Beeminder Forum

Heretical freebees epiphany


Right, with this death-to-freebees proposal, everything is always a freebee (starts at $0) if you want. We make you put in a credit card at some point but that’s separate from the freebees question. The goal is to make things nice and simple and avoid special cases (and terminology like “freebees”).


I think @insti’s proposal would be the cleanest and nicest – it eliminates both the concept of freebees and any special casing with initial pledges which could just always start at $5 – except that once you enter a credit card we want to let you create goals with $0 initial pledges. That’s the activation energy argument.

So with the second advantage gone, I think I prefer my original death-to-freebees proposal at the top of this thread.

Let me know if I’m missing something there, and thanks so much for the help in thinking this through!

PS, @amesha made essentially the same point:


I’m a kind of freebee junkie, so I was pleased to see ‘buy more freebees for $0.10’, but as many as you like at $0 once you have my credit card would be even better.

I think I just like to think that every goal includes the possibility of screwing up without penalty once, and I’ve designed at least one goal badly in a way that it wasn’t possible to notice in the first seven days.

And incidentally, I have actually derailed once and paid you money now. And I nearly did again yesterday; I was out in the street trying to get signal to tell you about my German practice at 11:58 last night. I probably would have emailed you a tale of woe if I’d failed; but honestly, why didn’t I do it at any time earlier in the day? I could have done. New goal; clear all the red and orange beeminder stuff in the morning! Then there’s no risk of derailing, right?


That no longer needs to be a toothless intention! You can set your deadlines to noon now (we intend to support actual morning deadlines as well but for now noon is the earliest).


So @dreev… when are these freebees dying?!


Thanks for asking! I believe it will be between the launch of Skritter and Strava in this list. And by authority of we’ll be making steady progress on those integrations. So, I predict… April for the death of Freebees (aka free Freebees for all).

You definitely have influence on this question though. Is the status quo where you can buy them for 10 cents apiece super annoying?


I like the $1 for 10 of them. Please don’t make that go away.


but it’ll be replaced by “any goal you start can start at $0 without you having to buy them” - does that make it better?


TL;DR: IMO, all goals should always start at $0 with free short circuit to $5; we should have 1 permanent freebie; it would be great to have a $1 pledge amount for Beemium subscribers (which we could skip over on most goals since we have free short-circuiting).

IMO, All goals should always start at $0 by default and move up from there when they first derail. (With the first short-circuit from $0 to $5 being available even to non-premium.) We’re just never really sure what we can really do, realistically, when we first start a goal, I think.

I also think each user should have at least one perma-freebie at any given time. E.g. you could step a goal down from $5 to $0 only if you had no others that are permanently free or stepped back down to $0 at that time (and none in the process of being stepped down to $0). I think there is good reason to want to Beemind something like weight, for example, without having it cost, since people are likely also minding other related goals. (Just-created, never pledged goals shouldn’t count towards your perma-freebie limit.) I use permanent-freebies for test goals and for only two other goals. I’d be fine with giving them up for the test goals, as well as with giving up permanent freebies on all but 1 of my goals (and I am minding something like 70 goals). Sometimes I like to reward myself for a long time without a derail by stepping back to $0 to see how I do without the sting (hint: never well) but I’d be fine with giving that up.

I wouldn’t mind having a handful of goals that could be $1 goals, too, though. But I think that should be a Beemium feature. Use case: I mind each weight training exercise separately. I really don’t want to pay $80 for missing a workout (16 exercises x $5), but would be perfectly fine with paying $16 for missing a workout and derailing those 16 graphs.


Not exactly super annoying but it has turned out to be super aversive for my stingy psychology. And I live overseas so there’s the added uncertainty layer of international transaction fees and fluctuating exchange rates.

Since I knew they were going to die soon, I have put off buying extras. I just derailed on an experimental goal this morning so I’m kicking myself now. I could have had 50 freebies for that price!

However, as a real paying customer now I don’t feel so bad putting in my request to move this change up the priority list :wink:


Personally, I think the fix for this is to make it easier to start with a flat road (currently the New Goal screen rejects “0”, so to get a flat road you have to check “Start with a week of safety buffer”, commit to X, and then immediately road dial to 0.) and then keep a flat road for experimental goals.

