Feature Bounty: yellow brick halfplane

I’m offering a bounty to Beeminder for making a lane width (“Absolute lane width” under Settings for custom goals) of 0 work reasonably. The bounty starts at $100 and will decrease by $10 each time we enter a new calendar month (so in October it will be $90) until it reaches $20, where it will stay indefinitely. (I reserve the right to revoke it entirely with 1 month’s notice after it reaches $20.) The requirements are:

  • Safe days should be computed as the actual number of days after which the goal, according to the current road (and taking pessimistic presumptive reports into account) would derail if no data were entered
  • This should apply to everywhere safe days are used, including off the top of my head:
    • text on dashboard
    • colors on dashboard
    • text on goal page
    • colors on goal page
    • text in Android / iOS* apps
    • colors in Android / iOS* apps
    • zeno polling (by email, SMS*, Slack*, Android & iOS* apps, and anything else I’m not thinking of)
    • API (I actually don’t think there is anything in the API that exposes “safe days” per se, but if there is it should work reasonably)
  • graphs for these goals should shift the safety lines horizontally (by a week) from the actual road, not vertically
  • until a week after this is posted, I reserve the right to add anything else that I realize needs to change for using zero lane width for every goal to make sense

* I don’t actually care about iOS / SMS / Slack, but it would be weird to make this work for the others and not these.

Reasoning: at least a half-dozen times I’ve broken a goal (generally using the road editor, but occasionally with some combination of retroratchet, autoratchet, take-a-break, etc.) and the explanation usually boils down to “yeah, it would have worked the way you thought except for lane widths”. I’m sick of dealing with them.

If anyone agrees, please help by raising the stakes.


Hear hear! Our own utility for this (both as users and, y’know, the stewards of Beeminder) is high enough that plus or minus $100 probably doesn’t noticeably change our incentives. But your cogent entreaty itself does! And don’t get me wrong, we’ll take your money. If we didn’t then we’d be diluting the power of the signal conveyable by bounties.

Speaking of which, does anyone else want to run with this idea?

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Yeah, wasn’t intending to tip the scales utility-wise so much as demonstrate in a hard-to-fake way how much it’s worth to me.

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Are you familiar with BountySource? It might do exactly what you want.

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Just for posterity, I’m adding the link to the blog post about this. We sure earned our $20!

My favorite sentence:

The number of clusterfudgesicles — byproducts of forcing “lanes of the road” to work — that we had to gradually untangle was mildly staggering.

The whole post was surprisingly entertaining to reread a few years later.