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Throttles and Penalties during Challenges
Throttles and Penalties during Challenges

How Joulebug mitigates cheating during challenges

Mor Aframian avatar
Written by Mor Aframian
Updated over a week ago

Joulebug is an honor-based system, and throughout the challenge, you may have participants that log actions suspiciously frequently. To help solve this, our sophisticated backend will alert participants when they are overlogging. Each action in the platform has a unique limit on how often an action can be logged. Participants that reach these thresholds will receive a notification reminding them of the fair play rules.


Before hitting a penalty, participants will be warned that they are logging too often. Joulebug refers to this warning as a throttle, which can occur when a participant:

  • Logs a specific action more times than is allowed in a set time period (unique to each action)

  • Logs more than 35 actions in 15 minutes

  • Logs more than 100 actions in 8 hours

This is the pop-up notification participants will receive when they hit the throttle.

If participants ignore the warning and continue to log actions, they will be notified that they are being placed in a timeout (Penalty Box) for a specific period of time. Repeat offenders will see the duration of their timeouts increase.

Pro-tip for Admins: When participants complain to you about these messages (which at least a handful will), encourage them to check out actions they haven't logged so they can build new habits.

Penalty Box (timeout)

After a certain number of these limits are reached, a participant will be put in a penalty box for a set amount of time. The duration of penalties starts small (15 min) and increases each time a participant is placed in a penalty. These limits have been tested and formulated over years of researching challenge and app behaviors and are not shared in an effort to discourage gaming the system.

The penalties for hitting a throttle scale up as follows:

Level 1 Penalty

15 mins timeout

Level 2 Penalty

2 hours timeout

Level 3 Penalty

4 hours timeout

Level 4 Penalty

8 hours timeout

Level 5 Penalty

36 hours timeout

Participants placed in the penalty box will still appear on the leaderboard. When participants are placed in a timeout, their names will be grayed out, their rank removed, and an info icon will remind others to leave the cheating at the door.

Like any spirited competition, there may be a few players who would like to avoid the referee. Some may say others are cheating. Others may say they cannot log everything they did today. However, in the end, players have fun logging and sharing their sustainable actions, and the planet wins.

Reviewing Penalties as an Admin

We encourage admins to keep an eye on penalties throughout an active challenge and to send additional reminders to help participants avoid the traps of cheating.

To view penalties, navigate to Active Challenges and click the "fire" icon to the right of the challenge name.

Once on the penalties page, you'll be able to see participant names, their points, the number of actions logged, throttles and penalties. It'll look something like this:

  • Points: How many points the participant currently has in the challenge

  • Buzzes: Number of actions logged

  • Throttles: This is a log of overall throttles a participant received. As you hover over each number, you'll see:

    • Total action logging attempts throttled

    • Log attempts with per-action throttles

    • Log attempts with 35/15 mins throttles

    • Log attempts with 100/8 hrs throttles

    • Unique actions any throttling occurred on

    • Date of the most recent throttle

  • Penalty 1 - 5: Date and time when the penalty started

    • The date in the blue box is the date and time the current penalty will end

  • Warning: Number of times an admin sent the participant a warning

  • Info icon: Click to send a warning to the participant in a penalty

    • Selecting the warning icon sends an in-app and push notification that reads: “You are in violation of one or more rules of this challenge. Please review the Challenge rules, including the terms of fair play. If you continue in violation, you may be removed from the Challenge.”

  • Cancel icon: Click to remove the participant from the challenge

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