Beeminding Pocket with

I’ve had an IFTTT rule tracking articles on Pocket to encourage me to read things as opposed to just keep adding them. It’s worked out pretty well, counting archived articles but not deleted articles until a few weeks ago, when suddenly reads in Pocket stopped registering. I haven’t been able to nail down the problem with IFTTT but while debugging it, support mentioned that I might want to try using instead. looks like it would achieve the same thing and I’m intrigued by the Article Words Backlog option, which might be good for encouraging me to read the longer articles, rather than cherry picking the short ones to get my point more easily.

However, I searched on the forum for details hoping to find out how it worked or how to set it up and I couldn’t find anything – most of the conversation I found is centered around 2015 and debugging.

Starting from Beeminder, I found that isn’t listed as one of the services.

If I start from, it asks me to choose the correct slug from my existing Beeminder goals. I disconnected IFTTT (which, interestingly, is working fine now that I’ve set it up again) and added, in hopes that it would simply update the data source and keep going.

This kinda worked, except that updated with a value of +4,512 which means I don’t need to read another article until March 2030.

I have a vague recollection that there’s a way of creating a manual goal on Beeminder and then connecting it to a service, which I guess is what’s needed here, but I have to admit, I don’t remember how to do that and again, a quick search on the forums didn’t get me an easy answer.

Beyond that, I’m now not sure if the integration needs to be approached differently because I don’t know what the 4,512 data update is meant to represent.

Is there any documentation at all or some better means of testing that I can try?


Maybe first question: which Pocket metric did you pick on

  1. Article backlog – The sum of days since each article has been added
  2. Article words backlog – The sum of days since each word in an article has been added
  3. Total word count – The sum of words in all articles

I chose Article Backlog. That’s interesting, I had not understood at all what the different options were. Is this documented anywhere?

It sounds like the “read an article a week” metric that I was using doesn’t work with but possibly the word backlog could to do something similar without rewarding short pieces.

I’m happy to test all of these but I don’t know/remember how to set up the goals to do so.

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If you click on the metrics on it has the blurbs I pasted above, under a “Description” heading.


The way it works with is you have to first create the goal in Beeminder as a manual or custom goal and then click the metric you want in and point it at the goal you created.

Ah, I see! The metrics only show up if you log in – by the time I logged in, I had stopped looking for them.

But you can’t just create a goal in Beeminder as a manual goal, you have to select the type, first. So how do I know which type is correct for these three, or do I just always do “Do More” and then point whichever metric at it via

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Ha, nice illustration of The Anti-Magic Principle AKA “if-statements considered harmful”!

Great question. Looks like all 3 of these want to be Whittle Down goals.

So that didn’t quite go as expected.

I finally got time to look at this again. Yesterday evening, I created a beeminder “whittle down” goal called PocketBM (to stand for Pocket via and then connected it. It didn’t synch immediately so I left the commitment at 0 (that is, it should have been “safe” as long as I didn’t add more articles) and with a zero pledge so I could check it again this morning. However, this morning I was alerted to the fact that I am in the red.

You’re in the red! HARD CAP of -24026445 to be on the road.

Those are, I think, the number of words that I am expected to read by midnight tonight. I really have no idea and I don’t think that for me right now (where I am really just trying to set something up to keep my article count up and then move on), is the right tool.

IFTTT has been logging things fine after the week of not registering, so I’ll stick with that for now. I just wanted to report that it isn’t quite as simple as it might seem. I’ve left the goal up so you can see the details although obviously I’ll stop it before it gets to a $5 loss on my part.

So having “derailed” the goal now tells me I have 15 hours to read -15,440. I can still delete as it is less than a week old so I’ll do that shortly but for reference, here are some screenshots:

I think the issue you’re having is that you told it to start at 0, assuming that meant “no change” to the number of words–but I don’t think that’s right. I think you told it that your initial value was 0, and it gives you a slight slope downwards. When put the data in, Beeminder thinks you added 20 million words. You derailed, and Beeminder reset your commitment, and the automatic “slight slope downwards” is now having you mark off 15k words. I am not 100% sure, but that seems right.

I think what you want to do is take the most recent number of words it gave you, add a little bit of a buffer to that, and when you redo the setup, use that number as your initial value. Once it’s in front of you, you can adjust the rate to whatever you want and it should make a lot more sense to you.

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Well, but I’m at a loss as how I’m supposed to create a manual goal on Beeminder and then connect it to, if I need the details from before I connected the goal.

Also, note that I derailed within 24 hours of connecting and then again the following day (having changed nothing), which doesn’t seem like it should be possible.

I’ve deleted it now. I mainly wanted to document that the system of “create a manual Whittle Down goal and then point at the goal” doesn’t seem to be working. I like the idea of tracking Pocket by the age of words (thus rewarding me for clearing the longest and the oldest articles, rather than the IFTTT system where any article will do), but it seems too complicated for the moment.

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Ah, thanks so much for reporting this! isn’t exactly officially supported but that’s not to say we’re throwing anyone to the wolves on that and we definitely want to figure this out.

If you (or anyone else) want to try this again, creating a dummy goal and pointing to it, then emailing, we can help get it sorted! To be clear, that’s not a burden, that’s helping us understand this bug / chicken-and-egg problem that such goals seem to have.

(Speaking of which, you’ve earned stickers for reporting this! Just DM me your address if you’d like them!)