Alternative Revenue Idea for Beeminder - Celebrating Success

I’m pretty averse to subscriptions. I just feel a bit trapped when I’m locked in to paying for things over and over for an indefinite period.

The most painful scenario would be paying for a Beeminder subscription and feeling like I wasn’t actually achieving anything with Beeminder. This is terrible value (and Beeminder would probably refund me because they’re super fair like that). Good value would be when I was achieving great things that I wouldn’t or couldn’t do without Beeminder.

Paying for Success

I think I might be happy to pay according to the awesome results I achieve. When I set a goal, it is for something that I want and am currently not getting. I’m in a pretty good position to determine the value of achieving the goal (or a milestone of an ongoing goal). Say, I want to meditate regularly. What is it worth to me to meditate for five minutes everyday for a year? Not that much but still more than nothing, so I might pledge $5 to be paid to Beeminder if and when I reach that milestone. I may also like to plan a holiday by the end of September. I deem this as more valuable because by being organised, I am much more likely to actually go on the holiday and can save money on flights and activities. Achieving this goal is worth $80 in expected flight savings and $500 in anti workaholic mental health benefits. I’m not going to pledge the full value to Beeminder because I love a good bargain, so I might put $200 on that. A fee I’m more than happy to pay for getting the outcome I wanted. Normal fines for falling off the road would continue to apply and provide the day to day kick in the pants and opportunity for reflection of whether the goal is worthwhile.

Milestones don’t have to arise directly from Beeminder data. Let’s say I want a new job so I’m Beeminding job applications. Appropriate milestones might include ‘First Interview’, ‘First Job Offer’, ‘New Job!’. I might attach Beeminder payments to these - First Interview ($5), First Job Offer ($5), New Job ($50).

Now, let me gloat about my achievements (if I want to). After I’ve paid my milestone fee, let me have a badge or title in the forum showing off my accomplishment. Add a fancy datapoint to my graph. Give me a trophy cabinet on my profile. Feature my accomplishment in the Beeminder hall of fame, which will be being updated every week with real accomplishments by fellow Beeminder users. Let everybody see what’s possible with Beeminder!

Interactions with Existing Payments

I see this interacting with subscription fees in the following fair manner. My paid milestones fees are applied as a direct discount to the next subscription bill. If I don’t have a subscription, make the discounted price obvious to me - it might be free!. Users will still be able to choose to forgo the whole milestone system, never add a milestone fee, and continue to use Beeminder as a normal subscriber or a free user (whatever that looks like in future).

Should derailments leading up to the milestone be taken off the milestone fee? My first thought is that they shouldn’t, just to make sure that the threat of derailment has its full potency. I’m not sure if there’s a point where I might have paid so much in derailments that I don’t want to continue on because of having to pay the milestone fee on top.

What do you think? Anyone else more open to paying for this than subscription fees? Anyone think this is really dumb?


If you want to check out how this feels, you can set up something similar using IFTTT, using the ‘Charge Me’ action.

I have set up a list on ToodleDo of Beeminder Milestones, with the price in the notes field. When I achieve a milestone and tick it off the list, Beeminder will charge me the amount in the notes. Here is the recipe, if you want to join me.

Now we just need @dreev’s suggestion of having paid pledges contribute to subscription costs put into place and half of the suggestion above could be realised for those who want it.

So, as I’m setting the experiment up I’m already feeling resistance. Why would I put myself on the hook to pay something voluntarily? Especially since I won’t get those nice colourful perks like milestone recognition and actual premium discounts.

It’s uncomfortable to be locked in from both sides. It seems like I will pay regardless of whether I succeed or fail. This is actually not true. Death to freebees means that I get one free stuff up on every goal and if I haven’t enabled no mercy recommit, then I can bail out right then. If I keep going and it’s still not working, I only have to suck it up until the akrasia horizon. There’s always a way out.

Setting the milestones as things that will occur quite a while in the future, reminding myself why exactly I want them and what the true value is, is helping. I’m also reminding myself that Beeminder is nice and needs to make more money to stick around in its current form.

I’m a bit anxious about the charge me action and how it works. Will I get an email before the charge goes through? I’ve encountered IFTTT bugs before; are there any that could accidentally charge me, now that I’ve activated this recipe?


Affirmative! And more generally, we never let a charge stand if it happened due to any kind of technicality, broadly defined. But, yes, there’s a 24 hour delay with API charges, same as for derailments, and you get an email.


Me too (although I’m also fine with reasonably priced subscription fees). I have a bunch of goals on which I just don’t derail because it only takes a few minutes to get back on track. Yet, it is only because of Beeminder that I’m making progress on those goals. Without Beeminder I would certainly have forgotten about them a long time ago. For instance, I count duolingo in this category. I have a very conservative slope for duolingo. So I don’t think I’ll derail on this goal anytime soon. But I would be more than willing to give some money to Beeminder for having ensured that I don’t neglect that goal.

Maybe Beeminder could show me a page with sprinkling stars and trumpets or whatever after I have been on track for a couple of months. For instance, if I have been on track for 6 months, without derailing once, the page could say something like “Whow! You have been working diligently on your duolingo goal for 6 months without derailing once. If you feel like Beeminder enabled this awesomeness, you can thank us with a tip” And then give me a box or slider to enter an amount of money I want to pay as a thank you.


I whole-heartedly agree with this idea.

I like this idea. It has the advantage of aligning my interests with those of beeminder. Currently a drawback is that it feels as if beeminder benefits whenever I do NOT succeed, i.e. whenever I derail - and while I have a reasonable amount of trust that beeminder still really want me to succeed, I’d still feel happier about paying for success.

That’s the goal after all. And if some tool helps me with succeeding, it seems only fair that the creators of the tool get paid a bonus.

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