Feature request: Email reminders - Safe day limit

I would like to be able to set a per-goal option that only sends me reminders if a goal has less than n safe days.

Some goals that are easy to do I only need to know if I need to do it tomorrow, so 1 day would be enough, others need more scheduling so 7 days would be good. Currently I get emails every day for all of them which just leads to ignoring Beeminder reminders completely, or I turn off the emails which means I don’t get enough warning for the schedule goals.

(Clicking ‘Wrong Lane and Emergency reminders ONLY’ would set this option to 1 to achieve the same effect as the current boolean setting.)


Strongly agree! We’re working on revamping the reminder settings because they are seriously a mess. Though even more important than enhancing the control you have over when and how reminders come is making it not bewildering how to do basic things like turn reminders on and off or get eep reminders only.

I’m half-tempted (only half) to jettison daily reminders and panic thresholds and all of that and make it so you only get emergency day zeno-polling reminders. Your only choices would what time zeno polling starts and what the deadline is.

But back to reality, many people depend on daily reminders. So maybe @insti’s proposal is the one addition to the above that we should have. You can pick how many days prior to derailment (up to 7? 30?) that you start getting daily reminders. I’m thinking we could jettison days of the week.

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I’m thinking we could jettison days of the week.

Yeah, being able to choose what days of the week you get reminders has always seemed silly to me. Beeminder goals derail whenever they derail, no matter what day of the week it is, so why would I want to limit when I get reminders?


Ah yes, this has long felt like a big sore point. It almost made me give up Beeminder when I was new to it (“all these emails aren’t making me any more productive”, I thought).

Looking forward to the improvements!


What about a UI like this, one line for each of your goals:

Start reminding me __ days before derailing, at __:__, with a deadline of __:__

You could choose as much as 30 days lead time, but we’d probably default to 0 – emergency day reminders only. There’d be no way to turn off zeno polling, except to set your starting reminder to be like a minute before your deadline. (Of course the other answer to “you don’t want zeno polling?” is “then get your lazy self back on your dang road when the bot first eeps at you!”)

For consistency I think we’ll also want SMS reminders to use zeno polling (and maybe that will mean making SMS a premium feature).

Nitty Gritty and Open Questions:

  1. Zeno polling happens on the emergency day. Before that it’s just every day at the remind time, starting however many days before derailment. So if you want daily reminders, just set that to the max of 30 days. If you have more than 30 days of safety buffer then you won’t get reminded, which would serve as a reminder to dial up your yellow brick road! (The alternative is zeno-style by day, like at T minus 30 days, then T minus 15 days, then T minus 8 days, etc. But we’d still probably want to stick to the specified remind time until intra-day zeno polling started on the eep day.)
  2. Should you be able to choose both email and SMS, or is it either-or? And can you choose that per goal or only globally? It would also be really nice to centralize these choices between email, SMS, and the smartphone apps (or even all apps you have authorized).
  3. This proposal means dropping support for specifying what days of the week we can bug you when it’s not an eep or pre-eep day.
  4. We currently suppress reminders if you’ve already entered data for that day. I think that violates the anti-magic principle and we should just send them consistently. Otherwise it can seem like the bot is randomly flaking out.
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What is ‘with a deadline of’ about?

My UI proposal:

Email me at __:__ every day if a goal has fewer than __ safe days.

Zeno polling for eep days would start at the “normal” notification time.

Why have a 30 day limit?
There may be people who report results via email by replying to the reminder email, they shouldn’t be penalised for having a good buffer.

No to zeno style days.

You should be able to choose both, per goal, and have different settings for both.
There should be global defaults though.
(SMS settings should be greyed out for people who cannot receive SMSes)

A good idea. (Does anybody use this?)

Yes always send the reminders.

I want to choose the deadline as part of the same interface as choosing the remind time.

I agree about the part where it emails you every day starting at T minus X days where you specify X.

If you have more than 30 days of safety buffer then you’re not really beeminding. I’d like to discourage that.

Many people do but this is a big enough change to how reminders work that I’m thinking it’s ok to have a clean slate in this regard. In the status quo you unselect days of the week to reduce how much the bot bugs you. In this proposal you can reduce that much more effectively by specifying the safety buffer at which the bot starts bugging you.

I don’t like the idea of having them part of the same sentence.

Goals can have deadlines without having reminders.
It makes both setting up reminders and setting deadlines more confusing.

Why do you want to combine them? What is the use-case?
It might be OK to put them on the same screen as long as they are separate questions.
(How to rearrange all the settings is perhaps another topic.)

Disagree! E.g. I currently have a goal with 330 days of safety buffer. It’s my goal to get a flu shot once a year. But then again, I definitely don’t want to get a reminder email about it every day. 30 days before I derail actually sounds about right to start getting reminders.

Also, I agree with insti that it’s confusing to have the reminder settings and deadline setting part of the same sentence.


Maybe someone has already mentioned this (I haven’t read the whole thread), but why not use/repurpose what is now labelled the “Sort threshold” somehow?

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Ah, yes, I have things like that (like ever-so-gradually open-sourcing Beeminder’s codebase) and I agree, that’s totally legit beeminding. So I misspoke. A Beeminder graph where you’re entering data daily yet has > 30 days of safety buffer is not really beeminding. Having months of safety buffer should mean you have months before you need to think about it.

As for remind time and deadline as part of the same UI, I think it’s important to have a single page where you can adjust all your goals’ remind times and deadlines together. That was our biggest reason to implement arbitrary deadlines, so we could we stagger deadlines throughout the day. Or consider that often it’s not the time of day you care about for the remind time but the number of hours before the deadline. So the deadline needs to at least be shown along with the reminder settings.

Ah, yes, that’s very related but only impacts the sorting of the gallery. We’d like to implement tags and other ways to have more control over how goals in the gallery are arranged. Maybe also jettison the frontburner/backburner thing. When we do that we can drop the Sort Threshold (previously known as Panic Threshold) and then maybe repurpose the name “panic threshold” for the number of days of safety buffer at which the bot starts reminding you, per the above UI proposal.

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Fair enough. I do actually have a goal like that too but at this point it’s just because I like having a pretty graph showing how many anki cards I have reviewed, not because I actually need the Beeminder goal to motivate/remind me. (Though I did need it at some point in the past.)


I find frontburner/backburner pretty useful for separating manual and autodata goals. I put my autodata goals below the line so that I don’t have to worry about updating them. Particularly at times when I’ve had lots of goals on the go at once, I find this separation hugely helpful as I can just look at everything above the line and make sure that I’ve updated those goals for that day.


Noted. Thanks Sean! Keeping this use case in mind for the new tag-based organizing. Might make sense to auto-tag goals as “autodata” vs “mandata”.

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