akratics anonymous and the what-the-hell effect

From: Daniel Reeves dreeves@umich.edu
Date: Fri, Jun 10, 2011 at 18:41
Subject: akratics anonymous and the what-the-hell effect

Welcome to the new members who were inspired to join by our last blog
post – blog.bmndr.com/akratics – in which we explained how most
people are not cut out to be Beeminder customers.

You all, on the other hand, are the epitome of Beemindees: irrational
people who are hyperrational about your irrationality.

The topic for today is the What-The-Hell effect:
http://www.spring.org.uk/2011/03/the-what-the-hell-effect.php

In short, the What-The-Hell effect predicts that once you go off your
yellow brick road, all akratic hell breaks loose.

Any anecdotal evidence in favor or against the theory?

(This is still a very small group – 26 people. Don’t be shy about chiming in.)


http://dreev.es – search://"Daniel Reeves"
Follow the Yellow Brick Road – http://beeminder.com


http://dreev.es – search://"Daniel Reeves"
Follow the Yellow Brick Road – http://beeminder.com

From: David Reiley david@davidreiley.com
Date: Fri, Jun 10, 2011 at 20:27
Subject: Re: akratics anonymous and the what-the-hell effect

This certainly does seem a weakness of the Beeminder approach. By
making the all-or-nothing bet, you exaggerate the What-the-Hell effect
a lot in the event that you lose.

David

On Jun 10, 2011, at 4:41 PM, Daniel Reeves wrote:

Welcome to the new members who were inspired to join by our last blog
post – blog.bmndr.com/akratics – in which we explained how most
people are not cut out to be Beeminder customers.

You all, on the other hand, are the epitome of Beemindees: irrational
people who are hyperrational about your irrationality.

The topic for today is the What-The-Hell effect:
http://www.spring.org.uk/2011/03/the-what-the-hell-effect.php

In short, the What-The-Hell effect predicts that once you go off your
yellow brick road, all akratic hell breaks loose.

Any anecdotal evidence in favor or against the theory?

(This is still a very small group – 26 people. Don’t be shy about chiming in.)


My home page: http://www.davidreiley.com

“Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet.” – Abraham Lincoln


http://dreev.es – search://"Daniel Reeves"
Follow the Yellow Brick Road – http://beeminder.com

From: Julian Schvartzman julian.schvartzman@gmail.com
Date: Fri, Jun 10, 2011 at 21:17
Subject: Re: akratics anonymous and the what-the-hell effect

Does it really have to be all-or-nothing? How about some sort of
incremental approach, e.g., pay $5 the first time that you go off the
YBR, $7 the 2nd time, and so on…?
I don’t like big all-or-nothing bets because, even without the
what-the-hell effect, they still turn into an incentive to default (or
just lie?) on a contract that the other party will likely be unable to
enforce. Am I really going pay $100K for going off the YBR? $10K?
$5K? $1K? $1? Perhaps small and incrementally more painful bets would
be more effective, might give a chance to the hyperrational side to
react, and at the same time we would not be exaggerating the
what-the-hell effect. (?)

On Fri, Jun 10, 2011 at 9:27 PM, David Reiley david@davidreiley.com wrote:

This certainly does seem a weakness of the Beeminder approach. By making the all-or-nothing bet, you exaggerate the What-the-Hell effect a lot in the event that you lose.

David

On Jun 10, 2011, at 4:41 PM, Daniel Reeves wrote:

Welcome to the new members who were inspired to join by our last blog
post – blog.bmndr.com/akratics – in which we explained how most
people are not cut out to be Beeminder customers.

You all, on the other hand, are the epitome of Beemindees: irrational
people who are hyperrational about your irrationality.

The topic for today is the What-The-Hell effect:
http://www.spring.org.uk/2011/03/the-what-the-hell-effect.php

In short, the What-The-Hell effect predicts that once you go off your
yellow brick road, all akratic hell breaks loose.

Any anecdotal evidence in favor or against the theory?

(This is still a very small group – 26 people. Don’t be shy about chiming in.)


My home page: http://www.davidreiley.com

“Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet.” – Abraham Lincoln


http://dreev.es – search://"Daniel Reeves"
Follow the Yellow Brick Road – http://beeminder.com

From: Daniel Reeves dreeves@umich.edu
Date: Fri, Jun 10, 2011 at 23:24
Subject: Re: akratics anonymous and the what-the-hell effect

We’ve been thinking along similar lines: The initial penalty might be
$5 and it keeps doubling each time you fail.
That way you quickly converge on what for you constitutes a
scary/motivating amount to have at risk.
In fact, that’s kind of how things evolved with my and Bethany’s
contracts. When we first started experimenting with cash commitment
contracts we’d risk at most $20. Soon enough we found that,
ironically, the $20 was a very fair price to pay for all the
motivation it engendered until it failed. But of course it all falls
apart if you think of the penalty as worth paying. So we jacked it up,
first into the hundreds, then one or two thousand. These contracts
are so insanely valuable to us that for our most recent one we weren’t
entirely sure that we couldn’t rationalize $2k as worth it. So to be
safe we went with $5k. That kept the fear alive, and everything
worked out great.

I think Melanie has gone through a similar process with her contracts
but for her she topped out at $600, which seemed to be plenty.

One problem, if anyone has ideas on this:
If you keep doubling the penalty then by the time you find your
Motivation Point – the amount of money you’re sufficiently motivated
to not lose – you’ve racked up essentially that very amount from all
the previous penalties. Note that that was not the case for Bethany
and I because we’d scale up the penalty in reaction to close calls or
just the anticipation of no longer being sufficiently motivated by the
previous amount.
It would help to multiply by, say, 10, each time instead of 2. But
even then, it’s a little harsh to extract $555 from someone before
settling on their motivation point of $5k. Or maybe that’s too rare
to worry about and coughing up $55 before hitting a motivation point
of $500 is the highest we’d have to worry about, which doesn’t seem so
bad.

On Fri, Jun 10, 2011 at 21:17, Julian Schvartzman
julian.schvartzman@gmail.com wrote:

Does it really have to be all-or-nothing? How about some sort of
incremental approach, e.g., pay $5 the first time that you go off the YBR,
$7 the 2nd time, and so on…?
I don’t like big all-or-nothing bets because, even without the what-the-hell
effect, they still turn into an incentive to default (or just lie?) on a
contract that the other party will likely be unable to enforce. Am I really
going pay $100K for going off the YBR? $10K? $5K? $1K? $1? Perhaps small
and incrementally more painful bets would be more effective, might give a
chance to the hyperrational side to react, and at the same time we would not
be exaggerating the what-the-hell effect. (?)

On Fri, Jun 10, 2011 at 9:27 PM, David Reiley david@davidreiley.com wrote:

This certainly does seem a weakness of the Beeminder approach. By making
the all-or-nothing bet, you exaggerate the What-the-Hell effect a lot in the
event that you lose.

