I’ll stick my hand up and call it stupid, then. I don’t want to sign
up to a runaway re-commitment train!
Beeminder is a gentle mistress, more or less, reminding me of what my
lucid past-self had decided, nudging me toward progressing on my
valued goals, etc.
When I fall off the road, as hard as it might be to start up again, I
want it to be positively my decision to re-commit, not an automatic
enrolment. And I don’t want to resume with a flat road, but with a
highly-achievable slope to nudge me into rebuilding momentum.
While on the road, Beeminder lets me take a pause or slow down,
subject to the horizon delay. I can immediately stop and fall off the
road, so there’s a defined cost to shortening the horizon. What’s
missing is a nudging cost to control the length of time before I
decide to either positively re-commit or to abandon the goal.
That’s why my fine print carefully states:
If I fall off this road I will give the nice folks at Beeminder an
extra $50 if I don’t reinstate it within 48 hours of receiving the off-
the-road email, plus $10 per day delay. Alternatively I can walk away
(Daniel & Bethany have kindly agreed to charge me on this basis, so I
don’t need to worry about the enforcement angle.)
I will already have paid the pledge for falling off the road, and in
re-committing will be obliged to re-pledge a higher amount. What this
clause does for me is gently encourage me to do what I’ve already
decided is the right thing.
Important, I think, is that the length of time before the decision is
under my own control. If I want a week’s respite, I can re-commit
immediately to a flat start. If I don’t want to even think about
thinking about it for a week, that’s got a defined cost. And it’s a
cost that slowly & gently increases, nudging me toward making a
The disproportionate $100 for calling ‘uncle!’ re-inforces the goal’s
importance independently of the current pledge level. (Might need to
adjust it upwards over time, but I’m currently on a $10 pledge for
this particular goal.)
I’ve used the word ‘nudge’ rather a lot, and maybe that’s because
anything stronger than a gentle encouragement is going to set loose my
inner weasel, whereupon Beeminder becomes worse than useless to me…
On May 1, 5:07 am, Daniel Reeves dree...@beeminder.com wrote:
now we just need a couple people to chime in that this is stupid and
we’ll know we’ve nailed it!
(great ideas always seem obvious or stupid, right?)
still mulling david’s idea. i want to solve the procrastinating
quasiweasel problem but stay unambiguously not-evil. so i don’t want
to profit off of people putting their head in the sand.
it’s ironic because prima facie our whole business model is to profit
off of people’s failure. but it’s actually quite the opposite: we get
paid at the conclusion of a long string of awesomeness that beeminder
fun fact: 70% of people who pay us $5 do eventually re-up. and the
more you pay us the more likely you are to re-up. 100% of people
who’ve coughed up $90 have put $270 at risk. (nb: small n on that
still, there’s something compelling about the godaddy model where you
have to explicitly break up with us and admit that you just aren’t
going to achieve this goal.
On Mon, Apr 30, 2012 at 17:59, Jake Hofman jhof...@gmail.com wrote:
sounds like a great idea.
funny enough, i actually thought this was such an “obvious” feature
that i assumed you had, of course, thought of it and intentionally
decided not to do it!
On Mon, Apr 30, 2012 at 1:12 AM, Daniel Reeves dree...@beeminder.com wrote:
(Belying the relative silence here on Akratics Anonymous, there’s an
insane amount going on with Beeminder right now. API, device
integrations, Android app, Gmail plugin, front end work, and all the
stuff for Portland Seed Fund.)
This is just a quick braindump / sanity check of the latest Beeminder
epiphany. It has 2 parts:
- Scrap the whole “contract” and “sos clause”  and all that; just
tweet your excuse to get off the hook. Essentially no one will abuse
- You automatically advance to the next pledge level when you derail.
I.e., by default you automatically re-pledge (at triple the previous
pledge) unless you explicitly opt-out. Starting a yellow brick road
means you’re committed till you reach the goal or explicitly cry
We’re thinking this may be the Third Great Beeminder Epiphany… For
those keeping track:
First Great Beeminder Epiphany: The Yellow Brick Road 
Second Great Beeminder Epiphany: The Akrasia Horizon 
(And I guess the Zeroth was the whole idea of a commitment contract
, which of course we can’t take credit for. Not that it matters
where any of these ideas come from.)
Tentative name for this one:
The Weasel Principle 
Auto Re-Railment 
 It’s kind of like how we don’t have to worry about the definition
of a “User-Visible Improvement” for our high-stakes
beeminder.com/meta/uvi goal. A UVI is whatever we’re not too
embarrassed to tweet as a UVI. We’d rather pay that $1000 than tweet
something that reeked too strongly of weaseliness. For Beeminder users
who didn’t, y’know, found Beeminder, the numbers might be a little
different, but it’s the same principle. Our users hold themselves to
 Note you can always set the goal date to be a week from now and be
done. The rationale here is that procrastinating on unfreezing a goal
is the biggest failure mode of the whole lifehack that is beeminding.
http://blog.beeminder.com/roadwidth(nitty gritty of the road
http://blog.beeminder.com/akrasia(inaugural post on the beeminder blog)
 So called because the heart of the epiphany is that Beeminder
users are distinctly unweasel-y (for example, they won’t falsify their
data to avoid coughing up a pledge). They don’t commit weasel-y acts
– they’re not weasels of commission – but they are surely weasels of
omission. The lightbulb moment was when a user set up a meta
commitment contract to impose penalties on themself for not unfreezing
derailed goals. I realized that that would probably only work if those
penalties were automated.
 One loose end before we can implement this: what if someone starts
a road and then goes completely MIA? We can’t just keep charging them
exponentially more and more money. The auto-re-railed roads can start
flat but then we miss the whole point – you’ll procrastinate on
dialing up the steepness. I’m thinking we only charge or only re-rail
if you’re actually entering data points.
http://dreev.es – search://“Daniel Reeves”
Follow the Yellow Brick Road –http://beeminder.com
–http://dreev.es – search://“Daniel Reeves”
Follow the Yellow Brick Road –http://beeminder.com