A Sheep in Wolf’s Clothes

Hello World,

My name is Andrew. I’m a co-founder at Koodbee. Koodbee is a platform that supports a gamified version of mutual betting on any set of mutually exclusive outcomes. And, before you can even say it, we know that there are lots of games to play and loads of gambling opportunities — so why do we exist?

We exist because mutual betting is a viable method for crowdsourcing probabilities on mutually exclusive outcomes. In the mid-20th century, academic economists, seeking proof for the theories of F.A. Hayek, documented (exhaustively) the predictive accuracy of the odds generated by mutual betting crowds. Read more on F.A. Hayek and his work here. But, only with the recent advent of Web 2.0 functionality can crowds of players can be gathered virtually, asynchronously and at near-zero cost.

A viable method for crowdsourcing probabilities does not, however, mean those probabilities will be accurate, especially since we can’t (in the U.S.) use the risk and reward of real money to get thoughtful bets into the system. For that, we rely on gamification, using game rules to extract mutual betting from gambling and re-create it as a meritocratic competition. Here are the two principles we followed.

First, simplicity and transparency. If players understand that, by trying to win (i.e., pursuing their self-interest), they are at the same time collectively generating social information, they’re more likely to play frequently and thoughtfully and to invite others to participate.

Second and closely related, modesty and restraint. Mutual betting works just fine as is. Layering on top challenges and rewards could distort players’ decisions and consequently the accuracy of the odds that get generated. In short, we don’t distort the game by “pimping it out.”

The output of our games — the odds and probabilities generated by players — differs from what is commonly known as “the wisdom of the crowd.” First observed in 1906 by Sir Francis Galton, the wisdom of the crowd is a statistical finding; it is calculated after the fact by an observer. In contrast, Koodbee’s crowdsourced probabilities are social information, generated by the interaction among participants, and available to and usable by them in real time.

Koodbee quacks like a game and waddles like gambling but it is a means to an end: to enable people to generate their own probabilities on outcomes they care about. This capability could be useful, even popular. We’ll see. This is Day 1 of a work in progress.

You can help: sign up, play and invite others. Or just stay tuned, subscribe to the blog, follow us on Facebook etc.

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