David

On Jun 10, 2011, at 4:41 PM, Daniel Reeves wrote:

Welcome to the new members who were inspired to join by our last blog
post – blog.bmndr.com/akratics – in which we explained how most
people are not cut out to be Beeminder customers.

You all, on the other hand, are the epitome of Beemindees: irrational
people who are hyperrational about your irrationality.

The topic for today is the What-The-Hell effect:
http://www.spring.org.uk/2011/03/the-what-the-hell-effect.php

In short, the What-The-Hell effect predicts that once you go off your
yellow brick road, all akratic hell breaks loose.

Any anecdotal evidence in favor or against the theory?

(This is still a very small group – 26 people. Don’t be shy about
chiming in.)


My home page: http://www.davidreiley.com

“Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet.” – Abraham Lincoln


http://dreev.es – search://"Daniel Reeves"
Follow the Yellow Brick Road – http://beeminder.com


http://dreev.es – search://"Daniel Reeves"
Follow the Yellow Brick Road – http://beeminder.com

From: Julian Schvartzman julian.schvartzman@gmail.com
Date: Sun, Jun 12, 2011 at 11:57
Subject: Re: akratics anonymous and the what-the-hell effect

I wouldn’t be too worried about penalties before the “motivation
point”, perhaps because I’d motivate myself with a maximum amount I’d
be willing to spend. In any case, here are a few more ideas:

  • Make the multiplier a function of how often you go off the YBR.
    More often -> raise the multiplier faster.

  • Offer some sort of partial refund for good behavior (eg 10% of your
    penalty each month, up to 80%). This creates an acquisitional goal as
    described in the what-the-hell article (you try to earn your penalty
    back), and reduces the “problem” that you mentioned. You still have
    the threat of the upcoming larger penalty. It’s like using both the
    carrot and the stick.

On Sat, Jun 11, 2011 at 12:24 AM, Daniel Reeves dreeves@umich.edu wrote:

We’ve been thinking along similar lines: The initial penalty might be
$5 and it keeps doubling each time you fail.
That way you quickly converge on what for you constitutes a
scary/motivating amount to have at risk.
In fact, that’s kind of how things evolved with my and Bethany’s
contracts. When we first started experimenting with cash commitment
contracts we’d risk at most $20. Soon enough we found that,
ironically, the $20 was a very fair price to pay for all the
motivation it engendered until it failed. But of course it all falls
apart if you think of the penalty as worth paying. So we jacked it up,
first into the hundreds, then one or two thousand. These contracts
are so insanely valuable to us that for our most recent one we weren’t
entirely sure that we couldn’t rationalize $2k as worth it. So to be
safe we went with $5k. That kept the fear alive, and everything
worked out great.

I think Melanie has gone through a similar process with her contracts
but for her she topped out at $600, which seemed to be plenty.

One problem, if anyone has ideas on this:
If you keep doubling the penalty then by the time you find your
Motivation Point – the amount of money you’re sufficiently motivated
to not lose – you’ve racked up essentially that very amount from all
the previous penalties. Note that that was not the case for Bethany
and I because we’d scale up the penalty in reaction to close calls or
just the anticipation of no longer being sufficiently motivated by the
previous amount.
It would help to multiply by, say, 10, each time instead of 2. But
even then, it’s a little harsh to extract $555 from someone before
settling on their motivation point of $5k. Or maybe that’s too rare
to worry about and coughing up $55 before hitting a motivation point
of $500 is the highest we’d have to worry about, which doesn’t seem so
bad.

On Fri, Jun 10, 2011 at 21:17, Julian Schvartzman
julian.schvartzman@gmail.com wrote:

Does it really have to be all-or-nothing? How about some sort of
incremental approach, e.g., pay $5 the first time that you go off the YBR,
$7 the 2nd time, and so on…?
I don’t like big all-or-nothing bets because, even without the what-the-hell
effect, they still turn into an incentive to default (or just lie?) on a
contract that the other party will likely be unable to enforce. Am I really
going pay $100K for going off the YBR? $10K? $5K? $1K? $1? Perhaps small
and incrementally more painful bets would be more effective, might give a
chance to the hyperrational side to react, and at the same time we would not
be exaggerating the what-the-hell effect. (?)

On Fri, Jun 10, 2011 at 9:27 PM, David Reiley david@davidreiley.com wrote:

This certainly does seem a weakness of the Beeminder approach. By making
the all-or-nothing bet, you exaggerate the What-the-Hell effect a lot in the
event that you lose.

David

On Jun 10, 2011, at 4:41 PM, Daniel Reeves wrote:

Welcome to the new members who were inspired to join by our last blog
post – blog.bmndr.com/akratics – in which we explained how most
people are not cut out to be Beeminder customers.

You all, on the other hand, are the epitome of Beemindees: irrational
people who are hyperrational about your irrationality.

The topic for today is the What-The-Hell effect:
http://www.spring.org.uk/2011/03/the-what-the-hell-effect.php

In short, the What-The-Hell effect predicts that once you go off your
yellow brick road, all akratic hell breaks loose.

Any anecdotal evidence in favor or against the theory?

(This is still a very small group – 26 people. Don’t be shy about
chiming in.)


My home page: http://www.davidreiley.com

“Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet.” – Abraham Lincoln


http://dreev.es – search://"Daniel Reeves"
Follow the Yellow Brick Road – http://beeminder.com


http://dreev.es – search://"Daniel Reeves"
Follow the Yellow Brick Road – http://beeminder.com

From: laurie reeves lauriekreeves@gmail.com
Date: Sun, Jun 12, 2011 at 12:59
Subject: Re: akratics anonymous and the what-the-hell effect

ooh, I like this idea of earning your money back. What if people put
up all the money they’re risking right in the beginning and then
gradually earned most of it back (some percentage would not come back
to them- this is the fee for using Beeminder. It could be set up with
gradually increasing increments of payback, thus the closer they come
to acccomplishing their goal, the more they start getting back, but
perhaps with the largest increment coming when they reach the goal.
This takes away the punishment mentality (something that has bothered
me) and turns everything into a positive! I love this idea. And the
problem of collecting the money when someone fails goes away.
Lauriemom

On Sun, Jun 12, 2011 at 11:57 AM, Julian Schvartzman
julian.schvartzman@gmail.com wrote:

I wouldn’t be too worried about penalties before the “motivation point”, perhaps because I’d motivate myself with a maximum amount I’d be willing to spend. In any case, here are a few more ideas:

  • Make the multiplier a function of how often you go off the YBR. More often -> raise the multiplier faster.

  • Offer some sort of partial refund for good behavior (eg 10% of your penalty each month, up to 80%). This creates an acquisitional goal as described in the what-the-hell article (you try to earn your penalty back), and reduces the “problem” that you mentioned. You still have the threat of the upcoming larger penalty. It’s like using both the carrot and the stick.

