Contest rules

Contents of this page



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 contests with a submission deadline in 2017. 

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 2016201520142012-20132011, and 2010.

What are the goals of the contests?

The primary goals of the Climate CoLab contests are to:

  • Harness the collective intelligence of large numbers of people around the world to create proposals for what humanity should do about global climate change. By helping scientists, policy makers, business people, and concerned citizens to think constructively together about this problem, we believe it may be possible to create better solutions than would have been developed otherwise.
  • Help to educate the general public about the real issues involved in global climate change. By giving large numbers of people an opportunity to work together themselves on proposals to address climate change, based on the best current scientific knowledge, we believe they will come to understand the issues better and be better able to participate in political decision-making in their countries and communities.
  • Provide a large-scale test of new collective intelligence approaches. Examples like Wikipedia and Linux show that it's now possible for large groups of people to work together on very complex problems in ways that would have been impossible even a decade ago. We believe the new approach to collaborative problem solving being used here may be useful for other large-scale problems in the future.

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.


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 2017 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?

For details on a contest’s schedule, please see the contest’s homepage and the top blue bar outlining its schedule and phases. The most common phase types are outlined below, though please note that some contests may have different contest phases:

  • Proposal creation:  In this phase, teams are invited to create proposals.
  • Judging:  Expert Judges will review the completed proposals and select some as semi-finalists. For more on the judging criteria, see How will proposals be judged, below.
  • Revision period:  Teams selected to participate in the semi-finals will be invited to improve their proposals.
  • Voting and final judging:  The judges will review the Semi-Finalists and select Finalists. All registered users of the Climate CoLab will then be invited to vote for the finalist proposal they prefer. The Judges will also select the proposals they believe are most promising.



How will proposals be judged?

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

  • Feasibility of the actions proposed in the proposal. Judges with different kinds of expertise will evaluate the technical, economic, social, and political feasibility of the proposals.
  • Novelty of the proposal's ideas. Innovative thinking and originality in a proposal will be valued more than encyclopedic knowledge. In addition, instead of selecting a roster of finalists that are very similar, judges will try to select a group of proposals that represent a diverse range of approaches.
  • Impact on climate change (for example, for mitigation actions, the amount of greenhouse gas emission reductions or for adaptation actions, the extent to which the actions counteract the effects of climate change) and desirability of other impacts (e.g. economic, social, lifestyle)
  • Presentation quality. Proposals that are well-presented will be favored over those that aren't. Presentation quality includes how well written a proposal is, how well it uses graphics or other visual elements, and how compelling are its artistic representations of possible future worlds (if any).

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

Please note that some contests have additional or different criteria, which will be listed on the contest’s “Resources Page.” 

Judges will evaluate proposals and then deliberate to select the finalists, winners, and possibly other awardee(s).  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 and deliberation on the Judges' Choice winner(s).

What are the prizes?

The prizes for a given contest will be listed in the contest’s “Resources Page.” Different contests have different prizes. In rare cases, Judges may decide not to award any winners or awards or progress any proposals to the semi-finalist or finalist round. In these instances no prize will be conferred.  The Judges’ decisions for semifinalists, finalists, and winners are final.

Please see the contest’s resources page for specific prize information.

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

Monetary prize recipients are 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. Additional prize amounts and other awards may be announced. 

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. 

Voting Rules

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

Anyone (age 18+) with a valid email address 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 invalidate votes, or 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.