Do you think you know who is going to buy Facebook, or how many copies of Halo 3 will be sold by the end of the year? You can make your make your best guess on ZiiTrend, a social prediction site that launched on Monday. (The answers to those two questions right now are: No one and 6.2 million, respectively).
ZiiTrend comes up with a group prediction based on every player’s vote. Unlike a true prediction market like Trendio, though, where players actually trade virtual stocks around events and predictions are derived from the resulting price, ZiiTrend makes things simpler. You simply make a prediction, and ZiiTrend’s neural-network algorithm blends your answer with everyone else’s to come up with a statistically valid answer that captures the crowd’s intelligence. Rather than revolving around trading, which is hard for many people to grasp, the site’s main appeal is designed to be more around social news exchange. Similar to PlaytheDay, which creates group predictions out of a quiz, ZiiTrend wants to make the whole process accessible to more people.
Members who predict correctly are rewarded with higher status and their votes carry more weight when they make further predictions. The clever bit is a tag-based scoring system that makes the votes of good predictors count more only on questions whose topics match the tags that they’ve proven their expertise on. So if you correctly answer the question, “Who will win the 2008 Oscar award for best actor?”, your personal tag score will go up for any future questions that include the words “Oscar award” or “best actor,” but not for ones about “oil prices.” That’s a steal-able feature for any startups out there trying to build expert databases or knowledge-management systems.
The problem with all prediction markets is that it is difficult to get people to participate. And that will be ZiiTrend’s biggest challenge. The site does make it easy for anyone to upload their own question for everyone else to vote on, which could help it spread virally. But what they really need is a Facebook/MySpace/blog widget that could bring people into the system.