Commitwall is live! (credit card required to create goals)

Let me start by repeating what we said in the monthly beemail yesterday:

The Official Announcement

Beeminder now (as of yesterday!) requires a credit card (or, ok, PayPal) in order to create a goal. To be clear, not a paywall, just a commitwall. And you’ll never be charged at all if you keep all your datapoints on track! (And assuming you don’t want any fancy premium perks like unlimited goals.)

After years of feedback and mulling it over and going back and forth (and back again), we’re convinced this is the way to go. We always liked letting people try us out with nothing at stake, but a sting-free Beeminder just isn’t Beeminder. Also, just between us akratics, having your goal freeze up on you after your first derailment, until you do something that requires more activation energy, right at a point you’re feeling frustrated with yourself for first going off track… that’s as terrible for users as it is for Beeminder. If it seems scary, know that we’re very serious about not letting you be charged for any kind of technicality or confusion about the rules. If you derail, you’ll get an email asking if the derailment was legit and if you say no, we believe you (unless you weaselproof yourself!).

So that’s what we decided and if you don’t like it you can go poke a hornet’s nest JUST KIDDING you can reply to this very email forum thread and not only will we read it, we’ll respond to everyone, and explain in detail how wrong you are to want to beemind with no credible threat (though that is in fact one of the premium perks).

Background and Rationale

(Some of this isn’t relevant to how we’ve implemented this so far where you can sign up without a credit card but need one as part of goal creation. We’re still debating whether to make the commitwall be part of signup itself.)

Patrick McKenzie of Stripe points out that “free trials [have] astonishingly low conversion rates; you need a sophisticated marketing engine harvesting a lot of attention at scale to make these work.” (He also argues that your really good customers actually feel reassured when you charge real money.)

The big downside of the commitwall is losing people who are stingy/scared at first but would’ve eventually warmed up and paid us. (Corresponding upside: losing all the people who would never enter a credit card anyway, currently 90% of signups.) But I think the most important argument for commitwall is that the moment of the person wanting to sign up is an extremely good time to convert them. Even with hypothetical perfect lifecycle emails, it’s hard to top that. The one thing we gain by waiting is that later they’ll have had the chance to try Beeminder. That’s worth it only if we can exceed their expectations. But with our years of history and passionate community and nothing but love for us all over the internet, the expectations are hard to top.

Not to mention that beeminding without a credit card is toothless and dumb and is a horrible introduction to what beeminding is supposed to feel like. So I predict the probability that we get a credit card only goes down after signing up. There are plenty of exceptions but that’s my prediction in aggregate.

It’s especially true since, if you only create 1 or 2 goals, the point where we require the credit card is after you derail. That’s bad. People stick their head in the sand at that point. Also it’s preposterously common for users to not have paid attention and not understand that they don’t owe money and aren’t getting charged when they put in the credit card at that point. We make that perfectly clear in the webcopy but users absolutely do not read webcopy.

The commitwall is currently hit after either 1 or 2 goals, bucket tested. If you think that having more time to try Beeminder helps turn users into customers then you’d predict that being commitwalled after 2 goals is better than after 1. This is not the case. The probability you’ll create a 2nd goal naturally goes down (but only slightly, from 34% to 31%) if we commitwall you after 1 goal. But revenue doesn’t go down detectably at all. Of course, commitwall before creating any goals is very different from commitwall after 1 or 2 goals, and it could be worse. But I predict it will be better.

The fear and friction of adding a credit card is surprisingly low. In fact, we keep seeing users who are surprised that they hadn’t already added a credit card, seeming to have presumed that it wouldn’t have made sense for Beeminder to have let them start beeminding without doing so.

Another advantage of commitwall is that by eliminating the 90% of users who won’t enter a credit card, we can put real human attention on the remaining 10%. We can also still capture email addresses of some of the 90%. [1]

One more advantage: If you find Beeminder frustrating and confusing and haven’t entered a credit card yet, you’ll tend to walk away. If you find Beeminder frustrating and confusing and you have entered a credit card, you’ll tend to talk to us and become a convert for life.

More Reassuring Copy Ideas

If you’re (rightly) nervous about handing over your credit card number, this is the part where we solemnly promise you won’t ever be charged due to any kind of technicality, including confusion about the rules. (You won’t be charged at all if you stick to what you’re committing to!) We’re pretty sure that 5 minutes of googling around to see all the gushing about us on the internet over the last 7+ years, plus our blog and the Beeminder forum, will convince you that that promise is credible.

And here’s how it actually looks at the moment:


Clicking that “why?” pops this up:


[1] We can capture an email address for everyone who doesn’t make it over the commitwall if we get the email address before mentioning the credit card. Would that be insufficiently transparent and the user needs to know everything they’ll be asked for up front? I actually like how Slack requires you to confirm your email address before showing you anything else whatsoever. They’re saying everything else is a waste of time until we verify that we can communicate with you. Which is very much true for Beeminder.


I completely second everything you just brought up in this post.
I also want to hit the like button multiple times. Alas I can’t. This is one of those texts you read through and find yourself quietly nodding to every paragraph. But I digress!

