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Julia Wilkinson AuctionBytes Blog
Covering auctions, collectibles and marketplace selling.

Julia Wilkinson is Editor of the AuctionBytes Blog and is author of the "eBay Price Guide," "eBay Top 100 Simplified Tips and Tricks," "My Life at AOL" and numerous ebooks about selling online. You can also find her writing on Yard Salers.
Mon Oct 22 2012 12:53:32

What Do You Think of eBay Eliminating Wildcard Searches?

By: Julia Wilkinson
Sponsored Link
eBay is in the process of making changes to its advanced search feature that will not allow "wildcard searching," where a user could put in an asterisk (*) into their search terms to serve as a catch-all, according to an article by Ina today. She pointed out that some eBay users may not use advanced search, but many eBay buyers (and sellers) have numerous "saved searches" set up to help them find items as soon as they are listed.

Personally, I use the "wildcard" search method frequently on eBay, but not usually as a "saved search." I've been using it recently to find inventory based on a certain year or decade, and this wildcard feature is a huge help in that regard. So I'm curious to know, how many of you use the wildcard feature with Advanced Search, and what do you think of this change?

The change was made to "deliver search results more efficiently and faster," said eBay spokesperson Ryan Moore, and he added that "wildcard searches...oftentimes included unexpected variations that cluttered search results."

Umm...right...it includes unexpected variations; isn't that part of the whole point? We're not sure what items are out there using part of our search terms, so we want to search on just part and see what else comes up attached to it? I understand eBay wanting search to be fast and efficient, but I don't see the point of disallowing wildcard searches anywhere. I think people who know enough to do these wildcard searches can handle any "unexpected variations." Heck, they may even like those unexpected variations!

(Lest this post be chalked up as more "whining," I'd like to point out I gave a thumbs-up to eBay's recent streamlining of its checkout process, with two clicks).

Do you use it with "saved searches," or in other ways? Do you use it more as a buyer or seller? And how much of an impact will this have on you either way? Post a comment here!



Comments (56) | Permalink
Readers Comments

What Do You Think of eBay Eliminating Wildcard Searches?   What Do You Think of eBay Eliminating Wildcard Searches?
by: Wire This user has validated their user name.
       
Mon Oct 22 12:57:18 2012
One word - "Stupid"
What Do You Think of eBay Eliminating Wildcard Searches?   What Do You Think of eBay Eliminating Wildcard Searches?
by: Susan Averello This user has validated their user name.
       Web Site
Mon Oct 22 13:08:55 2012
Didn't know they had a wild card search until now. Oh well, guess I can't miss what I didn't know about
What Do You Think of eBay Eliminating Wildcard Searches?   What Do You Think of eBay Eliminating Wildcard Searches?
by: WildCardsRGood This user has validated their user name.
       
Mon Oct 22 13:24:18 2012
Wildcards have been a key part of database searching ever since databases were invented.  The example above of wanting everything in the 1960s, and using 196* is perfect.  Or there are times when sellers misspell a particular brand name and you want to be sure to get all the versions of it.  Think of LILLY PULITZER.  Does anyone really remember how many L's there are?  Do the sellers get it right?  NO!  There are currently over 400 listings with Lily spelled with one L.  Being able to wildcard search (e.g., LIL* PUL*) is crucial for such brand names.  If the eBay folks are going to spend programming time making changes, they should be making improvements, not taking away useful features.  For example, they could improve the interfaces in smartphones.  Now that would be useful.
What Do You Think of eBay Eliminating Wildcard Searches?   What Do You Think of eBay Eliminating Wildcard Searches?
This user has validated their user name. by: Basset
       
Mon Oct 22 13:33:41 2012
I've used wild cards ever since I started using eBay. They were great for possible misspellings like the above poster noted!

If I am remembering correctly - They used to have some kind of pop-up window to educate you on how to use wildcards to best advantage in search.

Ahhhh.... the good old days when we were given credit for having half a brain!  
What Do You Think of eBay Eliminating Wildcard Searches?   What Do You Think of eBay Eliminating Wildcard Searches?
This user has validated their user name. by: Ric
       
Mon Oct 22 13:35:25 2012
What happened to John Donahoe's promise to announce changes in advance?

I think eBay is once again lying through their teeth when they say "  "deliver search results more efficiently and faster,..."

eBay is making this change because it is easier for their fragile IT infrastructure, not because it will speed results. eBay is building a lazy search engine, that eBay already knows will not function properly when tasked to search with a wild card.

eBay has been looking for ways to restrict and reduce the number of items returned in buyer search queries as evidenced by the articles about how the new Cassini search will work.

Removing wild card searches is just another way for eBay to narrow search results and micro manage buyer choices. These changes are bad for buyers as limited choices are akin to having no choices.

