# Beeminder Glossary

Saturday, July 13, 2013
By dreeves

By popular demand, we’ve created a jargon file! We don’t expect this to be the permanent home of this glossary (maybe it belongs with our FAQ) but it’s on the internet now so from now on you can google things like “beeminder flatlining” and hopefully be sent here to learn what we’re talking about.

UPDATE: We’re continually adding to this as we notice nomenclature that isn’t self-evident. UVI, beemergency, beemail, panic threshold, do less, autodata, supporters, auto-ratchet, akrasia-proofing, …

a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

## A

#### Akrasia

Procrastination, impetuousness, failure of willpower, acting against one’s own better judgment. Doing something you regret even as you’re doing it. See the sidebar of this blog, or check out our Anti-Akrasia Manifesto.

#### Akrasia Horizon

Akrasia is distorted decision-making in the face of immediate consequences and your akrasia horizon quantifies “immediate”. It’s the timeframe within which your short-term impulses outweigh your better judgment — taken by Beeminder to always be one week in the future. You can make arbitrary changes to your goal — the steepness of your yellow brick road — but only outside the akrasia horizon. (You can make your goal harder without waiting for the akrasia horizon; see retroratchet.)

#### Akrasia-proofing

The delay Beeminder imposes on making changes to your goal so that you’re always making decisions beyond you akrasia horizon. (See also: weasel-proofing)

#### Akratic

The adjectival form of akrasia, or a person who is akratic. If that’s you, and you’re reading the Beeminder glossary cover to cover (bonus points if you’re procrastinating on real work by doing so), then you probably want to join Akratics Anonymous.

#### All-you-can-eat-buffet-hopping vacation

A hypothetical reason to make a weight-loss yellow brick road slope up for a period of time. For most goals it’s sufficient to add a flat spot for vacations.

#### Archive

To get a goal out of your gallery — used to cry uncle on a goal. The goal will be archived after one week, i.e., subject to the akrasia horizon. Archived goals still exist but the bot won’t bug you about them and you’ll never be charged for an archived goal. Newly created goals that you archive will also give you the option to blow them away completely, in case you set one up wrong.

#### Autodata goal

A goal that has an automatic data source, like RescueTime or Trello or Fitbit or RunKeeper (there are dozens of official integrations and ways to automate data entry for hundreds more, thanks to IFTTT and Zapier). You authorize Beeminder to read your data from one of those sources and then your Beeminder graph updates automatically. The full list of autodata sources is on the Beeminder front page or at the bottom of beeminder.com/services.

#### Auto-ratchet

A premium feature to automatically apply retroratchet every day so you can never accumulate excess safety buffer.

#### Auto-summing

Goals that are auto-summing automatically add up all your datapoints and plot the cumulative total on your graph. This is the typical way Beeminder works. Exceptions are weight loss and odometer goals.

#### Auto-widening

For weight loss (or weight gain) goals, the yellow brick road adjusts its width to maintain the “can’t lose tomorrow” guarantee: If you’re in the right lane today, and you report data every day, then no matter what your datapoint tomorrow, the road will auto-widen to accommodate it. If you’re in the wrong lane then the road width is fixed and you’re in danger of derailing the next day if your datapoint is off track.

## B

#### Backburner (below the fold)

This isn’t a thing anymore!

There are two sides (or lanes) of the yellow brick road, separated by the centerline. The bad side (or wrong lane) is the side you do not want to be on. If you’re on the bad side you’re falling behind. The good side (or right lane) is the side you want to be on. If you’re on the good side you’re exceeding your goal.

#### The beehive

Beeminder headquarters. Our office is part of Upstart Labs in Portland, Oregon.

#### Beemail

Daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly emails that we (the founders) send to keep everyone in the loop on what’s new with Beeminder. By default you’ll get them monthly but you can change that by going to Your Account → Settings → Email → Beemail. If you’re reading our glossary then you’ll probably enjoy getting daily beemails (or at least weekly).

#### Beemergency

See emergency day.

#### To beemind

To use Beeminder to track and commit to a goal. Often used transitively, as in “I’m beeminding my donut consumption.” Think of “beeminding X” as an intensified version of “minding X”.

#### Bot

The program you interact with by email or SMS. It reminds you to add data, you reply to it with new data, and it warns you if you’re about to derail.

## C

#### Centerline

The dotted orange line down the middle of the yellow brick road, separating the right lane (or good side) from the wrong lane (or bad side). This is your ideal path. If your progress perfectly followed the centerline, you would reach your goal exactly on schedule.

#### Commitment contract (also: commitment device)

A means by which you constrain your own future behavior for the purposes of thwarting akrasia, i.e., a tool to enforce on yourself your own better judgment. In the context of Beeminder, it’s your agreement to let Beeminder charge you if you don’t keep all your datapoints on your yellow brick road. (See also: Synonyms for Self-Binding)

## D

#### Datapoints

The values you enter into Beeminder, or that Beeminder enters for you in the case of autodata goals, consisting of a timestamp and a value. Datapoints are shown color-coded on the graph. Green is good (outperforming the yellow brick road), blue is for the good side of the road, orange is for the bad side of the road, and red means failure or imminent failure (an emergency day).