On Sat, Jun 11, 2011 at 12:24 AM, Daniel Reeves dreeves@umich.edu wrote:

We’ve been thinking along similar lines: The initial penalty might be
$5 and it keeps doubling each time you fail.
That way you quickly converge on what for you constitutes a
scary/motivating amount to have at risk.
In fact, that’s kind of how things evolved with my and Bethany’s
contracts. When we first started experimenting with cash commitment
contracts we’d risk at most $20. Soon enough we found that,
ironically, the $20 was a very fair price to pay for all the
motivation it engendered until it failed. But of course it all falls
apart if you think of the penalty as worth paying. So we jacked it up,
first into the hundreds, then one or two thousand. These contracts
are so insanely valuable to us that for our most recent one we weren’t
entirely sure that we couldn’t rationalize $2k as worth it. So to be
safe we went with $5k. That kept the fear alive, and everything
worked out great.

I think Melanie has gone through a similar process with her contracts
but for her she topped out at $600, which seemed to be plenty.

One problem, if anyone has ideas on this:
If you keep doubling the penalty then by the time you find your
Motivation Point – the amount of money you’re sufficiently motivated
to not lose – you’ve racked up essentially that very amount from all
the previous penalties. Note that that was not the case for Bethany
and I because we’d scale up the penalty in reaction to close calls or
just the anticipation of no longer being sufficiently motivated by the
previous amount.
It would help to multiply by, say, 10, each time instead of 2. But
even then, it’s a little harsh to extract $555 from someone before
settling on their motivation point of $5k. Or maybe that’s too rare
to worry about and coughing up $55 before hitting a motivation point
of $500 is the highest we’d have to worry about, which doesn’t seem so
bad.

On Fri, Jun 10, 2011 at 21:17, Julian Schvartzman
julian.schvartzman@gmail.com wrote:

Does it really have to be all-or-nothing? How about some sort of
incremental approach, e.g., pay $5 the first time that you go off the YBR,
$7 the 2nd time, and so on…?
I don’t like big all-or-nothing bets because, even without the what-the-hell
effect, they still turn into an incentive to default (or just lie?) on a
contract that the other party will likely be unable to enforce. Am I really
going pay $100K for going off the YBR? $10K? $5K? $1K? $1? Perhaps small
and incrementally more painful bets would be more effective, might give a
chance to the hyperrational side to react, and at the same time we would not
be exaggerating the what-the-hell effect. (?)

On Fri, Jun 10, 2011 at 9:27 PM, David Reiley david@davidreiley.com wrote:

This certainly does seem a weakness of the Beeminder approach. By making
the all-or-nothing bet, you exaggerate the What-the-Hell effect a lot in the
event that you lose.

David

On Jun 10, 2011, at 4:41 PM, Daniel Reeves wrote:

Welcome to the new members who were inspired to join by our last blog
post – blog.bmndr.com/akratics – in which we explained how most
people are not cut out to be Beeminder customers.

You all, on the other hand, are the epitome of Beemindees: irrational
people who are hyperrational about your irrationality.

The topic for today is the What-The-Hell effect:
http://www.spring.org.uk/2011/03/the-what-the-hell-effect.php

In short, the What-The-Hell effect predicts that once you go off your
yellow brick road, all akratic hell breaks loose.

Any anecdotal evidence in favor or against the theory?

(This is still a very small group – 26 people. Don’t be shy about
chiming in.)


My home page: http://www.davidreiley.com

“Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet.” – Abraham Lincoln


http://dreev.es – search://"Daniel Reeves"
Follow the Yellow Brick Road – http://beeminder.com


http://dreev.es – search://"Daniel Reeves"
Follow the Yellow Brick Road – http://beeminder.com

From: Alexander Schwarz miro@gmx.tm
Date: Sun, Jun 12, 2011 at 16:09
Subject: Re: akratics anonymous and the what-the-hell effect

Hi laurie,

ooh, I like this idea of earning your money back. What if people put up all
the money they’re risking right in the beginning and then gradually earned
most of it back (some percentage would not come back to them- this is the
fee for using Beeminder.

That fee wouldn’t even be necessary, I suppose. There’d probably be
enough money left from the people who failed once in a while.

It could be set up with gradually increasing
increments of payback, thus the closer they come to acccomplishing their
goal, the more they start getting back, but perhaps with the largest
increment coming when they reach the goal.

Sounds good.

This takes away the punishment mentality (something that has bothered me)
and turns everything into a positive!

It’s said that the fear of losing motivates more than the prospect of
winning, so I’d use both.

Sounds promising to me: At first I state my goal and my stake like
"Stopping smoking for a year is really important to me, it’s even
worth 2,000$. - And I’m not just saying that, I’m actually putting
them on the line."

Then I’d have the opportunity each week to either honor my commitment
and win some money or break the commitment and realize that this part
of my stake is lost.

It would be cool to have some kind of vivid daily feedback like “Today
you gained x$ :-)” or “Today you lost y$ :-(”

Alex


http://dreev.es – search://"Daniel Reeves"
Follow the Yellow Brick Road – http://beeminder.com

From: Daniel Reeves dreeves@umich.edu
Date: Sun, Jun 12, 2011 at 18:15
Subject: Re: akratics anonymous and the what-the-hell effect

Thanks for all the great thoughts everyone. Before I reply to Julian,
Alex, and Laurie, let me throw something into the mix from Irene who
didn’t reply-all but said I could pass it along:

I think it works well (the insanely high penalty for going off the YBR) for
you and Bethany because you are working together and so have
competition and someone to ensure you are being truthful. For most of
us there is the option of just - well - lying to ourselves as the edge of
the YBR comes close, having a bout of What the Hellness and then
getting back on track. For me personally having a huge penalty (but ive
turned mine into a prize that I risk if I fail to be on the YBR at a certain
date) is working.

I actually disagree with that, for several reasons:

  1. Lying to yourself and breaking commitments to yourself is part and
    parcel with akrasia. And the buddy system only helps so much. I don’t
    think Bethany and I were keeping each other honest. What kept us
    honest with the $5k contract was that we actually sold it to a couple
    friends (for $150). If the beneficiaries hadn’t paid for the privilege
    then we probably could’ve weaseled or our friends could’ve let us off
    the hook. (Maybe we could’ve even rationalized lying in that case,
    like “well, we’re not actually hurting anyone” though that sounds
    pretty unconscionable to me.) But we actually took their $150.
    Weaseling in that case would be like selling lottery tickets and then
    rigging the draw to make sure no one ever wins.

  2. Maybe some people would still cheat in those circumstances but who
    cares? I won’t buy someone’s contract unless I know they think of the
    contract the way I just described: that lying to avoid losing is
    tantamount to stealing. And if I haven’t paid for their contract then
    it’s no skin off my nose if they lie. They just defeated the point,
    is all.

