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Show HN: Help Me Decide Please (helpmedecideplease.com)
194 points by tannerljohnson on April 25, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 88 comments

I absolutely thought I could enter a question and have the site's users decide for me like a strawpoll.

I can't even decide what to put in the choices list. Man.

> I can't even decide what to put in the choices list. Man.

"what question should I ask? and what should the answers be?"

Perhaps it's an object lesson in existential philosophy?

I also had the same assumption. Realizing it's single player, I find the administration part not worth it, it can be done in head or paper.

I know of someone who built something kind of similar [0]. (I’m not affiliated in any way).

[0] - http://www.hichapp.com/

Awkward name, and it would be nice to have a web-interface, but cool!

Legit was what I was thinking. I want to make this.

after reading yesterday’s posts here:

that’d be a nice play project for phoenix and liveview!

Link please

I was thinking about making something like this, but I never actually started to seriously evaluate the idea. I guess it would be cool to collaborate with other people on this project though.

That was easy, I've put "a, b, and c". As for importance options I've got away with "x, y and z".

Way back when I worked on a lifestyle coaching startup based on these methods.

I was the tech guy, working with a coach. The term we used for this method was Weighted Attribute Matrix. The coach had already implemented it as a spreadsheet which he would use as a tool with his clients. He therefore had a (big) pre-created list of criteria, such as “Allows me to spend time with my family”.

Each client would the list the options they were trying to choose between, and then go through the process of 1) weighting the criteria, and 2) scoring the criteria against their choices.

This would take a day or two to do with his clients, and was tedious.

The software we created streamlined all those. First they weighted the criteria, at which point we could then ignore all the criteria the client didn’t care about.

We also drastically improved the interface, and used a bit of UX & phycology to make it a bit addictive. This helped users get through it quickly. I think we got initial results down to 30 mins which was kinda revolutionary for his practice. This software was used in workshops/1-to-1 sessions, not self-guided SaaS-style (although we were considering it)

In the end nothing came of it. I think we fell down on the selling and marketing. Sharing the story here in case it is useful.

Incidentally, I also used this process when buying some land a few years ago. Multiple people had to choose, so we each had a Weighted Attribute Matrix to fill out. I then put it into a Django app and we could see where the disagreements & commonalities lay.

What was especially cool was that people could get a rough idea of how much they would personally like the land without having to visit it.

I'm sorry to say this, but, this is not so very good. Having worked with other decision methods such as TOPSIS, AHP, and ANP, and note that those are the simplest and most commented on (and not about its features, but about its shortcomings), in your analysis/software, it is impossible to compare choices among them, which is a huge hindrance to the method.

Is there a good introduction to decision methods on general like the ones you describe? I'm very interested in this.

Yes. I like this paper (https://www.worldscientific.com/doi/abs/10.1142/S02196220185...) because it explains in general terms what AHP (Analytic Hierarchy Process) is and related tools. In Google Scholar there are pointers to other researchers, for AHP the most cited one is Thomas Saaty - https://scholar.google.com.br/scholar?hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C5&q=s...

Remember once again, AHP/ANP are not the most 'useful' ones, having advantages and drawbacks, but they are a good starting point on Multicriteria Decision Methods (MCDM).

You may want to check MAUT/MAVT, PROMETHEE, VIKOR, Best Worst Method, and TOPSIS (this one is quite simple to understand and use).

Tip: if you input something and press "enter", it will reset the form. You should attach the event listener to the form's onSubmit, and not to the button's onClick.

Is there some book of best web dev practices where stuff like this is written down?

You might notice by just using the web, or you might notice it when testing the form on one of your first assignments, that you can submit a form by pressing enter in an input box.

So then you might look up the documentation for the submit event on forms: https://html.spec.whatwg.org/multipage/form-control-infrastr...

And then realize that adding the onclick handler on the submit button handles one use case (clicking the button), but a more general solution would be to add the onclick handlers on the form itself.

Then maybe you start thinking, huh, what happens when someone tabs to a button and presses enter, does the onclick handler work there? And so on and so on...

So the answer for where it's written down, it's in the documentation. But most people these days can't be bothered with things like reading documentation and textbooks and reference manuals, so, uh, I guess you just need to have a little bit of experience combined with an attention to detail?

Not that granular yet, but I’ve been capturing user story/ acceptance criteria level best practices. Currently at ~800 B2B focused modular “specs” that find the middle ground between devs and non technical team members.

My email in profile if you’d like to check it out.

No because the default behaviors not defined by a standard. Example: https://forum.vivaldi.net/topic/43170/backspace-shortcut-sho...

