Wet Feet AKA Mandatory $5 Pledges

I’ve thought about this more since my post/vote above and I think getting rid of $0 pledges (as a basic feature of Beeminder) is indeed the right way to go. Not because I was thinking about the burden on support, but because it seems inconsistent with the philosophy of what makes Beeminder valuable. So I would now actually vote for “0 days, stakes are the bees’ knees!”

Making $0 pledges a paywalled feature in the top-tier subscription sounds perfect – my thinking is along the lines of “stakes are what make Beeminder useful, but if you have a personal use case where not attaching money to one or more specific goals feels helpful, we will help you continue to maximize your awesomeness by imposing a blanket monthly stake (called a ‘subscription fee’) so that you still benefit from having money on the line, without the mental association with a specific goal” (I hope this makes sense; somehow it’s hard to say this in fewer words :wink: ).

On that note…

This option is still available with a Beemium subscription, if I understand correctly.


Reflecting on this, the poll doesn’t capture the way I used beeminder today, which is “for actual goals I care about, I always set the starting pledge to at least $5”. If I’ve really messed up in ways that feel non-legit, I delete within the first week and recreate (which is a pain). I do have $0 goals, but they are generally pledge capped at $0 and used for testing purposes.

Rather than $0 initial pledge I tend to start with very conservative initial targets. I’m not certain if this is better or worse for maximizing-personal-awesomeness than more aggressive initial targets with a $0 initial pledge. I do sometimes derail for “I totally misconfigured this goal” reasons, in which case I’ll ask support to reverse the charge, so perhaps starting at $0 for a week would be better for this? This suggests an alternate to the $0 for a week option would be a “no-questions-asked-no-support-contact” non-legit button for derailments within the first week.


I have to say, by now I too have arrived at this same conclusion. I take back everything I’ve said in the past that contradicts this. $0 pledges are to a large extent at odds with Beeminder as a philosophy. Beeminder is about having money on the line, and if you don’t have money on the line, is it really Beeminder? There are other goal-tracker apps for no-stakes goal tracking. And there are other mechanisms for bailing on a Beeminder goal that you accidentally set to be overly stringent, such as the ability to delete goals within the first week with no questions asked. Having your goal be at $0 for a week doesn’t really gain you anything beyond that.


I mean, I use $0 goals in Beeminder for tracking because I absolutely don’t want yet another app I have to check and update daily. I can barely manage updating Beeminder reliably (as support can attest to…)

That being said, tracking goals don’t care about stakes – I could have $500 on the line for my scrapbooking goal, and it wouldn’t phase me in the slightest. The only reason I ever even get red on that goal is because I haven’t bothered to add data from the past few weeks anyway. And if that worried me I’d just set the slope to 0 directly instead of “very slightly more than 0”.


I was led here by the email indicating the end of $0 goals.

It’s clearly too late to do anything about it and I’m not interesting in the $5 honey money, although I appreciate the gesture.

But I do want to say that I really disagree with the removal, or at least the fixed 1-week wet feet period. I’m perfectly happy with goals that only let you derail at $0 once, and then enforce the $5 minimum. In other words a flexible wet-feet period.

I frequently use the $0 goals to test out a new potential pledge when I’m not sure whether or not I really want to beemind that thing. Sooner or later I will derail and by that point I can decide whether its working/worthwhile.

For most of my goals one week certainly isn’t enough time to make that judgement. A flexible wet-feet period allows me to try it out and decide at my own pace.

So the end result of the removal of $0 goals for me is likely to be fewer experiments with beeminding new things.



This is very good feedback and a good use case. I think I would predict that 30 days would be, in practice, close enough to the original indefinite/flexible feet-wetting period to not disincentivize experimentation with new Beeminder goals significantly. Maybe especially if we can somehow frame this or convince people to have a mindset of Beeminder being valuable enough to be happy to pay real money for and the primary way you pay that money is by beeminding ambitiously enough that derailments happen from time to time and that that is using the product as intended.

