Make it possible to share my graphs with friends in a secure way, so I risk losing face & cash.
If I succeed, then I had the option of allowing friends and loved ones to watch me do it. If I fail, they get to laugh at me, leaving even more reason to succeed.
Sharing is pretty huge, but can you say what exactly you mean by “a secure way”? Do you need a way to guarantee that only specific people see your graph, and that those people would have to have beeminder accounts themselves (to ensure you’re sharing with only those you intend)? If you just give the URL of your graph to those you want to share your goal with, that may be the best of all worlds, unless you’re super paranoid about the URL falling into the wrong hands. That’s our own philosophy, anyway. Others may have different privacy needs so we’re eager to hear more feedback on this.
Nate Parsons commented
+1 on this service sharing a URL that can't be searched from elsewhere on the site, but is potentially discoverable (just like 'unlisted' youtube videos). The idea is you wouldn't mind if anyone saw whatever's at the URL, but you do want some people to definitely see it and shame you. Options could include:
* Show/hide y-axis numbers
* Just what side of the road you're on
* Automatic email only on failure, no visibility of progress (with advance permission of recipients, of course, like futureme)
* No failure emails, just a way for people to see your progress if they want to
* URL garbling, so they can't divine your beeminder username from your shame
Ross Schueller commented
Perhaps I'm just coming to this topic late, or I failed to notice the more appropriate topic in the forum.
I'd like to be able to share via social network (Facebook & Twitter in my case) a daily recap of my progress or a summary of progress after each new data entry. This would just be in the form of a status update.
A statement of the data, whether it was up or down, and its proximity to my goals would be great. I'd like to stay accountable to friends/family.
Just wanted to add a clarification to my previous comment: I'm talking about weight goals using a connected scale (we have the Fitbit Aria) so creating a goal that tracks weight lost rather than absolute weight isn't possible (or I couldn't see a way of doing it, again, tell me if I'm being blind).
Okay, I want to add a slighly different request to the privacy suggestion.
I think you should be able to allow a graph to be public but hide the absolute values involved (eg the y axis and the goal).
I expect the most obvious and common use for this would be for weight goals. In fact it was only today when I set up a weight goal that I realised you couldn't do this, and was really disappointed!
The thing is there are surely plenty of goals, but weight in particular, where you want the encouragement that comes from people being able to see your yellow brick road and how well (or badly) you're doing at keeping to it, but don't want people to know the specific values involved.
As an example MyFitnessPal does this, you can see how much weight anyone has lost but not their absolute weight.
I know someone who would like to use Beeminder to track her weight, but is absolutely paranoid about anyone knowing how much she weighs (I honestly don't think she's terribly unusual in this regard, although it isn't such a big deal for me personally). It's really sad that the only option she has is to make the goal completely invisible to everyone.
Or tell me I'm wrong, and there is a hidden setting somewhere. I've looked again and again!
@Michael, holy cow, your comments today are awesome. The bee puns are the icing on the cake. The honey-glaze on the ham? (I'm not as good at it as you...)
I do like Robin's point here. It would be worthwhile to have a specific view of a goal / graph for sharing. it doesn't link back to my other goals, but it could allow people to "watch" what I'm up to.
I do think some effort towards offering some levels of privacy would be worth the effort.
Aside: I really think the "have friends bet for or against" my goal is an intriguing idea. But I think that assumes the money comes to me and not to the hive.... If that is the thought, then you would be turning beeminder into kickstart, wouldn't you? Maybe there's a revenue sharing model that could act as a bit of a cash cow (or a honey pot?).... bzzzzz
Reto Stamm commented
Your "Friends" might actually want to bet against you, in a reasonably secure environment :)
I can think of two ways of sharing which would be useful:
1. I'd like to share a secret goal with only some people (sending them a long ugly URL, à la Flickr, would be fine).
2. I'd like to share a goal without people being able to get to my goal list.
I'll expand on number 2: most of my goals are public, and I'm happy with that. I don't mind if someone curious enough manages to dig them up. On the other hand, I don't necessarily want to share all my graphs with all my Facebook friends. There is a difference between allowing data to be found and putting it in front of everyone's face.
I have one goal I would be happy to share with my Facebook friends, at least in part to advertize Beeminder. But if I do, they will be two clicks away from all my other goals, and I don't want that.
