A few minutes ago, I recieved an email which read (in part)

On Thu, Dec 29, 2011 at 2:23 PM, Stack Exchange Area 51 wrote:

The proposal you've committed to is over halfway to beta! To get it the rest of the way, we need more people to commit to using the site.

If you know anyone who might be interested, send them this link:


Committing is the only way to get access to the private beta, and every committer moves the proposal one step closer to launching. Hurry! Once the private beta begins, new sign-ups will be closed until the site goes public.

I'm aware that the proposal is over halfway - It was at 59% before I signed up an hour ago, now it's at 60%. It's always been "over halfway to beta" in the time that I've been a part of it. I'm also aware that it needs to be promoted - there was a gaudy banner with various sharing tools that appeared after I signed up.

It seems like this email system was written with the first committer in mind. For most everyone else,

if (proposal_commit_percent > 50) then

is pretty meaningless. An email reminder seems like a decent idea, but it needs a little more implementation effort. How about something along the line of

The proposal you've committed to has advanced another 25% towards beta!

with appropriate implementation code to record the proposal's progress at the time the user committed and get the logic right (hint: It's not if (proposal_commit_percent > 25)). An alternative notification could be:

The proposal you've committed to is X% closer to beta than it was when you committed 90 days ago!

Both seem motivating, timely, and meaningful, which the current implementation misses. They serve as reminders after a reasonable amount of time, which is a good thing.

1 Answer 1


Isn’t “X percent to go” more galvanizing than “already X percent of the way there?”

  • 1
    Perhaps. I suppose that I do the math in my head to determine that "X% to go" is "100 - X% of the way there" and vice versa, but in any case it's not galvanizing when we reached X% a few months ago... Dec 30, 2011 at 23:28
  • I was thinking of this research: psycnet.apa.org/journals/psp/94/2/183
    – Verbeia
    Dec 30, 2011 at 23:32
  • 1
    Interesting looking paper! I might skim that when I get back to school and can read it for free. However, regardless of whether your glass is half empty or half full, the point is that emailing me to tell me that it's so when it's been past that state for months isn't useful. Dec 31, 2011 at 0:08
  • No argument from me on that! Happy new year. I don't suppose you are interested in Mathematica? ;-)
    – Verbeia
    Dec 31, 2011 at 0:15

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