# Dog Food Renewed

Sunday, November 13, 2011
By bsoule

Half a year ago, with Beeminder in its infancy, we committed to averaging one User-Visible Improvement (UVI) to Beeminder every day for at least the next six months. That contract has been insanely valuable to us.

#### “Losing momentum is the most dangerous thing that can happen to a startup.”

Lately it’s been a no-brainer (though still really nice to log our progress publicly) but there was a period when we were scraping the bottom of the barrel for UVIs in order to stay on the yellow brick road. It’s clear they wouldn’t have happened without that kick in the pants and losing momentum like that is the most dangerous thing that can happen to a startup. In fact, we were inspired to make our UVI commitment by Paul Graham’s essay “How Not to Die” in which he suggests that if you could just fully commit yourself to not giving up, your chances of success would be 90%. “I’m not kidding,” he adds.

We’ll take those odds. So we’re hereby renewing that contract and making some others public as well…

### New dog food! Now with more fiber for regularity!

Here’s how we’re bettering Beeminder. If we go off track on any of the following graphs, the first user to claim the prize in the comments of this blog post, will get the spoils. [1]

#### beeminder.com/meta/uvi ($1000) See above. We do whatever Paul Graham says to do to eleven. #### beeminder.com/meta/blog ($810)

We hope you like our blog, because you’re getting more of it. We think it keeps us honest, or at least it keeps us talking. Hopefully our commitment to publish (and our sparkling wit and literary genius) will keep you reading.

#### beeminder.com/apb/beetime ($10) D/meta, B/meta, and Apb/beetime are our graphs of how much time each of us spend building Beeminder. We get a ton of value out of beeminding our Beeminder building, and now we’re getting even more(less) value out of it by promising the spoils to you (instead of to ourselves). We had an incentive problem there that this solves neatly. UPDATE: Melanie paid$5 to Molybdenumblue on 2011 Dec 30 for beeminder.com/mo/meta. She now has $10 at risk on that goal. UPDATE: Melanie later coughed up the$10 and the $30. (I believe no one caught the$10 but kohath got her $30.) UPDATE: Another$30 to kohath! Melanie now has $90 at stake! UPDATE:$90 paid to Stefan Bloch for Melanie’s road on 2012 Sep 23.
UPDATE: We’re swapping out Melanie for Andy who will bump up his pledge as soon as we add a feature to do that! [Done.]
UPDATE: $270 to Henrik Wist on 2013 Apr 12 for beeminder.com/meta/blog. Now$810 at stake!

## Footnotes

[1] Fine print: The first person to leave a comment here outing us as officially off the yellow brick road, gets the money. If there’s a red dot below the road that means we have until midnight eastern that night to reach the bottom edge or we cough it up. The usual Beeminder rules apply: any changes are allowed as long as they are outside the Akrasia Horizon of one week. The money shown as “pledged” is the amount you’ll win. This varies among the above graphs.

