A Community Based Decision Engine

June 22nd, 2009 |


VP/Digital Account Director at The Martin Agency. Advertising geek, web addict, social media fanatic, and insomniac blogger. Read more from Eric at Pixel Maverick.

Hunch launched publicly on June 15th and showed Microsoft’s Bing what a real decision engine looks like.

Hunch is the brainchild of Flickr co-founder Caterina Fake, and is arguably the most intuitive of a new pack of startup companies that have zeroed in on the insight that many times when people use Google they are actually not searching for results …they are looking for answers.

Hunch Home Page

Search Engine VS. Decision Engine

Where search engines like Bing fall short is when you have a question and need help making a decision and not just listed information ranked by keyword relevance.

For instance, if you are thinking about buying a new car and cannot decide which type of car would be the best one for you, typing “What type of car is best for me?” into Google would not deliver results that help you choose.

This is where a decision engine like Hunch picks up the slack. Hunch uses a fairly simple Q&A interface to solve this dilemma for you.

Hunch Car Question

Hunch Car Answer

Community Powered

The thing that really makes Hunch different from an advanced search app or a decision-tree search filter is that the site is largely driven by a social wiki knowledgebase. The site relies entirely upon the community to come up with the questions, develop the content & the decision-tree logic, and to continually monitor and edit the content to improve the accuracy of the answers. Hunch initially seeded 500 questions at the start of beta testing, and then three months and 30,000 beta testers later the site was ready for launch with nearly 7 million questions set. Now that the site is open to the public the number of questions will skyrocket and all the gaps will be filled, and the accuracy of the answers will become more finely tuned.

Hunch relies on more than just community knowledge to deliver the right answer. It also takes into account your unique profile. The site is continually prompting you with random questions and tracking your overall interactions to learn more about your preferences.  The more you use Hunch, the better Hunch gets at incorporating your preferences into the results.

Hunch Profiler

A Social Community of Co-Creators

If you happen to be a contributor (1%) or editor (9%) in the 90-9-1 rule, the site is extremely fun and provides all the tools to foster a vibrant social community. There is an active forum, a workshop where new topics are assessed by the community, and the site allows you to connect with other Hunch contributors by “following” them. Ms. Fake has stayed true to her Flickr roots and has fully embraced the contributor community as co-owners (…well except for whole sharing of revenue part) of the brand and in the future of Hunch.

Hunch Workshop


How and When Will Hunch Make Money?

What will be very interesting to watch is how long it takes before Hunch becomes a viable and trusted resource for the other 90% of the public. I would think that a good benchmark to use to forecast this would be Wikipedia, however you would definitely need to speed up the growth rate to account for the increased numbers of Internet usage and sharing that occurs today.

Once Hunch reaches that tipping point, the revenue potential for the site is incredible. According to Ms. Fake the topics are already 40% monetizable with ads relevant to the answer. That’s right folks, it is absolutely twitterific to hear about an Internet startup that actually has a viable revenue model. I am sure the Hunch VC’s are very happy about this too.

I think as long as Hunch continues to place a higher priority on the community & accuracy of answers over the interests of the advertisers, then the site will thrive. Ironically this approach is a page out of the Google playbook, and by following it Hunch will probably take a chunk out of Google’s market share.

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Eric Williamson
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