Point-Counterpoint: a possible new blog series

@mary and I have been talking about a series of blog posts where 2 or more people give their different perspectives on their philosophy of beeminding.


  1. “Beemind all the things!” vs “Focus on 3-4 goals at a time”
  2. “Beemind things open-endedly” vs “Have target end dates in mind from the start”
  3. “Fine print is for weasels” vs “Fine print prevents weaseling” (related to Bee-Nicers vs Tooth-and-Nailers: What's Your Beeminder Archetype?)
  4. “Scale weight is an action” vs “Scale weight is obviously an outcome what’s wrong with you?” (See, for example, my wacky weight-loss wonkery)
  5. Edge-skaters vs Buffer-maintainers
  6. Team Black vs Team Yellow
  7. “Paying is not punishment” vs “The entire point of commitment devices and loss aversion and all the behavioral econ Beeminder’s built on is that paying is punishment”

Anyway, we first need a better name for this. Some kind of pun on “butting heads”?




Ha, that could easily be the winner already! One downside is that it’s hard to decide how to pronounce it, though I realize that’s part of the point. :grin:

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I don’t know why it’s only now occurring to me that we could do these as Adversarial Collaborations.

PS: I’m adding a new one (“Paying pledges = punishment” vs [I don’t know how to describe the counterpoint to this yet – working on a whole essay…]) to the brainstorming list above, which I’m also wikifying in case others want to add ideas (let me know if it doesn’t let you).


Thanks for that link! I continue to get more impressed with Scott’s blog.

In this case, I think it would work better to do it as two different perspectives and not a collaboration, since these disputes are less fact-based and more about different personal approaches.

Either way, I’d love to read these!

And I agree that contra-sting is the ideal name.

I’m confused about number 7 - do you mean “paying more in pledges means beeminder is helping you more” vs “paying more in pledges means beeminder is not set up correctly for the user”?


I interpreted it more like, “Paying means I failed” vs “Paying means I made a cost/benefit analysis.” Success spirals vs behavioral economics, if that’s the right way to put it.


Exactly, I love how @narthur put it. The difference between “paying means I failed” and “paying means I made a cost/benefit analysis”.

And other non-punish-y interpretations as well! Like this one: A derailment could be thought of as a random and unpredictable thing that happened. Rather than treat that as undeserved and something to be covered by fine print, I can just think of that as how Beeminder occasionally gets paid for the service it provides.

It’s a reframing where paying isn’t a punishment that you deserve or don’t deserve, it’s just a totally deterministic consequence of your datapoints staying on your yellow brick road or not. It still works both motivation-wise and money-wise because with that consequence in place, you only rarely derail. Your behavior is shaped exactly as you wanted it to be and the amount you pay for that (determined randomly by the universe, such as whether you’ve gotten injured or whatever might cause a derailment) is fair.

I don’t know how common it is to psychologically frame it that way (we don’t see so many of such people in support, for obvious reasons!) but I’m pretty :heart_eyes: about those who do. (It’s also very suspect and :money_mouth_face: for me as a cofounder to promote that reframing though…)

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Yeah, I’m not sure that’s a 100% binary thing. I don’t think I’m a failure if I decide I want to pay n dollars instead of doing x, but I also feel quite free to call non-legit if the universe conspired against me (in specific ways, defined before the incident). But maybe there’s a way to reframe those positions as binary…

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