Thoughts and experiences with big(ger) pledge Amounts?


Such fascinating discussion about the auto-decaying pledges idea. I took a straw poll in a weekly beemail and put it like this:

The proposal would be that whenever you go 30 days without derailing, your pledge automatically drops a level. (For now, assume no ability to opt out of this, other than to be Beemium and be able to manually bump the pledge back up.)

CON: It seems a bit mercenary on our part to be like: “Oh, you reached your Motivation Point? Well we can’t have that, let’s put you back at the level where you’re actually willing to derail and pay us!”

PRO: First, it’s a reward for staying on track that most users will appreciate. More importantly, when the pledge is scary high it makes you less ambitious in your goal-setting or even weaselly. Scary high pledges are, empirically, not actually awesomeness-maximizing.

Here are the results of that:

  • 20 people said “fine by me”
  • 28 people said “that would definitely help me”
  • 19 people said “I have mixed feelings but overall it would probably help me”
  • 11 people said “I have mixed feelings but overall it would not help me”
  • 3 people said “i count on scary high pledges”

And a couple people pointed out the bias in the poll, like omitting an option for “that would definitely not help me, for reasons other than counting on scary high pledges”.

But overall I was surprised by how much demand there is for this! The arguments against it though are really good, so I don’t think we’d do this without at least making it very easy to opt out of.

Let me try one more poll here:

  • definitely add an auto-decaying pledges option! it’s worth the added complexity of making the user make that choice.
  • ok, it’s not that big of a deal to do this manually or just stick with low pledge caps.

0 voters


My original response to the Beemail:

That would definitely help me.

It gives a meta-goal to keeping on the straight and narrow – not only do I stay on track with my goal for the sake of the goal itself, but because if I’m good I can reduce my pledge! It’s hard to describe but this would be catnip to me. It’s like the carrot where the sting is the stick. This is something I have found lacking with Beeminder: positive reinforcement to balance the negative of being stung. I think being out at $90 (the highest I’ve dared pledge) with no way to earn my way back would actually be demotivating (and reducing my pledge manually would feel like cheating).


Fascinated by this part. Upon introspecting, I realize that I’m the same. I hadn’t realized that till you said it. I thought it was just the friction / remembering to do it.


I would find this really frustrating :frowning: I have all my pledges at their pledge caps, which I have intentionally set at certain levels in order to communicate to myself how important a goal is. The goal doesn’t get less important just because I’ve been succeeding at it for a while. Especially since I have something like 50 goals, having to manually re-up them every time the pledge decayed would quickly become too obnoxious to deal with, and then it would become rational to derail on important goals when pressed because they’d be interchangeable with the minor ones.

(Right now, working on my dissertation to save $10 makes WAY more sense than reading a novel in French, texting my best friend, paying my credit card bill, tweeting from my professional account, and writing a newsletter to save a cumulative $0 — so I will always do the dissertation first. Once the diss costs the same as reading a novel, though, why NOT read the novel? Because I’d rather have done my dissertation, and Beeminder exists to realign my incentives.)


The obvious solution for my use case, of course, is to provide an opt-out button — which I would happily check, and completely ignore this feature, if others found it helpful.


Yeah, this was key in convincing me that, despite the high demand for this feature, it probably would at least need an opt-out.


I’m pleasantly surprised by the general desire for this feature. Thanks!

Opt out seems like a great feature for advanced users (and possibly grandfathered), whereas the automagic-awesomeness-maximiser of seeking an optimal-but-edgy pledge amount should be the default.

Rather than a pure opt out, it could be a minimum-pledge to accompany the maximum-pledge, so that you can control the range.


This feels a bit like when setting a goal to be 7 days per week, with no possibility of building up a safety buffer (and taking a manual break feeling a bit cheat-y).


Rather than a pure opt out, it could be a minimum-pledge to accompany the maximum-pledge, so that you can control the range.

Ooh, I like that idea.


I also like the minimum and maximum pledge idea! I feel like that would be the most elegant way of implementing this, from a user perspective.

Also, re: the “motivationally high pledges lead to less ambitious goal setting” conversation, given that I finally managed to derail on my $90 goal (my credit card weeps softly in the background), I think that may be a YMMV issue. For me, a significantly high pledge forces me to be realistic about my goal setting, which is a good thing – having a list of things I feel quite confident I WILL get done today is more useful than an ambitious list of things I MIGHT get done today. I feel like the entire point of beeminder is that being consistent is more important than being ambitious.