I realize not everyone will be convinced by that!

In any case, please do report back. I think it makes a big difference if that prediction of fewer experiments is borne out or not.


Hey Justyn, here’s another way to no-risk experiment with new goals: set the slope to zero until you decide you want to keep them and you have an idea of what rate makes sense for you.

To do that:

  1. when you create the goal:
    a) set the “extra days of buffer” field to something like 10 – the important thing is that it’s more than 7
    b) set the rate to anything
  2. once created, on the settings page of your goal:
    a) go down to the graph editor
    b) change the final rate to 0
    c) hit “update graph”

For example:

You could also just set the rate to something ridiculously low in step 1b (and skip step 2 altogether). This would technically be low-risk instead of no-risk :).


Hi Grayson, thanks for the suggestion.
In fact I do just that sometimes, in combination with other methods :slight_smile:

But whether or not I want to beemind a goal is about more than just choosing the rate to set - is having the goal (for example entering the data) more trouble than its worth?

Which is why having a low-stakes trial for a while of actually beeminding the thing, including correct data entry and the pressure to stay on the right side of the road, is valuable to me.

@dreev I agree that 30 days would be much more useful than 1 week, although I’d still prefer longer! Would you consider 30 days for free members (enough to get them hooked?) and a longer period (eg 3 months) for paying members?


This is my skeptical face. See our anti-magic principle and anti-settings princple about minimizing branching business logic and arbitrary thresholds like that.

But I definitely hear the feedback here and am thinking hard!

Let’s keep discussing in the meantime. One thing I’m especially keen to find out is how much this extra-restrictive feet-wetting mode impedes new-goal experimentation in practice. I accept the argument that it does so in theory but… maybe in practice, with creative adaptations like @grayson’s, it’s not so much of an issue after all?

We do (as a company) need to improve our focus and that could mean some amount of callousness about use cases off the intended path, like tracking-only goals. By nature we really, really want to support All The Things. And sometimes there’s an elegant way to do that that doesn’t add complexity and fracture our focus. If the best idea we have is conditional feet-wetting thresholds then I don’t think we’re there yet but, again, eager to keep discussing!

Oh, and I should check: If the answer is just “that’s a Beemium thing”, is that ok? Excerpt from upthread that may be worth repeating here:

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Yes yes yes! I agree with everything you wrote @jamesclear Losing the ability to start with zero $ pledges is psychically so stressful to me that I am contemplating leaving Beeminder. It makes no sense to me. Beeminder WORKS for me as is. I don’t need an authority figure telling me that the way I use Beeminder is wrong, especially when I’m paying a hefty annual subscription fee to use it.

Here’s what I wrote @dreev:

I don’t want to cap pledges at $0. (He thought I wanted the even more expensive Beemium plan). I am totally fine with my pledge increasing to $5 if I derail. What I’m upset about is that that I can no longer set a $0 goal to start anymore, which I think should remain a feature. Especially for those of us in Bee Plus and above.

My reasons:

  1. It works for me. It allows me to be bold and experiment with my goal settings, knowing that if I derail, I can tweak my goal if necessary. If I have to set a $5 pledge to start, I’m going to set a super easy goal just so I don’t derail all over the place. This DEFEATS this purpose of Beeminder for me. For me, once the pledge turns to $5 after a derail, I take a moment to reflect on the experiment—do I keep this goal? Is it worth it to now be potentially charged after a derail? I have a whole lot more data now after derailing.
  2. It feels sus, like a money grab on Beeminder’s part, and it feels done in bad faith. I already pay a yearly subscription fee, even if I’m not using Beeminder much (I go through stages of use), and then I pay if I derail, but I don’t want to be derailing often. It would be far too expensive for me and too stressful, thus causing me to not use Beeminder except for overly safe goals. What if I’m experimenting with 15 goals? That’s a $75 derailment fee. I don’t think the app is worth that kind of $, especially because paying such high fees doesn’t work for motivating me. It’s has the opposite effect. I’ve always been more of a carrot than stick person, and that’s how I use Beeminder. Why shouldn’t I be allowed to use Beeminder in the way that it works for me (unless it’s just a money grab…., hence my cynicism).
  3. I’m not asking for zero pledge goals. Again, I don’t mind the pledge increasing when I derail. I’m just asking to be able to set $0 pledge goals to start that don’t automatically increase to $5 after a ridiculously short “feet wetting” time.

