Users pledge to pay money for each day they fail to submit any writing to Ransom Yourself over the course of 21 days.
- Must be 18 years or older.
- Must have a personal email address.
- Must have a valid payment method (debit/credit card).
- Must have an internet connection for the duration of your ransom.
Ransom Yourself is an enforcement tool for developing a personal writing habit. Participants pledge a daily dollar amount to Ransom Yourself and then submit writing entries every day for 21 days. At the end of the 21 days, Ransom Yourself charges a lump sum proportional to the number of days the participant failed to submit writing to Ransom Yourself. If writing is submitted everyday, then no money is charged and the participant earns an entry in the hall of fame.
By creating a monetary consequence, participants are less likely to fail in their conviction to develop a writing habit.
Beginning a ransom:
In order to start your ransom, you need to do two things:
- Complete the form on the home page.
- Follow the link sent to your email inbox.
Your payment information is collected in step 1 but does not get processed until the end of 21 days if any were missed. The enclosed link expires one hour after submitting your payment information, after which your payment won't be processed and you'll have to start over.
If the link is followed within one hour of submitting your payment information, your payment will be processed and you'll receive an email confirming the start of your ransom. This email will also contain:
- The date and time that your first writing entry is due.
- The email address you'll send your writing entries to.
Your ransom will always start "tomorrow" so that you always have a full day to complete each day's writing entry. This means your first entry will always be due at least 24 hours from when you follow the link in your confirmation email.
Days are distinguished from one another by the passing of 11:59pm into 12:00am on Ransom Yourself's online server. The timezone for your ransom is determined by the timezone set by your computer when you complete step 1 on the home screen, regardless of whatever timezone you're actually in or what timezone your computer is set to for each of your daily writing entries. This means that changes in daylight savings time during your ransom will be adhered to, so not every day is guaranteed to be 24 hours long.
In order to enforce the development of a steady habit, entries must be submitted between 12:00am and 11:59pm each day in the timezone established during your sign up process. The only exception is the first day, which is possible to be submitted more than 24 hours prior to when it's due.
Submitting writing entries:
Submitting writing to Ransom Yourself is handled entirely via email. You'll be assigned a special email address that you can send your writing entries to. You'll get credit for writing each day so long as Ransom Yourself receives an email from you. Ransom Yourself will send you an email confirmation as soon as it receives your daily entry.
This confirmation email will contain stats about your current ransom, including which day of your ransom you're currently on, the number of days you've successfully written back, and how much money you've earned back from your ransom.
It doesn't matter what email addresses your writing entries come from; Ransom Yourself will accept any emails addressed to the special link you received when you started your ransom. However, confirmation emails will only be sent to the email address you used when you signed up. This is a security measure so that others cannot glean information about your ransom without your permission.
Emails must adhere to the following additional technical requirements:
- Must not be greater than 1MB in size.
- Must be received by Ransom Yourself's mail server before it's due each day; it doesn't matter what time is attached in the email's headers.
Charging your payment method:
Payment methods are charged after the end of your ransom's 21 day term or after the submission of your 21st day's writing entry, whichever comes first.
There are two ways to avoid getting charged by Ransom Yourself:
- Submit a writing entry to Ransom Yourself every day for 21 days according to the schedule emailed to you.
- Submit zero writing entries for the duration of your ransom period.
If at least one writing entry has been submitted by you but entries have not been submitted for every day of your 21 day ransom term, then you will be charged a sum equal to your pledged daily amount multiplied by the number of days you've missed writing entries. For example, if you pledged to pay $10 per missed day and submitted writing entries for 14 days of your ransom term, you'll be charged $70.
No refunds! If there were refunds, there'd be no reason to adhere to your writing habit!