Alright, I’ve been using Beeminder since March 1 and it has been great. I set a weight loss goal and I haven’t derailed yet (I came close a couple times, but the motivation of not having to add a credit card was enough to keep me in line).
I’d say you guys have earned $5 from me. But I’d rather not give you my credit card number. So I’ll probably donate to your Bitcoin address at some point. However, I have a proposal to make:
I donate $5 to you at your Bitcoin address. Then, if I ever derail on any goal in the future, I’ll either 1) donate another $5 via Bitcoin; or 2) stop using Beeminder forever.
Let me know if this proposal is acceptable. If not, then I won’t do it, but I’ll probably try to find (or make for myself) another system that can handle this via bitcoin prepayments rather than CC payments-after-the-fact.
Understood. And as I understand it there’s a way I can set it up so that the maximum I ever have to pay for derailing is $5. And if that assumption is somehow wrong I’m sure I could eventually get my money back (or maybe even avoid getting charged altogether by lying).
But for me the threat of “don’t derail or you’ll have to either lie (thus probably forever defeating the purpose of Beeminder) or give Beeminder your credit card” is working well." But I’d like to add at least one, and maybe eventually a few more goals. Plus I think Beeminder deserves to be paid something even if I never derail.
So, that donation I linked to above is theirs, and if they accept my proposal I’ll add a few more goals, and pay $5 every time I derail (until I decide to stop using Beeminder). If they don’t accept my proposal, they can keep the $5, and I’ll keep using the freebies they offer, and when I derail, I guess I’ll have to come up with another solution. Maybe make my own spreadsheets to do the same thing (sans pretty charts).
Related, but not specific to Beeminder, you may be interested in one of the various disposable credit card services out there. I am a big user of the one from Bank of America which provides disposable numbers such that:
The merchant can’t tell it isn’t your real credit card (so they can’t prevent you from using this service)
You can set an artificially low credit limit (so the merchant cannot go berserk)
Only the first merchant to charge the card succeeds. The first merchant can make any number of charges, but all other merchants will see the card as denied/invalid (so the merchant cannot sell your credit card info to a 3rd party).
You can revoke the disposable card at any time (so you don’t need to trust the merchant to stop charging you in the future)
This allows me to use most websites without actually trusting them very much.
Thanks for the bitcoin donation! And happy to accept your proposal. Just reply to the legit check emails when you derail and let us know you’ve bitcoined us the $5 and we’ll manually unfreeze you.
But we’re keen to understand the bigger issue. Would you be more amenable to authorizing us to charge your Paypal account when you derail? What about giving us your bank account number (Stripe has that feature now for US bank accounts)? Stripe also supports bitcoin but not the way it would need to work for Beeminder – namely, the user pre-authorizing us to automatically charge them. Does @drtall’s suggestion of a disposable credit card address the issue?
Thanks also to @apolyton for the clarifications. It’s true that this is both super safe and that controlling how much Beeminder charges you is quite straightforward. The pledge cap is a prominent part of creating any new goal as of recently. In fact, want to try creating a test goal and see if you agree? Eager for more feedback on this.
For that aspect, I’d be even more against giving a bank account number. Using Paypal would, for me, be equivalent to using my Paypal card. Doing the disposable credit card thing would be a possibility, although somewhat of a hassle to get the card, and I thought I read somewhere else on the forum that you discouraged that. In any case, I have a Shift Card which is probably what I’d use for this sort of thing. That spends from Bitcoin, and I can control the balance I leave in it so that very little is at risk.
I was thinking about this some more this morning, though, and I think the real issue is that I’m just not really on board with the concept of punishing myself for failing to meet my goals. I haven’t completely figured it out, and quite possibly I’m completely wrong about this, but I think for me the reason why Beeminder is working is more due to the daily positive reinforcement than the threat of losing $5. My first goal was a weight loss goal, and to the extent there’s a threat, the big threat to me is that I won’t reach the goal. The cost of that is a lot more than $5. The daily positive reinforcement is seeing those charts every day, seeing myself on the path to reaching my goal, keeping myself on the right side of the road or even a little bit off the right side of the road, making my goal a little bit harder after consistently being off the right side of the road for a while.
Anyway, I won’t go on. I’m not sure if I’m right or not, and even if I am right about my own personal motivations I have no idea if other people are similar or different. I do appreciate the software that was written, though. And I’m excited about applying it to some of my goals of the “do at least X per week” variety, using the strategy outlined in http://blog.beeminder.com/chunky/ (I still need to decide exactly how to implement it, though. I think for my goal of “do X at least 6 times per week” I’m going to start out lower, no more than 4 and maybe as little as 1 time per week, and then crank it up once I’m having no problems with that.)
I have a number of these types of goals. Things I really want to make the norm and do every single day. After starting lower I’ve now built some of them upto requiring me to do them 6.5 times a week (ie 1 slip allowed every 2 weeks). So far I’ve not derailed and in some cases have built up a big enough buffer for a 5 day autoratchet limit to kick in (I don’t want to ever have more than 5 days of buffer or the motivation might be reduced).