We’re making a major change to how users get JudgeApps accounts. User accounts no longer require approval from an L2+ judge prior to use, but rather, they can be used as soon as the user verifies their email address. To protect our users’ privacy, we’ve added additional restrictions to uncertified user accounts. These restrictions limit access to large amounts of personal information, while allowing broader access to features like practice exams, the forums, and many other JudgeApps features.
When Judge Center was around, new JudgeApps accounts were approved by L3 judges (typically RCs) by verifying the user’s name, DCI number, and their judge level (if they claimed to already be certified) against Judge Center. Starting when I became L3, I also regularly ran a script to approve many pending accounts by verifying this information against Judge Center automatically. However, ever since Judge Center went down, we’ve been fighting against an ever-rising tide of accounts pending approval, with over 3,000 accounts currently in that state. Allowing all L2+ judges to approve accounts stemmed that tide somewhat, by making it possible for people who need to test new L1s to get those L1s into JudgeApps – a requirement in order to create an exam or submit a review. However, the long and still growing queue means that clearly we need a better process.
New user accounts will still require an accurate name, location, DCI number, and email address. We send a verification email to ensure that the email address is valid, since we need a correct email address in case the user ever forgets their password. However, instead of waiting for an L2+ to activate the account, the account will now be active as soon as the email address is verified.
Accounts that are currently pending with verified emails will be activated immediately, and we’ll send those users an email notification letting them know their accounts are now active. This applies to about 2,000 user accounts.
Accounts without verified emails can receive a new verification email by attempting to log in with their username and password. Accounts that have never been activated or verified will be deleted after some time, in case they were created with an incorrect email. This applies to just over 1,000 user accounts.
As always, accounts with incorrect information (such as obviously fake names or email addresses) or which are being used for abuse (such as spam) may be disabled at our discretion.
Restrictions on Uncertified Accounts
In order to limit access to the personal information that JudgeApps stores, there are some restrictions on these new accounts. Uncertified users’ access to the Judge List will limited to showing L1+ judges only, and the number of results that can be returned is limited. Uncertified users don’t have access to the Judge Map, but instead, can search the Judge List for judges within a certain radius of themselves.
All users can still follow links to Judge Profile pages (for example, from the Forum, or from Blogs), and can search for users by name. The general idea is that it will be possible for them to find a judge in a certain area or with a certain role, if they need to, but that it won’t be possible to simply browse or download the entire list of judges. This is enforced by limiting the maximum number of search results and by placing rate limits on certain pages.
To start, all users will keep the ability to read all of the “Generic” forums. However, posting will be restricted to L1+ judges as an anti-spam measure. We may revisit the forum access settings in the future.
We’ve also taken precautions to better protect users’ avatars, which are photos of users which are displayed throughout the site. Out of an abundance of caution, these are hidden from anyone who is not logged in and L1+, however, in the coming weeks, we will be adding more options for users to configure how their own avatar photo is shown, and to control other aspects of their privacy on the site.
As always, if you’re a Python developer with an interest in helping make JudgeApps better, please check out our recruitment thread on JudgeApps!