[adapted from a daily beemail a few months ago]
We’ve argued before that Beeminder’s incentives are not at all as perverse as they seem. If Beeminder didn’t help you succeed at your goals then you’d stop using it. We’d have to be very myopic (and certainly wouldn’t have survived 7 (!) years) to want to make people more likely to fail.
Still, it would seem too convenient to be true if maximizing Beeminder revenue and maximizing user awesomeness were always entirely identical. Well, being a fan of simultaneous having and eating of cake, I’ve got an argument for exactly that.
Here it is. As a user, your tolerance for paying Beeminder scales with the value you derive from it. And the kicks in the butt, the stings, are where all the motivation comes from. If they’re excessive then you’ll quit or make your goal too easy. Which sacrifices both revenue and awesomeness. What maximizes both revenue and awesomeness is being right below that threshold – motivating amounts of money that you’re willing to keep paying because of how much progress you’re making on your goals.
Maybe the key to seeing Beeminder’s incentives as wholly non-perverse is to remember that derailing does not equal failing. Derailing is a lot of things – a kick in the pants, paying for an immediate break because the goal has been really hard, valuable information about how realistic the goal is – none of which have anything to do with failing. The only ways to fail are to quit the goal, to set the yellow brick road to something stupidly easy, or to cheat. 
What do you think? I’m being serious now, and if we could convey that to users then we could unabashedly say that heck yes, Beeminder’s objective is maximize your derailments, and at the maximum amount of money you can tolerate! Put that way it sounds ridiculous but, for typical users, it’s equivalent to maximizing the amount of progress on the actual thing you’re beeminding. That’s worth paying for.
 There’s one more failure mode, thankfully rare, but it is an exception to the titular claim: Sticking your head in the sand and just letting the derailments rack up without doing any more work on the goal than you would’ve without Beeminder. When that happens it’s typically due to actual depression and we’ve got a deadman switch to bound the damage.