Posting this here, as opposed to a more private channel, since others may have a different take and I’d be interested to hear what others think.
After the recent release of the arbitrary deadlines feature I ran into several annoying bugs. They are being fixed quickly, and since I am already a beeminder super-fan, relatively speaking they are just a small bump in the road; but they have nonetheless been non-trivially annoying, and if I were just starting out with beeminder I think they might have caused me to abandon it. Judging by this post I am not the only one to run into bugs, and there are quite a few other bugs introduced that I have not personally run into.
Of course we all understand the value of putting yourself on the hook for things, but my take on this is that putting yourself on the hook for completing some big feature by a particular date is a Bad Idea. It just creates poor incentives to rush the implementation (thus introducing more bugs) and rush the feature out the door without doing a proper job of testing (thus leaving the bugs for users to find). Being really responsive and apologetic after the fact is much better than nothing, but this kind of thing is still going to burn through a lot of user goodwill regardless of how you deal with the aftermath. It might even end up costing you more than $810 in the long run due to lost sign-ups and the like.
At the very least, if you want to put yourself on the hook for releasing a big feature, you should think through all the things that ought to happen prior to the release, estimate how long they will take, and put yourself on the hook for those too. E.g. have the coding complete on such-and-such feature by this date; complete Android testing by some other date; and so on. Of course those are a bit harder to make into bright lines, and they are not as easily verified by the general public.
Don’t get me wrong, I am really glad to have the arbitrary deadlines feature. I just would have been willing to wait for a version with fewer bugs. If you really think that you will never finish big features like this without putting yourself on the hook then I suggest you should think more carefully about ways to do that which will create the right incentives.