Make it clear that the 7 freebies includes deleted goals, or don't count deletes against newbies' freebies.
I wrongly assumed that if I deleted a newly made goal (after changing my mind about how it was set up) that I could reuse that freebie in a new goal. The phrase that showed up in the delete message, "reuse the slug" misled me in this regard. I had no idea the url name was the "slug" and thought it was slang for the freebie count. I had some issues getting my gmailzero and fitbit accounts to work, and once they were fixed I deleted goals with the intention of recreating them in the proper places. Now I've discovered my freebies are all used up, and I haven't really gotten to use Beeminder long enough to be sure I want to pledge just yet. :(
We’re still tweaking how all this works but tentatively here’s the change we’re making, which solves this specific complaint and hopefully makes things simpler/clearer/fairer in general…
OLD: 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”.
NEW: You start with 7 freebees. When you create a goal you use a freebee and it doesn’t matter if you add a pledge, it still counts as one of your freebees. But you do get a freebee back if you delete a goal (and answer the dialog to say that you’re deleting it for a technical reason).
You almost surely don’t want to read this but the whole nitty-gritty technical spec is at http://expost.padm.us/freebee
Thanks so much for these comments and feedback, everyone. Super helpful! The answer to Anonymous just now is that you can't convert freebees or get them back at all. It's just 7 times you can create a goal without a pledge and then from then on they need $5 pledges (which doesn't mean *paying* $5, of course, unless you then derail). The idea is that really there shouldn't be such a thing as pledgeless goals since that's part of the whole point of Beeminder, but we realize people need time to get acclimated. On the other hand, it can happen that you burn through those 7 while still experimenting and getting up to speed and then it feels unfair to to have no more freebees left. So here's our latest thinking: http://expost.padm.us/freebee
As a new, confused user, I would like to add my two cents worth.
7 was what convinced me to try it. And I created three different goals to test Beeminder out. If I only had 3 freebies I would have only created one and then would have walked away after a week or less. My mindset is don't use them all up. But with three goals made I realized that I might have more use for this than just weight loss, like tracking the things that help get a weight loss - exercise, healthy habits, etc. I have converted one of my goals to a money goal. Does this mean it still uses up one of my freebies? I don't know but I do know that I have 4 more freebies out there.
I like the idea of creating the goal and then fine tuning it, determining just what I want to gain from it, how should it be worded and tracked, is it going to benefit me or will it just be busy work that accomplishes nothing. With the freebies out there I can create a goal and test drive it for a bit.
7 was what convinced me to give it a try.
The fact that it seems to be working is what is keeping me.
Yes please tell me (the un-nerdy user) how to change one freebie goal that I no longer want, into a freebie goal that I want to try next.
I agree that an immediate request for feedback on why the goal is being deleted would probably help you catch problems faster and retain newbies as customers than waiting for a user to report it here or through support. I know at first I didn't want to bother you guys with dumb questions when I wasn't sure yet whether it was me or the system goofing up. Turns out it was a bit of both, and I did eventually contact support about the tech issues, but on a different day I might have just closed the site and forgotten about it. I would include a checkbox on the form asking if they want support to follow up with them on the matter or if they want to be left alone.
In case this isn't too convoluted, we could actually just ask you when you perma-delete a goal, "Check here if you're deleting this due to any kind of technical problem or confusion about goal set-up, in which case we won't count this toward your 7 freebees". Would also be great to solicit feedback about what went wrong in such cases.
Thanks, I just wrote an email to support and promptly got my freebies sorted out. My other issues mentioned (fitbit and gmail) were also addressed quickly, so two big thumbs up to the Beeminder support team. :)
I do think if deletes didn't count against your freebies that the 3 freebies could be reasonable, but at the same time I appreciated the generous sound of the 7 - it made it very inviting to sign up and give the service a try, nothing to lose. It also allows the new user to set up a bunch of new goals to see what shakes out and which goal types are actually helpful to them. I have no idea how much, long term, those freebies affect the number of goals users set up, maintain successfully and/or pay up on.
Ooh, this is excellent feedback for us. We can definitely fix you up manually in the meantime if you email email@example.com but you're right that we should either nicen that up or be clearer about it.
Our thinking was that the freebees are really just there so you can get acclimated. Ultimately the pledges are kind of the whole point of Beeminder. We were thinking 3 freebees would make sense but then decided to go with 7 in case you wanted to try out all the different goal types or just as acknowledgement that there's a learning curve and you may have more than a few false starts.
Maybe it should actually be 3 freebees but deletes don't count? Would that have been better in your case? We'd love more feedback on this...