Goal adjustment – terminology – framing

Irrespective of how we describe the goal (crowd <> dollar) I see somewhat of a challenge in setting a goal.

Isn’t it the case that at any given time the incentive is to tie the “goal” to whatever seems currently realistic within the situation in snowdrift-land?

Say you want to reach a goal of a 4000 patrons, noticing that the last two months you could get a growth of 250 patrons, and you’re now at 500 patrons.

  1. Isn’t the clear incentive to chose 750 patrons as the next goal – DESPITE – your “actual” goal being 4000? I think it is.
  2. After reaching the 4000 patrons goal wouldn’t there be the clear incentive to make it 4500 next month?

The reason why I bring this up is that there can be a true disconnect from the idea of setting a goal in the sense of “reaching a milestone” –vs– trying to “go one step more”. Our framing should remain honest and reflect that and maybe not to speak about it in terminology like “goal” but … “step?”… ?

Not sure how that ties into the different ideas that have been discussed about multiple goals, but I don’t see how we can escape the issue I brought up – given that we let projects set their goals and tie that to the mechanism in any way.

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I think the steps can speak for themselves. We will show the history month to month. I do not want to make any sort of pledge on a monthly basis.

The point of the goal is also to define what I’m pledging towards. I’m saying that I’m willing to give $5 if 4,000 people are giving with me. That’s the framing of the pledge: money available from me as part of a crowd size (or a dollar total).

I don’t want to make a pledge of what I’m willing to give at 750 and a separate pledge next month for what I’m willing to do at 1,000 patrons. And given that I’m making one, long-term pledge based on 4,000 patrons, any showing of the month-to-month progress should never confuse me about what my one, clear long-term pledge means.

I also don’t see anything “realistic” about particular growth curves. Each month could be really variable. Some attention to a project one month could suddenly triple the patrons and the next month could see little growth. We aren’t trying to be in the business of using month-over-month trends as part of our mechanism.

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I think a good goal is both, valuable and realistic.

When something else becomes valuable and realistic, you update the goal. How often is part of multiple goals discussion.

So you start small and see where you can get.

I see no problem calling the current goal “the goal” and an updated goal “new goal”. “Stretch goal” seems also kind of strange in this context. I don’t think the word “step” makes sense here unless we frame is as steps, so same height like 100, 200, 300, …

Well, projects define (through their goal) what you’re pledging towards – not you. And would you not support the project when it chose another goal (2000 or 8000)? What would be reasons for objections of project choices?

My intuition tells me that the biggest influence would be an interest in the project, not its latest goal.

Not sure If I understand you correctly, but it seems you share my concern that my own pledge is relatively disconnected from the slowly upwards moving goal of a project.

With the proposed mechanism a projects incentive is to perfectly predict what it can “achive” within any given month. Setting the goal too high/low creates a penalty. The “ideal” goal is met at 100% at a months end, putting pressure on the projects to chase that sweet spot. So making “realistic” predictions when setting the goal is definitively a game projects will be palying. That’s opposing the idea of goals being tied to concrete financial needs/plans.

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I’m not thinking only of the binary choice to pledge or not, but how much. I might be inspired to pledge a lot more toward a more ambitious goal for example.

In a sense, comparing an ambitious goal to a modest one is like comparing a small project to a large one. How much am I willing to contribute toward the particular vision?

Also, the pledge in dollars affects my view of my place in the crowd. If I pledge $5 to a goal, I’m necessarily pledging a specific percent of a dollar-based goal. And even with a crowd-based goal, I can estimate what percent I’m offering. If the goal is different, then my sense changes as to what portion of the goal $5 is.

How patrons decide their pledge size is complex. How much they feel they can afford, how much they care about a project, how inspired are they by a goal, how inspired by the matching effects… The goal isn’t the only factor, but it’s certainly one factor in choosing whether and how much to pledge. And the presentation of the goal as a vision for the project (rather than just an arbitrary number) is a key factor too.

I don’t like that at all. I’m less motivated to participate that way. If I see that Snowdrift.coop projects are set up to have goals that usually reach 100%, I can think “other people will probably reach the goal without me anyway”. And I’m not inspired by reaching an arbitrary goal for the month as much as I am toward a project vision that I want to see.

I don’t think we can assume that patrons will pledge the same way just for liking a project and irrespective of the goal.

Also, my view of pledging in crowdmatching is that I’m making an invitation, asking the world to come join me. If my matching ended with a crowd that was on the small side, I would feel that the invitation wasn’t really effective. I’m much more excited about the idea of seeing a project pushing toward a goal month after month and eventually reaching it than I am seeing a new goal each month.

