Beeminder Forum

Not treating colors as descriptive states of graphs

[previously a weekly beemail]

As @adamwolf pointed out, it’s confusing (especially for the colorblind!) to refer to the colors of the graph as if those were inherently meaningful. Want to help us brainstorm better terms? This is particularly relevant as we transition to the Yellow Brick Half-Plane New World Order where there’s no such things as lanes. There’s no longer such a thing as “the right lane”, “the wrong lane”, or “above the road”.

Red = beemergency, of course. That one has stood the test of time. And we could still also call that “below the yellow brick road” maybe. Orange could be “beemergency eve”? English doesn’t have a handy word for “day after tomorrow” like other languages do – like German’s “uebermorgen” and Esperanto’s “postmorgaux”. But wait! [emerges from dictionary rabbit hole with tousled hair and wild eyes] English used to have “overmorrow” but it’s now archaic and not in many dictionaries. Ok, blue (2 days of safety buffer) is arguably the least important state to name. Putting that one on the shelf.

Next is green, which we could think of as “quasiweekendable” because you can treat it like a Friday with the next 2 days off. Except we’re not coining “quasiweekendable”. Even we are not that ridiculous. Almost that ridiculous but we have limits.

And finally, we probably want a new color for 7+ days of safety buffer. As discussed in “Beeminder anti-habit-forming”.

I’m seriously considering gray in honor of author (and Beeminder power user!) Grayson Bray Morris (@grayson).

Either way, we want a name for that state too! Something that conveys immunity to the akrasia horizon, perhaps. (If you’re not sure what I mean: As long as you have 7 days of safety buffer, if a personal emergency or something comes up, you can just immediately flatten your road. It takes a week for the flattening to take effect but by the time you run out of safety buffer you’ll have reached that flat spot.)




Initial suggestions included pointers to existing color-based warning schemes like national security and fire danger. HT @zedmango

And a lot of brainstorming for words conveying “akrasia horizon immunity” like “impervious” and “respite” but I’m not sure about any of those.

My favorite was from @insti who proposed something like this:

  • Safe zone
  • Warning zone
  • Danger zone
  • Beemergency zone

(And the boundary of the safe zone and warning zone, for 7 days of buffer, could be the akrasia limit; and the boundary between the warning zone and danger zone could be the worry line. The actual bright line razor road could also be called the rail.)

@insti also had the idea for a train(ish) metaphor:

  • Grassy fields
  • On track
  • The (mono)rail
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Doesn’t this still exist? It means you’re above the razor edge and have vanished into the Half-Plane of Doom!

I don’t understand what’s wrong with colors - we are still going to color-code goals, right? Or are the colors going away?

If the colors are staying, I think people will still be referring to goal states by colors - it’d be hard not to.

So we have the colors, and we have the number of days - why are additional names needed?

I appreciate wanting to accomodate color-blind users, but I don’t see how avoiding the color names is helpful for that if we’re still keeping the colors themselves.

And there are better solutions for dealing with color-blindness than “avoid color” - one possibility is to allow colors to be custom-configurable, so users could select a color scheme they could easily visually distinguish. (see my feature request)