I came up with a possibly-novel beeminder usage that I figured I would share.

The use case is a do-less goal for something that is mildly subconscious and hard to precisely define what counts as doing it. This means with a traditional do-less goal it’s easy to get into an internal argument with myself about whether I actually need to log a datapoint, and it becomes high stakes if I’m at the point where it would cause a derail.

In the past in a similar situation I’ve tried to implement “microstings”, where I can charge myself (e.g.) $0.25 for each time I do something; enough to tip the scales, but also a small enough amount that I don’t bother arguing with myself about it. I think it’s a nice effect, but for a while I assumed I couldn’t do anything like that with beeminder due to the $5 minimum.

But then I thought of this setup:

  • do-less goal
  • min/max charge is $5 (i.e., it doesn’t go up after a derail)
  • the road is flat, but you arrange it so that you initially have 20 items you can log before a derail, and after a derail it jumps by another 20 (I had to use the road editor to get into this state, but I think after that it should Just Work)

And so the effect is that you are essentially getting charged $0.25 for each item you log, but the charges are batched (and also you’re not actually beeminderly on the hook for the pending “charges”, but I don’t think this is a problem for the same reason all the other beeminder loopholes are not a problem).

And of course you can get sting amounts other than $0.25 by replacing the 20 safebuf quantity with something else.