What is my data?
When we talk about "entering your data" we're referring to the fact that Beeminder needs to know how much progress you made on your goal today. The way it's represented to the bot and in the apps is a pair of numbers in the following format:
<date> <value> "any optional comment or note about today's data"
For example, say I have a goal to read 100 pages per week. I would tell Beeminder that I read 10 pages on the 8th by saying:
You can also expand the date format further if you want to enter older data. For example,
2014 05 31 10 "wanted to remember these 10 pages forever"
would add a datapoint of 10 on 2014 May 31 to my goal with the comment "wanted to remember these 10 pages forever" attached to it. Beeminder's smart about inferring the date you mean — like "8" means the 8th of this month but "31" means last month if that was just a few days ago, etc. But if we guess wrong, you can edit the data after submitting it via the goal's page.
Check out "How do I enter data" to see more information and screenshots for all the different ways you can submit data to a Beeminder goal.
Data entry tricks
There are a few shortcuts we've built in over the years to make it more convenient to enter your data! All of these shortcuts apply to any of the data entry methods; there are no special rules for whether you're submitting using the dashboard vs email (SMS is almost the same but requires every datapoint to start with the goalname, or enough of the goalname to disambiguate it).
- Use the ^ symbol as a shortcut for "today." For example, if today is the 16th, you can submit today's data by sending 16 1 or by sending ^ 1.
- Use the ^^ symbol as a shortcut for "yesterday." For example, if today is the 16th, you can submit yesterday's data by sending 15 1or by sending ^^ 1. (You can keep going further back in time by adding more ^s!)
- If your goal unit is hours, you can submit values like 0:28 or 2:47 or 1:15:42, and Beeminder will calculate the exact number of hours for you. If your goal unit is minutes, you can't use this trick unless you decide to scale your goal into hours: you can just say how many minutes you did, e.g. 90.
- Users who want to enter a weight in stones to a goal tracked in pounds can use the form 10st5 — that will record a weight of 145 in your Beeminder goal.
- When sending bot emails or using the Advanced Entry textbox, you can submit multiple datapoints at once by entering one datapoint per line.
- Arithmetic is allowed for datapoints entered via the basic data entry form on the web version, like you can say 2+2 and Beeminder will submit a 4. This currently only works in basic data entry, not advanced (ironically) or via the bot and apps.
Keywords: newbee confusion, data points, datapoints, caret shortcut, syntactic sugar, data entry macros, advanced data entry