A (somewhat beta) site for embedding betting odds in your writing

by Optimization Process1 min read2nd Jul 20217 comments

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Software ToolsBettingRequest Post
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This is a linkpost for https://biatob.com/

I've made a site for publishing predictions and publicly offering to bet on them. LessWrong seems like a place that might be interested in such a tool, and I expect at least 4 people will be interested enough in this site to play around with it a little(bet: $20 at 50%). It's a little rough around the edges, but I'd be delighted if my target audience (you) found it intriguing enough to try it / offer feedback!


What's it do, more specifically? Well, there are two basic flows:

  • Offer bets: Alice has some belief that other people might disagree with! She operationalizes it into some statement like "by Sept 1, I will have 2k karma on LessWrong"; she figures she's 60% sure, and willing to lose up to $50. She creates a prediction on Biatob with those parameters, then publicizes that prediction (e.g. by pasting a little HTML snippet into a LW post).
  • Take bets: Bob reads Alice's LW post and sees the little "[bet: $50 at 60%+]" link. He thinks her goal is unrealistically high, but he respects Alice and trusts her to pay up if she's wrong. Bob clicks the link, signs up, and bets $20 against her $30.

Then, on Sept 1, Alice gets an email reminding her to check whether the prediction came true or not. When she does, Biatob tells her how much money [she/Bob] owes [Bob/her], and they settle up offline. (Notice that this is all honor-system: you can only bet against people you trust, but at that cost, you don't have to trust my janky web site with your money.)

For example: I signed up, created a couple of predictions (like the above one about a afew LWers signing up), and copied some HTML into this post. Now I can say things like "I doubt anybody will even be interested enough to make an easy $10 by betting against me.(bet: $10 at 50%)" (That prediction is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but I'm completely serious that I'll pay up if you go to the trouble of signing up to bet against me. I'm hoping to get some user feedback from you.)

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7 comments, sorted by Highlighting new comments since Today at 6:02 PM
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I love this and intend to use it to flex at work until and unless HR tells me to stop because something something gambling something.

Neat idea. I would like for other people's predictions to be public by default, so that I can browse them and bet against the ones that I think are wrong (margin-call them, as if it were). Sadly this isn't possible with the current setup, because bet urls are randomized.

Thanks for the feedback! No pressure to elaborate, but if you care to -- would you want to browse all predictions, even ones by people you've never heard of? If so, how do you know the randos you're betting against won't just run off with your money when you lose, and refuse to pay up when you win? Maybe you just trust the-sort-of-person-who-uses-this-site to be honorable? Or maybe you have some clever solution for establishing trust that I haven't thought of!

(Or maybe you meant something more like "I'd like to be able to browse my friends' predictions," which I can totally sympathize with and it's on my to-do list!)

would you want to browse all predictions, even ones by people you've never heard of?

Yes, all predictions. 

how do you know the randos you're betting against won't just run off with your money when you lose, and refuse to pay up when you win? Maybe you just trust the-sort-of-person-who-uses-this-site to be honorable?

I'd probably by default trust anyone with a LW karma of > [some threshold], or someone with a twitter account which is willing to confirm their identify, or in general someone who has written something I find insightful. If I'm feeling particularly paranoid, I might contact them outside your platform before making a bet, but I imagine that in most cases outside the first few ones, I probably wouldn't bother. I'd also expect to find out rather rapidly if people don't pay out. Also, from past experience using similar setups (handshake bets on the Polymarket Discord), people do care about the reputation of their anonymous aliases.

The signup was slightly confusing. Entering a user name and password, the but about adding an email said "but first, log in!" and there were two buttons, a "log in" and a "sign up" button. Clicking "log in" said I couldn't because I needed to sign up. So I clicked "sign up" and then the hiccup was over.

Thanks for the feedback! Much appreciated.

Also, if you do make bets public by default (or, even better, make it the default option to give both an over/under bet), I'd love to scrap the website and add the implied probabilities to metaforecast.org