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Incentive prizes seem deceptively simple: Identify a problem, create and publicize a prize-based challenge for solving that problem, sign up diverse participants, and offer a reward to the winner. In practice, designing prizes that target the right problem, attract the most capable participants, and capture the imagination of the public to successfully achieve a desired outcome involves a complex set of design choices. This report aims to help prize designers organize and master those choices.
This report treats prize design not as a linear, step-by-step process, but rather as an iterative activity that requires making integrated choices to solve a carefully defined problem and then generating outputs that achieve a larger set of outcomes. By synthesizing insights from recent literature, expert interviews, and analysis of over 400 prizes, we identify six outcomes that designers commonly seek (individually or in combination), falling along two dimensions