This whole thing has made me grumpy. I strongly encourage you to allow those of us who may a yearly subscription fee to be able to start with $0 pledge goals, as you have done in the past.


After some reflection, I’m really uncomfortable with these parts of your first post here, @jamesclear, which contains things about my goals which aren’t true (which may influence people because I’m the support czar, and suggest quite the opposite of what is true because they don’t see my correction). Could you add an edit to your post, please? Perhaps striking out those sections and adding a note linking to my correction, for transparency’s sake?

It’s just not true for any of my goals that I’ve made that progress without money at stake, and I’m not comfortable with you using me as an example to support your argument in this way. I understand that this was done in all innocence, without knowing how my goals are connected… but now that I’ve explained, please do make the correction to avoid misleading anyone. :slight_smile:

I’d also appreciate if you could correct the spelling of my name in your post; I spell it “Nicky”.

Thank you! :blue_heart:


@tierrabluebird I think it’s important to be frank about the “money grab” thing: Beeminder is a company, which has employees and contractors to pay, services and servers to pay for, etc, etc. So yes, when we make changes, often Danny and Bee do have an eye to how to improve Beeminder’s income, so they can keep on paying the support team, pay for the resources we need to keep on improving, etc, etc.

(As a disclaimer, I’m generally not involved in financial decisions except peripherally, e.g. sometimes suggesting something that seems to me to be a worrisome cost. As a result I’m not saying anything here that isn’t generally true, of any company providing a service.)

This is not to say that any of that is an emergency, because it’s something that companies have to think about all the time even when times are good. Costs don’t just stay static over time. (As I’m intimately aware: for most of my contracts, I get paid the same rate as I did in 2022 now in 2024, but my day-to-day cost of living has gone up quite a lot.) Software prices go up. Access to cheap plans gets cut. Workerbees need to be given fair compensation for what they do.

So… yes. It’s a “money grab”, in the sense that Beeminder needs funds (as any company with employees or contractors does), that need can increase over time, and we need to think about things which cost us a lot to support (like $0 goals), and how we can keep Beeminder sustainable for years to come. It’s a decision made with an eye to the cost of $0 goals (not for a specific user, but across the user-base), and also considering how we think Beeminder works for the majority of people, and congruent with the philosophy of Beeminder.

I don’t want anyone to think we’re arguing “oh noooo, it’s not about the money at alllllll”, because that would be disingenuous and obviously untrue, and that really would be cause to be incredibly cynical. Of course looking at how much $0 goals cost vs how much they benefit us is one of the factors in the decision.

There are also philosophical reasons, and reasons based on feedback, and based on the data gathered so far, so it’s not just about money – I’ve discussed some of that in a post above, and I’m sure Danny has shared thoughts already or would be happy to. But it’d be silly to pretend that money isn’t a factor in our decision-making, so I wanted to say a little about that. :slight_smile: Or, uh. Quite a lot about that, apparently!


I have no problem with developers making money. I want to support you! My issue is that this is a large $ increase, and I don’t think it’s justified by the service I’m receiving. BeePlus is $164 a year. That’s much more than I pay for more apps that provide more benefits. For instance, the Calm app has daily programming and it’s less than half that cost. Evernote is $70 a year and it’s far more complex and necessary to my life than Beeminder, etc.

