Monthly Archives: July 2014

Q & A with AAAS policy fellow Claire Standley

The following Q & A is excerpted from SciCast Partner AAAS MemberCentral. You may read the full blog post here.

Standley_Claire photoWe were interested to find out why AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow Claire Standley accepted the position as SciCast topic leader for biology and medicine. Originally from Oakland, Calif., Standley earned her Ph.D. in biomedical parasitology and genetics from the National History Museum and The University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom.

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SciCast Recruitment Announcement

SciCast is running a new special! For four weeks, you can win prizes on some days of the week:

  • On Tuesdays, win a $25 Amazon gift card with activity.
  • On Wednesdays, win an activity badge for your profile.
  • On Thursdays, win a $25 Amazon gift card with accurate forecasting.
  • On Fridays, win an accuracy badge for your profile.

On each activity prize day, up to 80 valid forecasts and comments made that day will be randomly selected to win. On each accuracy prize day, your chance of winning any of 80 prizes is proportional to your forecasting accuracy.*

Be sure to use SciCast from July 22 to August 15!

*limit of $575 in winnings per person

Official Rules


Who’s predicting the next big thing?

SciCast is comprised of more than 7,000 science and technology experts and enthusiasts from universities, the private sector and professional organizations such as AAAS, IEEE, and ACS.  The SciCast team thought it would be fun to find out more about what motivates SciCasters to predict the next big thing. 

Meet SciCaster Ted Sanders, 26, who resides in Stanford, CA and is pursuing his PhD in Applied Physics at Stanford University.

tedshot Q: How did you get involved as a SciCast participant?

I learned about SciCast when it evolved out of the DAGGRE project, which I had joined from reading Robin Hanson’s blog. However, I was not active on SciCast until recently, when SciCast announced gift card prizes and the College Bowl competition. My participation also stems from a desire to support the legalization of prediction markets in the United States.

Q: What do you find most interesting about SciCast?

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New features: recurring forecasts and crowdsourced spam protection

Mark as Spam

Over the past 3 weeks we have more than tripled the number of users on SciCast. Hooray! But with growth comes growing pains, one of which is an increased amount of spam in our comments. Best as they try, certain people just can’t resist writing complete nonsense in to a discussion thread. So we’ve introduced a way for the better citizens of SciCast to mark a comment as spam:


A comment must be marked as spam a certain number of times by multiple people. If it is, it will be hidden from the comment thread. So please do your duty and if you see something that’s clearly spammy, mark it. If you’re unsure, ask us about it.

Another change to commenting is the requirement to have verified your email address before you can comment. Currently we do NOT require an email address to sign up and begin participating in SciCast. But a quick survey of “spam” discussion items revealed that many of those comments were tracing back to people who did not provide an email address as part of their registration. We still aren’t requiring a valid email address to register, but we are to make a comment. We hope this too cuts down on spammy comments.

Recurring Forecasts

An even more substantive change we’re excited about is “recurring forecasts.” If you ask SciCast to, we will make a forecast for you once a day in a given question based on an initial forecast. So if you use Power Mode to raise the chance to 75%, you can spend a certain number of points to raise it to 75% whenever the once-a-day check finds it below that threshold.  If you used Safe Mode, we’ll simply make that same forecast for you for 7 days in a row (or for however many days you specify) using the usual Safe Mode rules.

Here’s an example:

Let’s say I made a forecast that it’s “Unlikely (20%-40%)” that “The same machine will hold the #1 rank on the Top500 and Graph500 lists in August 2014.” Once I’ve completed the forecast, I can ask SciCast to make the same forecast for me once a day for a week, by checking the box.

Screen Shot 2014-07-08 at 10.56.43 PM

If I’m forecasting in power mode, each edit can be much bigger (and more expensive), so instead of #days, I specify a total budget.  The power-mode forecast could use it all in one day, or it could last for months, depending on how much each edit costs:

Screen Shot 2014-07-08 at 10.57.10 PM

The values “1 week” and “300 points” are just defaults.  I can use “My Dashboard” for more control.  Here “My Dashboard -> My Activity -> My Questions” shows me the most recent forecast I made on each question, and offers me a customizable way to make it recur.

Screen Shot 2014-07-08 at 10.57.55 PM

In the figure above, my last Adelgid forecast used Power Mode, so it offers me the option to make “>78%” a recurring edit, for however many points I want.  My last Graph500 forecast used Safe Mode, so it offers me the option of a recurring Safe Mode forecast, for a specifiable #days (currently 1-7 only).

Recurring forecasts are tracked in your forecast history and marked as such so you can keep track of what was the original forecast and what was recurring.  Use “My Dashboard -> My Activities -> My Recurring” to see and cancel them.My Recurring

Next Steps

Please let us know how you like these new features. We’re continuing to work on a better commenting system and even more powerful and efficient forecasting tools, and this release is an important first step down that path.