Maybe monthly targets could be expressed (I still don’t like that particularly). But I don’t want that to be used as the goal to which I’m pledged. And I don’t think patrons will want to manage their pledges too constantly with too many changing goals. Hitting a goal should be a big deal not a monthly event.

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Exactly, as discussed in Idea: Automatically adjusted project goal.

Maybe some just don’t care that much.

Or, when you want to support your favorite project, but they have strange goals, you might still support them and trust them to do the right thing. But maybe you support differently.


Nobody likes putting pressure on projects, but is there a better alternative?

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You have a good point. Unless we really artificially micromanage the system, projects will be able to make very small goals that they could hit every month.

But I’m suggesting that if we frame the goals as a more inspiring vision, patrons will be uninspired by small every-month-hits situations. It’s like a Kickstarter for something really minor (Task Coach did a campaign to get $3,000 just to rearrange columns, and despite that being a highly-voted request, it feels so petty and small, so most of the not-enough people who pledged made comments like “I don’t know about this detail, but I feel I should support the program”).

I’m suggesting in practice, that small goals will be less inspiring and monthly-success will be seen as lack of ambition. The interpretation of hitting 100% every month is “you’re not aiming high” rather than “you did it!”. And the result will be much less income and less pledging than a more ambitious long-term goal.

If I’m right, then the pressure for setting higher goals won’t just come from us but from the raw data that will show that ambitious goals lead to far higher income and crowds. Of course, I can’t know that I’m right until we have data or at least some feedback more broadly. But I want our whole mission and vision to emphasize the ambitious goals rather than tiny minor goals.

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I don’t see a problem in motivating projects to do well. But obviously you wouldn’t advise a 10.000.000 goal for a small project. Neither to set the goal at 100. What number achieves all the things you want to trigger all those emotions like, inspiration, motivation. How do we come up with a number that deserves emphasis?

We can only give projects a tool that hands them levers, doing the hard work is their job; engaging in a community, working on a product, being awesome overall. There is no way to spray magic dust over a mechanism that lures people towards giving more because we have special powers – other than all the existing properties and values we stand for. We just have crowdmatching on our side and we better sell it for what it does - not what we hope we think it might or should do.

Are small goals actually inspiring or deflating? What does small even mean? And for what project? What makes small too small? Do all projects behave the same? And finally: who are we to conclude answers to those questions? Going down this lane is uninteresting in my eyes.

A study found out that projects that explain why they need donations and for what, get more. But very few projects do that.

If you know what you want to fund, you also know the number how much money that will cost.

So it’s not about the number, but about the meaning of it.

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  • Setting either kind of goal allows projects to clarify whatever they wish.
  • If you know what you want, you know how many people will get you there.
  • to me, people have more meaning than currency.
  • true. but when you talk about money, why not set the goal accordingly?
  • i agree (use average)
  • can you explain? 5000$ means i can pay the developer a competetive salary. what does 5000 people mean?

And when the project not communicate openly how much money they need, how should i decide how much to give? Consider the goal is 5000 patrons, are they happy when i contribute 1$ or does it help the goal when i choose more? “Just tell me how much you need!”

I still think a money goal is transparent (funding is about money) while a crowd goal looks like you want to hide something, like those patreons that don’t show how much they get, only number of patrons.

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What is the average pledge?
Clearly 5000x the average pledge.

$5000/month for a single full time developer – in what country?

Say 5$.

Yes, the project get’s 40,000$. We all understand that now.

But why do you think that goal is more meaningful than just showing 40,000$? Isn’t it just more obscure and complicated? For what benefit?

I want to understand your perspective when saying:

in this context (funding)

i dislike it very much when i can’t see directly how much money a project need and how much of that they already get. most on patreon and all on github sponsors (no option to show i guess) do that. that’s just intransparent and feels dishonest. a money goal is the obvious and right choice i think

Game engine dev for Godot. They have 2 now. Juan Linietsky from Argentina and Rémi Verschelde from Denmark.

While we had other contributors in mind for hiring, it’s getting difficult to do so, as many companies are now starting to use Godot and they are able to hire and pay them considerably better. In the end, we are only able to hire those who really prefer to work directly for the project, even if being paid less.

I completely agree. Since Patron-based funding is still dollar based funding in the end, it just seems a silly veneer (trying to be too “look, we’re about people, not money!”) that is confusing to some (at best) or even taken as hiding something (at worst).
I also agree that goals should be as concrete as possible, not moving targets. “Here’s what we need, to do X” is already pretty inspiring of a “vision”, I think all goals should be based on that if we want to assume the same success as e.g. Kickstarter (who would be nothing without that!).

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