Your Inner Secrets Revealed! By Hunch And Your Twitter Account

Chris Dixon and Caterina Fake

Last week, the team behind recommendation engine Hunch introduced the Twitter Predictor Game, a program that uses your Twitter username to predict your answers to multiple choice questions on a wide range of topics.

Check out what Hunch’s game says about the people who follow 20 celebrities on Twitter →

Hunch doesn’t say exactly how the predictor works, but here’s the basic idea:

  • Hunch users are encouraged to link their Twitter (and Facebook) accounts to the service. And Hunch asks its users these same questions.
  • So the program has a lot of data on how people who follow — or are followed by — prominent Twitter accounts answer certain questions on average.
  • For each question asked you, the Twitter Predictor looks at how the average follower of each person you follow answered. (We obviously don’t know the algorithm by which it combines those expectations to make its guess about you — this is the heart of what Hunch does in general, so if we did know, the company would have to kill us.)
  • That’s it. The game doesn’t “cheat” by looking at your Hunch account (if you have one), reading your Tweets, simply going with the most popular answer every time, etc.

Basically, it’s just one narrow application of how Hunch works in general. And it works pretty well: the game correctly predicts your answers about 85% of the time.

Twitter Predictor generated a fair bit of buzz, but the reception has been pretty mixed. The main complaint is that many of the questions are such that most people would answer the question the same way. There’s nothing too mind blowing about an algorithm correctly predicting that you don’t think the world will end in 2012.

This is too bad, because after spending some time with it, we think there really is something neat here. If the game excluded questions like these, its accuracy rate would no doubt be much lower, but we think it would definitely still be much better than chance. If you think about what it has to go on, that is actually very impressive.

So, what do the people you follow tell Hunch about you? As a roundabout way of demonstrating how the Twitter Predictor works, Hunch recently put up another “game”, which simply lets you look up big time Twitterers and see how their followers’ answers compare to the norm.

A lot of it is very intuitive: Barack Obama’s followers are a lot more left wing than Sarah Palin’s. If Hunch is really on to something, though, the more important cases are the less obvious ones. For instance:

What does following Jimmy Fallon on Twitter say about your driving record?

Check out how 20 celebs’ Twitter followers answer Hunch’s questions >

Obama followers are liberal Jon Stewart worshipers who think they've found their 'soul mates'. How hopey can you get?

Gawker's readers dwell in the city and don't insist on facts

HuffPo readers are so partisan they think Bill Maher is funny

Unfortunately Hunch doesn't ask you if you want a Bridge to Nowhere, but we think we know how they'd answer

Trendy, vespa-riding foodies shop at American Apparel. We doubt their appreciation for food extends to actually eating much of it.

Jimmy Fallon fans are a wreck

You, dear reader, are a humorless, mid-career entrepreneur with a brokerage account.

These godless treehuggers refuse to face the hard truth about New Yorkers

Skating fans are superstitious gun control moderates. Who knew?

NPR fans fit every stereotype you can think of, right down to the wine (and, no doubt, cheese)

Arnold's followers always finish at the same time as their partners. At meals.

Don't ask Kim Kardashian's followers about the meaning of life, they're too busy getting their nails done

Justin Bieber isn't so popular with the guys.

NYC venture capitalist Fred Wilson is being followed by the people who should be following Fred.

Perez Hilton's followers are a lot like Kim Kardashian's

Almost every one of these questions is a rewording of 'are you a man or a woman'

Anyone who is routinely building birdhouses to give as gifts and ISN'T following Martha Stewart is blowing it

Trekkies follow Levar Burton. You heard it here first.

Now you've seen Hunch in action, check out...

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