Replying to Beeminder haters

So much love from our IFTTT launch, oh my goodness! And very few haters. I mean, attracting a few haters is maybe a good sign, that you’re doing something interesting. Anyway, here’s someone on Google+ having a negative reaction:

Uh, how about ‘no’

Cute how they use the word "pledge all over their website. This isn’t NPR. As near as I can tell, those “pledges” just go in that chick’s pocket. That means she has a vested monetary interest in people not making their goals. This smells so fishy, my computer is sweating tartar sauce.

And here’s my reply (taking some of my own advice for replying to negativity):

I love the metaphor :) and it’s actually highly valuable feedback for us that it could make people think it’s fishy. We’ve written lots about the seemingly perverse incentives but the short answer (which, thank you again for revealing that we’re doing a bad job of it when we use taglines like “follow through or pay the price”) is that if Beeminder is not making you awesomer, just quit, or just never put in a credit card, which you don’t have to do until the first time you go off track. If it is making you awesomer then, says pretty much every user we’ve ever asked, paying the occasional penalty will be more than worth it.

PS: Also good feedback on “pledges”. The idea was that you’re committing/promising/pledging to keep all your datapoints on track towards a goal you’ve specified. The monetary pledge is how that commitment is made meaningful. We do have a competitor – – that sends the money to charities (or anti-charities) if that’s more palatable. Thanks again for the help in understanding how this pitch can be off-putting!

So how should we minimize that kind of reaction? I’m thinking more emphasis on the Quantified Self aspect. Like (at the very least) favor taglines like “Keep your data on track or pay the price” over “Follow through or pay the price”.


You deserve some money for developing software. There will always be a few people who don’t recognise either your work or the ability for a person to pay for anything intangible.

That said I would like an earn-back model more. ie. you pay x, then earn it back in increments. To deal with the potential high cost of transaction it could be done with bitcoin and multi-sig for extra honesty.


I think there’s something to be said for having provocative and pithy tag lines, even at the price of them irritating some people. Your alternative is wordier which tends to be less memorable.


Hating Beeminder is worse that hating a newborn pup! How someone do that?!

Seriously, you don’t have to reply at all. Haters will always be there, no matter of what you do or what you write. Trying to minimize them wastes your valuable time that you could use for developing Google Fit integration or GTBee for Android (never lose the possibility to promote my wish list).


Eh, people pay a personal trainer to guilt them into continuing to go to the gym (sure, we rationalize it by saying they motivate us but we all know the only reason we keep going is because we don’t want to look bad in their eyes) and no one bats an eye but someone pays for a great service ONLY IF they don’t hold themselves accountable and everyone freaks out.


beeminder: the impersonal trainer

i like this approach. “okay, so you don’t like our commitment device, that’s fair. but can you honestly say you’ve never utilized any others?” (link to a list like in this blog post) (maybe that’s good content for a landing page to reason with people who are inclined to go “omg scammers” and leave?)

and i agree with @ndanda, not so much to gain from agonizing at length over how to sway someone who’s already decided against you. reply politely, but focus more on making beeminder fanatics even more fanatical :heart: or at least making it easier for newbees to beecome fanatics!


Re: earn-back-model
Does anything else use this type of model? That seems like a ‘hardcore’ mode. Is it a premium feature?

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  1. Haters gonna hate.
  2. It’s always best to do what you did and try to find the route cause of the negativity.
  3. Keep in mind that for every 1 negative post of a person, about 10* other felt the same and didn’t bother to post about it. So it’s not a tiny set of people, but more.
  4. How about using “commitments” more instead of “pledges”?
  • exact number is made up right now, but it’s somewhere around there - there is some research on the matter though
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Where you pay up front and get money back gradually by staying on track? It’s a cool idea for a premium feature, but not planned at this point. I don’t know of any of our competitors that do that either. It might be easier said than done with holding onto money that isn’t (necessarily) yours and all (plus details like the interface for repledging if you earn it all back but want to continue) but I need to think about this idea more before I can say how realistic it might be. Not soon in any case, sadly!

That’s a good point. THere are tax implications and the money would have to be held in escrow and all that. Either way, it’s BS. If you sign up for this service you get great data tracking with a swift kick in the ass. Definitely worth it IMHO.


While I am all for ignoring haters, I don’t think that person is a hater, merely a) rightly suspect for unknown businesses on the internet that wants your money and b) speaking the way one speaks on the internet.

Beeminders unique selling point is making “some day” be right now. It happens to do so by paying money but Beeminder could, in theory, keep you on the road with e.g electric shocks (that might be an interesting premium feature by the way) but the money part is mostly incidental, it just so happens to a) pay your bills, b) keep the server online and c) there isn’t, yet, a decent way to shock somebody over the internet.

And if you need a word other than pledge, maybe wow? As in “I do solemnly swear to stay on the Yellow Brick Road and report only true data to Beeminder”. You could then rebrand pledge to fine.

Dunno if I like it, but it might make it a bit more clear.

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Regarding electric shocks for motivation, it seems like such a solution may soon be available:

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I’m very late to this conversation but have a few cents anyway, in case y’all wander back here, because I’d guess that the issue may be less about language than about knowledge.

If Beeminder keeps growing (hooray!) and bringing in less geek-wise users, the pith might be more palatable if combined with an acknowledgment of planning, hosting, coding, and the like (i.e., costs that are invisible to the vast majority of people on the interwebs; most listeners can at least guess at the costs of broadcast radio, even without NPR’s talk of needing “listeners like you” to stay on the air). It seems like the escape hatch of “if it’s not working for you, quit” might reassure someone who gets this stuff but mean little to someone who doesn’t.

Of course Futurebird is right – some people will never recognize or want to pay for intangibles – but others might be willing with a bit more more information. Tomjen calls the money part incidental, but perhaps for some it’s not?