  3. Let’s even assume that most people would lie if the chips are
    down (which I don’t believe, certainly not among the type of person
    who has been attracted to Beeminder so far – like I said, people who
    are hyperrational about their irrationality). Well, then commitment
    contracts have limited utility for most people. Though even then it’s
    not zero utility. You don’t want to have to lie so that in itself is
    motivating.

I really like Alex’s idea of the people who fail funding the people
who succeed, so I hope lying is not in fact too common, because that
would spoil that idea.

On Sun, Jun 12, 2011 at 16:09, Alexander Schwarz miro@gmx.tm wrote:

Hi laurie,

ooh, I like this idea of earning your money back. What if people put up all
the money they’re risking right in the beginning and then gradually earned
most of it back (some percentage would not come back to them- this is the
fee for using Beeminder.

That fee wouldn’t even be necessary, I suppose. There’d probably be
enough money left from the people who failed once in a while.

It could be set up with gradually increasing
increments of payback, thus the closer they come to acccomplishing their
goal, the more they start getting back, but perhaps with the largest
increment coming when they reach the goal.

Sounds good.

This takes away the punishment mentality (something that has bothered me)
and turns everything into a positive!

It’s said that the fear of losing motivates more than the prospect of
winning, so I’d use both.

Sounds promising to me: At first I state my goal and my stake like
"Stopping smoking for a year is really important to me, it’s even
worth 2,000$. - And I’m not just saying that, I’m actually putting
them on the line."

Then I’d have the opportunity each week to either honor my commitment
and win some money or break the commitment and realize that this part
of my stake is lost.

It would be cool to have some kind of vivid daily feedback like “Today
you gained x$ :-)” or “Today you lost y$ :-(”

Alex


http://dreev.es – search://"Daniel Reeves"
Follow the Yellow Brick Road – http://beeminder.com


http://dreev.es – search://"Daniel Reeves"
Follow the Yellow Brick Road – http://beeminder.com

From: Daniel Reeves dreeves@umich.edu
Date: Sun, Jun 12, 2011 at 18:33
Subject: Re: akratics anonymous and the what-the-hell effect

It would be cool to have some kind of vivid daily feedback like “Today
you gained x$ :-)” or “Today you lost y$ :-(”

My reaction to these ideas for changing the psychology is that it’s
not appealing to me personally, though I realize I may be in the
minority and that we want to experiment with this stuff (and thanks
again for the great ideas!).

But let me make one counterargument against things like earning back
some of your forfeited money: it really muddies the consequences. How
bad is it to go off this road, exactly? If it’s a definite dollar
amount then the answer is simple. If it’s an amount some of which I
can earn back, then it’s complicated, which is not what we want. It’s
kind of like a previous debate we’ve had about grace periods and
similar things to make YBR contracts less harsh. Here was my
conclusion: (Short version: 3-strikes policies and grace periods and
such seem so fair and reasonable but they backfire. Better to stick
with the dirt simple “step off this road and you lose”.)

We need to minimize the number of rules and caveats to think about.
Any rules and caveats that make staying on the road harder are bad for
obvious reasons. But even the ones that try to make it easier you have
to think about too. That’s because you’re going to end up pushing the
limits and to understand the precise limits you have to understand
every rule and caveat. The idea is to have as little ambiguity as
possible about what will make you lose. Consider grace periods,
3-strikes policies, and complicated and generous exemption criteria.
Those, ironically, don’t reduce your chances of failing on your
contract! How not? Because they don’t really make the overall goal any
easier; they mostly just add some fuzziness about how far you can push
things before you really lose. Which just means you push a little
farther than you would otherwise and just end up increasing your
chances of losing. Better to push it / procrastinate up to a bright,
unambiguous line than to push it / procrastinate up to a line whose
exact location is shrouded.
The lesson I’ve learned: make the goal itself easier, don’t try to
make it easier with various leniencies. If there’s any doubt, do a
trial period to see what a road is like before you fully commit to it.


http://dreev.es – search://"Daniel Reeves"
Follow the Yellow Brick Road – http://beeminder.com


http://dreev.es – search://"Daniel Reeves"
Follow the Yellow Brick Road – http://beeminder.com

From: kar1k@gmx.de
Date: Mon, Jun 13, 2011 at 04:54
Subject: Re: akratics anonymous and the what-the-hell effect

Answer to Irene’s point, just a personal observation:

I think it works well (the insanely high penalty for going off the YBR) for
you and Bethany because you are working together and so have
competition and someone to ensure you are being truthful.

Two years ago I had the plan to stop drinking alcohol for 30 days,
which was not so easy for me. So I sent 300$ to a good friend of mine,
who was living in another town. The contract was: Should I drink, she
could keep the money, if not, I’d get it back. This was an idea I got
from the book “Following Through”, and it worked pretty well. Because
it instantly raised the price of a can of beer to 300$. That other part of me
who liked to sometimes have a drink still had that desire from time to
time, but even to him it wasn’t worth 300$.

As to the lying and honesty part: It’s sometimes easy to rationalize
things and find loopholes, but with such a crystal-clear agreement I
knew that I wouldn’t (or even couldn’t) lie about this stuff; not to
me and not to my friend.

So it worked pretty well, I did it for 30 days and then extended the
deal for another month.

What kept us honest with the $5k contract was that we actually sold
it to a couple friends (for $150).

This is a great concept.

You see, where things went wrong with the deal I mentioned above was
when in the second month I was on vacation in Spain with a group of
friends. It was our first night, everything was perfect, we had great
dinner and (of course) wine to drink. So I literally said “what the
hell…”

When I called my friend after the vacation and told her about it, she
said I shouldn’t be too hard on myself, I had succeeded for 40 days
and she let me off the hook! That spoiled the system for me for quite
some time. Haven’t tried it since. I’d like to try it again if I find
a working constellation.

Also agree with your other points.

Alex


http://dreev.es – search://"Daniel Reeves"
Follow the Yellow Brick Road – http://beeminder.com

From: kar1k@gmx.de
Date: Mon, Jun 13, 2011 at 05:16
Subject: Re: akratics anonymous and the what-the-hell effect

Hi Daniel,

My reaction to these ideas for changing the psychology is that it’s
not appealing to me personally, though I realize I may be in the
minority and that we want to experiment with this stuff (and thanks
again for the great ideas!).

But let me make one counterargument against things like earning back
some of your forfeited money: it really muddies the consequences.

I agree with you on this point that the possibility of winning back
lost money might have some undesirable consequences.

But I still like the idea of combining the motivation of winning and
not losing money (moving toward + moving away):

What about this scenario:

The participant sets a stake of maybe 2000$ (or the amount it’s worth
to him to succeed) and his deal partner sets a lower sum, maybe 5 or
10%.