This lets you tinker as long as you want, but you don’t ever have Beeminder telling you that you have an emergency over no money. OTOH, maybe it is equally silly to “pledge” to do nothing. :slight_smile:


First, to echo @chelsea, we’re keen to hear whether you, @bigmusic, mean that you like being made to pay something for freebees [1] or just that you want to make sure freebees will stay available?

To @chipmanaged, I like your thoughts a lot and I think we mostly agree, but note that one of the reasons for the “heretical freebees epiphany” is to simplify Beeminder and avoid the need for the term “freebee” altogether. Of course we can tolerate more complexity for premium plans, but I guess much of what you’re suggesting is already part of Beemium (skipping ahead in the pledge schedule, dropping to $0, and $0 pledge caps aka perma-freebees). The addition of a $1 pledge level (or fully customizable pledge amounts) I’m amenable to for premium people. Maybe if more folks chime in that that would be valuable?

[1] Reminder: “freebee” = initially pledgeless goal.


i agree with this, but would actually take it even further - make the default pledge schedule for everyone $0 -> $1 -> ($2.50 ->?) $5 -> current schedule. let everyone short-circuit for free up to $5. i could write an essay about this.

of course, that is my opinion, and i have absolutely no data to guess whether that would be profitable, actually bring in more people, or retain more current people.


waves magic wand… 50 freebees granted! Really appreciate the feedback as well as the nudge to finish this!


First, to echo @chelsea, we’re keen to hear whether you, @bigmusic, mean that you like being made to pay something for freebees [1] or just that you want to make sure freebees will stay available?

I’m really not sure what the difference is to be honest.

I think that freebees should always be the first step when figuring out a realistic goal. Being able to tweak a goal starting with freebees is where I start. Using freebees allows you to learn what you are capable of instead of jumping to the $5 mark from the beginning. If every goal required me to start out @ $5, I wouldn’t be using beeminder at all.


If freebies remain in the Premium plans, then I have no use for the $1 goals (as I also have a meta-goal for beeminding the workout aside from the individual exercises, and so the accountability can be there, with the 16 individual exercises staying at $0). It was just a proposal in the event of a complete freebie elimination.

If freebee = initially pledgeless goal, then I think that should be the default. I thought freebee meant, could go back down to or stay down at $0 permanently. I think that’s the one worth eliminating.


Yup, the new “death to freebees” plan makes it so every goal will start at $0 if you choose. I had wrongly believed that Beeminder should, after some trial period, have all goals start at $5, thinking that it’s not really beeminding without money at stake. But I heard enough of you explain that even for veteran beemindees, there’s huge value in creating experimental goals that initially have $0 pledged. (I had had a bunch of counterarguments, like how you can delete goals in the first week, have initial flat spots, etc, but I was underappreciating both the psychological factor and the cognitive burden of understanding the counterarguments. It’s much cleaner for a goal you’re uncertain about to just start at $0.)


For what it’s worth, my 2c (pun intended) : 1$ for 10 free goals is a good way to have people think before adding a new goal. Not sure how you cover that in the new plan.


Why not do something as simple as having a free trial period - 30 days, 60 days, whatever? After the trial, the user has to enter a card in order to continue.


I’m not sure we want people to have to think twice about creating new goals. (Maybe I’m misunderstanding though. If you personally would get less value out of the new system where you can always create a new goal with $0 at risk initially, I’m very interested to hear that.)

This would be an improvement over the status quo but I think I like the new proposed system even better. It’s not a limited trial in terms of number of days (which I think is a big deterrent to people who don’t want to invest time and effort if they anticipate hitting a paywall that they may not be willing to scale) but rather limited in the number of new goals you can create. As a business we should worry about you never putting in a credit card and I see the temptation to cut those people off after a while. But my thinking is that if you as a user can get by with the limited number of goals and never derail then maybe we’re ok with you never paying us?

I think it’s also a cool value proposition that you can beemind diligently with the motivation of avoiding having to put your credit card in in the first place. Some people get a ton of mileage out of that. So much so that when they do eventually slip up they feel we’ve totally earned it and will probably go on to be paying customers at that point.

Of course there are also people who will never enter a credit card come hell or high water. But those people are completely irrelevant to us from a business perspective. No point in cutting them off – they’d never pay us anyway. So might as well help them as much as we can.

In conclusion I think we can do a lot better than a fixed trial period! (Also this has been hugely helpful thinking this through out loud; thank you! Happy to debate more if you’re not convinced too.)