Help / Quick Start Guide

{ FIRST, if you're new to Twitter, it's probably worth watching the short video on how to use the service, and if you don't know how to send direct messages, here are Twitter's instructions. }

Below are instructions on how to get started with your.flowingdata. You can also find help with the searchable FAQ or in the FlowingData forums.

Getting Started back to top

  • Step 1. Follow @yfd on Twitter
  • Step 2. Sign in to your.flowingdata with Twitter.
  • Step 3. Once @yfd follows you back (usually two minutes after your first sign-in to YFD at the most), start recording data following a few simple guidelines (below)

Tweeting Data - Basics back to top


weigh 160

exercised arms

watched Back to the Future

Assuming you know how to use Twitter, and you've already done the first two steps in the "getting started" section above, you can now start recording data!

Try sending a direct message in the following format:

d yfd weigh 160

Tada. Your first data point recorded. Let's try another:

d yfd exercised arms

Are you starting to see a pattern? The idea here is to record data whenever you do something - we call that an action. In the first example, the action is "weigh," and in the second, the action is "exercised." You always start with the action.

After the action, you can follow up with a value. In the first example, the value is 160 and in the second it's arms.

Just so that we're clear, let's do one more example. Let's say you're keeping track of the movies you watch:

d yfd watched Back to the Future

The action is...right, "watched" and the value is... right, "Back to the Future."

Tada. You are now recording data.

Tweeting Data - Advanced back to top


drank 2 water

drank 1 coke

played xbox at 20:00

goodnight at 11:00pm


You can do quite a bit just knowing the basics, but YFD has some other features you should get to know.

Let's say you want to record the number of glasses of water you drink, but you also want to keep track of other beverages. You could do this:

d yfd drank 2 water

and this:

d yfd drank 1 coke

Now you have an action ("drank") a value ("1"), and then something new - a unit ("water" and "coke"). You could apply the same format to say something like reps at the gym or how many times you take the train, bus, or car. If you don't specify a value (e.g. drank water), YFD will automatically count 1 for you.


You won't always be able to tweet your actions right away. In this case, you use YFD's timestamps.

At the end of your tweet, attach the time of the action. YFD will then timestamp your data with the most recent occurrence of that time. Here, it's more clear with an example:

d yfd played xbox at 20:00

The "at 20:00" is the timestamp. It must be at the end of your tweet. If military time isn't your thing, you can also specify time with "at hh:mm" format:

d yfd goodnight at 11:00pm

You can also use this shorter format:

d yfd goodnight at 11pm

It's also worth knowing that you can edit timestamps whenever you want in your action log.

Data Types back to top

The first time you view a specific dataset, YFD will ask you a little about your data, namely a short description and what type of data it is. You will have the choice of 4 data types:

  • Categorical - If you're interested in the occurrence of the same action with different units e.g. ate corn
  • Event - If the point of interest is when something happens e.g. goodnight or pooped
  • Counter - If you're mostly interested in total times you've done something e.g. smoked 5 cigarettes
  • Measurement - If you want to see the trend over time of some value e.g. weigh 160 or blood-pressure 170

The views for each data type are not especially different right now, but there is a difference in the way the way results are calculated. You can edit the details of your data at any time.

Asking for Help back to top

If you need any help at all with YFD, please don't hesitate to ask in the YFD forum. Most likely someone else will have the same question. You can use the forum for bug reports as well.

Also take a look through the searchable FAQ, and you might find what you're looking for.