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).


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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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):


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


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.


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:


Repeat as you like with different scenarios (assumptions).

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

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