So the pool is 2200$ and if the goal in question is 100 days away,
there would be a prize of 22$ to win each day, either by the
participant or his deal partner.

This could add some instant gratification, but in a positive way:
Imagine I have my iphone-app (for instance) where I can just check
“Yes, I did it today! :-)” and I’m instantly credited with 22$ that I
can now use to reward myself.

Although it might be interesting to have a dynamic mode, where prizes
increase with time.

The idea probably still needs some fine-tuning. :wink:

Alex


http://dreev.es – search://“Daniel Reeves”
Follow the Yellow Brick Road – http://beeminder.com

From: Jill Renaud veganjill@gmail.com
Date: Mon, Jun 13, 2011 at 20:19
Subject: Re: akratics anonymous and the what-the-hell effect

I agree with Danny on many of these points. I have been kibotzing (or
should I say beeminding) for over three years now
(http://beeminder.com/jill/hist) with some degree of success. I’ve
been here through the three strikes rule – which overall makes the
goal much tougher – because you don’t take day to day things
seriously enough. I’ve also been here through the various grace
periods and extra silly rules. I think the barebones model (all or
none) is best in terms of pushing you to meet your goal.
My current weight loss road (http://beeminder.com/jill/weight) ends in
a week and I am dangerously close to losing my bet. That said, I
think that I am very motivated to win my bet because the punishment is
appropriately severe ($621, which I need pretty badly to buy a new
wardrobe since none of my clothes fit me right now). If I had already
won back 95% of my money, I’d be pretty inclined to say "good enough"
and not meet my overall goal. I have a graduation party and a wedding
to attend this weekend – were it not for my road ending on Tuesday,
I’d probably eat with reckless abandon and be very disappointed with
myself come Monday morning. Having basica.lly my entire bet ride on
this weekend will ensure that I behave (and hopefully meet my overall
goal).
That said, even if I don’t meet my overall goal, $621 to lose 18lbs is
a good deal in my book.
-Jill

On Sun, Jun 12, 2011 at 7:33 PM, Daniel Reeves dreeves@umich.edu wrote:

It would be cool to have some kind of vivid daily feedback like “Today
you gained x$ :-)” or “Today you lost y$ :-(”

My reaction to these ideas for changing the psychology is that it’s
not appealing to me personally, though I realize I may be in the
minority and that we want to experiment with this stuff (and thanks
again for the great ideas!).

But let me make one counterargument against things like earning back
some of your forfeited money: it really muddies the consequences. How
bad is it to go off this road, exactly? If it’s a definite dollar
amount then the answer is simple. If it’s an amount some of which I
can earn back, then it’s complicated, which is not what we want. It’s
kind of like a previous debate we’ve had about grace periods and
similar things to make YBR contracts less harsh. Here was my
conclusion: (Short version: 3-strikes policies and grace periods and
such seem so fair and reasonable but they backfire. Better to stick
with the dirt simple “step off this road and you lose”.)

We need to minimize the number of rules and caveats to think about.
Any rules and caveats that make staying on the road harder are bad for
obvious reasons. But even the ones that try to make it easier you have
to think about too. That’s because you’re going to end up pushing the
limits and to understand the precise limits you have to understand
every rule and caveat. The idea is to have as little ambiguity as
possible about what will make you lose. Consider grace periods,
3-strikes policies, and complicated and generous exemption criteria.
Those, ironically, don’t reduce your chances of failing on your
contract! How not? Because they don’t really make the overall goal any
easier; they mostly just add some fuzziness about how far you can push
things before you really lose. Which just means you push a little
farther than you would otherwise and just end up increasing your
chances of losing. Better to push it / procrastinate up to a bright,
unambiguous line than to push it / procrastinate up to a line whose
exact location is shrouded.
The lesson I’ve learned: make the goal itself easier, don’t try to
make it easier with various leniencies. If there’s any doubt, do a
trial period to see what a road is like before you fully commit to it.


http://dreev.es – search://"Daniel Reeves"
Follow the Yellow Brick Road – http://beeminder.com


http://dreev.es – search://"Daniel Reeves"
Follow the Yellow Brick Road – http://beeminder.com

From: Daniel Reeves dreeves@umich.edu
Date: Mon, Jun 13, 2011 at 21:37
Subject: Re: akratics anonymous and the what-the-hell effect

Thanks, Jill! Your last sentence is interesting… sounds like $621
is still below your Motivation Point. Or could potentially be, if
you’re even entertaining that “$621 to lose 18 pounds is a good deal”
rationalization. But think of it this way: you can save yourself $621
just by not eating much for one week! So even if all-in-all it would
still be a good deal if you lost, you should feel pretty dumb if you
do. :slight_smile:

I’m still thinking about the ideas for turning the contract penalty
around to not feel like a punishment. There are some good ideas here
but I’m still personally not that into it. I mean, fine, it’s a
punishment; so what? As an akratic you’re failing to do that which you
obviously, unambiguously need to be doing, so why screw around? Let’s
just go to the closest possible approximation of putting a gun to your
head. In my way of thinking, every variation that makes it less
like having a gun to your head just increases the chances that you’ll
lose.

Finally, I noticed a similarity in Jill’s and Alex’s stories that
reminded me of discussions with David Reiley and Dan Goldstein: In
Alex’s case he was on vacation in Spain and it made sense to have an
exception to his no alcohol contract. In Jill’s case, a temporary
reprieve so she can enjoy the wedding and graduation party might make
sense. Alex got the reprieve but at the expense of being able to take
the contract seriously anymore. Jill explained how the possibility of
reprieves just makes the overall goal harder. Still, wouldn’t it be
nice if there was a way to have the best of both world’s? Could you
put that gun pointed at your head in the hands of someone you trust to
make the right judgment calls?

We’re working on an idea that’s not quite that holy grail but getting
closer. We’ll describe it here soon.

On Mon, Jun 13, 2011 at 20:19, Jill Renaud veganjill@gmail.com wrote:

I agree with Danny on many of these points. I have been kibotzing (or
should I say beeminding) for over three years now
(http://beeminder.com/jill/hist) with some degree of success. I’ve been
here through the three strikes rule – which overall makes the goal much
tougher – because you don’t take day to day things seriously enough. I’ve
also been here through the various grace periods and extra silly rules. I
think the barebones model (all or none) is best in terms of pushing you to
meet your goal.
My current weight loss road (http://beeminder.com/jill/weight) ends in a
week and I am dangerously close to losing my bet. That said, I think that I
am very motivated to win my bet because the punishment is appropriately
severe ($621, which I need pretty badly to buy a new wardrobe since none of
my clothes fit me right now). If I had already won back 95% of my money,
I’d be pretty inclined to say “good enough” and not meet my overall goal. I
have a graduation party and a wedding to attend this weekend – were it not
for my road ending on Tuesday, I’d probably eat with reckless abandon and be
very disappointed with myself come Monday morning. Having basica.lly my
entire bet ride on this weekend will ensure that I behave (and hopefully
meet my overall goal).
That said, even if I don’t meet my overall goal, $621 to lose 18lbs is a
good deal in my book.
-Jill

On Sun, Jun 12, 2011 at 7:33 PM, Daniel Reeves dreeves@umich.edu wrote:

It would be cool to have some kind of vivid daily feedback like “Today
you gained x$ :-)” or “Today you lost y$ :-(”

My reaction to these ideas for changing the psychology is that it’s
not appealing to me personally, though I realize I may be in the
minority and that we want to experiment with this stuff (and thanks
again for the great ideas!).

