New Feature: Supporters

Saturday, May 3, 2014
By dreeves

Someone wearing a shirt that says, printed upside down, 'If you can read this call my sponsor'

Technically we deployed this feature over two months ago, but not very well so we didn’t have much fanfare. It was one of our daily UVIs (@beemuvi) and we mentioned it in a beemail.

The feature itself is pretty self-explanatory: In the Settings for a goal you can add supporters — friends, family, enemies — who will get cc’d on your legit check emails if you derail. It’s a bit like StickK’s referees but we don’t currently ask anything of them. Still, just having them in the loop may be additional incentive to stay on your yellow brick road.

One reason we were worried about shouting this from the mountaintops until now is that we hadn’t implemented opt-in from the supporters. We just warned/begged you to let these poor people know what was up so they wouldn’t spambox us the first time they were CC’d on one of these derailment emails. Now we send something like this to someone when you add them as a supporter:

Subject: someone wants you to help (bee)mind them

Beeminder user So And So — check out their goal gallery at http://beeminder.com/example — put down your email address as a person they want keeping an extra eye on them. You should ask that person what this is all about, and opt in to this by hitting this link: [confirmation link here]
If neither of you know what this is about then please reply “NOT ME” and we’ll figure out what happened.
Thanks, and happy beeminding!

As a bonus, if you’ve weasel-proofed a goal that has supporters and you want to reply to a legit check email that a derailment wasn’t legitimate, you can have your supporters chime in to corroborate your story.


 

Image credit: Zazzle

Thanks to Sam Grossberg and Tee Mang, and of course StickK, for suggesting this feature. Sandy Maguire also provided inspiration when, during NaNoWriMo, he put a call out on Facebook that if he derailed he’d pay $50 to the person who had kicked him in the pants the most, where that was defined as bugging him when his Beeminder graph was in the red.

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  • Essentiae

    “if you’ve weasel-proofed a goal that has supporters and you want to reply to a legit check email that a derailment wasn’t legitimate, you can have your supporters chime in to corroborate your story”

    Oooh… love this part!

  • Ben Milford

    I am not ready to go all in like that, but having someone else know that I failed motivates me not to fail in the first place (hopefully) much more.

  • cko

    Nice addition.

    One case where this feature would come in handy is a roommates scenario I was suggesting to a friend the other day.

    Essentially, roommates of a house each create a Beeminder goal to do “10 minutes of cleaning six days a week”. The idea is that Beeminder will do it’s usual magic and make each of the roommates do their share.

    This feature then would compliment that quite nicely by having your roommate(s) as the supporters, since they have a vested interest in knowing that you’ve derailed (or that you curiously haven’t derailed when they know that you didn’t clean today, thereby reducing the weaseliness factor).

    Keep up the good work guys.

  • Kay

    So what about if someone puts in false data and I, as a supporter, know about it. Can I call them out in some meaningful way?

  • http://beeminder.com Daniel Reeves

    Great question! This is the area where StickK has us beat, since they explicitly ask your Referee every week if you’ve been successful. With Beeminder’s Supporters feature the supporter can reply to any previous legit check email or the original email from when they became a supporter and call the beemindee out.

  • http://maybethismatters.org/ David Ernst

    Lately I’ve been starting to think that calling this “supporters” is a bit of a misnomer. They’re going to find out when I’ve done bad, and help shame me? Isn’t this more a tool of public humiliation, a modern day pillory?

    What support can they give after I’ve derailed? Maybe some words of encouragement to try again? Lessening the sting, perhaps?

    I wonder if more users would be interested in trying out this feature if it was named more appropriately? “Watchers”? “Shamers”? Ah I don’t think either of those names are all that good. “Notify others when you derail”?

    If you wanted to stick with a feature to make use of supporters, could they receive a notification *before* I derail? Like a single message at the start of an eep day:

    > “Hi, Supporter Joe! Your pal David is about to miss his goal of One UVI per Day. Maybe he’d appreciate a call from you with some words of encouragement?”

  • http://beeminder.com Daniel Reeves

    I like that idea, but I think it should be off by default because for some us we’re in a state of near-derailing every single day. That’s almost the point. If you had the self-control to maintain a safety buffer then you wouldn’t really need Beeminder in the first place. (That’s of course a huge exaggeration; even severe akratics like me have many goals that only occasionally go into the red.)

  • http://maybethismatters.org/ David Ernst

    customizable “Send a message to my supporters x hours before derailment” ?