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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 roles for the contests beginning in 2017.

Please read these rules in full. You will be required to accept them when you enter a contest, or join a contest team. The rules may be supplemented or revised by the Climate CoLab team by posting supplements or revisions to this page, and we will make reasonable efforts to notify members of teams entered in contests. 

Different rules apply to contests launched in previous years. Click the following links to see contest rules from 2016, 2015, 2014, 2012-2013, 2011, and 2010.



Goals of Climate CoLab Contests

The primary goals of Climate CoLab are to:

Study collective intelligence:

Climate CoLab is a research project of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Center for Collective Intelligence (, and is studying how large numbers of people around the world can create detailed proposals for what humanity should do about climate change.

By helping scientists, policy makers, businesspeople, 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 educate the general public about climate change:

By giving large numbers of people an opportunity to work together 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 an open forum to discuss and select climate change proposals:

Climate CoLab aims to be an open and neutral forum where members can discuss climate change proposals consistent with the best expert knowledge currently available.  Proposals can be submitted into Climate CoLab contests and workspaces. Climate CoLab awards proposals that are selected by the contest Judges and the community; the project does not advocate for or endorse specific climate change solutions. To read more about our philosophy, please read the Community Philosophy & Policies.

Who Can Participate on Climate CoLab?

Climate CoLab is open to anyone in the world, regardless of age*, nationality, gender identity, cultural identity, or political viewpoint.

Contests, however, are void where prohibited by law. Climate CoLab users bear the responsibility of checking with local laws and regulations, to ensure their participation does not violate any applicable law or ordinance, and to ensure they are eligible to participate. U.S. law prevents Climate CoLab from awarding prize money to persons ordinarily resident in Iran, Cuba, Syria, North Korea, or Crimea and to parties blocked by the U.S. Treasury Department.

*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 or your vote for you.

Submitting a Proposal

Entries consist of proposals that are created and submitted online in a Climate CoLab contest or workspace, found at

You must register on the Climate CoLab website in order to submit a proposal. When submitting a proposal, you will be asked to agree to these Contest Rules and the Terms of Use in order for Climate CoLab to accept your entry.

For guidance in submitting a proposal, please see our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).

Contest Entry Requirements

Contest entry requirements vary between contests.  The focus of each contest and any additional requirements for entries are described on the contest’s homepage and in its “Details” page.

A complete entry includes all the elements of the proposal template for a contest, as well as any additional requirements as stated in the contest’s “Details” page. Fields in the proposal template may have character limits. Embedding images and links to other proposals and websites is permitted and encouraged, as long as the author has the permissions to use the images and credits them accordingly.

To ensure the proposal meets the character limits, the use of images with large amounts of descriptive text (e.g. screenshots of articles, papers, or documents) that form the core text of the proposal will not be permitted. Participants who do not comply with this rule, as determined in the sole discretion of the Climate CoLab staff, may not be advanced to the Semi-Finalist or Finalist stage. (Acceptable text includes brief amounts of text to describe the graphic, such as a title, legend, axis labels, or content of a graph.)

Authors are welcome to submit a proposal to more than one contest and may submit multiple, different proposals to the same contest. Duplicate proposals in the same contest may be screened out by the Fellows and Climate CoLab staff.

In accordance with the Climate CoLab site’s Terms of Use, unless they have received appropriate permission, authors are prohibited from posting any copyrighted or otherwise restricted works of others, and should ask for written permission from original authors for use or modification of their work. Users are prohibited from plagiarizing others’ materials and are required to give appropriate attribution when incorporating third party materials into a proposal. Climate CoLab reserves the right to remove content that it determines in its sole discretion violates these terms. 

Climate CoLab reserves the right to remove objectionable or offensive images, links, proposals, or other content from its website. Climate CoLab also reserves the right to disable member accounts associated with objectionable or offensive content, or contents which violate our community philosophy and policies. Climate CoLab reserves the right to re-assign a proposal to a different contest.

As set forth in the Terms of use, all proposals will be made available to third parties under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 United States License. Subject to the terms of this license, third parties have the right to use or reference your work, with attribution.


Proposal Teams (Owners and Contributors)


Proposals can be authored by an individual, a team, or by the Climate CoLab community at large.

In order to be recognized as a member of the proposal’s team, all team members – also called proposal contributors -- must register with the Climate CoLab website and be listed as contributors on the proposal’s Contributor tab. All authors and contributors must understand and agree to the Terms of use and these Contest Rules.


