Repeated from a daily beemail
I have a dream that one day when you create a Beeminder goal, Beeminder will let you specify as much or as little as you like about what you want to commit to. If you know an absolute bare minimum below which you’d want us to personally come to your house and beech-slap you, go ahead and tell us that minimum. Or leave it blank if you’re not sure. Similarly, if you know an upper bound, a theoretical maximum for how much it could ever make sense to do, tell us that too. If not, that’s fine. And of course you should pick your initial commitment. But even that, if you don’t know what to pick, you should be able to be like “I’m at your mercy, Beeminder, I’ll just start reporting data and you tell me what to do”.
This is what we’ve long called auto-dialing. If you create a Fitbit goal and have no clue what a reasonable number of steps is so you enter “100 per day” to play it safe, then, in the status quo, you just soar ever higher above a meaningless yellow brick road. That’s really bad, and is Beeminder being derelict in its duty!
Beeminder at the very least should bug you to bump up your rate. But also, this is the dreamy part, it should automatically dial up your road. This is one of the core principles of Beeminder, that ever-increasing awesomeness must be the path of least resistance. By default, Beeminder should always be pushing you. You can always say “that’s enough pushing thank you” but by default you will be pushed.
Building auto-dialing in to Beeminder will be hard so we’d like to start with a little 3rd-party tool, like @mary built years ago, though I don’t think that one was realistically usable for anyone but herself.
PS: The biggest insight from the replies so far – thanks to @dbyler – is that we need to be really thoughtful about how people opt in to something like this. It’s no fair holding you to something you didn’t explicitly commit to!
Straw Poll (check all that apply)
- (1) Do you often have goals where your initial guess for the steepness of the road is way off?
- (2) Do you often then fail to dial it to something reasonable for whatever reason (maybe just cranial silicosis)?
- (3) Would you be a guinea pig for an auto-dialer?
- (4) Do you hate the idea of Beeminder trying to be clever about what you should commit to?
[the poll limits you to two responses, so if you’re a daily beemail subscriber maybe ignore the guinea pig option – you’ll be invited to participate anyway!]
Beemail responses were like so (also beemail respondents are encouraged to vote again above and they’ll thus be intentionally double-weighted because they matter twice as much as the rest of you plebeians):
1: initial slope way off ***** 2: fail to then dial **** 3: game for guineapiggage ************* 4: boo hiss **
Also I’m collecting very paraphrased excerpts from the beemail replies but I encourage you all to repeat your full replies as comments!
Beemail reply excerpts
- “This would be awful for many types of goals but ok for some.”
- “I kind of do this manually, starting small and slowly inching the rate up, and sometimes I fail to do the inching so this could be valuable.”
- “I love the idea of an autodialler because i both struggle with making my goals push me enough and also maybe struggle with keeping my goals realistic.”
- “I’d also want the autodialer to bump down my rate, too. Like if every day is an emergency day, it should lower the rate a little.”
- “I think in general I am not a super great use-case for the auto-dialler; I have specific aims with my goals, and the rates I set are calibrated to meet those goals, and then my weekly reviews make sure I come back to those decisions.”
- “It took me a few months to get to the point where my steps rate is high enough. I think an auto-dialer would have helped motivate me to make progress on sooner. ◊ I’m around 5 for 6 goals where my initial setting is pretty different from what would be ideal at this point. I think I’ve done pretty well at dialing manually though. My steps goal almost looks as if it’s exponential because of so many slight increases.”
- “I don’t agree that Beeminder should always be pushing you to increase your rate – some goals should have a fixed rate and that should be the default.”
- “I systematically underestimate how large of a commitment X hours/week actually feels like.”
- “I would probably use some thing like this, but I would rankle at its being automatic. (Not fair to make me commit to something I didn’t commit to!) A simple message along the lines of “You’re crushing this goal! Ready to level up? [Increase to n*1.5 units per week] [Increase to n*1.25 units per week] [Other] would probably suffice, where the Other button just takes you to the goal settings.”
- “I’ve always been excited for a feature like this, and have only had a few troubles with steepness, but largely due to my own ignorance of what the goal requires.”