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2016 Contest Rules

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In Climate CoLab contests, people from all over the world are invited to work together in developing proposals for what humanity should do about global climate change.  This page describes the rules for the 2016 round of contests.

Please read these rules in full. You will be required to accept them when you enter a contest. The rules may be supplemented or revised by posting supplements or revisions to this page and by email notification to members of teams entered in contests.

Different rules may apply to contests launched in previous years.  Click the following links to see contest rules from 201520142012-20132011, and 2010.  The most recent contest rules may be found here.

What are the goals of the contests?

The primary goals of the Climate CoLab contests are to:

New for 2016:  To support the 2015 United Nations' Paris agreement, all Climate CoLab contests this year will be a part of a larger effort to build detailed strategies for how countries and the world as a whole can deal with climate change.  Read more.

The goals of this contest are not to advocate any particular position or point of view about global climate change.  Instead, we hope to provide a neutral forum where the best ideas and information can be shared.


Who can participate?

The contest is open to anyone in the world, regardless of age, nationality, or political viewpoint.

This contest, however, is void where prohibited by law. It is your responsibility to check with your local laws to make sure that this contest does not violate any applicable law or ordinance, and to make sure that you are eligible to participate.

If you are under 18 years old, you will need your parent or legal guardian to register on the Climate CoLab website and submit your proposal for you.

You may submit projects that you have previously published or exhibited so long as they conform to the entry guidelines and the rules of this contest.


What does an entry in the contest contain?

Contest entries consist of proposals that are created and submitted online in the Climate CoLab:

The focus of each contest is described in the materials accompanying it, and a complete entry includes all the elements of the proposal template for a contest.

Authors are welcome to submit an idea to more than one contest, though it is highly recommended that they tailor their submissions to address the unique challenges in each contest.

Each field in the proposal template has a character limit. Embedding images and links to other proposals and websites is permitted and encouraged. Images may contain brief amounts of text to describe the graphic (e.g. title, legend, axis labels, content of a graph).  However, images with large amounts of descriptive text (e.g. screenshots of articles, papers, or online documents) that make up the core text of the proposal are not allowed.  Participants who do not comply to this rule may not be advanced to the Semi-Finalist or Finalist stage.

New for 2016:

To support the global and national climate action planning, most 2016 contests seek proposals for:

More details…


How can I enter the contest?

To enter, go to the main page of the contest and click on the Create proposal button.

After filling out the fields of the proposal template, you must save the proposal. When you save the proposal for the first time, a pop up will ask if you accept the Contest Rules and Terms of use. To save the proposal and enter the contest, click on the Accept button.

By saving and submitting a Proposal, you are agreeing to these Rules and the Terms of Use.

If you created your Proposal with other individuals, all of the co-authors must register with the Climate CoLab website. All co-authors must be listed as contributors to your proposal, and all contributors must understand and agree to the Terms of use and these Rules.

The individual who initiates a proposal will be listed as the owner of that proposal and will receive all official communications about the 2016 contest. Team members can decide among themselves who will receive any prizes that may be designated for their team should they win the contest. In cases where team members cannot agree among themselves, any prizes will be allocated to the Owner of the proposal.

As set forth in the Terms of use, all Proposals will be made available to third parties under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

If you do not list any contributors, or Co-Authors, on the proposal, you are representing that you are the sole author. If you do list Co-Authors of the work, you represent that you are not violating any Co-Author's rights by entering the work, and that any Co-Authors have given you permission to submit the work.


Can I remove my entry?

Any proposal submitted for a contest is considered an official entry and cannot be deleted from the website after the judging has begun.  (During the Proposal Creation phase, a proposal can be deleted by the proposal Owner by opening the proposal, clicking the Admin tab and clicking Delete Proposal.)  In future iterations, Authors will be able to re-open and edit their proposals after the contest has completed, however a fixed version of the submitted proposal will remain on the contest page.


How do teams work?

Individuals may create proposals by themselves, but participants are encouraged to form teams. For instance, a team might include different people with expertise in quantitative modeling, political analysis, writing, and artistic creation.

Anyone who wants to join the team creating a specific proposal can request to join that team. Then the current team members decide whether they want that person to join.

If they wish, a team can restrict the right to edit its proposal to team members only. Alternatively, a team may also let anyone who is interested edit its proposals. If anyone can edit, teams can get input from lots of people without the overhead of requiring everyone to join the team. Team members can easily undo any changes they don't like.


What is the contest's schedule?

Each contest has several stages, which are outlined below.  The schedule varies per contest.  Please see the top blue bar on a contest page to see its schedule.


