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

I read a lot of “I don’t easily trust companies with my credit card info” here.

Would it help to point out at the commit wall that it’s mainly stripe and not Beeminder who are dealing with their card info?

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Generally using a respected third-party sounds good when I see it on sites

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I don’t have an issue with the idea of a commit wall. I know a few people who tried Beeminder and were all about it until it came time for there to be money on the line. But that’s the point of Beeminder. It would seem to me that if someone has trouble putting in a credit card number, they either don’t understand Beeminder, or aren’t really ready to actually commit, in which case, why let them delude themselves? Beeminder will seem like just another thing that didn’t work for them when in reality, they didn’t actually give it a fair shot.


The problem is that beeminder is not easy to understand without trying it out. I didn’t understand it at first, which is why I hesitated putting in a number. If I had really understood it, I wouldn’t have hesitated.


I am surprised to read this. So far I was convinced it is blatantly obvious how (and why) it would work. Apparently it is not!
Here’s what went through my head when I first saw the website:

So your experience was very different from mine? What were your thoughts back then?


As kenoubi said in another thread,

So yeah. There are just so many reminder/todo/productivity apps out there, and they all work a little differently and have different interfaces, and it’s just hard to get the feel for what your workflow would be like with each one without trying it out. My thoughts were basically “wow this sounds interesting and complicated - I’m not really sure how it would work or how to set it up.”

Beeminder is extraordinarily, absurdly flexible. That’s both its strength and its weakness. It’s very far from a one-size-fits-all setup. It takes a lot of trial and error to figure out how you’d want to set it up for each different goal or use case. It has a lot of quirks that you have to hack around depending on your situation.

Beeminding isn’t just using an app - it’s more like a religion or a way of life. Beeminding is a skill with a steep learning curve. At first it’s extremely confusing how all the pieces fit together, but after you try a few different settings and figure out which ones work for you in which situations, you can start to understand how you might use it in any situation.

I see beeminder as more like a programming language than an app. It takes some thinking and planning and coding and a lot of mistakes to figure out how a programming language can solve your problem. Similarly, you have to set up your routine and workflow with beeminder, use a lot of trial and error, and sometimes write some code to “program” it to help you.


This is what I wrote as my email response to @dreev’s Beemail about the commitwall, and he encouraged me post it here as well.

I know for sure that if Beeminder had this type of commitwall back in 2013 when I signed up, that would have driven me away. It’s possible that I would have come back at a later point and signed up even with the commitwall, who knows. But still.

So news of this commitwall makes me feel a bit wistful for what hypothetical-alternate-universe me lost in the counterfactual universe in which Beeminder had a commitwall from the beginning. That alternate-me may well never have had the chance to use Beeminder. When I think of all the things I’ve managed to get done thanks to Beeminder, that makes me feel sad for the version of me which never got to do that. Counterfactual-me never got to use Beeminder, and counterfactual-you never got all the money I’ve paid over the years. It feels like everybody loses in counterfactual-alternate-history world.

But of course there is a selection bias at play here. If some people would be driven away by having an initial commitwall but not by having to commit after derailing for the first time (like me), and other would be driven away by having to commit after derailing for the first time but not by an initial commitwall, then you’ll end up only receiving emails from the first type of person (for example, me.)

So it all boils down to which of those two types of people are more numerous. The other two types of people to complete a 2x2 grid (those who wouldn’t be driven away by anything, and those who would be driven away be ever having to commit) don’t really matter for the sake of this analysis (because either way, whether those sets of users join Beeminder or not is unaffected by the change.)

I don’t know what the numbers are, I don’t know if the gain is more than the loss. Presumably you’ve run the numbers, and those numbers seem to say that the gain from the commitwall is more than the loss. Then so be it. If that is true, then a commitwall is the way to go.

But while I feel personally sad that there is now a commitwall, that is no reason not to do it. You ask if those who’ve argued against it have come around, or predict this won’t work out well. I wouldn’t really say that I’ve come around, but it’s not that I really was against it in the first place. It’s not that I predict this won’t work out well. It may work out just fine. It’s just that it wouldn’t work out well for a certain group of people which includes counterfactual-me, and that’s unfortunate (to me at least).

As you can see, my feelings on this are a bit complicated. I feel sorry for the counterfactual-me who never got to use Beeminder. But all in all, I support you doing what’s best for Beeminder. And if you think that a commitwall is what’s best for Beeminder, then you may well be right.


Yeah, I feel the exact same way. I’m pretty sure a commitwall would have caused me to not sign up (mostly for Trivial Inconvenience reasons) and I feel a bit wistful as well. But this decision should be made based on empirical evidence.



In the moment people are thinking about signing up, at the landing page, they don’t know that beehind all this are nice humans whom thay can and will talk to and not just some evil robots who will unconditionally take all their money (read: weaselproof mode).
And this puts them off and makes them not want to give you their credit card info.

Let’s say this is true. We already established that people don’t read web copy. But say they do or that there is a way to tell them how reasonable y’all are. Does the current landing page convey that?

Assuming it does not (It did for me but I’m not very representative) I propose that changing this would make people more willing to provide a payment option.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this had been tried before. Thoughts?


Beautifully said! That was a big part of our reasoning. Trying Beeminder with nothing at stake makes Beeminder seem ineffective. Not for everyone. Some can well visualize what it would be like with money at stake, or they’re very motivated to avoid derailing and having to put their credit card in. (Or some are just motivated by the graph itself.) But in general your insight is spot on.