Not that I know of. I learned through years of practice and reading hundreds of varied blog posts. If you find a book or resource like that please ping me.

Not that I know of. Just something you learn from experience or your users will tell you quickly during validation.

best way to learn is to build.

fixed :) thanks for the feedback!

No problem! You also have a label repeated, which makes the first item to select the second radio-button:

    <input type="radio" id="factor-weight-4" name="score" value="4">
    <label for="factor-weight-3">super important</label>
    <input type="radio" id="factor-weight-3" name="score" value="3">
    <label for="factor-weight-3">pretty important</label>

great catch -- fixed now, thank you!

It'd also be nice if after submitting for one and selecting enter that it autofocuses on the input for the next question so you can start typing without clicking on it.

this has been fixed :D thanks!

Ah, I thought it was broken.

or better yet, don't even use <form> for things that don't submit a traditional old-style POST/GET to a server. if you're handling all your logic in javascript on the client side, OR doing everything with AJAJ [0], <form> is unnecessary and you can handle things with button.onClick -- you get to program it just like any other GUI.

[0] most people use JSON not XML so i prefer to call it AJAJ not AJAX

There are some downsides to that approach. The <form> element has semantic meaning which is lost if it's missing. Screen readers for blind people, browser features such as form auto-fill etc. might not work as expected without this semantic information.

Most web applications I have seen opt to use the form element. The default form browser behaviour can be suppressed easily.

This site is fun but I think it fails to understand what's difficult about making decisions for many people. The site asks you to make a LOT of decisions.

It asks you to make even more decisions than the original one.

Here’s my output for trying to figure out what I am going to do for dinner:

    1. pizza: 54
    2. beer: 54
    3. italian: 45
    4. home cooked food: 44
    5. thai: 42
    6. mexican: 34
It’s fair to say the quality of the decisions this tool will enable is bounded by the ability of the user to make good decisions :-)

I'd be curious to see your criteria. That seems like the biggest determinant of a quality decision, along with the ability to honestly evaluate them.

Why is food made by strangers even an option in this pandemic?

It's a serious question. Unless the "staying alive" criterion has no value to you.

So far there is no evidence of transmission via food delivery.

I like this idea in general (I have an Android app that does the same thing as your page, except it uses draggable sliders).

Here are some things I believe you could improve about the implementation:

- There's no explanation behind the math of weighing that's done. "these scores were calculated based on your ratings for each choice and the weight you gave to each factor" isn't an explanation. "(e.g., "super important" has a weight of 4 and "not that important" has a weight of 1)" doesn't tell me why my choice of one "super important" and one "not that important" gives me the score of 14. Not knowing the math you're doing makes me not trust the result. I mean, I suspect you're doing "sum of factors multiplied by weights", but a non-math-savvy person may take a while to figure where the numbers come from.

- Too many pages. I know you're aiming for dead simple (technically) UI, but I think it would be better if I could enter choices and factors on the same page.

- I'd consider changing the factor score UI from:

  - ( ) 4 (best)
  - ( ) 3
  - (x) 2
  - ( ) 1 (worst)
into something inline, like:

  4 - best: ( ) ( ) (x) ( ) :1 - worst
People are used into this into (that's how you rate stuff on most pages on the Internet), and it will cut your use of vertical space by at least a factor of 4, and also make it more readable - with this, it would be easier to compare between factors and across options.


Quite honestly, a perfect incarnation of this idea to me would be a spreadsheet. This problem domain naturally fits into a shape like this:

  What should I eat tonight?

  | Option x Factor   | Effort | Taste | Biosafety || SCORE |
  | Factor weitht     |      2 |     3 |         4 ||       |
  |-------------------|--- ----|-------|-----------||-------|
  | Turkey sandwich   |      3 |     2 |         3 ||    24 |
  | Pizza (delivery)  |      4 |     4 |         1 ||    24 |
  | Pizza (homemade)  |      1 |     2 |         4 ||    27 |
  | Chicken soup      |      2 |     3 |         4 ||    29 | < PICK ME
A spreadsheet interface would make this tool much more convenient, and offers plenty of opportunities for futzing with UI (color coding, sliders for input, whatnot).

Something I think you should consider for version 2.0 or as an alternative to test out. Hell, I think I'll make myself one in Excel right now.

I'm pretty good at UX and I don't have any issues with the current experience. It actually really helped me for my use case.

I wouldn't use a spreadsheet. While I clicked 'How was this calculated?', I realised I didn't care.

Your mistake is thinking the purpose of the app is to give the user the perfect objective recommendation. For most decisions, you just want some kind of psychological justification - for some people that can even be a coin flip.

