Weight goal amount due seems wrong


I’d expect to see something like “55.9 total in 35 days” or “-0.1 in 35 days”.

I did change my road this morning, but I’d expect the display values to update instantly to match, of course. Am I missing something obvious, or is this a buglet?

ETA more info: while updating my road I made a mistake that triggered an insta-derail (on which I called non-legit, but the graph still shows the derail red triangle and the derail datapoint is still on the Data tab). Is the graph perhaps in an interim “hold” state pending the legit check?


Update: @shanaqui fixed my mistake-derail, so all that is gone (data point and red triangle), and the amount due weirdness is still there, so looks like that was not a relevant factor.

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Hi Grayson! This is a deliberate change to show you what is safe today (and give you no information about when you’re going to cross the line in future), according to @bee’s answer about it to another user in support. (The same logic has been applied to whittle-down goals.)

We were targeting a change at the headers for weight goals, because in that situation, telling you the current day’s hard cap is much more useful than telling you what the hard cap will be when you cross the red line in X days…

For inbox-style goals at the very least, personally I find the current display deeply confusing (especially on the inbox style goals). I want to know what I need to do today to get another day of buffer, in general, for a start (and I think that information is just functionally gone completely now if you’re already safe for 7+ days). But also telling me what’s safe for today combined with the “due in X days” is just so confusing. To me it sounds like that amount is safe for the whole X days, and if I hadn’t checked the goal statistics, I’d have put the goal out of mind and promptly derailed.

As well… the entire point is that I want to keep whittling them down, not let them go up again. My goal for whittling down my TBR pile keeps telling me I can add +6 books to my TBR pile today or whatever – I don’t need to be enabled by the tool I’m using to whittle something down! :laughing: I might just archive it at this point, because it’s deeply counterproductive to have it constantly telling me +6 today.

Beeminder wants me to get six new books today? Okay!

Psychologically it’s just totally unhelpful… The same logic might well apply to weight goals, to be honest. It feels like it’d be useful to know only what you need to do today if you’re in the red, but if you’re not, then instead the goal seems almost like it’s telling you that you should add more. That seems counterproductive to me.

I feel like both bits of information are useful, and I’m not sure how to display both, though. :thinking: At least not with our current header design. Like “+1.5 is safe today, -X.X due in 35 days”?

Tagging @dreev because I know he’s thought about the headers a lot!


Ooh, thanks for the detailed reply @shanaqui! I agree that this is not the information I, personally, would like to see in my headers. I can see how it would be useful if you are a chronic edge-skater, so there always is something you need to do today. But I like to keep a hefty buffer, where possible, so (like you) I am generally interested in what I can do to build more buffer. And this setup makes no sense when you are running with buffer instead of beemergency.

I don’t think there’s a reasonable autoratchet argument here, either; buffer-builders don’t want to have every whittle-down day be a beemergency! And even if they did, I think it wouldn’t make sense for goals where you don’t have full control over your input (such as weight).

Also, the shortened version in the dashboard is even less sense-making than on the goal page. Contrast these two:

The top goal correctly tells me that I have 30 days to get a +1 datapoint entered. So what should I think the bottom goal is telling me?

I like your suggestion to put in all the information for both categories of users, edge-skaters and buffer-builders.


Looking at @apb’s iPhone app for Beeminder, the header feels much clearer:

On the goal page itself, the numbers under the graph are fairly intuitive, even though the coloring doesn’t line up with the usual days-of-buffer scheme):

I read this as “don’t gain more than 1.5 kilos today; tomorrow will have the same hard cap; day after tomorrow it goes down by 0.1 kilo”

And a regular do-more goal for comparison:

I read this as “don’t need to do anything for 29 days; then only need to do a tiny bit, 0.02 of the task, so once I do it I’ll have lots more buffer again”

So this is one way Beeminder is already (mostly) unambiguously providing both sets of information.

