Sunday, February 26, 2012

Inkling's Oscar Prediction Guide 2012

Someone didn't ask about every category for tonight's Academy Awards on our public site, but here's a prediction guide for a lot of the categories as of 4:15 ET/1:15 PT. The higher the chance, the more likely the participants thought that was going to be the winner.

CategoryPredicted WinnerInkling's Prediction
Original Screenplay Midnight in Paris 62% chance
Adapted Screenplay The Descendants 78% chance
Visual Effects Rise of the Planet of the Apes 69% chance
Sound Mixing Hugo 45% chance
Sound Editing Hugo 64% chance
Best Short Film (Live Action) The Shore 41% chance
Best Short Film (Animated) The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris 46% chance
Best Original Song Man or Muppet 68% chance
Best Original Score The Artist 83% chance
Makeup The Iron Lady 74% chance
Foreign Language Film A Separation 71% chance
Best Film Editing The Artist 48% chance
Best Documentary (Short Subject) Saving Face 39% chance
Best Documentary (Feature) Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory 33% chance
Best Directing The Artist 73% chance
Costume Design The Artist 44% chance
Art Cinematography The Tree of Life 66% chance
Art Direction Hugo 68% chance
Animated Feature Film Rango 88% chance
Best Supporting Actress Octavia Spencer 82% chance
Best Actress Viola Davis 76% chance
Best Supporting Actor Christopher Plummer 80% chance
Best Actor George Clooney 54% chance
Best Picture The Artist 80% chance

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A dashboard two ways

One of the perpetual issues we face as a company that sells prediction markets is reconciling two primary kinds of users: the first are people who have never heard of a prediction market or aren't familiar with stock market concepts. This is the vast majority of our users. They are usually being asked by someone inside their company to participate in an internal prediction market and the experience is completely new to them.

The second type of users are familiar with stock market concepts, understand buying and selling shares, and have maybe even participated in a prediction market before like the HSX or Intrade or the Iowa Electronic Markets.

We've always worked hard to try and satisfy both camps in one user experience, usually erring on the side of simplification vs. complexity. But that's a fine line to walk and instead of really making both types of users completely satisfied, we've delivered more of an 80/20 experience.

Last year we began the split of the two user groups with two distinct trading interfaces for "simple" and "advanced" users. In a couple days, we'll be following up this split with the availability of two different dashboards to track predictions. The default will be a "simple" dashboard where you'll track your investments, but will never come in to contact with the concept of "buying shares."

Here's what an entry in the simplified dashboard will look like:

We wanted to make sure the only calculation the user would need to understand is, I spent X to make the crowd prediction Y. We also tell them what their maximum profit or maximum loss would be at any given time. And we let them see the "history" of predictions in any answer, describing in plain language exactly what they did at any given time:

In contrast, a person could choose to use the "advanced dashboard" which simply reveals more about their predictions. They can see how many shares they bought, the concept of short selling is not hidden but is instead made transparent, and there are more liquidation options.

We've also built a search function for your dashboard, so those who have more than one page of predictions can easily find them by typing in a word or two associated with the question instead of having to page through them or rely only on various sorting options. Someone told us recently they have over 40 pages of predictions on their dashboard. Search should be a huge timesaver.

I'm sure we still haven't gotten either experience perfect, but this should lay the foundation for better satisfying both levels of users.

Expect to see the new dashboard introduced some time Thursday or Friday evening.

Watch out for bullets

I called my cable company recently to see if they had any promotional plans I could switch to to relieve the exorbitant rate I was paying. They said no, but they did offer to swap out my old crappy DVR for a Tivo at no charge.

I drove to the RCN office in Chicago to do the swap. I walked in to find a sparsely furnished lobby and two customer support people sitting behind concrete walls and bullet proof glass.

I know they have a stock of relatively expensive equipment, but that can't be the only reason for the Western Union style lobby.

The experience got me thinking: how bad does your customer experience have to be before you need to start outfitting your support centers with reinforced steel doors and bullet proof glass? Shouldn't this be a signal to the company that something is seriously wrong with customer relations, or is this just what a semi-monopoly always looks like (everyone hates you?)