UPDATE: After a ridiculous close call, we’re updating the fine print! We were in Portland on an emergency UVI day, did the UVI, then had to run off to various Important Things all day. We got back around 9pm, which OMG! is midnight eastern time! And we hadn’t yet tweeted the UVI! So there were some number of minutes when you totally could’ve called us out on that $1000. (And, for the record, we were absolutely ready to pay it if you had.) We like having stricter rules for these dog food contracts, but from now on let’s keep it more in line with the rules you all are subject to: you have to wait for the actual skull and crossbones on the graph to claim the money. And we have till midnight local time, wherever we happen to be, to actually get the work done. It’s too easy to forget about time zone differences otherwise. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , • Satadru You’re off the road! • sat Just kidding. I’m enjoying following your progress. • http://beeminder.com Daniel Reeves Ridiculously, my heart actually raced a little when I saw your first comment! As you can see from our revenue graphs, we’re not quite to the point where$1000 is pocket change. In fact, we’re just now about to cross $1000 as the total amount pledged on Beeminder. Not including from ourselves, of course. And not counting things like this from our private beta period: http://blog.beeminder.com/gym • http://blog.oddhead.com/?=crumb Dave are the beeminder revenue graphs public? (insatiably curious, but understood & no worries if not) • http://beeminder.com Daniel Reeves I guess we’re too shy to link to them here but if you click around you can find them. As you’ll see (if you’re sufficiently curious) it’s just a trickle, but the fact that it seems to be a *steady* trickle has us hopeful that it’s just a matter of time before we turn it into a stream. Per some famous advice from Paul Buchheit, we’re focusing first on making a small number of users insanely happy. • Anonymous Good strategy. I may have to start doing the “user visible improvements” thing with the games I make. • Melanie Point us to your graph if you make one! • jmccoh Update your Blog Post graph before someone else tries to claim your 270 bucks. Luckily I’m a nice guy and I’ll just donate it back to you for the use of your great site. Never mind • http://beeminder.com Daniel Reeves Donate it back? That defeats the whole point of a commitment device! (Imagine me yelling this in a german accent like Dr Strangelove explaining about doomsday devices.) • jmccoh Then get rid of that donate button. Well that’s really two totally different topics. Great site by the way – keep evolving it. • Molybdenumblue bmndr.com/mo/meta is off the road and I claim my$5.

• http://beeminder.com Daniel Reeves

Paid! (via paypal; let me know if something else is easier; I think WePay is quite good, for example)

• http://beeminder.com Melanie Reeves Wicklow

Good catch!  You probably noticed I was cutting it really close for a bit there.  Only 17 minutes would have put me on the road last night, but I literally couldn’t keep my eyes open to do it.  You earned my $5! • http://facebook.com/paul.fenwick Paul I’m not sure what timezone https://www.beeminder.com/mo/meta is in. I expected NYC time, which means by my clock Melanie is off the road. However if Melanie is in another timezone, or I’m reading the graph correctly, then there might be a few hours left. :) • http://beeminder.com Daniel Reeves Hmm, the fine print does say NYC time, though Melanie’s time zone is California (pacific), which would give her till 3am eastern. Wait, as I was typing that she showed up online and started responding to customer emails. :) I’m not sure what’s most fair given the fine print there. If anyone wants to chime in with an opinion, we’ll definitely listen. My inclination is to go with her own time zone and maybe even update the fine print such that the same rules apply to us as to Beeminder users: namely, we have at least till 3am in our own time zone to get the data entered. In other words, you wouldn’t be able to claim our money until there’s a skull and crossbones on the graph. To keep it nailed down in the meantime though, let’s say this: the current fine print stands (you can claim the money at midnight NYC) except for Melanie, who has till midnight pacific. That’s clearly what she thought the rule was and we have a policy of leniency in the case of legitimate confusion about the rules. Sound good? Now let’s see if Melanie comes in under the wire in 90 minutes… • http://facebook.com/paul.fenwick Paul Sounds fair to me! Plus, it gives us a possible improvement for @beemuvi:twitter : Show the time in the user’s timezone on each beeminder graph. :) • jmccoh Is she costing you guys money or is she paying her own way when she’s a slacker? • http://beeminder.com Daniel Reeves She coughs it up herself. Wouldn’t be much of a commitment device if Beeminder paid it for her! :) Melanie is my sister, btw. • jmccoh I guessed you could be related due to the similarity in the names. Further guessed probably your sister and because of which you could be guilted in to taking care of her – like coughing up the cash when she fails to live up to the commitments she makes. I have younger siblings. • http://beeminder.com Daniel Reeves Check out the update to the fine print. You better not have held back on calling us out that day out of some misguided sense of mercy! :) • Paul I had actually been checking carefully that day to see if you were going to miss the deadline. I got busy with my own things, and when I went back to check twitter I realised there was a tiny window during which I could have called it, but figured that since you were back on the road, that window had passed. This, boys and girls, is why you should program bots to do all the important things for you. :) • Paul And no, no sense of mercy here. I assume that if I don’t call you on the$1000 prize, then someone else will— the same end-result for you folks, but less personal benefit for me. :)

• Tom loyal

You appear to be off the road on UVI.

