This post got me taking a closer look at the contest, and I noticed that out of the top-placing 112 entries (for the day I was looking at), 45 of them are duplicates, representing only 16 unique entries. How does this happen? -- Simple: somebody shares some code on the forum for the purpose of getting help, soliciting collaboration, or generously educating, and other people simply clone the person's code and submit it unaltered into the contest as their own.
Jamie's critique turned to a fairly high-level, ascribing the risk model to a high correlation among submissions. My critique is pretty low level: entries are similar because a huge percent are literally copying other people's ideas, often byte for byte.
There are just under 400 contest entrants total. Roughly the bottom 50 have a score of 0. Of the remaining ~350 positive entries, roughly the top 100 is 40% clones, which doesn't even capture entries that are slightly modified clones. Some portion of entries is total rubbish -- I'm not going to draw the line, but we all know it is there somewhere. What's clear though is that the top is heavily populated by unoriginal ideas, which skews everything. There are far fewer unique entrants than would appear, and of the remaining, it's skews heavily towards the sub-par.
To me this raises serious questions about the integrity and efficacy of the contest. Also, it seems there's an element of the platform and contest's design that encourages unoriginality.
What's up with people? Why is this behavior so ubiquitous?
I'm pretty sure of those 16 top-performing cloner strategies at least one must be one of my strategies, since I just checked and the OOS has been really great and there were a number of "clones" of it. I'm running a variation of the same strategy and have been scoring >1.3. Is there a way I can calculate what my contest score would be so I can see which users are scoring with my code? What happens if somebody beats me onto the leaderboard with my own strategy? Do they get paid for submitting my work? What happens if they -- gasp -- submit it for an allocation?! Ok, so maybe I'm a dumb-dumb for reciprocating and showing my appreciation for the help I've received by posting publicly what I did with that help. Learned my lesson.
What's the purpose of limiting each person to 5 contest strategies if we have essentially unlimited submissions (via cloners)? If the 5-limit is to encourage quality, well there's no shortage of rubbish in the sample from other users, so why limit the most talented users? Of course Quantopian is up against the infinite monkey theorem, which the 5-submission limit helps combat, but it is wholly inadequate.
The platform needs some metric to score entries by originality, and it needs to be designed to favor the originator. This would both make it more fair for us, and also encourage the development of more quality, novel strategies for the Q Fund.