I had an urlminder derailment in support this weekend, where the user had gotten the wrong impression about urlminder. They gave us the url of their blog, and then were like “I’ve been publishing my posts regular, why aren’t they getting picked up?”.
How can we mitigate this when users are creating goals? It might help a bit if we make the current word count part of the form – e.g. have starting wordcount one of the fields (kind of similar to withings weight) where the field is there, but we fetch it from the source for you.
Though, in this case the person had already published a bunch of blog posts, probably with no idea how many words total, and so the wordcount produced may well have seemed like a reasonable guess to start with.
 The answer is that urlminder doesn’t do any smart parsing of the url that you give it. It just curls the url(s) that you point it to, splits based on whitespace, and then counts up the “words”. So If you point it at the URL of your blog, it’s gonna count the number of words in the generated html file that is displayed at the frontpage of your blog.
Confirming the initial fetch sounds smart.
Tangentially, we should totally have a blogminder tool where you can point us at a blog or rss feed. I guess that’s already a popular IFTTT recipe but a way for bloggers to start minding their posts without IFTTT would be a big deal. (I don’t have data for this but am fairly certain that despite how impressively idiotproof IFTTT is, it’s equivalent to a brick wall for >90% of people. Including me, strangely. I just reflexively feel like it’s not worth the bother of dealing with an extra layer of indirection even though rationally I know it works well. Though I do use beemind.me even though that’s probably more of a hassle than IFTTT. I’m not sure where my IFTTT aversion comes from!)
If we also display the first few ‘words’ that the fetch finds, that might clue the user in if they didn’t expect their magnum opus to begin “html head”.
And if it is an html page rather than plain text, add a confirmation step.
Maybe a confirmation step in any case.
Which could become a thing for other goals. “Hey, we’ve checked with Fitbit and think that yesterday you walked 12,345 steps. If that sounds right to you, we’re good to go.”