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That's right, this is a dog dressed as a bee -- got a problem with that?

[UPDATE: The new place for calling the Beeminder founders out when they derail on their meta goals is in the Beeminder forum.]

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.

Beeminder guarantees one user-visible improvement per day

“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/b/meta ($270)

beeminder.com/d/meta ($270)

D/meta and B/meta 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.] [2013-12-04: Removing Andy again.]
UPDATE: $270 to Henrik Wist on 2013 Apr 12 for beeminder.com/meta/blog. Now $810 at stake!
UPDATE: $90 to Lincoln Quirk on 2013 Aug 15 for beeminder.com/b/meta. Now at $270.
UPDATE: $90 to Patrick Whitaker on 2013 Aug 27 for beeminder.com/d/meta. Now at $270.
UPDATE: $1000 to Henrik Wist on 2013 Dec 3 for beeminder.com/meta/uvi. Another $1000 at stake; derailment story in addendum to our 1000 Days of UVIs article.

UPDATE 2015: The new place for calling the Beeminder founders out when they derail on their meta goals is in the Beeminder forum.



[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 2012: 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.

UPDATE 2013: You don’t have to wait for skull and crossbones anymore, since those are going away anyway. Claiming the bounty at midnight is fine.