From: Daniel Reeves firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: Fri, Jul 15, 2011 at 05:41
Subject: weight loss contracts, peeking
We’ve been arguing recently about whether “peeking” should be allowed
in a weight loss contract.
Peeking refers to checking your weight but choosing not to report it
Beeminder certainly works better if peeking’s forbidden. 
The debate is whether it’s realistic to forbid it. It’s certainly not
Bethany had a great idea to minimize the damage of peeking:
Any day you don’t report, your official weight is simply whatever it
We assume you’re flatlining if you don’t report, just like with
If that takes you off your road, you lose.
That means you can potentially go a long time without reporting if
you’re below your road, but that’s fine.
If you’re in the wrong lane, you’ll typically have less than a week.
(“Safe Days” in the Goal Stats tells you exactly how long you have.)
I just turned this on for the weight loss graphs of a few of you so we
can get a sense of it:
http://bmndr.com/jill/ambish (5 safe days)
http://bmndr.com/jill/weight (32 safe days!)
http://bmndr.com/mo/weight (2 more safe days)
http://bmndr.com/laur/weight (would’ve lost 7 days ago under this rule!)
(Note that all of the above have serious money at stake.)
This rule simplifies things in the code and in the contract  so I’m
thinking we should go with this.
Eager to hear other opinions though…
PS: Here’s a teaser for the Akrasia Horizon post we’re working on, in
Akrasia Horizon: quantifies ‘immediate’ in the def’n of akrasia, the
distortion of decision-making in the face of immediate consequence
 Here’s how I put it to some friends and family recently:
The reason to care about peeking is that it’s kind of core to the
yellow brick road’s value proposition. Recall our taglines and other
promotional copy about turning long-term commitments into daily
commitments and adding immediate consequences to solve the fundamental
problem of akrasia.
With peeking it’s just not immediate. It’s like, mmm, this yummy pie
is staring at me. If I eat it it might push me off my road tomorrow
but that’s ok because in that case I’ll just not report and I have a
week to get back on. And I know I’ll be good starting tomorrow so,
ok, get in my belly, pie!
When that was 3 weeks instead of 1 week it was a total disaster. One
week may be ok. We’ll find out, I guess.
But with no peeking, eating the pie is just out of the question if
you’re in the wrong lane. You can’t take the risk of what that will do
to your weight in the morning.
(If the risk still seems too high – maybe you know you’re bloated –
then you can just not get on the scale at all. That’s allowed, but
that’s super scary, so now you’ll be super careful for an additional
24 hours and you’ll quickly get back to safety.)
Remember Rule #1 of Beeminder, as Jill put it:
Anything that makes staying on the road easier makes reaching your goal harder.
There’s no free lunch. Any leniency today will get paid for down
the… Road. [slaps knee]
(Seems so obvious when put that way. Crazy how much time we spent
tweaking rules about 3 strikes and whatnot!)
So just solemnly promise not to peek! Jill and Bethany never peeked,
even with $600 and $5k on the line, respectively. You know it’s in
your best interest to commit to no peeking so just make that part of
your commitment and stick to it because you’re honest.
 Current draft of the Beeminder Contract Template: http://bmndr.com/contract