Great to see there’s interest in this. Allow me to reply to some comments:
First, regarding the cons that Daniel mentions:
- could lower acquisition price if we ever wanted to sell (i could
certainly see doing beeminder forever but i hate to limit my future
self’s options (unless I think he’ll be an impetuous ass, of course,
and it’s for his own good))
I believe the code isn’t necessarily the main value Beeminder provides. Of course, the core me-binding feature is the key to make this all work, but technically anyone skilled enough could do that. What makes Beeminder so uniquely valuable is the community, openness, and the way you guys participate and interact with us users in conversations like this, integrate feedback quickly, beemind your own user-visible improvements work, etc. Starting a community is much harder than most people think, and a perfect platform will easily lose to a less usable one if the community nurturing spirit is lacking (case in point!)
- competitor with big marketing budget could eat our lunch? (really
doesn’t seem likely to me that the availability of our code would
affect this much)
Same answer as above. I actually have been thinking about this recently, and read about the concept of “open company”, a term which at the moment has mostly ad-hoc definitions , but that comprises common ideas such as radical transparency, open-sourcing as much as the code as possible, and selling the service, support and advanced options, rather than the product itself.
- embarrassingly ugly hacks!
Either they’re embarrassingly obvious, in which case they’ll be quickly pointed out and fixed, or they’re ugly but hard to do right, in which case they’re not that embarrassing. In any case, I found embracing my own weak self-binding abilities and adopting Beeminder actually lifted a weight from my chest and made me self-loathe myself less. Perhaps opening up your hacky code to public scrutiny will also make you accept its nature, and make it have less of an embarrassing effect as it does now (paradoxically enough!)
Regarding Noah’s comments:
I’m a big open source guy, and in fact work for my current employers in the role of helping them to figure out what they should open source, and how they should do it. But the Beeminder UI doesn’t strike me as one of the more obvious things to open source here. In fact, I’d probably start with the graphing libraries you guys have obviously built for yourself!
Well, we could certainly have simply more tooltips on the interface and focus on open-sourcing the graph-generation first, since it’s rather slow at the moment. But I don’t think the slowness is that much of a detriment to Beeminder’s use. I think a usable and intuitive interface that’s slow is better than a snappy interface that is somewhat confusing.
I agree that the UI is confusing. There are still bits of it that I don’t grok. I think the main problem is that a Beeminder has a lot of jargon. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But the UI doesn’t bootstrap your understanding of it. It took me several months before I figured out what “weasel proof me” actually mean.
Exactly. I couldn’t have said it better.
Finally, about that Matthias said:
Re. Beeminder jargon: Perhaps an opening here (if a tangent) for me to mention the Beeminder glossary that isn’t.
That’s a great idea, but it would be nicer if one wouldn’t need to consult a separate document to understand Beeminder’s interface. Even if we have to resort to extensive “tool-tipping”, the ideal approach, imo, would be to have the interface be self-explanatory.