Derailment question

Hello, I’m rather new to beeminder and I have a question about potential derailment.

My current goal is tracked in the following way:

The chart tracks days worked. It’s a simple YES/NO. I cannot make up for a lost day by putting in double work on the following day. Completed day = 1, incomplete = 0. That’s it. The goal is set to 6.75/week in order to allow me to slowly reward myself with a bit of a buffer.

But the question is what happens if/when I get my first sting?

My intention is that (should my buffer be used up) I get punished for every day that I do not work. HOWEVER, I do not want to be punished for a dip in my weekly average (resulting from missing one of the previous days).

I’m a bit worried that I will get stung for each day that my average stays below 6.75/week. And that’s not my intention. Given that I can only “make up” 0.25 days per week, it would take about 4 weeks to “make up” for a missed day. Or maybe I’m confused about how this works?

Can someone please look at my chart and confirm if this indeed might be a problem?

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When you derail, Beeminder adjusts the goal retroactively to put you back into the “ok” state. So the situation you’re concerned about can’t happen. It doesn’t matter how much you’ve fallen short by – when you get stung your sins are forgiven.

However, there is a setting that controls how much additional leeway you’re given after the sting adjustment. If you look under the Commitment tab you should see an option labeled DERAIL BEHAVIOR like:

By default Beeminder sets this to 9 days, meaning that after you get stung you won’t need to maintain your 6.75/week average for about a week and a half. I think the intention is that you can take a breath and reconsider if your goal was too aggressive, etc.

If you want this to be tighter, you can reduce that from 9 days to whatever you want, including 0 days which means that you’ll have to work again the very next day. But no matter what settings you choose, you’ll never, ever be in a situation where a second sting is unavoidable.

Does that make sense?


To be clear, I mean this in the mathematics/mechanics sense. From Beeminder’s perspective, there’s never a situation in which you’re forced to fail your goal because of your past progress or lackthereof. I’m not talking about the question of whether the goal is infeasible due to its terms (e.g. your goal is “Walk on the moon” and Beeminder doesn’t know that isn’t possible).

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Yeah it makes sense, thank you.

So – each time you derail the average is readjusted accordingly.

In other words, you will never be punished multiple times for going below the goal average. You only get stung on the day of the dip, and then the goal readjusts. Correct?

Yes, what you said is correct.

Another way to think about it is that the “required average” is prospective only. There’s no historical averaging happening and you can never be “in debt”. Beeminder’s model is that what you actually have is a required daily amount (6.75/7 = 0.964 per day) and a safety buffer. When you do more than 0.964 per day (e.g. by doing 1), that safety buffer accumulates. The point is that that safety buffer cannot be negative.