Will Manifold judge "Betting Streaks" to be better at retention than "Market of the Day"?
resolved Oct 26

In today's standup, Stephen and I came to a strong disagreement: whether "Betting Streaks" or "Market of the Day" is a better feature for improving our retention, and ultimately, our daily active users/DAU. So, let's put it to the market!

  • "Betting Streaks": Give users M$5 for betting on day 1 of a streak, then M$10 on day 2, M$15 on day 3, etc. while the streak remains unbroken. Maybe capped at M$25 or something.

  • "Market of the Day": Highlight a single market each day, eg pinned to the top on the home feed, where we encourage most Manifold users to bet along. Ideally the market resolves the next day, to give traders fast feedback.

How this market will be resolved:

  • Anyone can leave a comment with a score/10, judging how good they think the feature was at improving our retention and DAU. E.g. "[JUDGE] Streak: 5/10; MotD: 8/10"

  • Manifold core team scores count 3x

  • You can update your decision; your last score before market close is the one that will be counted

  • At market resolution, the sum of the scores determines how this market resolves.

Resolves to N/A if both features are not implemented by market close.

Aug 20, 11:28am: To calibrate your judging, this is what I had in mind:

  • 0/10: This feature singlehandedly caused our entire userbase to churn

  • 2/10: This feature was ultimately a waste of time, we've taken it out

  • 5/10: This feature was basically neutral; if could flip a coin between having and not having this feature, I would be completely ambivalent.

  • 8/10: Very happy we did this feature, no one's even considering removing it now

  • 10/10: This feature singlehandedly gets us to hockey-stick product market fit

My personal impressions on a variety of recent initiatives, at this point in time:

  • Challenge Bets: 3/10

  • Groups: 4/10

  • Multiple Choice Markets: 4/10

  • Limit Orders: 5/10

  • Referrals: 6/10

  • Rich Text Editor: 7/10

  • Salem Center Tournament: 7/10

  • Unique Trader Bonus: 8/10

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predicted YES

Streak mechanics in my life.

  1. 5yo tooth brushing app gems.

  2. Manifold Markets mana.

predicted NO

Thanks everyone for participating! Really enjoyed the discussion and voting on this market, and I hope to run more experiments like this.

I'm definitely getting the message that "betting streaks are popular", though I'm still not sure that I would include it in Manifold if it were solely up to me. At this point in time, I'd rate streaks as 5/10 and Market of the Day at 3/10; I think the potential on MotD is still there, but there wasn't much in the way of execution (and it's worth noting that getting to a good execution might have taken a lot more work, which is a point against it).


I'm definitely getting the message that "betting streaks are popular",

Be careful not to filter too much, I'd be interested in the turnover rate of old vs new users over time and the effects of streaks on it. Also, how many users that voted betting streaks as low stayed.

That being said, i like that this market and experiment existed, thanks for having run it! I'd love to see more of those and fast-paced changes around the platform ^^

predicted NO

@Austin I'm still not a fan of the streaks. They basically serve as a constant reminder to me that I don't use Manifold as often as Manifold wants me to (aka daily), which is just a little drip drip drip of negative experience every time I use the site after not using it the day before (which is more often than not these days).

I think what you're going to see is users who are already engaged enough to log on daily will like the streaks, while for users whose engagement is waning they will speed that process along.

@JamesGrugett, this comment is also relevant to you. :)

predicted NO

@MattP fwiw I've stopped paying attention to streaks altogether after the first time I broke them

predicted NO

@Austin Same here, which is why I describe them as basically periodic negative reinforcement at this point. I'm mostly ignoring them, so there's just the occasional "oh yeah, I broke my streak and lost some mana" occurrence.


I think what you're going to see is users who are already engaged enough to log on daily will like the streaks, while for users whose engagement is waning they will speed that process along.

Yup, I think what streaks essentially does is increase polarisation. That may be a good thing depending on manifold's goals, though.

I still wish it didn't show up by default on the main page and notifications, though, it is a serious obstacle to me recommending manifold now.

@JoyVoid You can disable it! If you toggle the notifications off, the indicator also disappears from the homepage. I had it turned off for a long time because I didn't care about it and the notifications were annoying.

But yeah, it's there by default and most people probably won't turn it off.

@jack Yeah I know, thanks a lot for the info!

But when I talked to friends/family about Manifold, their main concern was that it was an addictive "free-to-play" game that was after your money.

I had long discussions about it pre-streaks, trying to convince my brother that you didn't need to pay in and on itself, and, more importantly, that it wasn't just an addictive mobile-type game.

The betting streaks make me lose all credibility in that aspect. I don't want to recommend a platform to random acquaintances (I used to) and to my friends if:

  • They're going to think it's just an addictive free-to-play game

  • Worse, they actually get addicted

Turning off the notifications kinda solve 2, though not exactly. But it doesn't change the reputational cost of talking about a platform that has the kind of practices such as "streaks", no matter how justified they actually are/how impactful they are in practice.

