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Show HN: Sink or Ship - ship your project in time, or else... (sinkorship.com)
94 points by richerd on Apr 27, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 40 comments

There's no way I'd pledge to pay a significant enough amount of money to motivate me to some random people who hacked together a fairly simple app.

On the other hand, I would consider pledging the money to a charity, and giving a small cut to service that facilitates it.

Totally agreed. I've been working on a project that uses a similar model. You get charged a small fee for not meeting a certain requirement, and anything above what is needed to keep the site running goes to charity. (Ends up being about 95% to charity).

Also, there is gym-pact.com, which disburses your money to others who do meet their workout requirements.

Hey Tom!

The app doesn't work this way (pledge money). It's simply a tweet scheduler which charges $5 to make changes every time.

I understood that, maybe my terminology was wrong, but you effectively pledge to pay $5 every time your schedule slips.

I'm not sure $5 is enough motivation, and if it were significantly more I'd start to question why I was giving this money to the developers of this app, rather than someone more deserving, like the users who are missing out on using the product, or a charity.

You have a point.

- $5 is our first attempt on finding the right balance for most people where they would be motivated and wouldn't cheat.

- We definitely thought of giving the money to charity. But we would be more inclined to use the resource to do something really interesting (more or less along the lines with "giving it to someone more deserving"), hopefully to build up a "community of shippers" in long term.

Although it's oriented to individuals, not companies or groups, Stickk.com sounds a bit like what you're looking for.

Starting is easy, shipping is hard.

I have a folder on my computer with a number of unfinished/unshipped projects. We created Sink or Ship to address the problem of following though and shipping what you started.


I love the idea and the execution! Well done. It's more of a novelty than a business but still very impressive.

Thank you! p.s: I'm the other guy who started this project.

Looks good, but should "What to make changes" be "Want to make changes"?

Did you ship on time?

Sadly no, I had to adjust the ship time. bearwithclaws is now $5 richer. But we shipped!

I just thought that people might like the idea more if 70% of their penalty went to a hacker-friendly cause (EFF or maybe charity:water).

Then it's less of a "we are going to love it so much every time you fail" feeling. More jovial and positive, less opportunist.

Great idea, instantly reminded me of 'Lose It or Lose It' which is the same concept but for weight loss (loseitorloseit.com). Putting money on the line is always a great motivator.

Whenever you get some completed projects it would be cool if there was a gallery to check them out.

The gallery ("Shipyard", anyone?) is a great idea (there were others here who suggested this too). We might be able to do it.

Even more interesting would be to have a gallery of all pledged projects. That would be interesting alternative to Betalist/Betabait - filtering the startups who are far enough with progress to bet own cash on launch.

We did a startup that used the same model in stopping online procrastination: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2268710, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fuc0_ZMQ4P8 and our competitor in productivity space blogged about us :http://blog.beeminder.com/timecarrot/. My experience is that, it is really hard to build a business model around behavioral economics, be it weight loss, quitting smoking, or anything else. Based on the data I have seen, people who will think they need commitment device are also sophisticated enough to know that they might fail, hence won't signup. In the end, you always end up serving significantly smaller number of consumers than you have initially assumed.

i just pledged my upcoming game project

try this addon feature : create a "gallery" of to-be released projects (don't need to reveal title/details due to secrecy). Possible candidate:

"@ashtonkutcher just pledged a secret project, $5000 to charity if he fails by 10th May. Watch progress here"

Just to be clear... the company makes money only if their customers fail. Considering we fail more than we succeed, that might work out good!

Although, I can see a $1 charge for the tweet as a marketing fee so you make SOME money if the planets align and the product ships.

So what happens if I unlink the app from my Twitter account before you auto-tweet?

Also, it doesn't say how much it'd cost if I don't ship in time, just "Free if you ship it in time. Pay $5 only when you want to make changes." -- what if I don't ship in time and I don't make changes?

Cool idea, though :)

Then you beat the system :) but then why pledge yourself in the first place?

I would consider this if the proceeds go to a charity (at least partially).

thats a great idea. We are just testing the concept out right and scratching our own itch/problem. Figured $5 was the simplest thing we could do to start.

First, I agree with "partially", since the authors should be reimbursed for making this, probably took some time, and the payment is so small.

As for the charity, it should obviously go to further research into procrastination disorders :)

Amazing concept, great name. It's the insurance model flipped upside down. Or just "Insurance from your own laziness".

Thank you! To us it's more like "extra kick to get over the hump".

This mentality will just encourage fire drills and burnout.

It does nothing towards improving core problems of software development lifecycle planning issues.

I would suggest reading a book like Peopleware, before embarking on public shame or penalties as solutions. These band-aids are almost always self-imposed, and they almost never work.

This mentality will just encourage fire drills and burnout.

The truth is, we don't know yet. And we definitely didn't try to solve/improve software development lifecycle/plannings.

We built this for people like us: bunch of friends working on fun projects and trying to get it out of the door.

I don't know if a constant $5-per-infraction is really enough to spur people (e.g., me) along. How about going exponential, ala Beeminder[1]?

[1] https://www.beeminder.com/money

No point in making it too elaborate. You can always just disconnect the app so it can't auto-tweet for you if you regret.

Nice idea. Similar to something I've considered recently: an email client concept that would charge postage for every message sent with proceeds going to charity. Might cut down on inbox overload.

(Just kidding): this incentivizes sinkorship trying to sink everyone else's projects :oP Maybe they'll start organising startup WoW guilds...

For these types of sites that offer negative reinforcement by donating to the charity of choice, I wonder how much a stronger an incentive it would be to donate to a cause the user is against rather than one of their choosing (e.g., donate to the presidential candidate you don't support).

This would be a good idea if the announcement came with the extra cachet of being on time. For example, you could agree to socially promote projects that ship on time, and remove such promotion if it slips. This would need to be curated, though, and so an expensive service (perhaps $50?)

I thought that you were more likely to achieve goals if you hadn't told people about it? http://www.ted.com/talks/derek_sivers_keep_your_goals_to_you...

I think it would also be cool to link your projects (shipped or failed) to some type of karma system. This way you can show your scars and your successes. Maybe even target the karma report for VCs.

Maybe you could use most of the money to invest in kickstarter-type projects, who in turn use sinkorship with much higher costs for not shipping, creating a loop of funding

We had a few ideas on how to iterate from here. a kick-starter model is something we considered, but wanted to start with something really small for people to try out first.

i like it - very simple - a little social pressure goes a long way.

I would increase the first amount exponentially for each change, also make first amount adjustable..

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