The member who creates a proposal will be listed as the proposal owner and has the right to change the proposal edit settings, invite team members, and to approve or deny a member’s request to join a team. Proposal owners will receive all official communications about the contest and are responsible for sharing relevant communications from Climate CoLab with their contributors.

Climate CoLab and/or the contest partners will distribute any and all contest prizes awarded to proposals to the proposal owner.  Team members are expected to decide among themselves who will receive any prizes that may be designated for their team. Climate CoLab will not mediate disputes between team members, nor will Climate CoLab be liable for any claims or disputes arising among or asserted by team members based on the distribution or allocation of contest prizes.  

For guidance on creating teams and collaborative proposals, please see the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page.


If you do not list any contributors on the proposal, you are representing that you are the sole author. If you do list contributors, you represent that you are not violating any contributor’s rights by entering the work, and that any contributor has given you explicit permission to submit the work and identify them as a contributor. In the event a dispute arises concerning contributors to a proposal, Climate CoLab reserves the right to remove the proposal.


Removing Entries

While a contest is still accepting entries (for example, in a contest’s “Proposal Creation” phase), a proposal can be deleted by the proposal owner by opening the proposal, clicking the Admin tab and clicking Delete Proposal.

Once the judging periods has begun, any proposal submitted for a contest is considered an official entry and cannot be deleted by a proposal author.  Climate CoLab retains the rights to remove proposals if they violate our Community Philosophy & Policy or Terms of Use or if they are duplicative.

Contest schedules and Evaluation

Schedules, contest phases, and evaluation criteria may vary by contest. For details on a particular contest, see the contest homepage, and the top blue bar outlining its schedule and phases, and its “Details Page.” Climate CoLab contest Judges will be asked to evaluate proposals on the criteria outlined in the contest’s “Details Page.” 

For details about the most common phase types, see the “How the CoLab works.”

Although our contest Details Pages attempt to outline criteria clearly and concisely, the nature of the contests is such that the ultimate decision whether to award a prize will be a subjective one, based on the totality of the proposal and the expertise and experience of the Judges.  Results are derived from both quantitative and qualitative assessments of proposals. Decisions of Judges are final and not subject to review or appeal.

Awards and Prizes


Contest-Specific Prizes

The awards and prizes (if any) for a given contest will be listed in the contest’s “Details Page.” Different contests have different awards, which may or may not include a monetary or non-monetary prize.

Judges may decide not to award any winners or awards or progress any proposals to the next round. In these instances, no prize will be conferred.  As stated above, the Judges’ decisions are final and not subject to appeal.

Additional awards and prizes may be given by either the Judges or Climate CoLab at their discretion, within a contest or across contests in order to recognize other top proposals.

Tax Withholdings

Winners and CoLab Point recipients should be aware that Climate CoLab and MIT Center for Collective Intelligence may be required to 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

A contest’s public voting period helps select that contest’s Popular Choice winner. The specific dates for a given voting period will be announced publicly and reflected on a particular contest’s homepage.

Anyone over the age of 18 can vote by registering on the Climate CoLab website with a valid* email address and clicking "vote for proposal" on the proposal page. As always, registration is free. Those who are under 18 years old will need their parent or legal guardian to register on the Climate CoLab website and submit their vote on their behalf.

Members can vote for one (1) proposal per contest, and can change their vote as many times as they 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 Climate CoLab staff or contest partners will do their best to accurately and comprehensively check the votes cast in each contest to ensure fair play.

To prevent abuse, all contest participants – including proposal authors, proposal contributors, and voters -- agree to the following rules:

- Votes will only be validated if they are cast by members who have registered with a working and valid email address that is able to receive mail. Any votes made by accounts with non-working or invalid* email addresses will be invalidated during or at the end of the voting period.

Invalid email addresses include disposable email addresses, such as from sites including but not limited to Mailinator, MailDrop, Air Mail, etc.

- If the Climate CoLab staff notices evidence of cheating (e.g. use of bots, third party voting services or payment for votes, registration of voters without their consent, or other types of voting fraud), they have sole discretion to invalidate votes during or at the end of the voting period. If necessary, the Climate CoLab staff will determine the winning proposal in that contest based on non-suspect votes.

These rules are shared with proposal owners who are entering the voting period.