Reflections on Honey

The HabitRPG integration got me wondering… are there some gamification elements that could fairly painlessly be added to Beeminder without distracting too much?

Badges

Imagine Minder Joe:

“Okay, I’m completing my goals, but I’m in the mood to work extra hard this week.” thinks Joe. He tries extra hard on some of his goals and builds a bunch of buffer. Then, something comes up and he burns through it. He wonders what the point of that was, and eventually ends up with beemergencies every day.

What could have Joe done differently?

He could ratchet up the rate, but that can lead to burnout.

He could overachieve then retrorachet to return to normal, but Joe never does this, because when he stops overachieving is when something “comes up” and he “needs” to use the buffer.

Could carefully picked badges help encourage other patterns aside from the stressful “daily emergencies” pattern, leaving the stress for the occasions where you actually need it to push through something?

(Quickly brainstorming, here are some badges I can think of: (a) did not derail for {1,6,12,24,48,96} months, (b) stayed in the green for {1,6,12,24,48,96} months, © entered {1,10,100,1000,10000} data points.)

Competition

Can beeminder help people harness their competitiveness?

Thoughts:

  • Some variation of a two-prong “Help people find other people working on similar goals” + “Let people build a dashboard of other people’s goals” system
  • Community-run leaderboards: “This is a leaderboard for people beeminding ‘times run’, where people are ranked by how many days they haven’t derailed.”

The danger is people trying to “game the system”, of course. In the case of badges, hopefully gaming the system would encourage good behavior – but I can’t think of a way to make it work out in the case of leaderboards. The biggest danger I see is that someone lying would affect people other than themselves.

Are there any lightweight systems that might fit nicely into Beeminder?

Reflections on Honey

I think that Beeminder does one thing and does it well. I hardly want it to turn into a full-blown RPG. But are there bits and pieces that can help Beeminder do what it does even better? Sticks and bees keep you on the road, but carrots and honey are what get you addicted.

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My favorite beeminder feature is how customizable it is - I can select the goals that fit exactly what I want to do, and I can count on customer support if there is a problem. If we are going to have leaderboards and badges then I fear it would turn the focus away from being awesome at achieving our goals to being good at getting badges. Leaderboards could be even worse because you are going to take away the builtin flexibility about what goals we want to achieve and you are giving people a reason to cheat.

Before using beeminder I tried Gym Pact which had exactly this problem, because they give money back to their users, so they had to define what counted as a workout (loss of flexibility) and check whether you did them (loss of honesty). I left them because of these issues and found beeminder (eventually).

I kinda like your idea about did not derail for x time, but I am somewhat concerned that it would incentivize people to be more reluctant to pick harder goals.

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