# Do-Zero Goals Considered Harmful

Wednesday, February 17, 2021
By Chelsea Miller

Look what we found in the attic! Our original Support Czar, Chelsea — known for such classics as “Beemind Easy Things” and “Weasel Heart-To-Heart” — wrote this screed in 2017. It was a much better screed when she wrote it, because Beeminder was way worse then than it is today. (Yay!) So we modernized it and removed the especially scathing now-false bits and, despite being less of a slam-dunk denunciation, we stand by it.

I hate do-less goals with a rate of zero, and I am here to convince you never to use one again.

## The Situation

If you’re among the 98% of Beeminder users that have ever created (or considered creating) a weight-loss goal, you probably have a guilty pleasure food or two or twenty. Maybe it’s the infinite candy drawer at your office. Every day around 3pm, you find yourself pulling up to pick out a few Starburst. You know it’s a bad habit, and you really need to stop, but it’s so hard… But now you’ve found Beeminder, the perfect tool to curb your candy addiction! You vow to never open the drawer again and create a goal to track it. It’s a do-less goal, obviously, since you want to do less candy hauls, and the rate is zero, because you are seriously done with the candy drawer.

But it’s not a do-less goal! It’s a do-NEVER goal. You don’t want to use the drawer less, you want to use it never. There’s no goal type for that. You could use a do-more or a do-less to accomplish it [1], but I strongly strongly encourage you to try the do-more first. Do-less goals have their use cases, and they can bee really awesome! But they’re not the best tool for a do-never goal, and you deserve the best.

## Why They Suck

Is it wise to start my rant rationale by pointing out significant Beeminder flaws, as I am a Beeminder employee? Well, I’m doing it anyway. Squeaky wheel gets the grease!

Here’s a picture of a fresh do-less zero goal:

My datapoint starts out on track, right on the bright red line, and the line’s not moving, because its rate is zero. In Beeminder’s brain, I’m already totally in the clear forever even if I immediately forget about this goal and never touch it again. This problem is what triggered the creation of Pessimistic Presumptive Reports. I’ll rant on PPRs in the next point.

(Update from the future! This part of Chelsea’s rant lamented how hard it was to actually get reminders on a do-zero goal. But as long as you leave Pessimistic Presumptive Reports alone, her rant doesn’t apply. We fixed this part of the problem in 2019. Phew!)

(Next was Chelsea’s PPR rant. But this is also not too applicable to modern Beeminder. Imminent PPRs are made visually clear on your graph and everything. No surprises. Again, just don’t turn PPRs off. As Chelsea put it, if you happen to have even mild weasel tendencies — weaseling-of-omission vs weaseling-of-commission — then you really need those PPRs. Otherwise you can stick your head in the sand and your Beeminder goal will have zero sting, never derailing unless you explicitly cause it to derail, by adding data. Moving on to the still-true parts…)

### 1) No motivating graph power

A mostly-successful do-zero goal looks like this:

A mostly-successful do-more goal looks like this:

Maybe it’s just me, but I enjoy the “climbing a mountain” feel of #2 more than the “nothing is happening… oh but that’s good” of #1. (So does Grayson Bray Morris!) If the hand-wavy graph image unmeasurable “motivation” factor doesn’t do it for you, perhaps you’re more interested in the cold hard cash factor…

### 2) They’re not free

Is it wise to point out something that might result in fewer Beeminder subscription dollars, as I am a Beeminder employee? I’m doing it anyway. (Subscribe to Infinibee to show your gratitude for my forthrightness and customer advocacy!)

## Footnotes

[1] Really, you could use any goal type to do it, if you’re a serious Beeminder junkie/hacker. That’s why Beeminder is so fun, once you’re completely indoctrinated onboarded.

[3] You don’t have to stay subscribed forever though. You can subscribe for one month, create all the do-less goals your heart desires, and then immediately cancel. Approved loophole!

[4] Just kidding!!! Because you didn’t have to pay for it!

[5] The number of interesting goals, configurations, and hacks people come up with to make their Beeminder goals work for them continues to astound me. For those of you who love and rely on your do-less zero goals, keep at it!

Image credit: Faire Soule-Reeves.

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