This is ridiculous after all the work we put in to freebees but here’s
a half-baked an epiphany:
Instead of renaming freebees to be less confusing, we’ll kill them off. We now let you buy them for 10 cents apiece as a way to make sure you put in a credit card at some point. And we want goals to start with a real pledge by default for most people. But we can cover all the bases like so:
- At some point you can’t create new goals without putting in a credit card. Beeminder’s not Beeminder without that credible threat. You may still never pay us a dime but you have to be willing to risk something (or pay for Plan Bee).
- All goals let you explicitly choose whether they start at $0 or $5. Maybe we default it to $5 after a while but as part of goal creation you can always choose. (If you want to start higher than $5 then you want Beemium.)
That’s it. We force you, sooner or later , to add a credit card. And we nudge you with defaults to start goals at $5 but make it easy to start at $0 as much as you like if you prefer. No need for a concept of freebees at all.
The only loophole that leaves is that you can keep archiving and recreating goals with $0 pledges. But if you’re willing to do that then there’s probably no help for you anyway. :)
(Thanks to Adam Mesha for inspiring this by asking insightful questions about freebees.)
 And we’ll a/b test “sooner vs later”. It’s even possible that the optimal time to force you to enter a credit card is when you sign up. I realize we lose a ton of people who would’ve eventually gotten enthusiastically on board if we do that. But we also save a bunch of people who otherwise would’ve created a half-hearted trial goal and then wandered off without getting themselves on the hook, with all subsequent attempts to get them back on the wagon falling on deaf/akratic ears. Credit card on sign-up also means big simplifications in the code, small simplifications in the UI, plus lower support costs. But again, it’s an empirical question.