR to idiot drivers! Blocking is another big issue! There was an argument between a bunch of guys last night about who has the right of way when racing. One guy said IN THE I RACING RULES it gives the car ahead the right, but in real life and if anyone has ever watched a NASCAR race or been racing a REAL RACE CAR like myself, when you get a fender under the other person going into the corner you give that car the room to make a pass, you don’t wreck the whole field slamming down on that car or when someone gets a clean run to make a pass especially in a corner and someone cuts them off they don’t think about the consequences behind them all slamming on the brakes! Most of this can be solved by a mandatory course you have to take before joining I Racing, showing people who know NOTHING about racing the correct way to drive and pass and the give and take you have to have on a track! Or if you are involved in so many incedents you need to watch a CLEAN DRIVING video or something before you can get out there and race again! Or maybe SR for the driver that hits a driver in the rear and not the car that gets rear ended! Or explaining in a how to video of what lap down cars are supposed to do when leaders are coming! I have been wrecked 3 times in the last 5 laps in the top 5 by lap down cars! In REAL racing those cars get out of the way, they don’t take out the leaders because they are mad they can’t win! I got a 4 x TODAY from a lap down car hitting me in the rear on the last lap racing for the lead! That kind of stuff shouldn’t be allowed! Like I said there is multiple protest chances in every race, and most people don’t want to protest after EVERY race! A little respect for the other people on the track would go a long way!

Eric Schaefer
May 20th, 2020 at 4:33 pm

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