We are sellers who source many different inventory items in lot quantity for individual resale on eBay. This change, along with the coming changes associated with Cassini appear to be extremely detrimental to our ability to source goods on eBay.

If we can not find it - we can not buy it.... What part of that does eBay management fail to grasp?

We have purchased over $7,000 worth of lot quantity parts on eBay for resale on eBay thus far this year. These purchases have been made to individually resell the products on eBay thus generating additional revenue for eBay.

As such, eBay stands to lose significant revenue.

It will be much harder for us to complete purchases going forward because eBay is intentionally going to make it harder to find product. The long term effect will be that sellers of lot quantity products will find eBay will no longer be a viable marketplace for them to clear bulk quantities of inventory.

As our choices as a buyer are reduced, our resealable inventory will shrink significantly as well and will serve to further reduce eBay revenues.

Bottom line - These changes are bad for buyers and sellers. eBay has not only stated that search results presented to buyers will be narrow and limited, but is also sending the message that they will make it harder for sellers items to appear in their narrowed search results.

Apparently, eBay has no compunction about making it harder for buyers to find what they are looking for. Instead, eBay would rather make assumptions and dictate to buyers a limited selection of items based on their criteria.

This is a failed business model for eBay. While it may impress Wall Street, it fully demonstrates the fact that the executives making the decisions about how eBay search will function going forward are neither buyers nor sellers on eBay and thus have no skin in the game.



What Do You Think of eBay Eliminating Wildcard Searches?   What Do You Think of eBay Eliminating Wildcard Searches?
by: wallflower This user has validated their user name.
       
Mon Oct 22 13:48:40 2012
Use it daily as a seller for research. Use it as a buyer but that is seldom, as I buy new things at Amazon, and don't get my inventory/collectibles from ebay as I get them cheaper elsewhere.

Yes, it is a database standard. But Google doesn't use it. Amazon does.

Right now on completed searches you get a small subset of what's really out there. That's where I noticed it. Don't know when they are going to completely turn it off. But on completeds, it is wrong and most people don't know about the change.
What Do You Think of eBay Eliminating Wildcard Searches?   What Do You Think of eBay Eliminating Wildcard Searches?
This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford
       
Mon Oct 22 14:22:32 2012
Wallflower says: Right now on completed searches you get a small subset of what's really out there.

And yet they continue to charge sellers a listing fee.  This is not ethical and it should be illegal.  As far as I'm concerned, that is stealing.
What Do You Think of eBay Eliminating Wildcard Searches?   What Do You Think of eBay Eliminating Wildcard Searches?
by: rosachs This user has validated their user name.
       
Mon Oct 22 15:05:56 2012
It would make more sense to remove eBay's own internal 'wildcard' search ("did you mean ...") to speed up results for the masses, and leave the purposeful wildcard use of "*" for those who know how to use it effectively.

Then again, that would assume eBay believes that one size wouldn't fit all.....
What Do You Think of eBay Eliminating Wildcard Searches?   What Do You Think of eBay Eliminating Wildcard Searches?
by: mylifeisgood This user has validated their user name.
       
Mon Oct 22 15:24:15 2012
As bad and disruptive Ebay search is now they could eliminate all of search for all I care. We haven't shopped Ebay in almost a year and don't plan on returning.
What Do You Think of eBay Eliminating Wildcard Searches?   What Do You Think of eBay Eliminating Wildcard Searches?
This user has validated their user name. by: Tula
       
Mon Oct 22 15:55:09 2012
As a computer and database geek, I want full on Boolean search capability, since I know how it works and can easily tailor my own searches. I don't like when sites try to make it "easier" for me, since it usually seems more like they're making it easier for themselves (like Google making the advanced search link harder to find and requiring more clicks to get to it). I don't need easy, I need *correct*. Putting more obstacles between me and what I want doesn't make it easier for me and won't lead to more sales. I suspect that a lot of this is to minimize interfaces for mobile display. It's really annoying and lazy programming, since it's not hard to determine what device someone is using to access the site.
What Do You Think of eBay Eliminating Wildcard Searches?   What Do You Think of eBay Eliminating Wildcard Searches?
by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.
       
Mon Oct 22 16:46:28 2012
Its all about CONTROL. Its not about anything else. eBay wants to control what listings you see, who they come from, how often they get seen, and all other criteria.

Some college nerd sits with JD each day and tell him his newest brilliant ideas - on how to best control the ''animals'' that are ruining his beautiful ''Yard'' aka eBay.

''If you sellers would just shut up, play the game, pay the damn FVFs, stop asking so many pointed questions, stop expecting things to be fair - we wouldnt have to do this. But since you guys keep bad mouthing us, telling people not to shop here (boo hoo we stole your money), trying to sue us etc, it seems we must ONCE AGAIN ratchet up the policies to keep you guys in check.

