Simplify debts giving expense details
Currently the simply debts does not clearly state what Math took place behind the scenes. It simply reports a transaction "Simplify debts". It would be helpful to display that in the "Notes" section of a transaction.
If X owes Y 10, Y owes Z 10 and Z owes X 10, in a simplify debts among these three users, the amounts that each user owed each other must be added to the notes section. Currently today it would report something like "X paid Z 10", Y paid Z 10, Z paid X 10, which is not totally accurate as a transaction title.
We’ve debated this issue a lot, and the reason we don’t save complete details in the notes of a debt shuffle is because of privacy concerns. Say you’re person X in your scenario – we feel pretty strongly that you shouldn’t be able to see the details of a transaction between Y and Z that doesn’t involve you. Neither of those people has given you permission to see their financial info, and to include full details about the shuffle would reveal that Y owes Z (or vice versa).
It’s definitely an annoying problem – it makes simplify debts a “black box”, where you can’t see all the transactions involved – but we think that’s better than the potential privacy concerns of exposing people’s information. That’s also why simplify debts is considered an “Advanced feature”, and is not intended for most users.
4 comments

Anonymous commented
We have some people in our group who just don't understand the whole "Simplify Debts" thing. And now that we've turned it on, we can't seem to undo it (plus, the rest of us LIKE it). It would be *really* helpful to show a simple math breakdown for those folks who refuse to pay me (and delete group debts!) because they think they only owe someone else a different amount.

Shawn Frey commented
Just seeing where the money you spent was applied would be enough. After settling up for a trip with friend's I won't be using "Simplify debts" again. I have to go through every transaction again to understand why I owe what instead of simply seeing a summary that says "You are owed X amount. Y amount was applied to person Z leaving you with a debt/surplus of S."

Sankar Sundarapandian commented
I am not sure how privacy is an issue here. If A owes B $100 and B owes C and D $50 each, B can shuffle for A to give C and D $50 each. Isn't it the prerogative for A to know why he/she should pay C and D instead of B? Shouldn't C and D know why A is paying them and not B? This could be a very useful feature which was the most used feature in BillMonk. If you have any issues with privacy, maybe an option for a user on "sign up" to allow/disallow friends from including them in "simplify debts" operation may quash any privacy concerns because you know you ahve the user's consent and users know they have signed up for this.

Urvesh Patel commented
Hi,
I seriously find a bug in simplify debts. In all groups that I dealt with person X,Y,Z, I was the one who made all payments and while asking for due amount from them, I went in the respective groups and quoted the amount between us to be paid keeping simplify debts on. So, all of a sudden now it pops up out of no where that I owe person X 48.33 not included in any group, I owe Y 17 usd in group A where Y didn't even pay for any thing bought in group and I had only 1 transaction with Z in which he owed me some amount and he paid me. So, why is the simplify debts showing that I have to pay despite the fact that I paid for all expenses, it is really annoying