This isn’t fully baked yet but we wanted to start collecting actually-asked questions in addition to the ones we’ve made up.
We’ve long had premium credit, which is just a balance that we keep track of and apply to any premium payments you may make in the future. We give people premium credit for any number of reasons. As bounties or thank-yous or apologies, or occasionally as refunds. Also student discounts and similar. You can see the gory details in our help doc or the even gorier details in our internal spec from which we implemented it.
Honey Money is the same thing but can also, optionally, work for derailments. It’s a way to prepay for a derailment by depositing money with Beeminder before you actually derail. When you derail we draw from that balance first before charging your credit card.
The key is optionally. We don’t want to tamper with Beeminder’s incentives. The immediacy of Beeminder’s sting is powerful and will remain the default. But there turned out to be at least a dozen reasons we also wanted people to have the option to prepay for derailments:
- As a signup filter, we may want to only let you sign up if you’re serious enough and philosophically on board enough to be fine with prepaying $5.
- (Also potentially it matters for anti-fraud to have a big enough initial deposit required to deter testing of stolen credit cards.)
- Beyond signup, it can be a way to encourage the derailing-it-is-nailing-it mindset: “Of course it’s fine to put in honey money up front – eventually you’ll use it. If you don’t you’re doing it wrong!”
- To support payment methods that don’t support arbitrary future charges (cf. the situation in India in particular).
- To close the loophole (at least for people who want to close it for themselves) where you deauthorize Beeminder’s access to your payment method before we charge it.
- To be able to pay bounties to users or issue refunds by adding to your honey balance. Especially if premium plans go away in the future and already for the case of lifetime premium people or people who never intend to get premium. We’ve been doing a lot with premium credit but want to keep gradually moving away from premium plans so generalizing to derail credit helps with that.
- To reduce the amount of refunds we do ($50k/year last we checked).
- To keep from throwing PayPal users under the bus (Stripe even supports PayPal now for one-off payments to US businesses).
- As probably the easiest way to support paying for derailments via in-app purchase on iOS.
- We could save credit card processing fees and other overhead/risk by doing bigger charges less frequently. Honey money (that’s allowed to go negative?) may be the most elegant implementation of this.
- Maybe a future integration with our friends at Manifold where mana and honey can be exchanged?
- We’re doing a science experiment in collaboration with the University of Virginia and needed a way for students to use Beeminder without putting in their own credit cards.
[UPDATE: a better version of this FAQ is now in the help docs.]
No, it’s basically store credit at Beeminder. (So also yes, in that it’s only useful within Beeminder.)
Premium plans and derailments. If we have anything like support contracts or anything else we may charge for in the future, it’s good for it. Nothing with real-world cash value though. In that sense it’s like a strictly in-world currency.
Absolutely. We intend it to always be opt-in.
UPDATE: Now we’re less sure of that (see latest discussion in this thread!) but at least still sure that if you want to be charged directly you should always have that option in some way.
You can just buy it. We also give it out sometimes, like for bug bounties or refunds or for student discounts.
Not normally but if your payment method fails, for example, then it might happen.
Yes, currently 2% per year, compounded continuously. Of course no one cares about this, nor do people ever really carry a balance long enough for it to matter. It’s just the mathematically right thing to do.
Any premium plans or upgrades you get, we just use any honey money you have automatically. For derailments you have to click a thing on your payments page
(Later we want to generalize this and let you have any number of payment methods on file and let you put them in any order you like and we’ll try them in that order. By default honey money would be last for derailments and first for non-derailments, like premium.)
No, you definitely can’t cash it out. There are a bunch of legal and accounting reasons for that. See also our old “glutton-for-punishment” blog post on why, even philosophically, we don’t like the idea of depositing money and getting it back if you stay on track.
We also want to discourage the mindset that Beeminder is a game where the objective is to never pay anything. That sounds self-serving but we strongly believe that Beeminder works better if you don’t view derailing as failing. So putting in honey money up front should not feel particularly onerous. You’ll use it eventually! If not, you’re doing it wrong.
See the background above for a dozen different reasons. The actual impetus was a science experiment we’re doing with the University of Virginia (we needed a way to give students a way to beemind meaningfully without putting their own money at risk). But we wanted to do this anyway to support payment methods that don’t let us make arbitrary future charges, which has increasingly been a problem for users in India. Other reasons include not throwing PayPal users under the bus, supporting more ironclad commitments, better ability to pay bounties and do refunds and weekly invoices, future in-app purchase on iOS, etc.