Contest deadline: Monday, May 23, 8:00:00 PM Eastern Standard Time
Semifinalist Selection:               May 24 – June 5
Revision Period:  June 7 – June 15
Finalist Selection: June 16 – June 30
Public Voting:   July 5 – July 31


How will proposals be judged?

Judges will be asked to evaluate proposals on the following criteria:

Winning proposals will be especially strong in at least one of the first three dimensions, and also well presented.

As a tie-breaker, Judges may also use the popularity of a proposal, as indicated by the number of people who support it. For example, in cases where a number of proposals are similar, Judges will try to pick one or two proposals to represent the whole group. In selecting these representative proposals, Judges will take into account the quality of the proposal presentations and the number of people who support the proposals. To increase the diversity of ideas considered, Judges may accept slightly lower levels of feasibility for proposals that include highly novel and interesting ideas.

In selecting proposals to move on to the voting round, Judges will also be explicitly asked not to choose proposals based on their own personal preferences. In other words, Judges are asked to use their expertise to judge the feasibility, novelty, and presentation quality of proposals, but not based on their perspective on what is desirable. For example, a Judge should not reject a proposal that is technically, economically, and politically feasible, just because the Judge feels that the proposal would lead to socially undesirable consequences.

In the final round, the Judges will be asked to select the proposals they believe are most desirable. Thus, judgments of desirability are made only in the final stage of the contest, by the Climate CoLab community through popular vote and by the Judges through their selection of the Judges' Choice winners.


What are the prizes?

One Popular Choice and Judges' Choice winner will be named in each contest, and if the quality of entries warrants, additional winners may be named.  In rare cases, Judges may not to award any winners or progress any proposals to the semi-finalist or finalist round.

The Popular Choice and Judges' Choice winners will be promoted widely by the Climate CoLab, invited to a Climate CoLab event at MIT and enter the Winners Program.  Click the following links to see details about the 2015, 2014, and 2013 conferences and how winners were awarded.  In 2016, all Popular and Judges' Choice winners will be eligible for one $10,000 Grand Prize awarded by a panel of judges selected by the Climate CoLab. Additional prize amounts and other awards may be announced.

Monetary prize recipients will be encouraged to use their prize money to advance the ideas in their winning proposals or to donate them to others who will do so.

Contest-specific prizes may also be awarded. In such cases, these prizes will be described on the Resource page for the contest.

CoLab Points

Judges allocate CoLab Points to one or more Global proposals. Members with over a certain amount of points (determined each contest period) will be able to redeem points for monetary prizes.  Members can see how many Points they have won on the community members page and on their Climate CoLab member profile page, and will be contacted at the end of the contest period about how to redeem them.  In 2015, the Climate CoLab awarded $10,000 to CoLab Point recipients.

Tax Withholdings

Winners and Point Recipients should be aware that the Climate CoLab and MIT Center for Collective Intelligence may be required take withholdings from any prize that Winners may be awarded in order to comply with applicable tax laws. Winners must also agree to provide any applicable information and sign any applicable forms to redeem the prize as required by tax authorities. 

How will the results of the contest have an impact in the world?

In prior contests, the winning teams gave briefings about their proposals to policy makers at the United Nations in New York and the U.S. Congress in Washington, DC, as well as before policy makers, business executives and investors, and representatives of NGOs, at an event at MIT.  We are planning to continue this tradition in 2016.

In addition, for some contests, Advisors and Fellows will arrange briefings with relevant stakeholders. Information on topic-specific briefings will be included in the resource materials accompanying the relevant contests.


Voting Rules

Voting starting dates will be announced near the end of the Finalist Revision phase.

Anyone (age 18+) can vote by registering on the Climate CoLab website and clicking "Vote for proposal" on the proposal page. As always, registration is free. (If you are under 18 years old, you will need your parent or legal guardian to register on the Climate CoLab website and submit your vote for you.)

You can vote for one (1) proposal per contest, and can change your vote as many times as you wish before the voting period ends.

The number of people "supporting" a proposal in previous contest phases will not automatically be added to votes. People who have previously "supported" a proposal will also need to select "Vote for proposal" in order have their choice counted.

The one proposal with the highest number of valid votes in each contest will be granted the Popular Choice Award.

To prevent abuse, we require a valid email address in order to count your vote. Any votes made by accounts with invalid email addresses will be removed.

If the Climate Colab staff notices evidence of cheating (e.g. use of bots, third party voting services or payment for votes), they have the discretion to disqualify the entrant and cancel all votes received. If necessary, the Climate CoLab will determine the winning proposal in that contest based on non-suspect votes.