How do I interpret the graph?

Your graph is the representation of all your progress thus far on your Beeminder goal. Though you can use Beeminder without understanding or relying on the graph, for a lot of users they're super interesting and add a ton of value and motivation to help you achieve your goals! If you want to start getting to grips with the graphs, read on.

Understanding the bright red line

The bright red line is the line Beeminder draws to your final goal date / value (which might be very far in the future, if you don't have a specific end date or value in mind). You can change your final goal any time, but those changes won't take effect until 7 days after you make them. You can tell which side of the bright red line is "safe" because it's shaded yellow.

Annotated graph image, showing one side of the line shaded yellow, marked "When your datapoints are on the side of the line shaded yellow, you're safe!" and the other section labelled "The unshaded side is the danger-zone! You'll derail if your datapoints are here at the end of the day."

Some graphs have the side below the graph shaded, when you want to do equal to or less than the rate you've set for your goal, e.g. a Do Less goal. The same principle applies, though: the yellow side of the line is safe. If your datapoints are on the unshaded side of the line, then you'll derail at the end of the day!

What about the colors of datapoints?

Every time you enter data to your Beeminder goal, you create or modify a datapoint on the graph. Each datapoint is green, blue, orange, or red, depending on where it falls in relation to the bright red line:

  • Green datapoints mean you're doing great — you're 3 or more days ahead of schedule on your goal!
  • Blue datapoints mean that you're on track with a little buffer — you have 2 days of safety buffer.
  • Orange datapoints are on track — you have 1 day of safety buffer, meaning you'll derail tomorrow if you don't take action.
  • Red datapoints are not on track! This is called a beemergency. If you end the day with a red datapoint, you will derail on your goal.

For example, in this goal, the graph started out with 3 days of buffer on May 21st, so the datapoint shows up as green. I didn't enter a datapoint on May 22nd, and then added a small datapoint on the 23rd, so I only had two days of safety buffer, and the datapoint was blue. After that the bright red line sloped up faster, so my next datapoint only had one day of safety buffer, and was coloured orange. After that, I got back on track, gaining extra buffer so my next datapoint was blue and the next one was red.

On the 25th, I actually added two datapoints, and you can see the first one as a little orange dot, right next to the line. It gave me a day of buffer, but I'd have been in the red the next day if I hadn't added that second datapoint.

An example graph, with a green datapoint followed by a blue one two days later, then an orange one after the line sloped up. After that there are two datapoints on one day, with the first orange and the second blue. The last datapoint reaches the goal's target and is green!

There are some exceptions to the rules above for certain combinations of goal settings, especially on custom goals, but the above is the guideline you should use, and will be true for most standard goals.

Can I change where the graph starts, or make the end-point of my goal visible?

You can adjust the range shown on the graph in your goal settings by changing the "x-min" (initial value on the x-axis), "x-max" (maximum value for the x-axis, e.g. the date you want the goal to end), y-min (initial value displayed on the y-axis) and y-max (maximum value on the y-axis). This is useful if you ever want to hide an earlier portion of the graph, display the whole trajectory up to your end target, or if you want to temporarily zoom in on one section for a closer look!

Can I tell from my graph image alone when I'm due to derail and how much it will cost?

Yep! The graph also includes the current pledge and a short indicator of when the goal next derails in two of its corners.

Example graph image highlighting the derail date in the top left and the derail amount on the bottom right

So this particular goal will derail on Friday, and the charge will be $0 for this derailment.

What about other graph features like the rosy line and the colored guiding lines?

There are a number of other graph features covered in the graph legend, in the statistics tab, that you might be curious about! So here's a quick summary:

  • Coloured guiding lines: the orange line shows you where one day of safety buffer is, the blue line shows two days, and the green line seven
  • Yellow guide lines: these provide the shading to show which side of the line is safe
  • Thick yellow line: this is displayed on weight-type goals, showing you the amount of safety buffer you specified for daily fluctuations
  • Dashed yellow line: this line gives you an idea of how much your actual data as entered into the goal varies between days, for weight-type goals that can have daily fluctuations
  • Akrasia horizon: this blue dashed line shows you the 7-day mark after which you can make changes to your rate
  • Pink zone: shows the area that your bright line can't go into because of the akrasia horizon; if your data ends up in this zone, you'll derail
  • The rosy line: this is an optimistic projection that gives you a rose-tinted picture of your progress, not immediately going down if you don't complete your goal for a day or two
  • The purple line: this shows the moving average, and helps to smooth out random fluctuations
  • The purple swath: this "aura" round your datapoints is like the moving average, but fatter and smoother, and extends past your existing data to try to predict how things will look in the future if you keep up your current pace

You can tinker with the visibility of some of these features, like the line type and whether the moving average is displayed, via the goal's settings.

Keywords: newbees, chart, plot

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