Also a great point, and the answer to that is to just keep improving our onboarding. Also things like the Yellow Brick Half-Plane project we expect will cut out whole swaths of confusion. In parallel we’ve made things like an animated tutorial (thanks to @saranli) to help newbees understand how things work.

Love this, but I think we can find the best of both worlds, where a newbee can breeze through setting up a goal and running with it – maybe by choosing from templates of popular ones – and veterans have no less power as well.

Yup, still nervous about such cases! But, as you go on to say, there may be more people who were driven away due to trying a toothless version of Beeminder.

See the first paragraph of our new blog post that I’m hitting publish on simultaneously with hitting reply here:

I agree that we need more reassuring webcopy where people will actually see it. We’re working on that!


Understandable that PayPal is a mild nightmare, I personally kinda hate it since it takes 3 days or so to take things out of my account when I send money or use it to pay for things which really throws off my sense of budget sometimes.

But if you’re also looking to engage a younger crowd, in my experience - fewer and fewer of us are signing up for credit cards - right now I’m the only one of my siblings (we’re all adults btw- the youngest is 21) who has a credit card, and I know that for them, and most of their friends, requiring a credit card is a sure way to make sure that they never sign up for the thing.

though tbf, a lot of bank companies are also adopting debit visas so maybe that’s a moot point.


Yeah, I keep saying “credit card” in hopes of discouraging the PayPal option but I believe you’re correct that if you have a bank account you have a debit card that will work fine anywhere credit cards are accepted. Actually if anyone reading this really couldn’t (or, ok, wouldn’t) use Beeminder without the PayPal option, it would be helpful to hear about that!

I don’t have Paypal account I don’t want one.

I think having the Paypal option is important. It definitely feels easier and safer to the end user. When I signed up, there was no commitwall but Paypal was an easy option, so I put that in so I could get going (with a sting) right away.

Without Paypal (and no commitwall at that time) I definitely would have started stingless. And maybe, maybe, this would have led to me not committing so quickly (signed up for life after a week or so). I cannot say if I would have bounced off a commitwall or pushed through then (my feeling is I probably would have signed up anyway).

From my perspective now, as a current user, commitwall + Paypal option seems the best to get users to commit long-term.


Also in Europe there is still places (like Germany (!)) where it’s not common to use credit cards. So uncommon in fact that many people don’t even have one.

Purely anecdotal evidence: 1 out of 4 times when I want to pay I ask if they take cards and they say yes they won’t take credit cards and look puzzled when I want to pay with mine. It happens so infrequently that sometimes the cashier forgets to ask you for your signature even.

So in markets such as these having an alternative to credit cards is vital probably. (Though an argument could be made that potential German Beeminder customers are more likely to have one than the average German)

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What about debit cards, chip&pin cards, whatever they might be called? Ones with a 16-digit number in 4 groups of 4, and an expiration date and all that. That’s what I typically mean by “credit card” even when it’s not literally a credit card.

It’s a bit more complex than this, but here is the gist of it:

Debit cards, yes, everybody has one here. Used for ATMs, paying for groceries, with chip & pin, magnet stripe, RFID. Exactly. Most typical issued by Maestro (belongs to Mastercard), some by Visa (which then have the V-Pay logo).
However those are not used for paying online! They do not have a 16 digit code on them. (More on that later)

What you do in Europe instead is SEPA Direct Debit (More info about SEPA). Good news: The EU unified this so this works exactly (!) the same in every European country.
In a nutshell the user puts in a single number (IBAN) which identifies both the bank and their account and checks some box saying “I hereby permit Beeminder to take my money” and presses OK. And that’s it. From thereon you can charge them.

OK More on debit cards now: Maestro debit cards (And only those!) do sometimes have a 16 digit code akin to credit cards printed on them. Then you can use them to pay online, too. Apparently. I just learned that myself. That’s how uncommon this is.
When you have a Maestro debit card without such a code you can apparently ask your bank to enable SecureCode and then you will also have a 16 digit number which you can use for paying online.

Let me do a representative poll of everyone I know who is still online right now… OK: Of all 2 participants (Including me) nobody knew you could pay online with a Maestro debit card.
So my unscientific advice would be to not rely on that.
People use Paypal here a lot for paying online. Or credit cards. If they have one.

The “problem” with SEPA is that it’s € only.


I think everywhere in Europe you get a debit card just with opening an account. I didn’t realise they were not as used in the US.
So there are probably more debit cards (most are VISA-like for online use) than credit cards in the EU (posting this without googling)

These days you can connect PayPal in the EU with a credit card, debit card or a bank account as a source.

And yes , people in some countries like Germany don’t like the idea of debt and use of credit cards is not as widespread as in the US.

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Germany is a bit special.
For instance in Sweden and Denmark paying via card is very common (from personal experience) which suggests that credit cards are less alien there as well. In the short time I was in the UK my experience was similar.
Italy however is quite similar to Germany when it comes to paying via cards. You better have some cash on you when you go to enjoy your café or gelato.

There is one place in Germany where people with a credit card use it all the time though and that is at the fuel station. For whatever reason :man_shrugging:

(All videos with Rachel in that list are just great btw.)


I’m unlikely to ever recommend Beeminder to anyone again with a commitwall. Asking for payment info before you have any kind of relationship with Beeminder or a chance to try it out is too sketchy. If I weren’t already familiar, I’d assume it was some kind of a scam.

(Not that I necessarily would have referred a lot more business to you over my lifetime, anyway, and it won’t affect my use of Beeminder.)

Edited to add: sorry for necroposting, but I figured better late than never.