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A++++ Fast and Professional!! Would Read Again!

In “Crowd control at eBay,” Nick Carr writes:

EBay has been struggling for some time with growing discontent among its members, and it has rolled out a series of new controls and regulations to try to stem the erosion of trust in its market. At the end of last month, it announced sweeping changes to its feedback system, setting up more “non-public” communication channels and, most dramatically, curtailing the ability of sellers to leave negative feedback on buyers. It turns out that feedback ratings were being used as weapons to deter buyers from leaving negative feedback about sellers.

He goes on to rail against the usefulness of feedback loopss:

As these sites grow, keeping them in line requires more rules and regulations, greater exercise of central control. The digital world, it seems, is not so different from the real world.

However, he doesn’t question EBay’s central decision. If the goal is to control retaliatory feedback, then require all feedback be given within N days (N might vary for transaction types, international shipping, etc), and don’t reveal the feedback until both buyer and seller have finalized what they want to say.

(Personally, I think that some structure in the feedback–was the item as described? was it shipped quickly and as requested? was the interaction business-like, chatty, or rude? could enhance things a lot, as would displaying the value of the transactions. But that’s an aside.)

What’s important is that EBay is replacing a transparent and manipulated system with one that’s going to be worse for their customers, and more expensive to operate. It will be interesting to see what emerges from this. Will a worse feedback system be enough to overcome the network effects and allow a strong competitor to emerge?

Thanks to Nicko van Someren for the pointer.

2 comments on "A++++ Fast and Professional!! Would Read Again!"

  • Chris says:

    I just read Carr’s post. Remarkably content-free.
    He sets up an inane straw man — “Anarchy will work fine” — and proceeds to show how a specific set of rules enforced by a centralized authority — EBay’s reputation system and EBay itself — can be gamed.
    So what?

  • PHB says:

    Quite a few sellers try to prevent people giving them negative feedback by not giving feedback to the buyer until after they have received a positive feedback. This despite the fact that negative feedback for buyers should be very rare since their only real commitment in the process is to pay for the stuff. If the seller accepts Paypal they can check they will be paid before they ship. If the payment is reversed out for whatever reason EBay/Paypal should know and be in a position to allow the seller to ding the buyer.
    Another irritation is the number of sellers who don’t bother to leave feedback at all. As a result I no longer leave feedback for a seller until they have left feedback for me.
    I guess that the next round is going to be ‘feedback sniping’.

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