Excerpted from Above the Fold.

Prediction markets succeed when they require people to bet something they value, like money. But past attempts at real-money prediction markets like Intrade have been shut down by the CFTC. At Manifold Markets, we currently allow users to trade on Manifold Dollars (aka M$ or “mana”), an in-game currency specific to our platform. But one of the most common criticisms we hear is: “Why should I care about trading fake currency?”

It would be nice to find a middle ground where users can bet something of real value which doesn’t run afoul of financial regulations. Thinking about this, we were inspired by donor lotteries: if you can gamble with charitable donations, shouldn’t you be able to make bets with them? Thus, Manifold for Good was born.

You can now donate your M$ winnings to charity! Through the month of May, every M$ 100 you contribute turns into USD $1 sent to your chosen charity - we’ll cover all processing fees!

Why?

Manifold for Good solves two problems with today’s prediction markets. First, it allows you to bet using something valuable to you (i.e. donations to your favorite charity), which increases the incentive to bet correctly, relative to just virtual points. Second, it respects existing financial regulations, which has proven difficult for prediction markets in the past.

By providing an entertaining and impactful way to allocate money to charity, Manifold for Good can also increase the total amount of money donated. Just as donors participating in a charity bingo night are willing to pay extra for the value of entertainment, so too can Manifold’s markets provide a fun, motivating reason to participate in charitable activities.

What’s Next?

Think of Manifold for Good as an experiment! We’re seeing what the level of demand is for this kind of redemption for Manifold Dollars; let us know if you have any thoughts or suggestions.

In the future, we’d like to grow the program to increase the number of available charities. We currently support 30+ charities; if you have a charity recommendation, let us know and we’ll pay a M$ 500+ bounty once we add it!

We’d also love to offer donation matching to cause areas or charities — we think this would get users even more excited about forecasting and donating! If you would like to partner with us to fund an experiment like this, or be featured as a charity, please get in touch at give@manifold.markets.

Finally: one HUGE shoutout to Sam Harsimony and Sinclair Chen for leading the effort to build out Manifold for Good!

Note: we are not affiliated with most of these charities, other than being fans of their work. As Manifold itself is a for-profit org, your M$ contributions will not be tax-deductible.

Bonus: our codebase is now open source!

At Manifold, we’ve always aimed to be transparent about the way we do things. Some examples:

I’m excited to say that we’ve taken the next step forward: open sourcing our entire codebase! Check out our Github repo here.

Don’t forget to like and subscribe leave a Github Star!

This effort was spearheaded by Marshall Polaris, to whom the whole Manifold community owes a huge debt of gratitude. Marshall has been behind the scenes, doing the necessary work to prepare us for this big step forward:

  • Ensuring our user data is secure against attackers
  • Expanding our documentation to help new contributors get up and running
  • Improving our processes to scale up with many new potential contributors

I can’t wait to see what features you build, bugs you fix, or projects you start, now that our code is open to you!

— Austin

Kudos to Justis Millis for reviewing a draft of this post.

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