I wrote previously about the equilibrium effects of avoiding spoilers.  You might want to strategically generate spoilers to counteract these effects.  I just discovered that a website exists for generating spoilers: shouldiwatch.com.

The premise is that you have recorded a sporting event on your DVR and you want to enjoy watching it.  Enjoyment has something to do with the resolution of uncertainty.  So you have preferences for the time path of uncertainty resolution.  Maybe you want your good news in lumps and your bad news revealed gradually.  Maybe you like suspense.  A mechanism can fine tune and enhance these.

But it always cuts two ways.  A spoiler creates a discrete jump in your beliefs at the beginning followed by another effect on your beliefs as the game unfolds.  For example, ShouldIWatch.com allows me to set a program that will warn me when the Lakers beat the Celtics by more than 10 points.  The idea is that I don’t want to watch a blowout.  But there is an effect on my beliefs: knowing that it is not a blowout changes my expectations at the beginning of the game.  Then there is a second effect during the game:  if the Lakers take a 15 point lead, I am expecting a come-back by the Celtics.  In return for the increased excitement at the beginning I pay with reduced excitement in the interim.

This trade-off could make for a cool model.  An event will unfold over time. An observer cares about the outcome and cares about the path of his beliefs but will watch the event after it is over. A mechanism is a program which knows the full path of the event and reveals information to the observer before and while he watches the event.  Design the mechanism which maximizes the observer’s overall expected value taking into account this tradeoff.

File this under psychological mechanism design.