It seems like they designed their product well to counter known cognitive biases. I'll be giving it a try with some things I'd like to do more of and form habits around.
http://weusethat.com -- http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4357348
http://gmailzero.com -- http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4107004
Portland Seed Fund -- http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2447641
Seriously though, excited to have you try us out! We're still pretty new and eager for feedback. We know we have a long way to go in terms of friendliness of the site.
I don't like this idea. Doesn't it encourage them to get you off-track? It becomes an incentive for the company to move against the very goal that it was created for.
Sure, but if they actually did so they would quickly lose customers. You have to trust that the system is helping before you would buy into it.
The service is based on the pain of losing being a more powerful motivator than the pleasure of gaining something new (when the reward and loss are of equal value).
When I first learned of the bias (it is listed with a few similar motivational tricks in The 4-Hour Body) a very basic version of this type of service immediately popped into my head, I'm glad to see someone ran with it. I hope they're very successful, it is a cool project and kind of turns traditional income techniques on their head.
[?] What happens to the money when you derail? Beeminder gets it. We hope you'll view it as a fair fee for the service, that happens to be waived if you never go off track. If you'd rather the money go to charity we highly recommend RunOrElse.
If you feel more motivated knowing that a greater percentage of your money would go to charity you might try Stickk.com, if you would be more motivated with none of your money going to charity at all you should check out Beeminder.com