But let me make one counterargument against things like earning back
some of your forfeited money: it really muddies the consequences. How
bad is it to go off this road, exactly? If it’s a definite dollar
amount then the answer is simple. If it’s an amount some of which I
can earn back, then it’s complicated, which is not what we want. It’s
kind of like a previous debate we’ve had about grace periods and
similar things to make YBR contracts less harsh. Here was my
conclusion: (Short version: 3-strikes policies and grace periods and
such seem so fair and reasonable but they backfire. Better to stick
with the dirt simple “step off this road and you lose”.)

We need to minimize the number of rules and caveats to think about.
Any rules and caveats that make staying on the road harder are bad for
obvious reasons. But even the ones that try to make it easier you have
to think about too. That’s because you’re going to end up pushing the
limits and to understand the precise limits you have to understand
every rule and caveat. The idea is to have as little ambiguity as
possible about what will make you lose. Consider grace periods,
3-strikes policies, and complicated and generous exemption criteria.
Those, ironically, don’t reduce your chances of failing on your
contract! How not? Because they don’t really make the overall goal any
easier; they mostly just add some fuzziness about how far you can push
things before you really lose. Which just means you push a little
farther than you would otherwise and just end up increasing your
chances of losing. Better to push it / procrastinate up to a bright,
unambiguous line than to push it / procrastinate up to a line whose
exact location is shrouded.
The lesson I’ve learned: make the goal itself easier, don’t try to
make it easier with various leniencies. If there’s any doubt, do a
trial period to see what a road is like before you fully commit to it.


http://dreev.es – search://“Daniel Reeves”
Follow the Yellow Brick Road – http://beeminder.com


http://dreev.es – search://“Daniel Reeves”
Follow the Yellow Brick Road – http://beeminder.com


http://dreev.es – search://“Daniel Reeves”
Follow the Yellow Brick Road – http://beeminder.com

From: Julian Schvartzman julian.schvartzman@gmail.com
Date: Mon, Jun 13, 2011 at 21:52
Subject: Re: akratics anonymous and the what-the-hell effect

Dan,

This is in response to your previous message…

I get your points about partial refunds. I think that one of the main
problems of this idea is the added complexity: in general, simpler
rules seem better. However, human motivation (or lack thereof) doesn’t
sound like a simple issue, and seems more complex than the anecdotal
dilemma of offering a configurable auction or “just an auction”.

Personally, I wouldn’t mind going off the YBR a few times, as long as
I reached my goal anyway, within a reasonable tolerance. Perhaps this
is similar to having had some wine while in Spain. Of course, you can
say that the goal should have been “at most two drinks in any two
month period” or similar. I am just not convinced that strict rules
with a single large penalty alone create sufficient motivation for a
large group of people that will inevitably tend to go what-the-hell.

Note that the simpler scheme of increasing penalties over time is, in
a way, also giving you “second chances” in advance. You just pay the
smaller penalties, get another chance, and another… until you have
no more slack and your next penalty is sufficiently high. Getting
penalties refunded back to you is similar in this sense: you know in
advance that you’ll have a second chance (by possibly earning some of
your money back) and speculate on that, but these refund opportunities
can easily be defined as increasingly more difficult to attain (plus
you still have the threat of the next higher penalty). The increasing
penalty scheme serves to discover the right motivating penalty amount;
the refund mechanism is making the discovery process less expensive
(plus the added benefit of creating an acquisitional goal). Once the
refund process becomes sufficiently difficult, it’s like having no
refund at all.

In any case, complexity alone might be sufficient to reject this
refund approach. What I am trying to say is that, complexity aside, a
properly defined refund mechanism doesn’t seem to have worse
consequences than a scheme using increasing penalties and no refunds.

I look fwd to reading about your new ideas…

Julian

On Mon, Jun 13, 2011 at 10:37 PM, Daniel Reeves dreeves@umich.edu wrote:

Thanks, Jill! Your last sentence is interesting… sounds like $621
is still below your Motivation Point. Or could potentially be, if
you’re even entertaining that “$621 to lose 18 pounds is a good deal”
rationalization. But think of it this way: you can save yourself $621
just by not eating much for one week! So even if all-in-all it would
still be a good deal if you lost, you should feel pretty dumb if you
do. :slight_smile:

I’m still thinking about the ideas for turning the contract penalty
around to not feel like a punishment. There are some good ideas here
but I’m still personally not that into it. I mean, fine, it’s a
punishment; so what? As an akratic you’re failing to do that which you
obviously, unambiguously need to be doing, so why screw around? Let’s
just go to the closest possible approximation of putting a gun to your
head. In my way of thinking, every variation that makes it less
like having a gun to your head just increases the chances that you’ll
lose.

Finally, I noticed a similarity in Jill’s and Alex’s stories that
reminded me of discussions with David Reiley and Dan Goldstein: In
Alex’s case he was on vacation in Spain and it made sense to have an
exception to his no alcohol contract. In Jill’s case, a temporary
reprieve so she can enjoy the wedding and graduation party might make
sense. Alex got the reprieve but at the expense of being able to take
the contract seriously anymore. Jill explained how the possibility of
reprieves just makes the overall goal harder. Still, wouldn’t it be
nice if there was a way to have the best of both world’s? Could you
put that gun pointed at your head in the hands of someone you trust to
make the right judgment calls?

We’re working on an idea that’s not quite that holy grail but getting
closer. We’ll describe it here soon.

