Category Archives: Updates

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:

Screen-Shot-2014-07-08-at-10.56

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.

 

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Update to Extra Points Given

We recently increased everyone’s assets, giving users an extra 4000 points and we started out new users with 5000 points. Read about it here

SciCast is a research project and we appreciate the feedback of our users. See commentWe have changed the inner workings of the trading interface. The standard (safe mode) interface has been adjusted from using up to 4% of a user’s available points to up to 1% of his or her points. Now that we have 5x the starting points this is still a bit more of an effect with out overpowering the trade. This adjustment ensures a user can make more trades and be more involved in the market.
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We’ve Given Everyone More Points!

As the number of open questions on SciCast increases, some users are finding their points stretched too thin.  We want our users to make forecasts when they have the interest and knowledge. To make this possible, we’re giving every registered user an extra 4000 points, and starting out all new users with 5000 points.

This change will not immediately affect any person’s rank on the leaderboard, though it might offer new opportunities to move up or down in the rankings. If you have run out of points or are extremely short on points, you now have the assets you need to make more forecasts.  Please use these new assets and opportunities wisely. The overall accuracy of SciCast’s market forecasts is improving, and we all want to see a steady continuation of that trend.

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User Activity (1st Quarter, 2014)

By March 31, SciCast had 5425 forecasts, 1375 users, and 444 questions.

The graph below (click to enlarge) shows some user activity statistics through the end of March. Registrations have leveled off, but the number of daily forecasts per active user is rising. Since January, the average number of forecasts per day among people who make comments and forecasts on SciCast questions has roughly doubled (from 2.5 to 5).

FpUpD

The number of registered users has increased over the same time frame, but most registration occurred early in the year. We had about 800 new users in January but only about 200 new users in both February and March. April will see some new outreach campaigns and incentives.

Please help the SciCast team by encouraging other people to join in our forecasting challenge. Our crowdsourcing approach to predicting science and technology benefits from having a crowd to forecast on every question.

The more competitive users might like to take advantage of the daily and weekly cycles in forecasting. Timings show we still have a strong U.S. bias: few forecasts occur during our night, but mornings also have fewer forecasts than afternoons and evenings. There are roughly half as many forecasts each hour from 07:00 to 11:00 as there are each hour from 11:00 to 19:00. (All times U.S. Eastern, GMT-5/4).

Weekends also have slightly fewer forecasts. There are four forecasts per day on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday for every five forecasts per day on Tuesday through Friday.

by Ken Olson

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LinkFest

SciCast Update:

Last week we created 10 new linked clusters for “Related Scenarios.”

  1. Arctic Ice: 3 questions linked
  2. Photovoltaics: 3 questions linked
  3. Multijunction solar: 4 questions linked
  4. Fusion: 4 questions linked
  5. ADMX: 3 questions linked
  6. Superconductivity: 2 questions linked
  7. Mars: 2 questions linked
  8. Internet traffic: 2 questions linked
  9. ISS: 3 questions linked
  10. Bitcoin: 5 questions linked

Here is how it works:

Select your question (as usual):

Arctic_Ice

If you like, view the discussion, background, and/or trends & history by clicking on the applicable tab(s), as usual:

Arctic_Ice_Background

Make your forecast and see how you affected the chances — if you want to select a related scenario only, just forecast the current value. You will now be able to select (assume) an outcome.

Related_Forecasts_1

After selecting an outcome, you will see a related forecast question.Related_Forecasts_2

Select your answer to the related question, in this assumed scenario:

Related_Forecasts_3

Repeat as you like with different scenarios (assumptions).

We hope to add links roughly weekly. Feel free to make suggestions via the Comments feature.

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Updates to Predict and Spark

Welcome to all of our new participants!  We’re happy to see so much new activity and we’re pleased to let you know we have more questions in the pipeline, and more links between questions, too.

On Saturday (18-JAN) we released some minor updates to Predict:

  1. Improved registration & password reset.  Our #1 helpdesk item was from people who didn’t know to look for an activation email.  We’ve improved the registration flow and added smarter errors should someone try to login verifying an account.
  2. Made ‘Show Chances’ automatic, and removed the checkbox. We discovered we had no use case for ‘Hide chances.’ (Multi-choice questions still require you to expand them first – that’s just to conserve vertical space.)
  3. Increased number of “Recent Activities” on the exchange dashboard. Because you’re so active!

Upcoming changes in the next couple of weeks:

  • Public Links – view questions without login!
  • Scaled Continuous questions – adjust a quantity rather than a probability

We’ve also made the following updates to Spark:

  1. Challenges are now organized by the same high level categories that show up on Predict, making it easier to understand where we’re looking for new forecast questions.
  2. We’ve turned on email alerts for various events in the system so you can keep better track of when your questions have been published or you have comments to respond to.
  3. Everyone now has a simple profile where they can post something about themselves that others can see.
  4. Your Spark account can now be tied directly to your Predict account. Data now syncs.
  5. Challenges are now organized by the same high level categories that show up on Predict, making it easier to understand where we’re looking for new forecast questions.
  6. Topic Leaders – the people who have volunteered to manage question challenges – can now publish directly to Predict.
  7. We’ve made several bug fixes and performance improvements.

“The empires of the future are the empires of the mind.” ~Churchill

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