Beeminder Forum

Renaming "Retroratchet" to "Ratchet"

This has been driving me nuts for years. Making the road jump up to remove some of your safety buffer is called ratcheting. That’s just English. It means making something go up (or down) in an irreversible way. Beautifully evocative for this kind of yellow brick road adjustment.

If, hypothetically, you got rid of some of your safety buffer by retroactively making your road steeper, that would be retroratcheting. It could be a very handy thing to do if you didn’t know a good rate when you started the goal. Start conservative, see your data well above your road, that tells you what the rate should’ve been so you retroactively adjust it and see if it looks like something you’re ready to commit to going forward.

Not that proper retroratcheting is on the roadmap at the moment but eventually we’ll want it and the more distant the memory of the misuse of the term “retroratchet” the better. Also it’s one less pointless neologism! (Pointful neologisms I’m still all for.)


Why was it ever retroratchet?

I can’t really argue with the logic, but I’d vote against this if I had a vote, mainly for emotional reasons - retroratchet just feels right and ratchet doesn’t.

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I think the reason, nearly lost in the mists of time, was that I imagined an actual retro-ratchet and we started calling it that and the name kind of stuck. Something like that. Fair enough about the emotional attachment but we gotta rip that band-aid off! :slight_smile:

PS: Oh ho, not lost in the mists of time at all. I just grepped the changelog and found the original UVI which points to an ancient UserVoice discussion. Key excerpts:

Me (2011-10-01): “Let’s have a feature where, when a flash of willpower strikes, you can make your road harder immediately and wipe out the safety buffer. […] One way to do this is a RetroRatchet button that makes the yellow brick road retroactively steepen so that your current datapoint is exactly on the road.”

Me the next day, after tons of discussion: “Perhaps we should drop the “retro” part of this and just focus on the “make it harder NOW” part. Then you could even effectively have the spirit of the retroratchet where the road jumps up to where you currently are, but no actual retroactive changes.”

Me a month later: “… as a first step [blah blah blah] … That still suffers from the problem that Rodrigo points out, that reducing the safety buffer should be associated with an increase in the rate, but maybe it’s a good start.”

So, there you go, it’s “retroratchet” because it’s supposed to be retroactive and the current version is just “a good start”. :slight_smile:

Hmm, that helps me pin down my objections a little more - ratchet sounds like it should apply to the rate, not the buffer - that is, intuitively, ratcheting the goal should mean to make it harder (increase the rate).

Maybe “bufferratchet”? or “temporatchet” since it makes it temporarily harder by increasing the amount you have to do for the next X days?

Why is there a potential need for a true retroratchet feature? Wouldn’t that create the risk of instant details when using that feature? What’s the benefit vs just changing the road going forward?