Hunch: The decision maker you were waiting for?

Hunch is a new decision-helping service that asks you to answer questions to find out if you should do something. Is it worth trying out?

Hunch helps you make decisions. For quandaries ranging from "Where should I live?" to "Which blog should I read?" the system plays a question-and-answer game with you, to home in on an answer.

To improve your results, you can also teach the system about yourself by taking a quiz that asks questions like "Would you rather lead or be led?" and "Which 'Sesame Street' character appeals to you?" As you answer these questions, Hunch's algorithm is cataloging your answers and learning more about you.

I started using Hunch after taking the quiz. I asked it which blogs I should read, and whether or not I should switch to a Mac. I'm still not fully sold on Hunch yet, but its results meshed well with decisions I have already made.

For example, I tried the "Should I switch to a Mac" topic to find out if it would tell me to switch to a Mac, three years after I made the decision to do so. Hitch started out asking if my job required me to use Outlook. After answering "no", it asked me if I'm willing to spend more than $1,000 on a computer. I clicked "yes" and then it asked if I would want to engage in computer gaming. I said "no." I answered "no" to the question of whether or not I'm in the design field. It then asked if I make heavy use of Microsoft Excel. I don't, so I clicked "no."

Hunch
Hunch's design is simple and elegant. Don Reisinger/CNET

After telling the system that I'm comfortable "going under the hood" to change the computer's components, I answered that I would want a portable computer. Next, I was brought to the best question of them all: "Who do you prefer?" The answers were Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Linus Torvalds, or no preference. After saying that I had no preference, Hunch's decision-making algorithm, which analyzes answers, returned my result: I had a 99 percent fit with a Mac. I should switch from a PC.

On more serious topics like "Which camera should I buy?" I found Hunch to be helpful. It asked thoughtful questions about what I'd like in a camera. It even asked what I'd do with it. After answering the questions, it found that the Nikon D80 was the camera for me. I researched its specs and I have to agree--it's ideal for what I'm looking for in a D-SLR.

I also found the "Which credit card should I get" topic useful. Based on my answers, it returned a card containing much of what I'm looking for: a low interest rate and the option to redeem points from a reputable bank.

Creation
All of Hunch's topics come from users. The site allows you to create topics, provide multiple choice answers, and based on those answers, determine results.

When you create a topic, the service finds images from across the Web to add art to it. That saves some time, but the amount of time you spend adding questions and determining results is ridiculous. And if you create a sophisticated topic with many questions, you'll need to run through answers one-by-one to link them to the topic's results. A topic can take up to an hour to create.

Hunch
Creating a topic takes too long. Don Reisinger/CNET

The design
Hunch looks good. The most popular and newest topics are there for you to check out on the main page. If you want to find other people on the site and see what they're up to, the "Community" tab has that information. But more importantly, Hunch's simple design makes the site easy to use. You won't have trouble finding desired topics.

Should I use Hunch?
Hunch is fun. At first, you'll probably enjoy browsing through the various topics and maybe even creating some of your own. But after a while, if you're anything like me, you'll gravitate to the more serious topics to help you make decisions. And although there aren't many topics on the site yet, I found that many were relevant to my life. More importantly, they helped me make smarter decisions on important issues, like finances and purchases.

Hunch provides a unique alternative to answers services from Yahoo or Mahalo. And although it's not perfect and it has some growing up to do, it has promise. It could become the "go-to" answer service on the Web with more user involvement.

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Software
About the author

Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.

 

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