• Tom L.

Mea culpa,  I missed the fine print. look forward to seeing the new improvement

Melanie is off the yellow brick road

• http://beeminder.com Melanie Reeves Wicklow

Thanks for paying such close attention!  However, I have until the skull and crossbones actually appear, so I’m in the clear!  I have until midnight pacific (I’m on west coast) to complete my time for today.  Keep checking in case I fall asleep at the computer though, I *am* cutting it close. :-)

• http://beeminder.com Daniel Reeves

yeah, for anyone confused by this, note the update to the fine print. btw, the alluded to “day in Portland” and “Important Things all day” was when we came out to interview for Portland Seed Fund, which we just blogged about now that it’s official: http://blog.beeminder.com/beehive

• Linda Moss
• Linda Moss

(Ah, just read the updated fine print. So the first person to post AFTER MIDNIGHT, if you haven’t updated by then gets it, and mine doesn’t count? Ah, phooey.)

• Linda Moss

Oops, didn’t notice it was sorted oldest first, (and thus there were far more recent comments than what I was looking at when I posted.

Slinking off to go back to working at my OWN job now… =^D

• http://beeminder.com Daniel Reeves

We’re delighted that people are paying such close attention! We’re fine with the false alarms. In fact, if you check out the comments from a few months ago you’ll notice that there was a brief window when we would’ve paid up the $1000 if someone had posted a comment. I’d say at this point there’s less than a 1% chance that you’ll find us off the road at the stroke of midnight tonight. But 1% of$1000 might make it worth your while to make a habit of checking every night. :)

• Linda Moss

Looks like you’re still off the road? (But there’s a “-1″ instead of a skull). =^)

• Linda Moss

Oh, I see, it’s that you made yesterday’s in the nick of time, and are still under the wire for today. (the -1 thing is confusion. It seems “0″ should be off the road and need to update by midnight; “-1″ should mean you’re past that point. Or maybe that’s just me)

• http://beeminder.com Daniel Reeves
• http://beeminder.com Daniel Reeves

(I wasn’t sure if it was kosher for me to claim Melanie’s $10 but she’s about to reset and everyone else seems to have missed it. I figure it’s better for me to claim it than to give the impression that this offer has expired or anything.) (Note also the$270 at stake on us publishing a new blog post by the end of the day today!)

• Muke

Melanie appears to be off the road.

• http://beeminder.com Daniel Reeves

She does indeed! Looks like you just made $30! Can you email support so we have your email address for paypaling? (Or we could try wepay or dwolla or something better.) • Muke Done! Keep up the work! • Muke C’mon Melanie! You’re falling off again! Keep fighting! • http://beeminder.com Daniel Reeves Another$30 to Muke. Just paypal’d it!

• Muke

Awesome!

• ValiantLucy

• ValiantLucy

Re: UVIs

• http://beeminder.com Daniel Reeves

@54492134f53b689ee024753b1939a275:disqus It’s actually just an “emergency day” today! We have till midnight tonight to get our UVI. When the skull and crossbones appear on the graph that means we’ve officially derailed. Delighted that people are keeping an eye on us!

• Stefan
• http://beeminder.com Melanie Reeves Wicklow

Sorry, just seeing this, but I had forgotten to enter data last night after a non-stop day. I did 20 minutes in the morning and assumed I’d do more later, but never did and then forgot to enter it. I entered it this morning and was unfrozen.

• http://beeminder.com Daniel Reeves

Wait, no, this is no good! A deal’s a deal and we spelled it out in the fine print. Stefan saw the skull and crossbones so I’m paypal’ing him the $90. I’ll duke it out with my sister later. :) • Stefan No, wait! If the work was done, I don’t want the money. And the plan was to get it in the form a beeminder subscription or “pledge schedule jump gift card” instead of cash. • http://beeminder.com Daniel Reeves Ok, duking it out with both Stefan and Melanie. :) I already paypal’d you last night, Stefan. And perhaps we’ll take Melanie off of this dogfood contract (she’s only at 2 hours/week now, which, as Paul Fenwick pointed out it in http://blog.beeminder.com/habits , makes it hard to get in the habit of staying on track!). But in the meantime, what it says in the above blog post goes, and that’s cash money, not credits or anything! • Daniel Reeves Ok, I’m claiming Melanie’s$90 myself this time! We still need to keep things reasonably frugal here… :)

