iPredict responds

by Jake Quinn

As if to remind one that actions have consequences, BK Drinkwater (click the link and read his post) and iPredict have both had a thing or two to say about claims I made in yesterday’s post.

The nature of their criticism is fair enough – and it was undoubtedly a yogi-like stretch to imagine political meddling was at hand in the initial creation of the stock, so I accept a fisking over that.

However, I stand by the belief that the stock is a waste of iPredict’s money and doesn’t contribute (much) to any useful prediction.  Whereas it would be interesting to know the market value of (over, say, the next two years) “Will Phil Goff be replaced as the leader of the Labour Party before the 2011 election” – and this stock could have been run instead of the Shearer one (note, iPredict does run a stock asking if Goff will be rolled this year, but I think 2009 is too soon to be contentious).

Matt Burgess from iPredict responds to my claims that the Shearer rolling Goff stock was mischievous in the comment’s section below and deserves a repeat:

Gidday Jake – thanks for the coverage. I wrote the Shearer stock, and did so in response to two things a) suggestions from our traders on iPredict’s forum and b) the possibility of Shearer leading Labour was in the news in the afterglow of his Mt Albert victory. If it’s in the news and a prediction market can say something about it and it’s within bounds of our authorisation (politics, economics, sociological, demographic or business) then we’ll run it.

We also ran stocks asking whether Richard Worth will lose his position as an MP, another stock asking will he get his job back (answer: a definitive no!), and currently running stocks asking will a second Minister be sacked this year. And be assured, the moment questions about Key’s leadership come up we’ll be running a stock on it. But there’s no point running stocks on questions like that when they are not in the news or not serious possibilities because a) they are costly to us (via the market maker) b) they take time to draft and c) they dilute the attention of our traders.

A second point: in what sense is asking a question that comes back with a strong ‘no’, as the Shearer stock currently does, in any way help some supposed anti-Goff cause? Honestly, I don’t care who leads Labour. I don’t vote. I just want to ask questions that matter and which a prediction market can probably say something interesting on. If and when questions on National’s leadership do arise we’ll be running stocks on those, too. I’m confident if you look at our stock history, we’ve asked questions across the board and in response to news, whichever way it goes. What we want is answers to questions that matter.

Of all ways to influence politics, a prediction market has got to be about the worst way to do it. Prediction markets work so well precisely because they are so good at resisting bias.