@dreeves: I know plenty of people who would go around guessing URLs, myself included. There doesn't even need to be malicious intent there, it can just be curiosity. When I heard that a friend was using beeminder to track savings, my first thought was "what a good idea; I wonder how she's going?"
Of course, at the moment there's no need to guess URLs for public goals, they're visible on a user's goal page, as they should be. And they'll *definitely* get stumbled upon, especially if one has been tweeting about beeminder, has written a testimonial, or has been talking to friends excitedly over coffee. ;)
Knowing that there's no way to retrieve a graph of a "secret" goal is good, and how it should be. I'd even suggest you don't even reveal that secret goals exist at all on the user's public goal page. The first step in keeping a secret is not to reveal that the secret exists in the first place. :)
I'd define "sharing" to mean allowing me to start private auctions on the contracts I set up. I'd like my friends to be able to bid for the contracts I'm creating and to have the opportunity to "win" money from the highest bidder if I complete the goal. This is similar to what you explained was the origin of Beeminder in your QS talk a while back.
PS: To help you decide for now: put yourself in your hypothetical stalker's shoes, open a fresh browser, and make sure you're ok with what they can likely see. Google snippets of your comments to make sure they don't show up, etc.
@pjf: Good ideas! To clarify about what's available now: Secret means there's no way to share it at all and no one can see it even if they guess the URL. Otherwise anyone who knows the URL can see it. Realistically we think that's almost always fine. Pretty much no one ever goes around guessing people's URLs. I mean, how lame would you have to be? :) We've seen that happen just a couple times and it was a couple innocent queries, nothing elaborate or brute-force.
So our recommendation is to not check the secret box -- it's unlikely anyone will ever stumble on you -- unless it's something you're certain you want to keep completely to yourself.
Until we implement better sharing features, that is! (Thanks again for the well-thought-out ideas!)
@dreeves: Wait, are we saying that graphs are currently *always* viewable if you know the URL, even if they're marked as "private", and even if you're not signed in? If that's the case, someone will cheerfully add a dictionary to a username and start brute-forcing out graphs.
I certainly have potential goals which are *not* going to work better if they're in public, simply because I'll never-ever use beeminder for those goals if there's a risk of them being publicly visible. However these private goals may be ones I wish to share them with a few trusted friends.
Easy ways to implement a sharing system include:
* Allow the generation of a "sharing URL" (which cannot be guessed) for a private graph. Make sure that sharing URL can be revoked at any time.
** Bonus points if you can create many sharing URLs on demand and give them labels. This selectively allows me to revoke access.
* Allow the idea of "friends" on Beeminder, with graphs having a Public/Private/Friends-Only access control.
** Bonus points if you can select which friends can view a graph, as opposed to all friends.
* Using existing auth services (such as Google and Facebook) to allow explicit sharing with particular users. This strikes me as the best solution, because this allows friends to observe graphs with a minimum of fuss.
* Bonus points for allowing friends to opt-in to a daily e-mail of graphs they're watching, or even just getting an e-mail if a friend has hit the wrong lane of the YBR.
* Lots of bonus points if you allow sharing of data points, but *notes* to be kept private. I might want to have a friend see my progress, but not have them see my private notes along the way. This last one is particularly valuable to me, as I often want to keep personal notes as to why I've been successful or unsuccessful in working towards a goal.
@Drew, that level of shareability is what Beeminder already gives you. Just give out the URL of your graph. Like a hypothetical user Alice can share her weight goal by just telling her friends to go to beeminder.com/alice/weight
But now I want to understand why you posted this in the first place. Had you not realized that your graph is viewable even you're not signed in?
We're about to add some explicit privacy features for people who want to keep their graphs totally locked down (already possible by special request -- firstname.lastname@example.org) so we want to understand what users prefer in this regard.
We're of course of the opinion that it works better the more public it is but we know not everyone shares that view!
Robert Felty commented
One way to do this would be to add social network features to beeminder. I think this could be a good way to get more users,and bring back the kibitzing aspect of kibotzer - especially for people who aren't risking money, they could risk embarrasment, but only from their "friends"
Drew Summitt commented
For me personally, a secured "This is a url to my progress concerning BLAH keep me accountable" would be enough. I would trust people not to go around sharing the URL on my odometer or study habits (for whatever reason) but I don't feel comfortable sharing that same data that generate on Facebook which is the default way of sharing things. Facebook however is *too* public. I'd like the sharing of graphs to be to targeted trusted individuals.