The "objective recommendation" and "just psychological justification" groups seem to me a vastly different target audiences. For the latter, this tool is already overcomplicated; it could be done as a list of input fields and a button that highlights one of them at random.

I'm glad the tool helped in your case. I can imagine it helping in mine once, but me getting immediately frustrated. In my own philosophy of UX, I generally don't care much about tools you're only going to use once in your life; I focus on ones that you're going to use repeatedly. Repeated use has different priorities - in particular, efficiency over hand holding.

Would you mind sharing your app?

It's not my app in the sense of making it; it's just something I've found on the Play Store the other day:


Nice job, it looks very simple and useful.

Decisions that involve multiple options and criteria (like comparison shopping) are difficult because of your limited working memory. That's where techniques like these are valuable, especially if you can simplify the UX and explain how the magic happens, which this app does well.

I enjoy using hobby projects to learn new programming languages and frameworks. My favorite one is called "dcidr" which is a similar decision-making app that uses a prioritization/decision matrix under the hood. I've rebuilt it many times since 2001 in PHP, Java, XAML, Ruby, JS, Rust, and so on. It's great fun.

The current version is a PWA that uses Blazor (.NET web assembly) which was awesome to work with, but it's still in preview and the download is pretty huge:


Enjoy! There are links in the footer if you want to reach out.

This is pretty awesome. I just used this to help consider what to get my mom for mother's day. I think the most value comes from actually enumerating your options and considering what's important. It's interesting to get the algorithm's perspective, but I think I settled on a different choice after working through it.

This would've been great a few days ago when I was making officer decisions for a student club of mine. I had it narrowed down to approximately 10 candidates but the process after that was painful due to the balancing of factors like technical expertise, leadership experience, free time, etc.

That's pretty cool and a really intuitive way of decision making. I think I like that style of reasoning slightly better than a good old fashioned pro and cons list, forcing you to rank is really helpful. Cool stuff!

I would add one more step at the very end.. a feedback/rating question - either simply “Did this help you decide?” Yes or no, and “was it a good/right decision?” Yes or no. “Which one did you ultimately decide”? Or you could add likert scale rating... but I like that you kept the tool simple.

I could see this being mined/modeled later using machine learning, natural language, market basket analysis, a whole bunch of things, to try to help people make decisions. You must have thought about those possibilities.

It’s a cool tool/idea!

Whoa this is fantastic.

Another idea: it might be too touchy of a subject but a little tool that helps resolve conflict between two parties is something I’ve always wanted to see.

Just a simple tool to help move forward on a decision. Objectivity-as-a-service for consensus building (though whether consensus building is always the right tool is a separate debate.)

In fact after typing all this I feel like Help Me Decide Please could just as easily be used by two people, as an effective tool. Help us decide! I’ll try and see how it works!

Reminds me of /r/amitheasshole - can someone in an emotionally convoluted/charged situation figure out if they are objectively (by judgment of strangers) being an ass. Obviously there is a ton of bias based on how the OP presents a situation, but the idea of getting an outside opinion has already proved popular.

Seems pretty cool. I originally thought from the name that this would post the questions and then let users vote on them, but this is well-made.

As a note, your label for the highest level of importance should be for="factor-weight-4", currently two labels point at for="factor-weight-3". This means the wrong radio button is selected if you click that label. But props to you for actually using labels and inputs properly so you don't have to try to click on a tiny radio button.

thanks for the feedback! should be fixed now :)

With this sort of analysis I always feel like: https://external-preview.redd.it/DodWFQ9mQkVyWoKFa0ZIu12PYrP...

The problem in making decisions is not obvious calculations, but assigning importance in relative of each other.

I love tools like this. Thanks for sharing it. It's nice to go through a process like that and feel extra-good about your decision. :-)

It reminds me of a tool I used some time ago, the "Oracle" script at SimilarMinds.com. One difference is that the Oracle script used forced-choice based on baked-in global factors, even including how much a decision would affect your social standing, for example.

Thanks for sharing! I'm glad it's useful :) I originally made it because I wasn't feeling confident in a direction I was about to take in life. I wrote it all down in a spreadsheet and actually changed my mind after doing a similar process!

That's super cool. A friend was just asking me "how do you use numbers to weigh decisions again" and we laughed at the synchronicity when I sent her your link and she read the title. Thanks again.

Nice tool!

It would be nice to be able to go back and fix mistakes. For instance, on the first pass after entering something to consider I pressed Enter. I didn't even notice the "important" radio button, so the first choice got "somewhat important". It was actually super important and there was seemingly no way to fix it.