On Mon, Jun 13, 2011 at 20:19, Jill Renaud veganjill@gmail.com wrote:

I agree with Danny on many of these points. I have been kibotzing (or
should I say beeminding) for over three years now
(http://beeminder.com/jill/hist) with some degree of success. I’ve been
here through the three strikes rule – which overall makes the goal much
tougher – because you don’t take day to day things seriously enough. I’ve
also been here through the various grace periods and extra silly rules. I
think the barebones model (all or none) is best in terms of pushing you to
meet your goal.
My current weight loss road (http://beeminder.com/jill/weight) ends in a
week and I am dangerously close to losing my bet. That said, I think that I
am very motivated to win my bet because the punishment is appropriately
severe ($621, which I need pretty badly to buy a new wardrobe since none of
my clothes fit me right now). If I had already won back 95% of my money,
I’d be pretty inclined to say “good enough” and not meet my overall goal. I
have a graduation party and a wedding to attend this weekend – were it not
for my road ending on Tuesday, I’d probably eat with reckless abandon and be
very disappointed with myself come Monday morning. Having basica.lly my
entire bet ride on this weekend will ensure that I behave (and hopefully
meet my overall goal).
That said, even if I don’t meet my overall goal, $621 to lose 18lbs is a
good deal in my book.
-Jill

On Sun, Jun 12, 2011 at 7:33 PM, Daniel Reeves dreeves@umich.edu wrote:

It would be cool to have some kind of vivid daily feedback like “Today
you gained x$ :-)” or “Today you lost y$ :-(”

My reaction to these ideas for changing the psychology is that it’s
not appealing to me personally, though I realize I may be in the
minority and that we want to experiment with this stuff (and thanks
again for the great ideas!).

But let me make one counterargument against things like earning back
some of your forfeited money: it really muddies the consequences. How
bad is it to go off this road, exactly? If it’s a definite dollar
amount then the answer is simple. If it’s an amount some of which I
can earn back, then it’s complicated, which is not what we want. It’s
kind of like a previous debate we’ve had about grace periods and
similar things to make YBR contracts less harsh. Here was my
conclusion: (Short version: 3-strikes policies and grace periods and
such seem so fair and reasonable but they backfire. Better to stick
with the dirt simple “step off this road and you lose”.)

We need to minimize the number of rules and caveats to think about.
Any rules and caveats that make staying on the road harder are bad for
obvious reasons. But even the ones that try to make it easier you have
to think about too. That’s because you’re going to end up pushing the
limits and to understand the precise limits you have to understand
every rule and caveat. The idea is to have as little ambiguity as
possible about what will make you lose. Consider grace periods,
3-strikes policies, and complicated and generous exemption criteria.
Those, ironically, don’t reduce your chances of failing on your
contract! How not? Because they don’t really make the overall goal any
easier; they mostly just add some fuzziness about how far you can push
things before you really lose. Which just means you push a little
farther than you would otherwise and just end up increasing your
chances of losing. Better to push it / procrastinate up to a bright,
unambiguous line than to push it / procrastinate up to a line whose
exact location is shrouded.
The lesson I’ve learned: make the goal itself easier, don’t try to
make it easier with various leniencies. If there’s any doubt, do a
trial period to see what a road is like before you fully commit to it.


http://dreev.es – search://“Daniel Reeves”
Follow the Yellow Brick Road – http://beeminder.com


http://dreev.es – search://“Daniel Reeves”
Follow the Yellow Brick Road – http://beeminder.com


http://dreev.es – search://“Daniel Reeves”
Follow the Yellow Brick Road – http://beeminder.com

From: Irene Randall irandall52@yahoo.co.uk
Date: Tue, Jun 14, 2011 at 01:05
Subject: Re: akratics anonymous and the what-the-hell effect

Hi - Having re read everyones comments I see that I hadnt really
understood the arguments the first time I commented. For me it has to
be simple (thats why I like the raw data of my bathroom scale (s) )
with no wriggle room. I weigh, I write it down in my book, I log it on
my graph. It works best if there is a BIG reward - an all in one hit
not dribs and drabs - which will evaporate if I get to the set date
and am not under my goal weight. After that its up to me if I eat
reasonably or gorge and then run miles … graph and scale dont care,
dont lie. Yeah - go ahead Irene and have a What The Hell but you know
that scale and graph will reflect it and you will be in big trouble
getting back on the YBR.
I sympathise with Jills thoughts (and congrats BTW on your -18lbs) but
I need to be much much harsher on myself to get the results I crave.
Apple Shop in Covent Garden here I come (woo hoo - today!)

Irene Randall
From: Julian Schvartzman julian.schvartzman@gmail.com
To: Daniel Reeves dreeves@umich.edu
Cc: akratics@beeminder.com
Sent: Tuesday, 14 June 2011, 3:52
Subject: Re: akratics anonymous and the what-the-hell effect

Dan,

This is in response to your previous message…

I get your points about partial refunds. I think that one of the main
problems of this idea is the added complexity: in general, simpler
rules seem better. However, human motivation (or lack thereof) doesn’t
sound like a simple issue, and seems more complex than the anecdotal
dilemma of offering a configurable auction or “just an auction”.

Personally, I wouldn’t mind going off the YBR a few times, as long as
I reached my goal anyway, within a reasonable tolerance. Perhaps this
is similar to having had some wine while in Spain. Of course, you can
say that the goal should have been “at most two drinks in any two
month period” or similar. I am just not convinced that strict rules
with a single large penalty alone create sufficient motivation for a
large group of people that will inevitably tend to go what-the-hell.

Note that the simpler scheme of increasing penalties over time is, in
a way, also giving you “second chances” in advance. You just pay the
smaller penalties, get another chance, and another… until you have
no more slack and your next penalty is sufficiently high. Getting
penalties refunded back to you is similar in this sense: you know in
advance that you’ll have a second chance (by possibly earning some of
your money back) and speculate on that, but these refund opportunities
can easily be defined as increasingly more difficult to attain (plus
you still have the threat of the next higher penalty). The increasing
penalty scheme serves to discover the right motivating penalty amount;
the refund mechanism is making the discovery process less expensive
(plus the added benefit of creating an acquisitional goal). Once the
refund process becomes sufficiently difficult, it’s like having no
refund at all.

In any case, complexity alone might be sufficient to reject this
refund approach. What I am trying to say is that, complexity aside, a
properly defined refund mechanism doesn’t seem to have worse
consequences than a scheme using increasing penalties and no refunds.

I look fwd to reading about your new ideas…

Julian

On Mon, Jun 13, 2011 at 10:37 PM, Daniel Reeves dreeves@umich.edu wrote:

Thanks, Jill! Your last sentence is interesting… sounds like $621
is still below your Motivation Point. Or could potentially be, if
you’re even entertaining that “$621 to lose 18 pounds is a good deal”
rationalization. But think of it this way: you can save yourself $621
just by not eating much for one week! So even if all-in-all it would
still be a good deal if you lost, you should feel pretty dumb if you
do. :slight_smile:

I’m still thinking about the ideas for turning the contract penalty
around to not feel like a punishment. There are some good ideas here
but I’m still personally not that into it. I mean, fine, it’s a
punishment; so what? As an akratic you’re failing to do that which you
obviously, unambiguously need to be doing, so why screw around? Let’s
just go to the closest possible approximation of putting a gun to your
head. In my way of thinking, every variation that makes it less
like having a gun to your head just increases the chances that you’ll
lose.

