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a bee with the inscription 'bee free'


[UPDATE 2016-03-25: This whole post is completely obsolete! That’s a wonderful thing. We made everything simpler and better. In short, all goals can now start at $0 pledged and there’s no need for a concept of freebees at all. So don’t read on except out of historical interest!]


So many changes lately to freebees and adding pledges to goals! First, for those who haven’t read our glossary cover to cover, a freebee is a goal with an initial pledge of $0. Which means the first derailment is free. [1] You get a few such goals that you can use before ever giving Beeminder your credit card. If you derail, the graph freezes and you can’t continue with that goal until you put your money where your mouth is and agree to be charged $5 if you derail again. (If you never do go off track again you never actually pay anything.)

Creating Goals (Using Up Freebees)

The point of freebees is to let you get hooked on beeminding before having to enter a credit card. But we’ve found that veteran Beeminder users often have a lot of value for freebees because it lowers the activation energy for creating new goals. If that’s you, jump to “Buying More Freebees” below!

The way things used to be, you started with 7 freebees. When you created a goal you used a freebee but you got it back if you added a pledge to the goal. You, confusingly, did not get a freebee back if you deleted the goal — often exactly when people expected it, since deleted goals tend to be errors in setting things up. In practice no one could predict whether they had freebees remaining and it was a surprise each time whether Beeminder would tell you “you’re out of freebees so you have to create this goal with a pledge”.

So for starters we now actually tell you how many freebees you have left in the sidebar! And it no longer matters if you add a pledge, it still counts as one of your freebees each time you create a goal. But you do get a freebee back if you delete a goal.

Deleting Goals (Getting Back Freebees)

Beeminder being all about getting yourself firmly on the hook, you normally can’t just delete goals. You can archive them, and it takes a week to take effect, during which time you’re still on the hook. For newly created goals (less than a week old) we figure there are plenty of legitimate reasons to completely and instantaneously delete them. So you’ll see a big red Delete button on new goals. And if you’re deleting it for technical reasons (or straight up confusion) we give you a freebee back:

example of the goal deletion dialog

If you fill out the text box about why you’re deleting the goal it also sends us an email, and that has been a wonderful source of feedback about what’s confusing or where newbees are getting stuck. [2]

Entering Your Credit Card

When you first add a credit card we prompt you to archive any goals that you’re not serious about. We cut back massively on the wall of text that accompanied adding a pledge to a goal, a vestige of our transition to our “New World Order” a year ago. Hopefully it’s now made clear that you’re on the hook for all of your active goals as soon as we have your credit card. [3]

Relatedly, we also scrapped the “add a pledge” vs “commit later” step in goal creation. You can push the up-arrow to $5 on any $0 goal to bump it up once you’ve added a credit card.

Buying More Freebees

“Freebees lower the activation energy for creating new goals”

In the course of implementing the above changes, and talking to you all about them, we discovered that there’s a faction of hardcore beeminders who are really attached to freebees. It’s not that you’re unwilling to pledge on goals, or ever pay for anything on the internet, it’s just that you want to be able to create new goals when fancy strikes without deciding immediately if it’s worth committing with actual money. Yes, you could dial the yellow brick road sufficiently conservatively, but then you lose the guidance of the road.

So for you we added the option to buy 10 freebees for $1 at any time. At 10 cents per freebee, it hopefully shouldn’t trigger hesitation in even the most frugal amongst you.

To do this you have to enter a credit card, of course, which puts you on the hook for all your goals. That’s the other reason for this, and the reason you can buy freebees for peanuts. We want to give you more excuses to enter your credit card, because you’re not really beeminding until you do!



[1] We’re actually contemplating changing the name “freebee” since it’s all wrong in various ways. Freebies generally refer to cheap giveaways, and, more importantly, the name might lead you to believe you’d never have to pay anything for a goal created as a freebee. We just need something more concise than “goal with no money at stake for the first derailment”. The best candidate so far is the boring “Free Start Goal”.

There’s also potential confusion with our premium plans (Plan Bee and higher) which give you unlimited fully pledgeless goals — goals that start at $0 and stay at $0.

UPDATE: Stingless Starters, Prebees, Proto-Goals, Newbee Goals, Prepledge Goals, …

[2] Please do keep filling out that form when you delete goals! Users often don’t think it’s worth our time to read feedback like that because they think the problem was their own fault. And in isolation it may seem that way. But when we see lots of feedback, patterns emerge and it becomes clear what we need to change to make the problem go away, regardless of fault. (Which is to say, it’s usually our fault!)

[3] For any interested nerds, we’re transitioning over to Stripe Checkout for collecting payment info, and it’s super slick how we can grab your credit card info right there from your goal page and then increment the pledge all in one place.