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So I am working on this little chrome extension that tracks the amount of time the user spends on certain websites and helps them reduce the time they waste online. On Installation the ext. asks user to enter max. of 5 websites which they find themselves wasting/spending most of their times on. Once submitted the list of websites is saved in the storage. Now the next part is editing the list of submitted sites.

Initially I made editing the list of websites super simple just on click of a button. Then after using the ext. for a while I figured this method makes it way too easier to "cheat".

My second option is to make the list of websites completely immutable. Once submitted it cannot be changed. The tradeoff here is that the user might want to add a website and then find themselves reinstalling the extension. Which has the potential of annoying the heck out of them.

Thirdly I am considering limiting the number of edits the user can make to the list of websites to something like 3.

Which one to consider or none at all ? Any other alternatives you can suggest?

  • Why would you worry about them cheating? They are only cheating themselves. – paparazzo Jan 24 '15 at 14:11
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You can also think of time limiting the immutable property.

Like once a website and max-allowed-time is set, it is immutable for 3 days. User need to wait for 3 days to make any chages.

You can also feature limit (display ads or slowdown the site on client side) after max-allowed-time to discourage site usage beyond set time limits.

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Without the benefit of expertise re: the psychology of procrastination, I'd say that if the user of your extension wanted to cheat by editing the list at will, and you made it hard to do so, they'd be likely to just uninstall the extension altogether. You'd have to assume the user had enough motivation to install the extension in the first place, and I claim that crippling a basic feature of the UI as a means to prevent cheating will not achieve the outcome you think it will. You should support list editing in your extension and instead focus on techniques promoting the desired behavior (as another answerer suggested).

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You could only allow the user to add items through the selection screen, and force them to use another, more complex, avenue to remove them.

Some ideas for removing:

  • Only letting them remove things at certain times of the day
  • Make them submit a request to remove something, have a fifteen minute or so wait period, then let them remove it
  • Have a puzzle, or other annoyance, that would be worse than any work they're trying to avoid

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