Above the Fold - Dev Insights and July Updates
Rebranding, finding PMF, new multichoice, website outage
Hey everyone! Wanted to share some developer insights and overdue updates!
Also, be sure to head to this market to see how you can help prediction markets by submitting a comment on Kalshi’s filing to the CTFC!
We are dropping the “markets”! We feel this more accurately reflects what we are trying to achieve as a company and have been moving towards for a while. Markets will continue to be the heart of our site, but we want our name to not feel exclusive of everything else we have to offer such as community, discussion, gamifying sharing knowledge, and exploring what happens when a social media site has “money” integrated.
In addition to this, we will be changing the copy of “markets” to “questions” on our site. We feel this will make the site more accessible to a wider audience, which has always been our core focus. We also made tried to make limit orders more intuitive and friendly by adding sliders. Now newbies who wouldn’t immediately grasp the concept of a limit order, can now still use them by setting their range.
We introduced Bounty Questions which have been more popular than we anticipated. This is just one example of something that isn’t a market but still incorporates play money and aligns with our goal of improving knowledge in a way that’s fun.
The hunt for the homepage
While refocusing our branding is nice, it doesn’t really propel Manifold any closer to reaching product market fit. Our core product remains uncompelling outside of our current niche.
We keep feeling we are getting closer but haven’t made that breakthrough yet as our site’s usage remaining unchanged for the past months.
The one thing that Manifold is great at is incentivising users to give us detailed feedback in exchange for mana. However, there is a fine line between spending time appeasing existing users and making drastic changes that may upset them but is necessary to find PMF.
Our key focus has been iterating on the homepage and various forms of ‘For You’ feeds. One of the reasons this is so challenging is that content on our site is more evergreen than other social media which tend to have more ephemeral content. If you are unfamiliar with the terminology, evergreen content refers to content that “sticks around” and stays relevant over time, such as Youtube videos. Ephemeral content, such as Twitter, is quickly consumed and then becomes no longer discoverable.
Our questions are in a weird spot where they are not only evergreen but also should be viewed multiple times. Even on Youtube you aren’t really going to watch the same video twice. You can see how complications arise when trying to build Twitter-like timeline feeds that provide fresh content when most of it is technically old but updated.
And then there’s the separate issue that continues to plague us - determining what topics and types of markets each user is interested in! To help with this we’ve introduced a disinterested vector where we give users a score on how much they dislike certain types of content if they’ve blocked groups or thumbs down a market on their feed. Previously we only had an interest vector which positively updated users towards certain types of content.
We’ve also incorporated the News tabs which will hopefully help make it easier for more casual and new users to quickly find the most relevant markets based on current events.
Next steps include building dashboards - a feature that will allow users to curate their own lists of markets similar to our news tabs. These will also be shareable and other users can find dashboards to follow!
I wanted to take a moment to praise James for his work on the new multichoice markets mechanism! This has been a huge upgrade to our fundamental market mechanics, and we’ve already seen loads of usage.
You can read about the impressive details here:
Last weekend, our website became unstable and we faced escalating database issues causing all sorts of errors. When attempting to restart the database it got stuck in a reboot loop for 2 hours.
This is the worst outage Manifold Markets has ever had, and it is not up to our standards. We can and will do better. We sincerely apologise for our poor communication surrounding the outage and any frustration the outage itself may have caused.
You can read the full details of what happened and our action plan to improve things here: https://manifoldmarkets.notion.site/DB-Outage-849d055d43f64807b98ca0930f890346
Manifold 501C nonprofit Manifund now has its own newsletter! Austin is also moving away from working on the core Manifold product to invest more time in Manifund and other adjacent creative ideas (still all owned and related to Manifold).
One project Manifund funded, OPTIC, is currently searching for students or professors interested in starting forecasting clubs at their university. They’ll be able to set you up with outreach materials, workshops, and opportunities for funding and sponsorship. Book a chat with Saul here: savvycal.com/saulmunn/forecasting-clubs
Thanks for reading!
In a couple of days I’ll be posting another newsletter about death markets and why I think they are probably okay! Planning to do more frequent, shorter newsletters, but we will have to see how long that lasts.