The only thing where I am not 100% sure about is the capturing of email addresses but neither are you it seems. Following my intuition (*) I vote for doing it!

*) I also registered on slack a while back and don’t recall having been bummed out by the “give us your email first”

1 Like

If I don’t trust you with my cc it means I don’t want to be contacted either. The registration is not completed , you have no reason to contact me with automated mailer campaigns. You’re also probably playing with fire in terms of GDPR and the upcoming similar California law


And that was the other voice in my head. Now I truly have nothing left to say anymore :slight_smile:

1 Like

Yeah, any contacting would have to be opt-in, definitely. Let’s not get hung up on that footnote though, for now! I’m eager to gauge reactions to commitwall itself!

1 Like

I would have a two column layout, with the all the “why?” text as a right column.

Also the “We email you before charging your card, in case anything went wrong” should be emphasised. Your support and the “human filter” for charges is the most important tool you have in building trust with users.

I would also drop the “if you must” text after the paypal option. No need to sound snarky. Lots of people use Paypal as a layer of security and convenience in signing up for stuff.


I still think a commit wall is a terrible idea. But hopefully you’re measuring
the right things. What are they?

My guess is signups will be way down, and you’ll end up with fewer people
paying you anything.

Looking at the long long term it’s an experiment that probably won’t kill the
business and at least you can revert if you need to.

1 Like

Nooo please let the snark stay! I love this snark. Snarks are super missunderstood and out of unwarranted fear they might cause harm they get removed from a lot of sites everywhere. It is believed that people wouldn’t enjoy themselves knowing there be snarks but that’s not true, that’s just Hollywood. Personally I’ve never met anyone who was afraid of snarks.

(Besides there’s a host of reasons not to Paypal)


(Apologies if the thread gets derailed) Maybe I’m getting old already at the age of 42 but I’ve gotten bored of companies writing to me as if both they and me are teenagers :slight_smile: I especially loath those passive/aggressive un-subscription messages (“we are sad to see you go”? Sad? Imagine if something really sad happened in your life :))


Speaking of subjective views: All your points do resonate with me and would this be any other website I’d completely agree. But something about the Beeminder website just makes me feel right at home. The puns, the wording and the complete absence of marketeering wankery.
If anything would be more reassuring to me it’d be a link during signup to this thread or better a matching blog post telling the same things. Showing that they didn’t make this decision easy on themselves either and why it makes sooo much more sense to go in this with a payment method rather than without.
Lastly for me seeing the blog and how upfront it is (such as the fair pricing article which put down the formula, the whole theories behind all this, etc.) completely won me over and that was after having signed up. And the whole “take the founders’ money” thread… I could go on.

Again this is just me. And I hope I’m not representative :slight_smile: Also I assume that a lot of people don’t have the patience to read through a lengthy blog post or don’t care. But are these the people that will be sticking around? Or will they throw in the towel quickly anyway yet still require attention from humans?

The last point about draining the support’s time is why I think this is the better approach. Otherwise I’d prefer the “volunteering” of CC information albeit with a big disclaimer “you know you need Beeminder or else you wouldn’t be here. And you know this can only make sense if you allow us to charge you. So please set this up right now. You won’t regret it”. I dunno. Something like that.
Just like how you delete your account. There’s a similar “We feel ya” text with a short explanation why it’s not just a button.


All of this makes perfectly reasonable sense - if you’re Beeminder. :slight_smile:

As you said, users don’t read webcopy. They also don’t necessarily know about your glowing reputation, history, fantastic customer service, or what your offer is really like. And the ones who don’t know this also don’t know that you’re different from sites that ask you to put in a credit card that won’t be charged at first and then hit you with tons of fees after the first month or other unpleasant scams.

If I were working for Beeminder and interested in conversion rates, I’d love this policy. If I were working for Beeminder and wanted empirical data about what this did to revenue, I’d be incredibly curious to see what the data showed the impact of this was.

As a curious bystander, I think you made an excellent, impassioned logical case for the commitwall.

But as a user who wanted to try Beeminder out, I think the ‘commitwall’ would have prevented me from signing up. I had a goal I was committed to. I wasn’t committed to using Beeminder for that goal - despite having been aware of Beeminder since 2012 (give or take), having at least one friend who enthusiastically uses it and having a second friend say “you should use Beeminder for this specific goal”.

I’d previously tried Beeminder once, years ago, for a type of goal which it turns out to be poorly suited for, which admittedly increased my wariness when I signed up this time around.

It was important to me to be able to try out the UI and the general feel of the modern product. Any extra friction in doing that - including adding a credit card, knowing it wouldn’t be charged - would have made me more likely to do something else.

It turns out that Beeminder is fantastic for me for my current major goal, and that I adore every single person working for the company I’ve interacted with - but knowing that both had worked well for other people didn’t mean that I knew they also would for me in this context. It’s so helpful that the thought of not having tried it is saddening!