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[[ Nicky-as-a-user hat is firmly on here, just to be clear. I’ve gone on so long I’m going to add some headers to help organise the blather. ]]

I think one argument for the new setup is that Beeminder is designed for edgeskaters – if you’re not skating the edge, do you need Beeminder?

Counterpoint to “Beeminder is for edgeskaters”:

This goal is (as you can see) completely boom and bust. I generally don’t skate the edge: I build up loads of buffer and then use it, build up buffer and use it, etc. Over time the total amount I’m allowed decreases because of the rate, and also the goal is autodialled while never being allowed to get easier than a certain rate (starting 0.1 books per day). Despite the fact that I run with loads of buffer, you can see that if my goal is to own fewer unread books, I’m desperately in need of something to keep that fact in my mind. Despite the lack of edgeskating, the goal derails sometimes, and Beeminder earns money from it.

And it was beautifully motivating to keep being told I needed another -1 in x days. Look at that downward slope in November, during which I frantically started a new book every day in order to prepare to get Christmas presents… :gift:

I’m just not feeling the same way about a graph where I get told I can have +6 books today (not that it does right now, due to my recent wild post-assignment book spree). I don’t want to think about that. I can’t think in those terms, or I’ll simply get the six books. That buffer needs to be saved for my birthday/Christmas/meetups in bookshops, not constantly in my face and tempting me. :sweat_smile: I do need to be able to find the info about how much buffer I have somewhere, but having it right in my face is just dangerous.

I mean, I guess it’s broadly good for Beeminder’s bottom line in the short term to encourage me to edgeskate and use up my buffer (since I’m then more likely to derail and have to pay), but it’s not good for me actually achieving the goal, and that’s what Beeminder really stands or falls by. I might pay once or twice if the goal doesn’t work, but I won’t keep it over the long term.

On an inbox goal:

I found it differently unhelpful on my inbox goal. It’d tell me constantly that I was safe to add a bunch of emails today, even right up to the point where I needed to sharply decrease them the next day – from +50 being allowed to -25 required in one day is a bit of a nasty swing, but could’ve happened and ended up with me needing to get -75 emails in one day. Forward planning is no longer straightforward. If that -25 had suddenly appeared without warning last Friday, I’d have been just forced to derail with no chance to correct course, because (short of deliberately remembering to go and check the goal statistics) I can’t know what’s coming – and I sure as heck wouldn’t have prioritised my inbox over my childhood bestie’s wedding, folks. And yet Beeminder support’s attitude would’ve been “well, you should’ve set a break then, if you didn’t want to complete the goal on that day”. How would I have known to do so when as far as I could tell I had tons of buffer already, so surely the amount required on that day couldn’t be big? :person_shrugging:

I suppose the other answer would be “well, you know what your rate is, and you still know when the goal will next be due”. But no, I am well accustomed – from the old goal headers on whittle-down goals, and from the current goal headers on do more goals, to just trusting what Beeminder said. It said +50 due in X days. So obviously I was fine, from my perspective!

(Luckily the switch from +50 to having to get rid of a lot of emails didn’t happen last Friday, and I just had a bit less time for reading and gaming than expected on the day it happened.)

Important caveat:

None of this is to ascribe cynical intent to cause more derailments to the change, to be very clear! On the contrary, I know it’s because people really struggle with the headers and what they mean on some graph types, and I think the ideal intent was to say “hard cap +6” like it does in mobile? I’m fairly sure the intent was not to tell people “yeah, totally go buy six books right now”. It’s even a change that, with Support Czar hat on, I probably encouraged, maybe even participated in brainstorming about (I don’t remember, it’s been something we’ve talked about for so long). I’m just talking about the experience of running into it for reals as a user, and what it means for me as regards these goals. A bit death-of-the-author, but for SaaS.

