Unavailability and null responses

The issue of at what point a question is decided, and in what ways it may be reported as undecided, is quite complex. Some uses require reporters to provide the best information available to them at the time, while others are not interested in an answer until it is reasonably clear. Many contracts will only be interested in a positive answer, eg an insurance contract might be interested in finding out when your house has burned down, but have no interest in the infinite number of occasions on which it did not burn down.

The handling of null, undecided or unclear answers is considered outside the scope of the system and left to the terms of each individual question. The terms of the question may designate a particular value or range of values to mean things like “undecided” or “uncertain”. They may also specify the level of certainty and/or finality that should be applied when evaluating the result at any given time.

Where the question does not specify the necessary terms, an arbitrator may choose to publish their own policy specifying how they will treat these issues if asked to decide on them.

There is no way to pause a question once it has been asked, so if the answer to a question at any given time is “null” or “undecided” or “too early to sensibly ask”, these values may be be settled on as the final result. A contract that needs a result that may not be decided at any given time should either control the date when the question is asked, or be coded to expect a question with the desired content and a decisive result, rather than a particular question.

See Using Realitio from a contract for discussion of how contracts should handle this.