Automatically de-ramping pledges?

I’m sure this has been brought up before, and maybe this runs against the beeminder business proposition, but I wouldn’t mind having an opt-in pledge structure where if I’ve been steadily on (or above) the road for some number of weeks, the pledge level for a goal goes down a step.

Getting something in the inbox like “Great job, you’ve been on the road for 6 weeks! Your pledge is decreasing from $40 to $20” would be a nice acknowledgement of anti-akrasia progress :slight_smile:

I like that beeminder sticks you back on the road after a break (recommit). Lowering the pledge if you’ve been doing well seems like a natural extension of that. I understand that one can do this manually, but that sort of removes the “hey, good job” aspect of the thing.

Curious to hear thoughts on this.


That is a very good idea if I may say so!

Indeed, it has been brought up and I wrote a little program a while back that solves this exact problem:

Not many people seemed to care so I didn’t bother to put it on Github. But it is functional and in use and I have since removed the hard coded auth token, so if you want it, raise your hand :slight_smile:


There’s been some debate on this - my own view is that this is pro-beeminder-business but anti-user. Let’s say it takes a certain pledge amount to keep you away from the Half-Plane of Death. Say $10 isn’t enough but $30 is.

So you pay the pledges up to $30, stay on the road, get the “great job” acknowledgment, get dropped down to $10 - and then derail, since $10 isn’t enough to keep you on the road. So with this “feature” on, you end up paying $10 every few weeks unnecessarily.

Of course people can avoid opting in, but it might not be immediately obvious that the feature will end up causing regular derailments.

That said, this may not be true for everyone - some people may no longer need the higher pledge amount after a certain number of weeks (definitely not me!). And other people have said they would find this feature helpful.

It also seems to me to go against the spirit and philosophy of Beeminder - it’s the pledge that keeps you honest. As RBG said when the Supreme Court overturned the Voting Rights Act, it’s sort of like throwing out your umbrella because it’s kept you dry from the rain.

Another option would be to send the “good job” email without ramping down the pledge.

A third option would be to allow you to put money at stake that you get back if you stay on the road for a certain length of time. It’d work like this: you pay Beeminder $50 for this service, and that money belongs to Beeminder upon payment, so there would be no need for an escrow company or anything like that @dreev - and as part of the service, Beeminder agrees to pay you back the $50 if you have not derailed in 6 weeks or something.


I am almost certain the third option is out, because that would turn Beeminder into a bank and that’s a whole lot of legal mumbojumbo they would then have to deal with.

@phi No, it really wouldn’t, no more than it currently is. @dreev has said a couple times that he’s scared of that, but it’s not an issue - that’s why I put that thing about escrow not being necessary.

The reason it wouldn’t turn Beeminder into a bank or involve escrow or legal complications is that when you pay the $50, Beeminder is not holding your money for you - the money becomes the property of Beeminder and is no longer yours. It’s payment for a service.

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Great discussion and ideas here! I haven’t digested it all yet but I dug up the previous discussion on it, about halfway down this thread: Thoughts and experiences with big(ger) pledge Amounts?

(I might like the idea of choosing both a pledge cap and a pledge min. The default pledge min could be “none” or “n/a” which would mean no pledge-decaying. If you picked a specific pledge min then your pledges would decay back down to that level. Something like that…)

@zedmango and @phi: Thanks to a characteristically over-engineered feature we recently deployed, one way we could do that is via premium credit.


Reading the discussion @dreev linked, it seems to me there’s two camps here:

  1. Folks who use beeminder pledges as the “motivation point” that gets them to consistently accomplish the goal (because the pledge is high enough to be motivating). For this group, auto-decreasing pledges completely defeat the purpose of the pledge!

  2. Folks who use beeminder as the “stick” when trying to build some sort of habit. For this group, auto-decreasing pledges (or acknowledgment of “it’s been 6 weeks since you derailed, great job!”) is kind of great, because it says that they’ve been succeeding at the meta-goal of building their habit.

I fall mostly into the habit-building camp, personally. So I think auto-decreasing pledges sound cool :slight_smile:


Curious: how do you see this being better than just reducing your rate slightly so you build up buffer if you stay on track?

Well, building up buffer doesn’t decrease the pledge. It also isn’t instantaneously rewarding in the same way. Sure, getting to one or two days of buffer is nice, you might even notice it while looking at your dashboard. It’s not the same as getting a callout over email that says “nice job, you’re being consistent.”

I also have goals that I don’t want buffer on. For example, I beemind wearing a nightguard. The idea is that I should wear it every night, and be dinged (ie derail) every time I forget. I don’t want buffer on that goal; I want to be dinged every time I fail. Decreasing the pledge manually feels like cheating. Having it decrease automatically once you hit a certain streak feels like a decent reward, though.


Maybe what I really want is a “good job” email from Beeminder at 6 weeks of being on the road, with a link to the “decrease pledge” page :slight_smile:


I want that email, too! I’m definitely in the habbit building camp for most of my goals. And I want Beeminder to help me building those habbits even when I started building up buffer, so a while ago I suggested this:


So you guys think habits exist?

For me, I’m not sure Beeminder is actually building up habits, other than the habit of beeminding - like, if I stopped beeminding I’m not sure I’d keep doing everything.

Also relevant: Beeminder anti-habit-forming

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Of course they exist. I have a habit of wanting to snack when I mean to do work on my master project :stuck_out_tongue:


Haha, that’s a sure-fire way to derail a thread. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: But probably legitimately relevant to this discussion.

My stance on habits is that, yes, they do exist, if you define habits as cue-routine-reward. But given that Beeminder provides both the cue and the reward (zeno alerts and not losing your money!) archiving a goal can often destroy the habit, unless you’ve been careful to build in your own cue and reward before archiving.

(I started thinking about habits this way after reading The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.)


For me it’s more like cue = “thing on your phone is red/unchecked” and reward = “you get to check it off/enter data”!

But yeah, I like that way of thinking of habits (thanks for the book rec!) and agree that the habits created by Beeminder are Beeminder-dependent and aren’t really habits in the normal sense. But checking Beeminder is a good habit to have!