I’m a couple months into Beeminding now. I find the graphs and reminders really helpful for staying on track with my goals. The sting? Haven’t had one yet, so can’t really comment on that side!


Wait what?? I thought that you had to put in a credit card to create a goal already? I was unaware that this wasn’t already a policy, I think I remember having to put in a card when I started?


Second this! I know you have a theory about how using paypal means you’re less committed, but a new user isn’t going to be familiar with that or understand why there’d be a difference.

And same goes for the “So forward!” message on top - I think it’s condescending, assuming I’m interpreting it correctly.


I think you’re thinking of sharks!

Don’t forget:

For, although common Snarks do no manner of harm,
Yet, I feel it my duty to say,
Some are Boojums—" The Bellman broke off in alarm,
For the Baker had fainted away.

But oh, beamish nephew, beware of the day,
If your Snark be a Boojum! For then
You will softly and suddenly vanish away,
And never be met with again!’


All this is true for me too - I signed up but didn’t put in a card for a while. It was only after getting beemails for a while and hearing the rates were about to go up that I put my card in to lock in the old rates.

I’m not sure why I didn’t put in a card at first - probably akrasia.

1 Like

While I agree with your reasons that users should have credit cards entered, I think this is a bad idea because it will turn away people who aren’t willing to give a credit card to an unknown site without being able to really poke around first (I am often like this). It might be a good compromise to require a credit card after month or something rather than on the first derail?


@dreev if i recall correctly you’ve done some A/B testing on enabling the wall to some people already? Would it be interesting to hear the results.

1 Like

The thing that won me over was when I asked myself how one tries Beeminder without having money at stake. The magic of Beeminder is in the “I have to do this today or I’ll be stung!” You can’t really try that without the payment method. (I’m actually an advocate for starting the first goal at a $5 or even $1 pledge for that very reason.) Otherwise, you’re on Beeminder, but trying a pretty excel graph, and totally not getting the Beeminder kick in the pants or getting a feel for the difference it can make.

I’ve had a lot of similar thoughts to the things you’re saying. I mean, part of what kept me on track with my first $0 goal those six years ago was that I didn’t want to give a company I didn’t know my credit card. But there are ways around that, and I think we’re better off reminding people of those (had Beeminder used PayPal back then, I wouldn’t have thought twice, to be honest) than we are removing the experience of the motivator with someone who’s testing it out.


I’m pretty comfortable saying that I’d tried beeminder out within my first month of using it, despite having $0 at stake. (I entered my credit card number after several days, after it was clear Beeminder was being useful).

Avoiding getting stung works miracles for me - I routinely do 3 hours of Japanese in days I’d otherwise do none, among other things. But it might be equally effective for me if there was no financial penalty at all.

Having a sense of daily accountability and a concrete target with a pretty graph is a huge part of it to me. Having the accountability in the graph being public and having a friend be notified if I derail almost certainly has some impact.

Overall, I’d say it works somewhat better than, say, Duolingo streaks for me - but I managed over 100 days of those with no financial penalty when I set that as a target.

But the financial side of Beeminder? I had to sign up for a membership to Beeminder because I’ve still owed $0 and am getting huge value out of using it.

Clearly the actual sting isn’t everything, much less the financial penalty, since I’ve been avoiding a sting for $0 on my main goal for a couple of months now… :slight_smile:

1 Like

Yeah, I’d like to find a way another way (without sounding snarky) to convey that if you’re at all on the fence, we’d greatly appreciate it if you picked the credit card option. (PayPal is a mild nightmare to work with compared to our beloved credit card processor, Stripe.)

Good feedback and nice concrete prediction! Main thing we’re measuring is rate of adding credit cards, exactly as you say, plus churn, to see if this causes more people to delete their accounts after putting in a credit card in order to clear the commitwall. And of course it should show up in the revenue graph soon enough. One thing that pushed us over the edge on this was that even if it’s better to let people start beeminding without a credit card, the point of first derailing is a uniquely bad time to require the credit card. So there may be a better place to put the commitwall (after a month of beeminding?) but we think this at least beats the previous status quo. Or we predict that. We’ll see! Thanks again for the feedback on this!

Also good webcopy for us to try! And thanks so much for the kind words about us and the blog!

Yeah, these anecdotes are what made it so agonizing for so long!

At some point – – we started making you add a credit card after creating 1 or 2 goals.

Yup, that was easy to misinterpret. It was supposed to be (I think, that was @bee who wrote that off the top of her head when implementing it!) like “Geez, Beeminder, that’s some chutzpah, asking for a credit card minutes after we’ve first met”. We changed that to “Why? Because credible threats! :money_with_wings:

You might be right, though how would we enforce it exactly? Also if you happen to derail before then, we’re back to the problem of asking for the credit card at the worst possible time.

The only bucket testing related to this so far has been whether the commitwall appeared before creating your 2nd goal or before creating your 3rd goal. It turns out to make no detectable difference! This time there’s no bucket test. Everyone hits the commitwall on their very first goal (or very next goal, for those who are currently beeminding sans payment method).

1 Like