Reward / earning back system
Because I feel like I'm not the only person that tends to feel bad -maybe even a bit of a failure- when they set goals for themselves and don't reach them. It would be usefull to provide these people with a system that goes both ways. Because if you already feel bad about not following through and you get punished on top of it, that's just like a double punishment. So I would suggest 3 options:
It's always based on rewarding people for overperforming.
Have to option to earn back what you lost (the least attractive option from the financial stand point of beeminder)
Have it go both ways,
Just scrap the option of punishment altogether and let people work to get rewarded instead
Practical system to apply these kind of systems would be to give people to ability to load cash on their accounts and opening a new goal and being able to put a certain amount at stake, or certain payment shedule. Beeminder just takes somekind of percentage for their service and following up on the commitment contract. Earning your own money back might not feel like a real award but if you have people put in the gift they are going to purchase when they reach their goal with the money they will be getting back. Like 'go out to eat to a fancy restaurant' Come to think of it, you could also add in rewards without holding the cash of members, you could just notify them they passed a predefined milestone at which point they promised to reward themselves by 'and then just give what they put in when setting up these milestones' Because people tend to follow through if they rewards themselves along the way for reaching certain milestones. Guarding their cash has the added benefit of making sure the person doesn't reward himself whenever he feels like it and when he is not following through he loses the cash he planned to use for that purchase, decreasing the chances they turn around and buy the reward anyhow because they just lost the money intended for that specific purchase.
Maybe combine it with the ability to donate to charity if it's a really big amount. That way there reward is double effective. They are personally rewarded by earning back the cash they put at stake but also feel like by meeting their goals they are also contributing to the life of others. We are social animals so we like the feeling we get when making a positive contribution to the lives of others.
From the perspective of beeminder it could also mean being able to tap into a different segment of the market. Which is always a good growth strategy to consider.
I know these kinds of things are pround to attract cheaters but I feel like it could add value. Especially for people that have doubts about the beeminder system. After all...not all people are motivated by fear/punishment, some are motivated by rewards and just a show of appreciation.
I hope my idea makes some sense. I did not find the time or energy to triple check every sentence so I hope their aren't to many mistakes in here. As I am not a native English speaker.
David Gessner commented
I am a happy Beeminder user and I wanted to say that I am against using money as a reward.
First of all, I feel that Beeminder already has a reward system: if you over perform, you earn safety buffer, i.e., you earn time that you can take off in the future doing something that you enjoy. Second, and maybe this is just me, but getting all my goals on the green side of the road already makes me quite happy. When I see that all my goals are on the green side, I feel that I have accomplished something, which makes me happy. The effect is even stronger for goals I have been working on for a long time. They make me think "look how productive I have been for all this time!".
But more importantly than the above, there is behavioral research suggesting that rewarding people with money can actually be demotivating because it can destroy intrinsic motivation. It is a bit counterintuitive. Maybe the following example helps. Think of something that you already enjoy doing. Now if someone offers you a dollar for doing that task, there is the real danger that in your mind that task now becomes work: in your mind it gets shifted from something you do for fun to something you do for money. Moreover, it becomes something that you do for a very low amount of money. In other words, it becomes very low-paid work and doing low-paid work is demotivating.
I'm not necessarily against rewards in general. But I don't think that rewards should involve money.
Jurgen Engelbosch commented
I noticed I forgot to finish the sentence at the top "have it go both ways," to finish that sentence...
Have it go both ways, making sure they receive a reward for good performance but punishment for bad performance. As I said later in the outlining of the idea it could be as simple as giving the people the option to set rewards and milestones and just mailing them the good news. Congrats you have passed the milestone, go and get yourself that cup of starbucks coffee you have been craving for or anything similar.