#### Derail

To fail to keep all your datapoints on your yellow brick road. You don’t officially derail though until you end the day with your datapoint off the road. Until then it’s an emergency day. If you had a pledge on a goal, you’ll be charged 24 hours after derailing.

#### Dial up/down

To make your yellow brick road more or less challenging using the road dial. If you have a lot of safety buffer, you’ll want to dial up your road and make it more difficult. Changes you make to your road have a one-week delay before they take effect, per the akrasia horizon.

#### Do Less goal

Formerly known as “Set-a-Limit”, this is a goal to limit an action, such as eating fewer sweets or spending less time on Facebook. On a Do Less goal you must always stay on or below the yellow brick road. As with Do More goals, Beeminder auto-sums your datapoints to show you the cumulative total as you follow your yellow brick road. (See also: pessimistic presumptive reports)

#### Do More goal

This is the most common Beeminder goal type. You enter a value every time you do something you want to do more of — minutes of exercise, number of workouts, servings of vegetables, hours of work — and Beeminder auto-sums your datapoints to show you the cumulative total as you follow your yellow brick road. Sometimes the names “Do More” and “Do Less” cause confusion, if you just want to do something consistently, or perhaps never do something at all. Think of them as goals to do more (or less) than you would otherwise do if left to your own devices.

## E

#### Emergency day (eep day)

A day when your datapoint — which will show up red — is off the road but you haven’t officially derailed. You must get back on the road (go running, weigh in again, whatever you’ve committed to) by midnight at the end of this day. (And if you don’t like the default midnight deadline, you can change it.)

## F

#### Flatline / flatlining

When you report no data, Beeminder assumes that you did nothing (or stayed the same weight). We add a placeholder datapoint to the graph for today — graphed as a tiny triangle — to show you where you are with respect to the yellow brick road. It’s not a real datapoint and is not added as actual data. Exception: pessimistic presumptive reports.

#### Flat spot

A period in which your yellow brick road is paused, requiring no work. You may want to add a flat spot for a vacation, for example. You do so by dialing down your road with the road dial. When you start a new goal or rerail, Beeminder by default starts you with a flat spot so you can build up an initial safety buffer.

#### Precommit to recommit

This is the fundamental tenet of Beeminder that, unless you opt out, you’re automatically recommitted after you derail. It has a name because, historically, it was something you had to specifically opt in to. (See: Precommit to Recommit: The Third Great Beeminder Epiphany)

We intend for Beeminder to always be a totally free awesomeness-inducer (free if you stay on your yellow brick road, that is) but if you want to pay monthly (or yearly or anythingly) you’ll get various perks.

#### Programmable self

The next stage of evolution of quantified self, or, arguably, the real point of quantified self, to change one’s own behavior with data. (See: The Rise of Programmable Self)

## R

#### SOS clause

If something truly unexpected happens, such as physical injury, that prevents you from staying on your yellow brick road we can make your road immediately become flat until you are able to get back on your feet. Email support@beeminder.com with an explanation of the circumstances and your request. (See: Force Majeure, Or Beeminder’s SOS Clause)

See derail.

#### Supporters

Supporters are friends/family/enemies who will be cc’d on any legit check email you get when you derail. You can add supporters in goal settings. See the announcement of the feature on our blog for details.

## U

#### User-Visible Improvement (UVI)

Early on, before we even publicly launched, the Beeminder founders, being dogfood maniacs, hard-committed to averaging one user-visible improvement to Beeminder every day. We often describe the day’s UVI in our daily beemails. (See: Beeminder on Rails and Dog Food Renewed and, especially, 1000 Days of User-Visible Improvements)

#### Uservoice

The home of our feedback forum. For general Beeminder discussion, the currently most active forum is the Akratics Anonymous google group.

## W

#### Weasel

Weaseling is stretching the spirit of the SOS clause or doing anything else outside the spirit of Beeminder’s commitment contract. (See: Weasel-Proofing and the Definition of Legitimacy)

#### Weasel-proofing

If you check “weasel-proof me” in your goal settings then you’re authorizing us — just for that goal — to be hard-nosed in the face of ambiguously extenuating circumstances. In other words, if you cry foul in response to a legit check when you derail we’ll say “tough luck” unless it’s something really airtight. Nothing at all resembling “stuff came up” or “I got really busy” or “I wasn’t feeling well” will fly. Weasel-proofing also affects things like the ability to add manual data for an autodata goal.

## Y

The path to your goal, with some leeway on either side. This is drawn as a literal yellow brick road on your graph and you’re committing to keep your datapoints on it (or on the good side of it) every day. (See: The Magical Widening Yellow Brick Road)

#### Yellow guiding lines

These appear above or below your goal to indicate the good side of the yellow brick road. The extra thick one shows one week buffer — kind of the opposite of the akrasia horizon line. If you stay above that line — keep your safety buffer at 7 days or higher — then you’re immune to being stung. If anything comes up, just flatten your road. It will take effect after the akrasia horizon (7 days) but since you have that much safety buffer, you’re golden!

## Z

#### Zeno polling

If Zeno polling is enabled, you’ll get reminded ever more persistently on emergency days until you’re back on your yellow brick road. This can be toggled under email settings. (See: Zeno Polling)

Image credit: Food History Jottings

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