FAQ

General Questions

Q:

What is PredictWise?

A:

PredictWise aggregates, analyzes, and creates predictions on politics, sports, finance, and entertainment.

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Q:

What is the point of PredictWise?

A:

We thought it would be interesting and informative for people to better understand the likelihood of certain major events occurring, and to have that information presented in a manner that is easy to comprehend.

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Q:

What makes you think you are good at predicting things?

A:

We don't. In fact, we don't think any individual is better at predicting things than a diverse crowd of people. Rather than try to be experts that attempt to do better than the "wisdom of crowds," we try to find and aggregate that crowd wisdom.

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Q:

What is the purpose of the polls?

A:

PredictWise polls are a cutting-edge methodology that allow us to quickly and repeatedly aggregate the expectations of individuals to create predictions that have been empirically proven to be more accurate than traditional polling methods or available prediction markets.

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Q:

Should I make any bets based on this information?

A:

No, betting money on sports, politics, or anything else is a bad idea. Not only is it losing proposition due to the house's commission, but it is addictive, destructive, and - depending on your location - most likely illegal.

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Sources Questions

Q:

What is Betfair?

A:

Betfair, based in the United Kingdom, is the world's largest internet betting exchange. Rather than having a bookmaker create odds, the odds for every bet are determined by the market of bettors, working similarly to a stock market. Bettors can either "Back" (buy) or "Lay" (sell) a given bet at certain odds, and the odds move as Backs and Lays are matched. Betfair is legal in the UK and other countries, but it is illegal to bet money on Betfair as a resident of the United States.

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Q:

What is Intrade?

A:

Intrade, based in Ireland, is a prediction market which allows individuals to trade contracts on whether future events will or will not occur. For any given contract, the value at expiration is either 100 (if the event happens) or 0 (if it does not). Contracts therefore trade between 0 and 100 at all times, with the price representing the market's prediction for the likelihood of that event. Intrade is legal in the Republic of Ireland and other countries, but it is illegal to bet money on Intrade as a resident of the United States.

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Q:

What is HuffPost Pollster?

A:

HuffPost Pollster, is a site that discusses and aggregates polling data. Polling data is subject to random fluctuations and Pollster's aggregation methods cleanly and transparently aggregate polls over time to provide a more meaningful snapshot of where the polls are at any given moment.

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Q:

What is BETDAQ?

A:

BETDAQ, based in Ireland, is an internet betting exchange. Rather than having a bookmaker create odds, the odds for every bet are determined by the market of bettors, working similarly to a stock market. Bettors can either "Back" (buy) or "Lay" (sell) a given bet at certain odds, and the odds move as Backs and Lays are matched. BETDAQ is legal in Ireland and other countries, but it is illegal to bet money on BETDAQ as a resident of the United States.

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Q:

What are the Iowa Electronic Markets?

A:

The Iowa Electronic Markets (IEM) are a group of real-money prediction markets operated by the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business. The IEM is not-for-profit; the markets are run for educational and research purposes.  Because of the small sums wagered and the academic focus, the IEM has received no-action relief from the United States government, meaning U.S.-based speculators can legally risk between $5 and $500 on a wager.

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Q:

What is the Hollywood Stock Exchange (HSX)?

A:

The Hollywood Stock Exchange (HSX) is a play-money prediction market in which users can buy or sell shares in movies, actors, directors, and other Hollywood-related topics. For example, users can buy or sell shares of an upcoming film as a means predicting how well that film will do at the box office in its first four weekends of wide release, and then be ranked based on the accuracy of their predictions. Because HSX involves only simulated money, it is legal for all participants.

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Q:

What is Smarkets?

A:

Smarkets, based in the United Kingdom, is an internet betting exchange. Rather than having a bookmaker create odds, the odds for every bet are determined by the market of bettors, working similarly to a stock market. Bettors can either bet "For" (buy) or "Against" (sell) a given bet at certain odds, and the odds move as Fors and Againsts are matched. Smarkets is legal in the UK and other countries, but it is illegal to bet money on Smarkets as a resident of the United States.

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Technical Questions

Q:

Sometimes PredictWise only lists one source but has a slightly different prediction than that source - why is that?

A:

When the list of possible outcomes is finite (such as the 32 teams that can win the Super Bowl), the sum of every possible outcome's probability should equal 100%. Because our sources must create a separate market for each outcome, this is not always the case. To adjust for this, we divide each outcome's probability by the sum of every outcome's probability and use that as our prediction.

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Q:

You list a single percentage likelihood from prediction markets like Intrade, but in actuality prediction markets have simultaneous (and different) Bid price, Ask price, and Last price. How do you calculate this?

A:

As long as the spread between the Bid and Ask prices is less than 15 points, we take the average of the two.

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Q:

How do you determine the percentage likelihood from Betfair?

A:

We use 1 / ((Back + Lay)/2), unless the back-lay spread is more than 15 percentage points. If the spread is greater than 15 points, we use the price of the most recent trade.

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Q:

What happens when a market lacks liquidity and there is a bid, but no ask or an ask, but no bid?

A:

If there is a bid/back that is greater than 50 and no ask/lay, we take the average of the bid/back and 100. If there is an ask/lay that is less than 50 and no bid/back, we take the average of the ask/lay and 0. If neither of those conditions hold, we take the last price. We understand that sometimes this does not yield the obvious answer, but we need the numbers to speak for themselves, so we never adjust any numbers manually.

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