Fixing derails with minimal staff burden

hi! Sometimes (like today, when i’m sicker than i have been in years) when something goes wrong i know i’m going to derail ahead of time. this could even be things that are really totally out of my control, like my auto-data collection getting messed up.

I know the whole point of beeminder is to keep you accountable with another person, but whenever i have a false derailment i always feel like i’m unnecessarily burdening the staff. i feel like i falsely derail too much and waste time. and i have a LOT of goals.

I feel so bad about it that it’s sometimes tempting to just enter data anyway, even though i absolutely hate having false graphs. And maybe if i was not a college student i would be fine with just paying the pledges even when i really don’t consider it to be a legitimate derail, but i have pretty limited income so a losing a $10 pledge is a lot of money to me. I can afford to lose maybe like $30 max/month to pledges. And it’s difficult to motivate myself without keeping my goals steep enough that i have a lot of emergency days.

part of me thinks i should just go for the highest paid plan so i can get $0 goals. But i worry that without ANY financial loss i won’t be motivated at all. I wish i could start with smaller pledge increments, like $1, $2 then $5.

What’s the best way to handle this? should i even feel bad about this? do i email in advance of derails?


honestly thinking about it i’m going to try the biggest paid plan, having the difference between $0 and $5 goals should help me distinguish what i need to prepare for disaster before, and what can just be put off. i do still wish i could do a $1 pledge though, and my questions about derailing still stands


Okay so as someone who has had periods of pretty bad chronic issues like I’ve dealt with the guilt you’re talking about and I’ve been assured again and again over the course of years by the support staff that it’s okay. I think the last time I was literally told “I wouldn’t have enough work to do if no one disputed derails” or something equivalent.

I don’t think you need to feel guilty.


<3 <3 I can confirm that we’ve got it pretty streamlined for the case where you reply to the legit check to explain why a derailment isn’t legit. We do make sure there’s just enough human interaction on that that it’s not automatable. Things I can think of that minimize support time:

  1. Reply to each legit check individually. Fine to paste the same response or respond to one about what happened and refer to that response in the other responses.
  2. If it was a case of forgetting to enter data, enter it before replying and make sure to enter it for the previous day – the day of the beemergency. (Remember Beeminder thinks of it as tomorrow if it’s past the deadline, even if by the calendar it’s still the same day.)
  3. If you haven’t derailed yet, asking for an emergency break is pretty straightforward too. I’m actually torn on whether this is better than replying to the legit checks. Maybe @shanaqui could weigh in on that. If you do ask for an emergency break, pasting the URL of each goal you need the break on is definitely helpful. And if we don’t get it in in time and you derail anyway, definitely still reply to the legit check to explain what happened.

Sorry to hear you’re sick!


Re #3, I’m much faster at fixing a derail than I am at putting a break in, in general terms. If the road is perfectly straightforward with nothing scheduled, it’s pretty easy to do breaks as well, but I’d still say fixing derails is easier and would be my preference.

Also! Everyone, please never feel guilty about contacting us in a situation like this. It’s super important to us that you don’t get unfairly charged-- if you couldn’t do the task, no amount of sting makes it possible for you to have done it. We’re about providing accountability and incentive, not punishing you when events are out of your control, and we want to maintain that credible but fair threat.

Pretty sure all the workerbees are crazy about what we do and about working with users to make Beeminder better all the time. Keeping Beeminder fair is pretty darn important there.


Woah! I didn’t know those were a thing!! Can you say more?

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The emergency breaks? Basically, we can manually put in a break for you within the akrasia horizon. It’s fine to ask us for that if you really hate the derailments showing in your graph, but just replying to derailments is also fine (and maybe quicker for us). :slight_smile:


Love this thread.

I have been incredibly slow getting my head around Beeminder (I mean really slow). I eventually did my first goal to test it out. Great thing was, I got to see how powerful it was, much more so than anticipated.

Then I went on a trip to NZ, I’m in UK, so it was 30 hours travelling each way and mostly sitting - so as my test goal was 10,000 steps per day for so many days a week, I was definitely going to derail and I did - and I couldn’t get online properly for a couple of days.

I was so stressed about it - and yes, I felt like a real nuisance and that I was being pathetic.

Anyway, support were fantastic, put my goal on hold and refunded my pledge. Guess what, I forgot to mention I had to return home and the goal restarted 2 days before I started my mammoth journey again!

I did actually manage not to derail as I had built a bank of steps before the travelling started - and I found there are quite a few steps you can do swapping planes and wandering around airports :blush:

I archived the goal when I got home.

I’m now going to start again with more goals, especially with the reassurance that it’s OK if things genuinely going askew