• http://beeminder.com Melanie Reeves Wicklow

crap! I just did 40 minutes of work, sincerely thinking today was my eep! day and then went to my graph to enter my data only to see skull and crossbones. WTH! I could have swore the text for emergency day came this morning, but I looked at my texts and it was yesterday. I really need more than one text on emergency days. It’s true that this is too infrequent for me right now for it to be a habit. I’m relying on notifications and even those are getting lost in my busy shuffle.

• Stefan

Heads up: Melanie is of the road ( beeminder.com/mo/meta ) unless she uses the 3 am loophole.

• http://beeminder.com Daniel Reeves

Thanks Stefan! But if the email/sms bot and android/iphone apps aren’t enough to remind us to keep from derailing, that’s probably a lesson we should be learning the hard way! :)

In any case, Melanie said she got the 12 minutes or whatever in by midnight so as not to officially derail according to our fine print here.

But she’s making me very nervous!

• http://beeminder.com Daniel Reeves

I’m claiming Melanie’s $90 again! And I think we’ll swap Melanie out for Andy in this deal now… • http://twitter.com/PaulHobbs23 Paul Hobbs You’re off the road! • http://twitter.com/reimeuk Thomas Powell UVI is derailed. I (reifi) claim my$1000 :D

My user id is phobbs. This was for UVI obviously.

Wow… two of us sitting by the keyboard. Who gets it?

Hey, your post is timestamped at 4:59. That’s 1 whole minute before the countdown finished :P

• http://beeminder.com Daniel Reeves

Ooh, this was a close call! But notice the updated fine print: the rule is midnight in the timezone we’re in, which is now pacific. It’s 9pm here and we just tweeted our emergency UVI for today. http://twitter.com/beemuvi

• http://beeminder.com Daniel Reeves

(see reply to Thomas Powell) (delighted that people are paying attention!)

I clicked send right as the clock hit zero…

Right you are. Just remember that we’re watching you :P

Actually this timezone thing means i won’t have to get up at 5am to comment so that is better.

I think it would be a good idea to split the money if multiple people comment within a minute of derailing. After all, i assume the idea is to get people to watch your progress not reward the fastest reflexes of button clicking.

• Nathan Donaldson

Melanie seems to be derailed: https://www.beeminder.com/mo/meta

• http://beeminder.com Daniel Reeves

It’s true! But note the most recent update after coughing up a total of $150 or so for Melanie: “We’re swapping out Melanie for Andy who will bump up his pledge as soon as we add a feature to do that!” • http://twitter.com/davidjmcgee David McGee Cutting that one pretty damn close, huh? ;) • Karlson Pfannschmidt Has Melanie derailed on her goal: https://www.beeminder.com/mo/goals/meta or was it a mistake? • http://beeminder.com Daniel Reeves Hey Karlson! Not a mistake and we’re delighted that you’re watching closely but notice our last update where we swapped out Melanie for Andy. So Melanie coughed up$90 on this one (again!) but it’s no longer one of the graphs we pay out on here. Sorry for the confusion on that!

• Karlson Pfannschmidt

Ah, yes I was confused about that one.

Thanks for clearing it up.

• Thomas Powell

Bizy Bee off the road @ https://www.beeminder.com/b/goals/meta. I (reifi) claim my $90. • Thomas Powell https://www.beeminder.com/b/goals/meta is off road. I (reifi) claim my$90

• http://beeminder.com Daniel Reeves

Ha, nice catch! But looking at the fine print (“you have to wait for the actual skull and crossbones on the graph to claim the money. And we have till midnight local time, wherever we happen to be, to actually get the work done.”) I think Bethany eked by here. The countdown did hit zero at midnight pacific, but she had done the work (barely) and it was just a matter of re-syncing her TagTime log to make it show up on the graph.