Finally, I noticed a similarity in Jill’s and Alex’s stories that
reminded me of discussions with David Reiley and Dan Goldstein: In
Alex’s case he was on vacation in Spain and it made sense to have an
exception to his no alcohol contract. In Jill’s case, a temporary
reprieve so she can enjoy the wedding and graduation party might make
sense. Alex got the reprieve but at the expense of being able to take
the contract seriously anymore. Jill explained how the possibility of
reprieves just makes the overall goal harder. Still, wouldn’t it be
nice if there was a way to have the best of both world’s? Could you
put that gun pointed at your head in the hands of someone you trust to
make the right judgment calls?

We’re working on an idea that’s not quite that holy grail but getting
closer. We’ll describe it here soon.

On Mon, Jun 13, 2011 at 20:19, Jill Renaud veganjill@gmail.com wrote:

I agree with Danny on many of these points. I have been kibotzing (or
should I say beeminding) for over three years now
(http://beeminder.com/jill/hist) with some degree of success. I’ve been
here through the three strikes rule – which overall makes the goal much
tougher – because you don’t take day to day things seriously enough. I’ve
also been here through the various grace periods and extra silly rules. I
think the barebones model (all or none) is best in terms of pushing you to
meet your goal.
My current weight loss road (http://beeminder.com/jill/weight) ends in a
week and I am dangerously close to losing my bet. That said, I think that I
am very motivated to win my bet because the punishment is appropriately
severe ($621, which I need pretty badly to buy a new wardrobe since none of
my clothes fit me right now). If I had already won back 95% of my money,
I’d be pretty inclined to say “good enough” and not meet my overall goal. I
have a graduation party and a wedding to attend this weekend – were it not
for my road ending on Tuesday, I’d probably eat with reckless abandon and be
very disappointed with myself come Monday morning. Having basica.lly my
entire bet ride on this weekend will ensure that I behave (and hopefully
meet my overall goal).
That said, even if I don’t meet my overall goal, $621 to lose 18lbs is a
good deal in my book.
-Jill

On Sun, Jun 12, 2011 at 7:33 PM, Daniel Reeves dreeves@umich.edu wrote:

It would be cool to have some kind of vivid daily feedback like “Today
you gained x$ :-)” or “Today you lost y$ :-(”

My reaction to these ideas for changing the psychology is that it’s
not appealing to me personally, though I realize I may be in the
minority and that we want to experiment with this stuff (and thanks
again for the great ideas!).

But let me make one counterargument against things like earning back
some of your forfeited money: it really muddies the consequences. How
bad is it to go off this road, exactly? If it’s a definite dollar
amount then the answer is simple. If it’s an amount some of which I
can earn back, then it’s complicated, which is not what we want. It’s
kind of like a previous debate we’ve had about grace periods and
similar things to make YBR contracts less harsh. Here was my
conclusion: (Short version: 3-strikes policies and grace periods and
such seem so fair and reasonable but they backfire. Better to stick
with the dirt simple “step off this road and you lose”.)

We need to minimize the number of rules and caveats to think about.
Any rules and caveats that make staying on the road harder are bad for
obvious reasons. But even the ones that try to make it easier you have
to think about too. That’s because you’re going to end up pushing the
limits and to understand the precise limits you have to understand
every rule and caveat. The idea is to have as little ambiguity as
possible about what will make you lose. Consider grace periods,
3-strikes policies, and complicated and generous exemption criteria.
Those, ironically, don’t reduce your chances of failing on your
contract! How not? Because they don’t really make the overall goal any
easier; they mostly just add some fuzziness about how far you can push
things before you really lose. Which just means you push a little
farther than you would otherwise and just end up increasing your
chances of losing. Better to push it / procrastinate up to a bright,
unambiguous line than to push it / procrastinate up to a line whose
exact location is shrouded.
The lesson I’ve learned: make the goal itself easier, don’t try to
make it easier with various leniencies. If there’s any doubt, do a
trial period to see what a road is like before you fully commit to it.


http://dreev.es – search://“Daniel Reeves”
Follow the Yellow Brick Road – http://beeminder.com


http://dreev.es – search://“Daniel Reeves”
Follow the Yellow Brick Road – http://beeminder.com


http://dreev.es – search://“Daniel Reeves”
Follow the Yellow Brick Road – http://beeminder.com

From: kar1k@gmx.de
Date: Thu, Jun 16, 2011 at 09:51
Subject: Re: akratics anonymous and the what-the-hell effect

I’m still thinking about the ideas for turning the contract penalty
around to not feel like a punishment. There are some good ideas here
but I’m still personally not that into it. I mean, fine, it’s a
punishment; so what? As an akratic you’re failing to do that which you
obviously, unambiguously need to be doing, so why screw around? Let’s
just go to the closest possible approximation of putting a gun to your
head. In my way of thinking, every variation that makes it less
like having a gun to your head just increases the chances that you’ll
lose.

Makes a lot of sense to me, I like your gun-to-the-head-metaphor.

In Alex’s case he was on vacation in Spain and it made sense to have
an exception to his no alcohol contract.

Did it make sense? Maybe. In any case I feel it would have been
important to negotiate the exception beforehand not in the situation.

What I find interesting is that I know situations where it’s easy for
me to follow the rules because I sense that they are cast in stone,
and other situations where my internal lawyer is on overtime arguing
about loopholes.

Unfortunately I don’t know yet what differentiates these situations.

Alex


http://dreev.es – search://"Daniel Reeves"
Follow the Yellow Brick Road – http://beeminder.com

From: kar1k@gmx.de
Date: Thu, Jun 16, 2011 at 09:51
Subject: Re: akratics anonymous and the what-the-hell effect

Hi Julian,

I get your points about partial refunds. I think that one of the main
problems of this idea is the added complexity: in general, simpler rules
seem better. However, human motivation (or lack thereof) doesn’t sound like
a simple issue, and seems more complex than the anecdotal dilemma of
offering a configurable auction or “just an auction”.

Even though I like Daniel’s simple “gun-to-the-head-idea”, as I just wrote, I
also like the idea of a more complex solution.

In the past months, various people have studied and written about
human motivation and brought up the idea to use the mechanics of
computer games to motivate people, as they work like a charm in games,
keeping people hooked for hours.

I like the idea of a really complex system, with a simple frontend. It
could involve different motivational strategies, different parameter
sets within these strategies and depending on good behaviour, the
program could let me off the leash for a while.

Of course people would have to be able to earn badges and stuff,
become the mayor of procrastination and so on. :wink:

And you could monetize the system by selling cheat codes. :wink:

Ok, that was kind of silly, but I still like the general idea.

I have no idea if it would work, but it would be a lot of fun to try
it out.

Alex


http://dreev.es – search://“Daniel Reeves”
Follow the Yellow Brick Road – http://beeminder.com