It’s also not to suggest it’s universally bad for everyone. It may be it’s better for the majority! I’m just trying to articulate how it’s worked out for me, and show some decent arguments why it might be good to make both numbers available. It might at least be an argument for consistency – if we’re doing this with whittle-down goals, where you only know where you are today and planning ahead is no longer incentivised, then maybe you should only get the same for do more goals, and it’ll just say +0 if you have no more needed today? Or -10 if you’ve overachieved? But instinctively that sounds awful.

Okay, I’ve talked too much now (and revealed far too much about my epic TBR pile and comfort-book-shopping practices, time to post and slink away!


Is Beeminder only for edge-skaters? Then it is not for me.

(Not saying Beeminder is not for me – just highlighting that there very much is a use case for non-edge-skaters. But if Beeminder slowly forgets how to talk to us, we will drip away with sad faces. The whole point of a tool is that it makes tracking the thing easier. If Beeminder requires more mental gymnastics to track the thing than my own spreadsheets do, it serves no purpose for me.)

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I’ve found this discussion very helpful and a lot of what has been said resonates with me, especially with some do-less and longer-term goals. It seems like most of the use cases with this issue involve do-less goals where sudden influxes are unpredictable, so it’s especially desirable to have a buffer, or where it’s not possible to wait until the last minute, like a bodyweight goal.

If there were to be some changes to the displayed data based on this discussion, maybe it could be part of a custom goal setting. Personally, I’m both an edge-skater and a buffer-builder depending on the goal, and I bet lots of Beeminder users are the same. It would be nice to be able to toggle the header for each goal.


I wouldn’t say it’s only designed for edgeskaters, but the objection to my tendency to keep a lot of buffer (from other users) has always been “if I could do that, I wouldn’t need Beeminder”, and I think Beeminder itself has been geared more towards assuming that akratic people will edgeskate.

But I still derail! A lot, sometimes, as the last 2-3 weeks have shown. If it was like this all the time, I’d be offski – I couldn’t afford it! I just have a different pattern to it than others, where I can build up buffer when things are calm, and lose ground quickly (…and buy books to comfort myself) when things are tough.

So I think in many ways Beeminder’s design didn’t expect buffer-builders, but that doesn’t mean we’re unprofitable or that Beeminder shouldn’t support the use-case – just that it may not be the first thing to come to mind, or how something effects buffer-builders may not be obvious. “Which is why such feedback is always useful,” says Nicky with their Support Czar hat on.


Oh this is kinda weird.


One of these counts up, the other down, tracking the same thing (counting up to 400 books read this year and down from 400 books due to read this year) but they both show exactly the same due today.

Of course one of them is telling me I need +1 to add a day of buffer, and the other is telling me I have a day’s buffer but it was very confusing for a moment. :sweat_smile:


Yes, this is a good example of unhelpful mental gymnastics – exactly what I meant about the dashboard here. Honestly, it feels like terrible UI: the exact same text requires different interpretation based on what the reader knows about the underlying goal.

Even worse, the correct interpretation of the whittle-down goal’s text is super non-obvious. Does @shanaqui have a day of buffer? Mmm, no, I think they have a book of buffer right now, and 2 days of buffer. But how much book-buffer will they have tomorrow? That depends on the goal’s rate – maybe they’re on a flat spot, maybe they’ve just doubled the rate and it will go into effect tomorrow, etc.

In short: the text for the whittle-down goal does not provide information about how much will be due at any point other than right now. It provides no help in planning one’s task-dispatching efforts and, if naively read as promising safety tomorrow – which is exactly what it does for a do-more goal – can actually make Beeminder feel like an active saboteur of those efforts.

You cannot require users to do the mental gymnastics being asked here, if you want to keep them as customers. It’s just silly.

It is confusing for one of your own staff (and me, and probably most of us). Just imagine the effect on newbees and other users who are not power-thinkers and devoted fans.

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I think that was me being imprecise rather than a misunderstanding, to be honest – not helped by the fact that I typically read a book a day, so a book of buffer = a day of buffer, to my mind.

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New data! Just noticed this updated wording on my (browser) goal & dashboard today:


Thank you, Beehive!