On the other hand, it’s going to be super touch-and-go again tonight so stay tuned! :)

• Thomas Powell

You are indeed correct. Evidently my reading comprehension immediately after waking up isn’t so hot. Sadly, being 3 hours later means I can no longer use checking for the dog food money as a free un-snoozable alarm clock.

• Daiko

O no, you’re in the red and off the road for blogging- you have only 10 hours to get in the right! D:

• http://jhwist.tumblr.com/ Henrik Wist

Derailed on the blog post, it seems.

• http://beeminder.com Daniel Reeves

I missed your first question before: that $1000 contract predates our ingenius pledge schedule! :) If we cough that one up then we’ll go to the next official level ($2430) like everyone else. Well, “everyone”. One person has ever gone that high. But the point is, yes, we’re very into dog food! We don’t even give ourselves “employee discounts” on premium plans or anything. We use Beeminder the same way everyone else does.

• http://beeminder.com Daniel Reeves

We have a winner! $270 to Henrik! Let us know your preferred way to receive money. (Paypal is most convenient for us, as much as we dislike them.) We’re up to$810 at stake on the blog graph now. Exciting!

• Aerinx

Careful careful, almost out. Claiming it if it goes that way. :P

• Aerinx

I see a red dot there. Are you off the road?

• http://beeminder.com Daniel Reeves

Red dot means it’s an emergency day. We have to get the work done by midnight (like tweeting the UVI at http://twitter.com/beemuvi !) but you have to wait till the skull and crossbones appear to claim the bounty. Stay tuned!

• Aerinx

I’ll try to claim it in time, however there is one thing that I don’t understand, I’m new to the site and I’ve been reading through the posts and blogs devouring the interesting information and reflexions on this problem. I suffer this problem but I’ve never used any commitment machine on myself.

The thing I don’t understand:

“If we cough that one up then we’ll go to the next official level (\$2430) like everyone else. Well, “everyone”. One person has ever gone that high. But the point is, yes, we’re very into dog food! We don’t even give ourselves “employee discounts” on premium plans or anything. We use Beeminder the same way everyone else does.”

Does everyone else have the option to rectify and go into the road after the skull appears? I thought that’s not the way it works, but then I am new and have not yet make any pledge.

• http://beeminder.com Daniel Reeves

Once the skull and crossbones appear you have to pledge money to unfreeze and try again. We hold ourselves to the same rules!

Oh, hey, while I’m at it, let me pimp our latest place to nerd out about Beeminder: http://reddit.com/r/beeminder

• Aerinx

Claiming it now :P

• Aerinx

Mine, mine mine :)

• Aerinx

I refreshed now to see it didn’t went trough, Congrats :P

• Aerinx

What I meant was that waiting until midnight on the day it goes off is not a feature for every user, or is it? You should either implement it for everyone or stop using special rules. Of course I would never think you would for today, but think about it. The problem would be how to track it. A way to implement it that comes to my mind would be to be able to define the time it takes for the skull to come after you are in the red without the need to mess with local times, give yourself another 12-24h to get back on track.
If you need that last day impulse to finish things you should be counting on that the day before or implement it in the system.

Another thing I’ve found looking at your UVI graph is that readability becomes hard when the graph goes for long time, isn’t there a way to zoom the graph?

I’m not sure that I want to private myself of the freedom to overcome my flaws and accomplish what I want on my own free will. I don’t want to be chained. Lately I’ve been more aware of my problem and I have been improving, the tool is a good way to track progress anyways, could you recommend any similar tools to track progress without penalties attached? I know it is not what you are working towards, but I would only use something that privates me of freedom (to success or to fail on my own) as the last recourse.

Curiously enough, rather than helping me to get rid of the problem, using this would make it impossible to overcome it, since I would never be able to change my behavior, I would always be dependent on this to do anything. I mean, if you only need it in one facet of your life it is ok to use it to accomplish that one goal, but you will never evolve if you use it for everything.