So for now, I'm abstaining from talking about manifold to others, and am definitely avoiding discussions about manifold with my brother, he'd just use the streaks as an evidence of him being right, perhaps justifiably so.

predicted NO

@JoyVoid Yep, hard agree. Daily streaks make Manifold embarrassing to talk about or recommend to others.

predicted NO

It's also really entertaining to me that Manifold had such a concerted effort to remove the word "bet" from their UI due to perceived negative connotations, but maintains the streaks which is orders of magnitude worse for them reputationally. shrug

@JoyVoid Yeah, that totally makes sense. Personally I see it as Manifold being primarily after user engagement, not so much money, at least currently - but it definitely can create negative perceptions.

Streak mechanics are very polarizing but they still seem to work despite the tradeoffs. There's a reason they are in so many places, from games to Duolingo.

Personally I think I'd rather have daily/weekly rewards, but not a streak counter. One reason is that it removes the intermittent negative reinforcement problem, while keeping the positive reinforcement. Not sure about whether they are better perception-wise - what are the perceptions of daily/weekly rewards as opposed to streaks?

Yeah, I'd love a sort of quest system or just daily reward. Likewise, I don't mind at all the referals, tips, etc...

I personally wouldn't mind talking about manifold then (or at least not as much), what I feel embarasment about is this aspect of "you didn't log in today? Too bad for you", which hits different.

Personally I see it as Manifold being primarily after user engagement, not so much money

Yeah, I agree. Though I did spend more money than I had agreed to in advance, and I feel like there could be better precautions. It's hard to convince others of this though, the same way saying "Well, okay, I realize streaks can feel a bit scammy but you can turn them off" doesn't work great either.

predicted NO

@jack "Streak mechanics are very polarizing but they still seem to work despite the tradeoffs"

Yeah, and to be clear I'm not arguing that they don't work, per se. Just that they are bad and the fact Manifold is using them belies a values difference prioritizing skinner box-style engagement over user experience.

Also for all I know, dailies could be just as effective or more effective than streaks as a retention mechanism. All I am confident in is that (streaks OR dailies) are very effective. Would love to see if there's research comparing them.

predicted YES

[JUDGE] Streak: 9/10; MotD: 2/10

Betting streaks good.

bought Ṁ70 of YES

[JUDGE] Streak: 7/10; MotD: 3/10

I've dropped my streak a couple times, so I can't say I'm personally super invested in it, but it's still pretty cool (especially when it went up to 50). Highlighting specific markets for users seems really hard to do well.

predicted YES

[JUDGE] Streak: 9/10; MotD: 2/10

Betting streaks have been one of the most impactful features we've added. (If this market resolves any other way, that is more a reflection of the skewed resolution criteria than what actually happened.)

@SG I still think that there is a Market Of The Day implementation that is a 9/10 though (namely, allowing everyone to pay to be featured/boosted on the homepage)

bought Ṁ20 of YES

[JUDGE] Streak: 8/10, MotD: 5/10 (assuming featured markets are the same thing as MotD and we're not counting the homepage redesign as part of it)

Basically I just checked the stats page and I'm guessing from it that betting streaks made the bigger difference out of the two options above, but I'm aware it's all confounded anyway and it seems like maybe retention was already improving before either feature was implemented.

Y'know, after all that, neither of these features have made a large difference to me. The two changes that have most improved Manifold for me, like absolutely skyrocketed the experience, have been a) homepage redesign (clearly related to featured markets, but featured markets wouldn't've mattered at all without the redesign) and b) allowing me to filter my bets for limit orders.

[JUDGE] Streak: 8/10; MotD: 5/10

[JUDGE] Streak: 9/10; MotD: 2/10

Hot take: I personally think anyone still rating MotD higher than 3 is straight up not critically thinking about it at this point. Its not even really implemented at all, and is borderline invisible.

Conversely, streaks have made me and others bet more and login more frequently, despite any personal misgivings.

@SneakySly I think having a long long term user delete their account and cite streaks a one of a few reasons is a red flag.

Also your language here: "made me". Red flag.

Can still be a reasonable tactic for a start-up going for initial growth.

@MartinRandall "made me" implies it has a strong effect on user retention. ;)

I am specifically evaluating it through this lens:
"a better feature for improving our retention, and ultimately, our daily active users/DAU"

And I think it's pretty clear having a little word "featured" by a market hasn't done anything for the above.

@MartinRandall Oh and to be clear, featured markets have lots of room for improvement imo, but currently they do nothing I think.

@SneakySly Yeah, the featured markets on their own are almost nothing, I have no dispute with that side of your analysis, your number is just one off from mine.

@SneakySly > Conversely, streaks have made me and others bet more and login more frequently, despite any personal misgivings.

That is only true for users who stayed on the platform. They may not be the reason I've quit Manifold, but they probably played a significant part in symptomatic terms.