So to me, the yearly subscription, hefty as it is, should suffice to form the bulk of Beeminder s income. Having to rely on derailments as a business model means you need to alter things to increase derailments. Which is exactly what happened with feet wetting mode. (And I get that derailments aren’t failures, but if they serve to make me LESS motivated to use Beeminder, they are having an opposite effect.)

I know plenty of people need more stick than carrot, but that’s not me. Beeminder was working great for me. It no longer is. I’m about to derail on a new, experimental goal and so I’m going to archive it instead of continue to play with it. That is very frustrating to me. I no longer want to experiment with any new goals.

I am taking the time to post this because I love Beeminder. I don’t use it consistently, but when I need accountability, it works. It doesn’t have a great UI, doesn’t integrate well with Apple Health in the way I want, and isn’t super easy to navigate. But it works. It just isn’t worth the yearly subscription fee plus $50-$75 of derailments a few times a year that will happen if I keep using Bee the way I am.

I’m also posting this because I disagree with what Dan wrote in the blog last month:
“And we said last time that we weren’t tampering with your existing $0 goals yet — that we were just trying this new feet-wetting mode idea as an experiment. Well, two weeks later there have been zero eyelashes batted over this. We think it’s a resounding success and are ready to make it universal, for old and new goals alike. This is part of the promised warning before doing so.”

It’s not a resounding success. Not to me. Not to a few others in the forum.

Thanks for listening. This is a hard conversation but I’m taking the time to write because I care about Beeminder and don’t want to stop using it.

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Would it be possible for you to augment your Beeminder use with something like https://www.stridesapp.com/? It is a IOS/Mac only app but it essentially is Beeminder without the stakes.

You could experiment with goals on that platform and when you figure out the goal rate that works for you, you can create a Beeminder goal for it.


This argument is, to be quite honest, part of why we probably regret ever introducing premium plans. We did an experiment where we tried to position them as the primary way people pay Beeminder – grandfathering in existing users – and we had to roll it back, because it clearly isn’t what people want. And it doesn’t even make sense for our core purpose, anyway: how does a yearly subscription directly relate to your success or not at completing your goals?

It doesn’t, and I think that’s reflected in the low success of offering premium plans.

The point of Beeminder is the pledge system, and having a premium plan (and trying to make that appealing enough to people that they’re willing to pay for it) is a distraction from Beeminder’s purpose.

The experiment revealed to us that the majority of our users aren’t interested in subscriptions, and so we’ve switched our focus back to the derailments. Over the longer term, we intend for there to be very little you’d want a higher subscription plan for. So really, we’d be interested in hearing what Bee Plus feature is indispensable for you – for example, if it’s autoratchet, that’s probably going to become a free feature once an underlying technical issue with the implementation is solved or mitigated. If it’s weekends off, then maybe beescheduler would answer your needs there. If it’s being able to make specific types of goals (like odometer goals), infinibee allows for that, and you can even upgrade temporarily, create the goal, and then downgrade again before you’re charged for the next month. If it’s unlimited goals, maybe infinibee is enough, or just relying on free goals from derailments and giving feedback.

(For long term users, it’s likely you’ll have more free goal slots without premium already than you are ever likely to use, unless you have things set up to never derail. I have 71 free goals available, for example.)

There are workarounds for many aspects of the premium plans, and if anything, that’s going to increase with our pledge-focused strategy – which, as I said, was arrived at by trying to see if enough people cared about premium, and they don’t. People aren’t willing to even sign up for Beeminder if they have to pay for premium, and you can bet that if we started moving core functions into the premium plans in order to make them more appealing while keeping some kind of free option available, existing users would think that was a scummy money grab too (with no guarantee it’d work to attract new users).

We definitely have sympathy for the fact that we’re going to effectively price some people out, and Danny’s offered the honey money option pretty widely – I think to everyone who has an affected $0 goal? – in order to help mitigate that… but in the end, making people pay for premium plans just isn’t where it’s at.

