Soon-to-archive goal derailed, then ended itself somehow

This goal derailed last night, but instead of continuing with a few days of buffer like usual, this happened. Not sure why. Also not sure why it’s still visible, and still in the red, if it isn’t active. Possibly pertinent details:

  • The end date is 2030-12-31 (I just standardized the end date for all my goals yesterday, which is why I know that :slight_smile: ).
  • The goal should have received 11 days of buffer after derailing.
  • The goal is (as you can see in the browser dashboard screenshot at left) scheduled to archive four days from now.

It’s normal for an archiving goal to freeze like that if you derail – if it’s legit, you can wait 24 hours for the charge to go through and then just archive the goal! The idea is that we don’t want people to derail multiple times during the archive period.


Thanks for that intel! Good to know. (It might be nice “customer journey” practice to briefly note that on the dashboard, to clear up confusion like mine.)

On a related note, I wonder then if it makes sense to insta-archive Do More goals that have 7+ days of buffer, since they’re in no danger of derailing within the archive window.

And on a related related note, it seems like consistent behavior might be something more like this:

  1. Goal is marked for archiving. If 7+ days of buffer: insta-archives. Else stays active.
  2. Goal in archive period derails. If it rerails with more buffer than days left before archive, it insta-archives. Else stays active.

My thinking is that Beeminder’s point is not to let you off the hook because right now you don’t want to do the thing. But that’s exactly what the existing “derail during archive window” lets you do. Example:

Suppose I have a goal to do the thing, which I’ve set up to give me no extra buffer when I derail. I’ve done this because it motivates me not to slack off on the thing; derailing won’t help me avoid doing it. But now I’m in a bind, so I mark it for archiving on a day when I know I’m going to derail. Boom, it insta-archives. Then I restart it with a bunch of buffer.

Related loophole is that when you change how many days of buffer you get after a derail, it takes instant effect (and is functionally equivalent to doing the above to weasel out of past-you decisions), so if one of these is contra-Beeminder-principles, then the other is, too.

Long story short, there are a few places where Beeminder does not enforce the akrasia horizon.

1 Like

I have been wanting this for a while now. It’s on the list to consider (because I put it there :grin:) but I suspect there are arguments against it, or at least for deploying a more nuanced version. Some people will want to keep doing the thing right to the end of the archive period (but then maybe they should’ve used an end date, instead? Thinking aloud here). Anyway, it needs thinking about, but I’m definitely in favour.

I suspect some of this is a holdover from before the days of mercy were configurable (so pre-August 2018) – though the archive loophole would still have been a problem for no-mercy recommits, everybody else would have derailed with more than enough mercy that they wouldn’t have been able to derail again in the archive period. (Unless they ratcheted, I guess.)

Maybe @dreev has thoughts here! The reasoning behind what is akrasia-proofed and what isn’t was decided long before I joined the team.


I personally like the current behavior because it gives me the option to cancel the archive for the full seven days.

1 Like

Graphs used to not continue by default after a derailment and then we had to decide to restart it ourselves (something we were likely to procrastinate on). Allowing goals set to archive to archive immediately allows someone who’s done with a goal to decide to end it if they derail, recapturing that, just not by default. While I’m not sure whether replacing that behaviour was the rationale behind freezing an archiving goal when it derails, it has the benefit of having that effect!

Archiving and ending a goal are slightly different in their behaviours. It sounds like you wanted your goal to end in 7 days. If you want to keep going on your goal even after you derail, you’re best to set your goal’s end date than to set it to archive, like @shanaqui’s mentioned above.

Sounds like we should make that clearer somewhere, though! Thanks for pointing that out!

As far as not hiding the goal right away, I’m surprised that a goal that’s set to archive and then derails doesn’t automatically get archived. Let me check into the historical reasons for that and see if it’s a bug or a deliberate behaviour. (If it’s a deliberate behaviour, we’d need to make that clearer too!)

1 Like

No, I wanted to archive the goal; to me, “end” implies that I achieved a time-limited, past-you objective (like finishing a book, say). I just… admitted defeat. :slight_smile:

Me too :slight_smile: (and thanks for checking into it). I’m actually jazzed that the goal is off my screen now, instead of several days from now; I just didn’t understand what had happened, because I expected to be held to my akrasia horizon, and because it stayed in the red, on screen, despite saying it was a done deal.

I can see that, yeah. Holding people to the akrasia horizon during archive would also preserve this behavior (in addition to being, imho, more consistent with Beeminder philosophy).


Well this reply is way overdue and I’m loathe to resurrect a zombie post now but I did say I would look into it!

I’m told that the historical reason for it just freezing instead of archiving right away was for anti-magic purposes. Otherwise, it could be too confusing to have a goal you just derailed on just disappear.

1 Like