weasel-proof location-based triggers

it seems that any method that requires phone location data as proof of presence necessarily leaves open the ability for me to either spoof the evidence or modify the target location. For example, IFTTT needs to be running on my phone to use the applet, but then I can just edit the applet to change the location to home instead of gym, so that my Beeminder goal triggers.

My girlfriend controls my Beeminder account login, so I can’t edit the goal itself, but handing over IFTTT or any other mechanism for actually detecting my location doesn’t appear to be possible while still allowing it to track the location.

Any tips to work around this? Ideally I want to avoid having to facetime at the pool each time to serve as proof, etc.


Yes: don’t cheat. Get into the habit of not thinking of work-arounds, or of never taking those shortcuts.

That’s blunt, but it’s also the only real workaround. Even without changing your gym’s notional location, there’s nothing that detects whether you’re in the pool or the cafeteria, nothing that detects whether you’re swimming or lounging in the sauna, nothing that checks whether you ‘cheated’ that lift or kept good form. All Beeminder can do is remind you that a previous version of you thought that going to the gym was important. The current you might disagree, and that’s fine.

Just do what the nanny bee tells you to do (or pay up, guiltlessly, as a conscious choice). If you don’t like what it’s telling you to do, change your goal settings — maybe it wasn’t as important a goal as you thought. For me, that’s one of the key uses of Beeminder; it makes my true priorities more visible.

Set up your goals so that they’re sustainable and pretty easy to achieve, ramp up from there. Meet yourself where you are, the perfect is the enemy of the good, bee nice to yourself, etc, etc

PS: welcome! and thanks for letting me sound off about some core philosophy!


Some ideas that come to mind:

  1. Change the goal. Perhaps instead of turning up to the gym, use the google fit for exercise amount connection for beeminding. Have a timer of time spent in certain app during gym time? Perhaps have something you only do at the gym and nowhere else that you can link to beeminder (NFC Scan, bluetooth connection, gym wifi)
  2. Block IFTTT access on all devices. eg using an app like tasker/macrodroid (I’m on android so don’t know of apple equivalent). If I open IFTTT, then Macrodroid will automatically close IFTTT. Or perhaps if I spend more than 5 minutes in IFTTT then charge me on Beeminder. I found the app called Digital Detox which locks down your phone so you are limited to only certain apps, if you want to access them again you must pay so the extra cost of IFTTT access to change the goal might be enough to stop you more.

Can you have her set your ifttt password to something you don’t know?

I agree! Everyone has different thresholds for the activation energy that works for them, and I’ve tried for years to just “not cheat” in various ways – but I have found that once I get to the pool, or even get in the car to go, I’m all set and always end up actually working out no matter what was holding me back before – that’s why I’m making location the thing in this instance. It’s been working, in fact, just hasn’t been consistently and seamlessly enforced so that’s the next step.

Your point about elucidating priorities though, that’s so true, definitely a key value in Beeminder!


Yea iOS has Screen Time which has been working beautifully for so many of my distractions – but there’s no way to make the minimum allowable time < 1 minute, and 60 seconds is plenty of time for me to make a quick target-location change in the applet settings, even when half-asleep, as I’ve found out.

Wouldn’t the applet not work if I’m not logged in to it on my phone though?

Hmm, are you having IFTTT itself report your location? Sounds like maybe you need a different app on your phone to report your location to IFTTT.

Didn’t exhaustively search, but I can’t find an applet that can substitute for IFTTT’s native Location applet…

Agree with @philip! One more thing asking those lines. If you find you’re having difficulty not cheating on a specific goal, I would take that as an indication that you may need to change one of two things:

  • The goal’s definition: if the goal isn’t clear enough, it can be hard not to fudge on it.
  • The stakes. If they are too high it can tax the honesty of even the most scrupulous. Better to set the stakes low enough that paying up doesn’t feel like the end of the world.

I wasn’t thinking that there would be an applet that could directly substitute.

I was thinking you’d have to do a little work programming. For instance, you could find an applet that tracks your location and sends it to some external site, then send the information from that external site to IFTTT. Maybe use Zapier. It might get a little convoluted, but you could do it.

I definitely think this is something where technology could help you. All you need to do is lock IFTTT so you can’t access it from your phone, and then find a way to get your location to IFTTT, which requires solving these two sub-problems:

  1. Find or create a place that can send information to IFTTT
  2. Find a way to get your location from your phone to that other place

Beeminder, in my view, really requires a hacker mentality and some programming skills - the things you as an individual (any of us) want to do, past a certain level of complexity, are not going to work with an off-the-shelf solution. Some custom tailoring will always be required.