Thanks for this feedback! This seems like a great ability to have

My need for the back button was that I clicked "that's enough to consider" when I was done entering things, and immediately realized you wanted me to click "submit", then "that's enough to consider". So the last choice I entered didn't get considered.

This is cool. It looks like this is a program for creating and evaluating a decision matrix: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decision_matrix. This got me thinking about an idea for a similar tool, but catered to a specific domain, one that can be populated with data to help make the decision -- e.g., where to live, where to go to dinner, what kind of car to buy, etc. A decision where the options have known important criteria and quantifiable values, e.g. a decision about where to live has criteria like cost of living, crime rate, walk score, etc. Essentially, it would be like criteria filters you commonly see on shopping websites except it would let you rank those filtering criteria as well.

Anyone remember letsimondecide.com? Early 2010's, it did this and was aiming to be acquired like hunch.com was apparently (I hadn't heard of hunch.com). I think it never happened and it eventually went inactive.

I just used it to decide whether practicing guitar or 3d modelling should be my priority. It made me think very clearly about what matters to me, and work through the decision

I just stumbled upon a product that helps solve decision making problems while looking for info on the "Rete algorithm" [1].

On that note, it is pretty cool that you made a V1 and just released it. If it was me I would get lost in a bread first search of algorithms and prior art and whatnot :-p

1: https://www.sparklinglogic.com/smarts-decision-manager/

Rete algorithm - famous in business rules engines, forward chaining, backward chaining, inference engines - all fun topics in the field of expert systems. Much of it, however, left behind in the pursuit of more complex machine learning and AI approaches, as of late.

I did a lot of work/research in this area while working for a fraud detection company.

You might be interested in an old public domain tool called CLIPS that NASA released many years ago [1]. It is a lot of fun and amazingly powerful, albeit, I don’t hear much about it anymore. Still works though!

[1] http://www.clipsrules.net/

I don't know why, but I was expecting this to just take a list of choices and decide on one randomly, with the idea that sometimes making a choice is more important than what choice is made. I know there are times where I've gotten stuck on something because I couldn't make my mind up on retrospectively, relatively unimportant decisions.

Thanks for sharing.

I would much rather have the each question ask me to rate all my options on one aspect. I had to keep scrolling up and down to see what I said for other things to see where my answer fit in with what I said about that aspect for other options.

Btw, it tells me I should be using F#

Cool prototype !

I've been pondering the idea if software can help us to make decisions in the way you have shown here for a while. If you (or anyone else) would like to have an exchange about it, my email is in my profile.

Since there is nothing in the "about" page, I looked at your HN profile. But it only carries a link to LinkedIn which only shows me a login page.

A link to a personal website or Twitter profile would be nice.

I do this mentally when organizing my day. I usually only take one thing into consideration though. Such a simple app with great value to me personally. Thanks for sharing.

I put in “where should I run?” just to get past that first stage to see what would happen next and ended up going through the whole process. Really simple, kinda fun, thanks!

Yet another web app that’s easier to do in excel.

Except now it's already done, can run on any computer with or without an Office license, can be potentially used by orders of magnitude more people than a .XLS file, etc.

I thought it would be a site where you ask a question and then before you submit you have to answer someone else's. Crowd choice.

I was expecting crowdsourcing, or deep learning.

That app helped me waste 2 minutes of my life.

Pls help me decide if I should waste my 2 minutes on this app

Thanks for helping me decide what to do today on my birthday, during lockdown. Board games!

I use an IRC bot - you just say ".choose A B C" and it prints out a random choice.

Explain to me how something like this ends up so highly upvoted.

Have you read Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman? They gave him a Nobel for tackling decision problems. I guess that's one important problem to humanity in general.

I'm baffled too...

People need help making decisions \(•◡•)/

I built a popular tool in the same niche [1]. I think your over complicating it. I got decision fatigue just trying to test it.

[1] https://easydecisionmaker.com/

It's just random right?

Funny I did basically the same app as everyone for the ever common problem of deciding where to go to lunch at work.


It was a long time ago to try AngularJS (the new hotness of 2012), Less, and eventually Redis.

I'd rather use your tool to decide where to go to lunch. I'd rather use OP's tool to decide which city to move to.

That’s cool!

Simple look with standard form elements works well.

I tried "Should I wear mask or not?"

My Palo Alto firewall reports:

Web Page Blocked

Access to the web page you were trying to visit has been blocked in accordance with company policy. Please contact your system administrator if you believe this is in error.

URL: helpmedecideplease.com/

Category: gambling

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