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Yep, I pay Beeminder when I fail! As I see it, it's a mutually beneficial arrangement: Beeminder gets an incentive to keep operating, and I get an incentive to do whatever it was I just dropped the ball on. Maybe I'd feel differently if Beeminder were a huge, super-profitable company, but they're a tiny niche product that is ridiculously valuable to me and I have no problem rewarding them for that.

The company making money when you fail a goal doesn't sound very mutually beneficial.

Take a look at what they've written on their site when you have time; it's more thought out than you might expect.

The gist is that they make money by a) selling a monthly subscription to give you more options and features, and b) charging you the amounts too small to motivate you so you can get up to the amounts that you take seriously.

They've set up their pricing so that you will pay half of the motivating amount to find the motivating amount, e.g., you might lose $5+10+30 over three weeks in order to find out that the threat of paying $90 motivates you. They argue that most people would never feel that $90 threat without experiencing the first $45 of losses because they'd either not sign up for $90 right away or cancel quickly since they hadn't sunk anything into the program.

Their more experienced users pay the monthly premium to skip the first few weeks of penalties and make progress faster since they already know the level of financial risk that motivates them. They also let you adjust the number down since circumstances and habits can change your ideal wager.

do you have any particular blogposts in mind that go into details of what you explained here?

They've written a lot. I suggest the early essays on akrasia.

I guess all I can say to this is that Beeminder has been worth many, many times what I've paid them (hence the evangelism), and I've paid them quite a lot. You might worry about perverse incentives, but they're going to make a lot more money by creating happy customers like me than by somehow tricking their users into failure for a one-time cashout.

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