These aren’t decisions we just make on a whim, and nor does it make us happy to price someone out. But in all the users I speak to, I’ve spoken to five who vocally feel this is a bad idea (including yourself). From the rest, no complaints.

For context, of all the team, I probably spend the most time day-to-day speaking to users, since I take the largest proportion of the support shifts, and I also read every single email that gets tagged as feedback in our support inbox, and pretty much every post in this forum. Collating user feedback and taking the temperature of the user-base is a core part of what I do for Beeminder. This is not to say I’m infallible – Danny graciously avoids rubbing it in my face, but he’s been absolutely right about things I thought people would hate, like commitwall.

Still, generally, though I know Danny’s had some feedback in response to beemails and such that I haven’t seen, my experience is pretty representative. If I’m not hearing terrible rumblings, that’s usually indicative about the success of an experiment – there’s nothing in this world that will be such a success that no one will complain at all!

From that, I think Danny is entirely correct in saying that it’s a resounding success. That’s not to say everyone loves it, but that’s not the definition of success from Beeminder’s perspective.

I don’t know if any of this helps – it seems like what you want is not explanations about this choice and why we think it’s the right one, but just some way, any way, that will preserve the status quo for you exactly as it is at the exact price it is, because that works for you. We definitely understand that desire! And maybe there’s a sound business decision we can make that will chart a path between will work for you personally and what works for Beeminder as a business and for other users as well; I hope there is.

On that front, we’re listening, and there are things it would be useful to hear in order for us to think that through (questions coming in a second). But… ultimately, there is no change that will make everyone happy, and also keep Beeminder growing, so sometimes tough choices are made, so I’m not promising any kind of u-turn here, or any kind of bespoke personal plan. I just want to make sure we’re exploring the options.

As for those questions:

  • What is about Bee Plus that you can’t do without?
  • Is there something about Infinibee that you can’t do without?
  • If you could drop down to a free plan and only pay via derailments, without losing functionality, would that reconcile you to the feet-wetting plan?
  • If you kept Bee Plus, would you ever be happy with an automatic increase to $5 if it happened after a longer period (2 weeks, a month, etc), or are you opposed to the entire ideal in principle no matter how long the feet-wetting period is?
  • If starting at $0 and staying there until you derail was in the Beemium plan, would you pay for that? That plan is where inherently unbeemindery things (like having no money at stake indefinitely) go, so if we were to introduce an exception, it’d likely be in that tier. Of course, that tier is also inherently and intentionally expensive, and will never become less so.
  • Is there any amount of honey money (so that your $5 derailments don’t cost you anything anyway) that could ever reconcile you to starting at $5 instead of $0?

Ok that makes so much more sense to ! I had no idea that subscriptions weren’t the core part of your business model. I thought most users were on a subscription plan, which is why it felt icky to have that plus derailments as a charge.

I don’t need much out of the BeePlus Plan, just infinite goals (and $0 starting pledges), but if I can set infinite goals (and cap my pledges), I’d be ok with starting with $5 initial pledges, as long as I wasn’t paying an annual subscription too. I don’t need Beemium—I do want there to be a mild threat at the end of derailment.

Thanks for your patience in taking the time to talk through all of this.


Yeah this is a problem. For example (and though it’s the opposite problem this thread is talking about) the reason BM makes you start with $5 goals or whatever (vs letting you start with a higher amount) is they don’t want it to be “too” motivating, because then you’ll never fail and they’ll never get any derailments.

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I think if you view derailments as demotivating, you are missing the point of beeminder.

If you derail it’s because you missed something, and you deserve to be punished for it.

