Beeminder Forum

Date (in)consistency in app

The app uses a non-standard and inconsistent method for describing the date in the preview data pane. Here’s an example from my 30 min/day biking goal:

The first number is the month for the prior month, but the month number is omitted for the current month:

8 30 15 “description”
8 31 20 “description”
1 30 “description”
2 30 “description”

It would be easier to scan and read if the dates were consistent and standardized as dd/mm, like this:

08/30 15 “description”
08/31 20 “description”
09/01 30 “description”
09/02 30 “description”

Not only does this make things line up, using the slash in the date also reinforces that the first numbers are dates. This also eliminates confusion when the data entry number is similar to the date, such as happens when both the date and data entry number is near 1st/1 or 30th/30.

(And yes, you could say that I’m capitalizing on the previous bugabee title. Bah dum tss!)

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(-;

Without rendering an opinion on the merits of the chosen date format, I at least want to defend it slightly in terms of consistency—it does follow a well-defined rule, however non-standard that rule might be. The rule it follows can be described as omitting the month for datapoints in the current month (and likewise for years.)

Again—no comment on whether or not that’s a reasonable rule to follow. But I feel the philosophical distinction between having a rule which one follows (however strange a rule it may be) and not following any rules at all is an important one.

You can imagine a hypothetical Beeminder Style Guide, which lists all sorts of rules for how Beeminder chooses to display stuff. How it formats dates, what punctuation it uses or doesn’t use, what gets capitalized and what doesn’t, etc. There are then two different types of argument you can make: you can point out that the Beeminder Style Guide is missing a rule for a certain bit of styling, or you can argue that the rule that the style guide chooses is can be improved upon.

Now, I prefer to use the word “inconsistency” specifically when making arguments of the first kind, as indeed I did. Arguments of the second kind of value too—and I don’t want to say that you shouldn’t use the same word, if you find it appropriate also in other cases. But this is why, despite the surface-level similarity reflected in the forum thread titles, I feel that there is an essential difference in the type of thing we’re talking about between the two threads.

Argumentation here is all in a light hearted spirit.

I disagree, or am not convinced. I agree that your inconsistency was of a different type, but that doesn’t in any way negate or diminish my usage of the word inconsistent, which I think was fine and proper.

I’d say that my words gain their shades of meaning from context. For example, one could argue that Beeminder DOES in fact treat the dates in a standard format, namely Beeminder’s standard. But that’s clearly not what I’m saying.

To clarify (and defend) my wording, I’m indicating that the inconsistency aspect is the variance between prior months and current month, and that is a less than ideal human interface design. Furthermore, the “non standard” aspect is (1) the lack of a slash and (2) the inconsistency as described, because that’s not normal.

I cannot see any reason for this design in the current implementation, as there’s plenty of room for a standard and consistent implementation. If I were to hazard a guess, I’d say this implementation is probably a carryover from a previous design in which a single day number made more sense.

I have, I will confess, no idea about why things are this way. However, it is the same as the way data is entered via the email bot. The email bot assumes the current month if you don’t give it a month, so the month is unnecessary when emailing it… unless you want to add datapoints for August, in which case you need to include the month. If you want to add datapoints for September 2020, you need to include the month and year, since the bot also assumes the current year.

So it’s all consistent with how the bot sees data, though I don’t know why that’s so.

You’re determined to confuse the Americans, I see. Can’t say that I disapprove. :slight_smile:

But I do agree that seeing the month as well as the day would be helpful for my less frequent goals. I’ve been confused by that before!

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