Formalized Accountability

posted Apr 10, 2003

An idea I had for my next blog-style thing, since iRights is within a few months of basically wrapping up.

I think it would be great to have a blog-like thing that tracks predictions: Who makes them, when they make them, and whether or not they come true. Kinda like Long Bets, but tracking anyone who makes a prediction at all, and no money; just reputation points. Also, rather then waiting for people to enter them, we record predictions of people who may not even be aware of the site at all.

I've wanted this sort of thing before, but what really makes me want it is all the disaster predictions that people on the left were predicting about the war. I want to hold them accountable, and not just let the wrong predictions slide off.

For that matter, I want to hold myself accountable. I refrain from making a lot of predictions because I try to pretend this site already exists and I'm being tracked. So the few I have on record are carefully chosen. A mechanism for actually doing so would be nice.

Maybe I'll try to work that into my copious spare time someday. To really work this needs some formal help and some tools. For instance, it's not as easy to define a prediction as you might like. My Bayesian spam filtering prediction from a few months ago has preconditions, which if they are never met means the prediction never goes into effect. So you need the idea of a "precondition", for instance, which you might not immediately consider. And we'd need a scoring system. And for extra fun, allow site members themselves to declare a vote. (This makes it a little like an ideas common, which have been implemented, but I want to focus on the accountability of people, not just abstract ideas.)

I think this would be really helpful in a lot of ways, not just as entertainment. Is there someone who is almost always right? Is there an ideology that is almost always right? Is "the left" more right then "the right" when it comes to predictions? Is my Senator constantly spewing rhetoric, or do his predictions of doom/success come true? Am I personally full of it?


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