Beeminder Forum

Explanation of the new pledge schedule?

Has there been a blog or form post explaining why Beeminder is considering a new pledge schedule? After a quick search of the blog/forum, I didn’t see one anywhere.

One reason I ask is that the Beeminder FAQ has a convincing argument against pledge schedules like the new one:

Q: Why not just double the amount pledged each time?

The idea is that you want to very quickly reach an amount that motivates you to take your yellow brick road seriously. At first we thought we’d just double the amount each time but then realized that that means that by the time you’ve found your Motivation Point, you’ve actually wasted approximately that same amount in previously paid fees. That sucks since by definition the Motivation Point is a scary amount that you definitely don’t want to lose. Yet by the time that amount is motivating you, you’ve accumulated that much in losses! So we wanted it to increase more steeply. With the above schedule you’ll never waste more than half of the amount that eventually motivates you to stay on track.

I’ve always really appreciated this answer and taken it as strong evidence of Beeminder’s good faith—Beeminder would make more money from derailments with a flatter pledge schedule, but chose to treat customers better by adopting a pledge schedule that gets people to their Motivation Point at lower cost.

Now, however, Beeminder is (seems to be?) moving to a flatter schedule that sounds a lot like the one rejected in that FAQ answer. I’m sure there’s good logic behind this (I trust the team!) but I’d really like to know what it is/how Beeminder’s perspective has evolved since that FAQ entry was written.

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You haven’t missed a blog post, though I’ve talked about it a lot in daily beemails. It’s all still in flux and we’re agonizing a lot because there seem to be very distinct schools of thought. One being our original take on it, that you want the pledges to go up as steeply as possible to quickly find your Motivation Point. And that works for some people, but there are a lot of people who really want a flatter schedule. In the original schedule some people find themselves in a kind of no-man’s land where, for example, $30 is not motivating enough but $90 makes them want to cheat or rage-quit.

It’s a really hard problem and we intend to keep experimenting. Hugely valuable to hear perspectives like this one, that the reasoning behind the original schedule felt really reassuring. I’m fairly sure that the basic insight is sound – that pledges should increase exponentially – but maybe doubling is a fine compromise? Another one we may experiment with is matching common denominations of bills in most countries, like $5, $10, $20, $50, $100.

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I agree with @codesections (as a programming lawyer I love that name and icon btw) that the tripling is good evidence of Beeminder’s good faith and I think it should be kept.

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:stuck_out_tongue: Hate to be a nay-sayer, but I really like the new schedule. Since my wife and I combined our finances, I’ve had to adjust to using much lower pledges, and the new schedule works much better for that than the old one did.

Of course, I really never cared about the special properties of the old schedule…

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… maybe have them both side by side at goal creation, with a shaded default choice and a note to a link to a blog post with text “we think the default is fine, but if you want you can read this blog post and decide for yourself what you think works best for you”?

… my cap is $5 on everything, so this doesn’t really concern me, but that’s my 2 cents.

EDIT:
I’m starting to start sentences with “…” too much. I think I might have to set up a do less goal.

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:laughing: :grin: :joy:

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Note also that the same holds at least sometimes for $0 (not motivating) and $5 (too much), I really would like more steps between them.

It probably applies especially to people that are extremely loss averse (me!). Some on top of that are from poorer countries (me!). For reference Poland has an average wage around $1000/month*, $500/month minimum wage, rents start from $100/month for a room, president of the country has $5000/month salary.

*official one is a bit higher but there are multiple tricks there, like excluding small companies that are typically offering lower salaries

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The new schedule has a $1 step that you can start at, though I believe you can’t get back down to it once your pledge goes above it for any reason.

I believe you can in fact

And it is improvement, though I still would want 2, 3, 4 as steps.

I understand that it may not fit the typical target of the beeminder.

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You can’t, unless you’re a Beemium user. The $1 pledges are equivalent to the $0 pledges, and count as being “pledgeless”. Some of the wording on the site needs to be updated to reflect that, but a lot of the finicky changes haven’t been done while we’re still talking over the best pledge schedule.

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In the original schedule some people find themselves in a kind of no-man’s land where, for example, $30 is not motivating enough but $90 makes them want to cheat or rage-quit.

Thanks for the reply—that makes a lot of sense. In fact, I can remember feeling that temptation a bit myself the first time I hit a $90 derailment. These days—after ~5 years using Beeminder—I wouldn’t be tempted to quit, since I’ve seen the value. But, back then, I didn’t have a much evidence and I remember $90 feeling like a big jump. So I see the concern.

Another [approach] we may experiment with is matching common denominations of bills in most countries, like $5, $10, $20, $50, $100.

That seems like a great middle ground, imo.

You haven’t missed a blog post, though I’ve talked about it a lot in daily beemails.

I guess that’s what I get for only being subscribed to the monthly beemails!

Thanks! I’m actually a lawyer-turned-programmer—I’d love to compare notes sometime on our different experiences.

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Yeah, I feel this is a big thing that maybe the US-centric beeminder’s staff might not realize (or maybe I’m just assuming too much here). The US is up there in the most income per capita/per household. There are a few hundred other countries below (including, for example, mine (Italy), and apparently @beeminder_user’s) … :slight_smile:

I have a $5 pledge cap on everything, but you’re still probably pricing out a big chunk of the world’s population.

I understand alternative pledge schedules like the proposed 1/2/3/4/5 might be unprofitable as a business, though… it doesn’t seem to matter to public markets right now whether you actually make money or just grow your metrics, but for some reason I doubt beeminder’s going to be listed on the nasdaq soon :stuck_out_tongue:

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And in any country, including the U.S., different people can be in very different financial situations. Your dollar isn’t the same as my dollar, even if we live in the same area. So just because someone chokes on a certain pledge level doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t understand the value of the service.

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I’m a Beemium user - how do I get back to $1?

See: Is there any way to make my freebee goals $1 goals?

@zedmango Ah, sorry, I thought the implication was clear from @dreev’s reply in the other thread. Because the goals are on the old pledge schedule, you can’t go to $1 (and when you derail your goals will go up to $5 as always). There is currently no way for anyone, including us, to change that.