Cheat Proof Beeminders?


#1

I love Beeminder and I’ve been using the Duolingo integration with it. One reason I chosen Duolingo is because, from what I can tell, it’s pretty much impossible to cheat when you put everything on lock down. Is there any other Beeminder integration or ideas I’m overlooking that puts in you in a situation where you can’t cheat?


#2

Great question! I think that’s true of all our autodata integrations (see the front page of beeminder.com for the gallery of them) isn’t it? I feel like any time you’ve nailed down a system for automatically populating a Beeminder graph (via IFTTT or Zapier or an official integration or our API) there’s little enough temptation to tamper with it even if you technically could.

Related reading: Combatting Cheating


#3

Thanks for your feedback.

Unfortunately most of the stuff you listed is manipulated unless you have a third party helping you out, which is why I like Stickk so much. I understand some people who have the will power to not mess with stuff but unfortunately I find myself doing that all the time unless I get a judge or have something lock proof like duolingo.


#4

The temptation to weasel is a large part of why I keep my pledges capped. Because as soon as you start down that slippery slope, you’ve broken Beeminder as a tool.

You could run a lot of things through your public twitter account, and use the tweets to update Beeminder. There’s our own twitter integration for simple hashtag counting, or our IFTTT integration that lets you use macros to include numeric values.

At least that raises the possibility of a friend saying that they don’t think you actually read 50 pages of War and Peace because they were in the pub with you all day yesterday…


#5

Huh, I thought most autodata sources are actually similar to Duolingo. For example in Fitbit you can’t manually adjust your steps. You’d have to attach your Fitbit to your dog or small child or put it in the dryer (I should stop giving people ideas…). Although other metrics besides steps are manually changeable in Fitbit’s interface.

(PS, I’m actually nervous about spelling out too candidly what various ways there are to cheat. It can be a perfectly effective strategy to just not let your mind even go there. In other words this thread could be a memetic hazard! We could take that part of the discussion to support@beeminder.com though…)

(PPS, I’m not sure how serious I am about the memetic hazard thing. I guess y’all can talk about these things if you really want.)


#6

I’ve spoken before about how I used to be a frequent cheater, and eventually weaned myself off of it. I’d suggest putting in some thought about why you (a) want to do the thing and (b) then are inclined to cheat, even though that goes against your stated goals.

In my case, I usually found myself cheating for one of two reasons:

  • I wasn’t actually interested in achieving the goal as written.
  • I was trying to do too much or too many things at once.

There’s also a rare third case of “life happened in unexpected ways” - but in those cases, a quick email to support with an explanation usually resolved things.

The first case can happen for a variety of reasons: the data is something I don’t have direct control over, doing the action I’m beeminding doesn’t affect my end goal as expected, or I really just don’t care about my stated goal. Fixing the situation involves looking more closely at what I actually want and how I can get there. This forum is a good place to talk through that sort of question with others.

The second case is much more frequent for me, and fixing it involves looking at my life as a whole, not just one goal. To use an example from my own life: it wasn’t really reasonable to expect to maintain a large garden while in engineering school! No matter how much I wanted to, the reality of the situation was that I was rarely getting home before dark and didn’t have the energy even then. I kept telling myself I’d “catch up” on weekends, but actually what I did on weekends was sleep (and do homework). The most recent blog post about beeminding easy things is relevant here.

It’s possible to cheat most systems, if you’re creative enough about it (as @dreev illustrated). You can get some restriction on that through better systems, public accountability, and the like, but I suspect you’ll get more bang for your buck by addressing the reasons you’re inclined to cheat in the first place.