I recently decided to join a social website called Hunch, after reading an article in Wired magazine.  Hunch provide a range of recommendations for products to its members.  Established retailers such as Amazon base their recommendations on purchase history. Hunch aims to get more accurate recommendations, by inviting its members to share information about themselves by asking lots of questions up-front.

During the registration process, I was asked an initial 20 questions that were somewhere between performing a psychometric test and playing “truth” game at party.  Questions included: “Which of these pictures do you find attractive?, Do your prefer cats or dogs, Do you have coffee black or white?”.   I followed up with a further 50 questions on specific topics, such as favourite books, cultural interests and technology.

After each set of questions, I checked the recommendations provided.  The results were quite interesting.  Hunch did guess my favourite drink and movies, but missed widely on my favourite books. The most amusing moment, was a question on whether Bugs Bunny was “1.Straight, 2.Gay, 3. Gay, but doesn’t know it”. 

I was concerned about answering so many personal questions and the experience has left me with mixed feelings towards Bugs Bunny.  However, I haven’t received a torrent of spam or acquired an internet stalker…   Can you really get people to share large amounts of personal information, just by making it fun?

The next question is what would retailers do with such a rich set of customer information provided voluntarily?  Can they be trusted not to share it with third parties?