Yeah, building the community is definitely harder than building the engineering side. It is hugely impressive that you managed to bootstrap Manifold to have so much activity in so little time.
I agree, it IS a niche within a niche. But -- isn't it sort of the point to get to such a depth? My ideal version of the world includes using prediction markets for more than just US elections and crypto prices.
I want a decent number of people predicting whether a certain policy will increase birth rate, or whether a nuclear power station project will be built in time and within the budget. Those are indeed very niche, nerdy things, but also things on which it is important to get things right. So I am trying.
But also, even the case of failure is not in vain. If it turns out that it is impossible (or very hard) to get a community of 100-200 people in Bulgaria to be regular users, that is also a data point. The next guy will know that prediction markets for small countries are very tricky/hard. We will have some practical evidence against any futarchy ZEDE/charter city ideas.
>feedback from the first set of users
The feedback was generally polite interest - I didn't manage to get the ball rolling to get anything more.
>What do you plan on doing differently this time around to try and get more usage?
focus on community building, rather than on features
have leaderboard prizes - which is not trivial, even for small amounts, in poor countries
have a marketing budget
consult actual marketing/SEO experts
do things that don't scale that well - press releases, cajoling university students, facebook posts, get a core of users to participate by badgering them IRL, send personal invitations to the political analyst class, give out nice certificates that people can show off and put on linkedin, hire an intern or two, hold an essay contest
apply for more sources of financing