Punishment shouldn’t be demotivating… it can be annoying and frustrating, but that annoyance and frustration should spark YOU to BE BETTER.

it took me awhile to adopt this mindset, but the founders are right that viewing your beeminder as a “tax/payment on getting the outcome you want” is the right way to look at it.

you might benefit from some deep journaling. asking yourself, how much would you TRULY pay for some of these outcomes that you want in your life from beeminding?

everything you talked about wanting - how you prefer to have $0 at stake at first to test out, this desire can completely derive from having a small amount of $5 at stake. how many goals are you testing per week that one $5 derail would be so harmful ?

if you are more of a carrot than a stick person, then why don’t you just beemind giving yourself a reward whenever you do x ?

I’ve actually implemented this recently by creating a beeminder called stockbuyingreward where I buy a small amount of stock if I completed all my beeminders for the day


Motivation is complex and highly individualized. That’s why behaviorist principles work better for individuals than when administered to groups. By definition, punishments are supposed to stop a behavior. They are supposed to be demotivating: getting punished should extinguish a behavior. But what constitutes punishment varies by the individual. For me, derailing is a sufficient punishment, as long as the stakes aren’t onerous. Just the idea of not meeting a goal that I’ve set (with a little bit of financial consequence) is sufficient to keep me working on my goal.

For me, if there’s no wiggle room or experimental room, then I play super conservatively. Again, because derailing at all is a sufficient punishment for me. And by definition, people avoid punishment. I know this is different for other people. Setting a five dollar goal is not a big deal for most. But it is for me. And I only want to up my steaks for behaviors that I truly care about however, I like the experimental room to explore different behaviors and find them.

And no, I don’t want to Beemind rewards. That’s not how Beeminder works for me.

Again, this is all highly individualized. I wrote my original post because Beeminder was working very well as is for me, and since I pay a yearly subscription fee (that included the feature of starting with $0 pledge goals), I didn’t want that feature taken away because I know my own psychology and was concerned Beeminder would no longer work for me.


The bottom line is you pay BM a subscription for a service, where the service is (as Danny has said elsewhere) is “being awesome” and achieving your goals. If that’s working for you, great. I don’t think you should have to be shoe horned into using a different way because the team decided pledge payments are better than subscription payments.

I’d guess (the only variable would be support, and if you’re doing $0 goals and not derailing much I can’t imagine the support costs are that high) that the cost of providing you with this service is way lower than the $164 annually you’re paying. That’s how SAAS works.

To me – when you have customers who are getting value from your product and bringing in more reoccurring revenue than costs – it’s a mistake to tinker with the fundamental value proposition (specifically by making it less valuable), whether it’s because of a company wide philosophy of what revenue should look like or something else. That or else BM needs to get better at price discrimination, so you can continue to use it in a way that provides value to you and and profit to BM, without being driven away.

I’m inclined to think BM is underrating a bit how powerful (privileged?) it is to be the person that gets the money when you don’t achieve your goals. It’s not like the users care who the derailment money goes to. I’d prob prefer it went to give directly or something (yeah you can say you might derail more if the money goes to a good cause, but the same argument applies to the Beeminder folks being nice people). To me, in a competitive market where more people understand the value of commitment contracts, I could see something like the first $25 of failed pledges per month going to the company (for costs/profit/opp cost of founders), then the rest going to charity (or donated to a political candidate you don’t support or something). I think this could hold especially true as multi modal LLMs makes it easier/cheaper to verify goals or handle support. Does this mean a lot of people would never pay anything? Yeah!

As long as BM keeps the pledges, I’d expect the Pareto principle to apply here like it does anywhere else, where 20% of users bring in 80% of revenue. Yes having things like $0 goals or the ability to set pledges initially to whatever you want, or no lifetime plan saves some nickels and dimes, but BM’s main revenue will come from the type of user who is ultra rational/views it as a cost on bad behavior/recognizes the very high value of the goals they’re achieving and sees occasionally derailing as part of the deal/is motivated by high pledges but still derails sometimes etc. I think it’s a mistake to try to force all your customers (esp profitable ones) into that one archetype, whether telling them via blog posts that “derailing is not failing” or turning off awesome inducing features.