We told you to shut up and take returns - you didnt want to, so now we have the returns center and it will go permanent and YOU WILL TAKE BACK OUR CUSTOMERS STUFF.

We told you to stop expecting parity with the big boys who give us perks, FVFs, national presence, and offer OUR customers ''the best service'' (LMAO) but you dont. You STILL insist that you somehow have a voice and that we should care about you .. well we dont. If we dont want you to be seen, then you WONT BE.''

Its sad that those are ebays true feelings on how selling on site works. :
What Do You Think of eBay Eliminating Wildcard Searches?   What Do You Think of eBay Eliminating Wildcard Searches?
This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie
       
Mon Oct 22 19:44:57 2012
I don't get it.

Why would eBay want to remove a feature that made it EASY for people to find the items they were looking for?

I see no harm with eBay adding ''predictive'' text as you're typing... and there's no harm in having a search engine that accommodates less-experienced buyers.

But whatever reasons they have eliminating advanced search features totally escapes me. --- Back in the day (when I was still an avid eBay buyer) I discovered that I could use the wildcard to find ''hidden'' items (bargains) with titles that were misspelled. Because of the misspelled word, these items were less likely to be seen in the search results of other buyers... and I'd rarely get outbid on the item.

I guess if you think about it... and if we take into consideration the plethora of examples which demonstrate how incompetent eBay's programmers are... then perhaps we can better understand eBay's reasons for wanting to eliminate this useful feature.

Perhaps eBay's fresh-out-of-high-school programming team was finding it difficult to incorporate the previous wildcard functionality into the new fine-tunable (D&D? Cassini?) search engine... so rather than reading-up on how to construct decent pattern-matching statement (in Perl, perhaps?) it was easier to just abandon it.

antique tea coffee +kett* gold silver -copper -charm -bracelet -reproduction

Translation: Show me the listings for an antique tea kettle or coffee kettle (even if the seller misspelled it as 'kettel') made from gold or silver, but not copper, and not a charm for a bracelet, and not a reproduction.

Easy!
What Do You Think of eBay Eliminating Wildcard Searches?   What Do You Think of eBay Eliminating Wildcard Searches?
by: BobNJ This user has validated their user name.
       
Tue Oct 23 08:45:23 2012
I use the wildcard search all the time. If you're searching for collectibles it's a MUST feature, otherwise you'll never the find that oddball item you've been looking for.
What Do You Think of eBay Eliminating Wildcard Searches?   What Do You Think of eBay Eliminating Wildcard Searches?
This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie
       
Tue Oct 23 09:02:22 2012
BobNJ writes: ''...otherwise you'll never the find that oddball item you've been looking for.''

Could it be that eBay prefers a site that caters ONLY to the needs of buyers who ALREADY KNOW exactly what they're looking for?

I get the feeling that if a seller's item doesn't have a UPC code, eBay would prefer that it not be listed there.
What Do You Think of eBay Eliminating Wildcard Searches?   What Do You Think of eBay Eliminating Wildcard Searches?
by: Sierra This user has validated their user name.
       
Tue Oct 23 09:03:16 2012
Eliminating wildcard searches may just be eBay's stupidest move yet.

Some of my saved searches have so many ''-'' terms (to weed things out) that I *have* to use wildcards for all those ''-'' terms to fit in the allotted search space!
What Do You Think of eBay Eliminating Wildcard Searches?   What Do You Think of eBay Eliminating Wildcard Searches?
by: Shawn This user has validated their user name.
       
Tue Oct 23 09:57:29 2012
For buyers who want Ipods, this will be a great change. For buyers like me, who want specific and obscure Japanese moriage collectibles, this is a setback. It will make it harder for me to find every variation on something that most sellers don't identify or misidentify.

On a plus side, back in the ''old'' days, I used to be able to dig up overlooked treasures because I had to use very specific searches. Now, if I could only remember what all those specific searches were ...
What Do You Think of eBay Eliminating Wildcard Searches?   What Do You Think of eBay Eliminating Wildcard Searches?
by: AngelaTC This user has validated their user name.
       
Tue Oct 23 10:13:39 2012
More condescension.  They honestly believe that they know what we're searching for better than we do.  
What Do You Think of eBay Eliminating Wildcard Searches?   What Do You Think of eBay Eliminating Wildcard Searches?
by: Red Ink Diary This user has validated their user name.
       
Tue Oct 23 10:19:35 2012
Haven't bought or sold on eBay since 2008, this is yet another example of why I am not likely to return. Not a user friendly venue, for buyer or seller.
What Do You Think of eBay Eliminating Wildcard Searches?   What Do You Think of eBay Eliminating Wildcard Searches?
by: JoJo This user has validated their user name.
       
Tue Oct 23 10:41:10 2012
So they can't leave things well enough alone?  They seem to be addicted to change and it's certainly not a positive thing in this case.  Most websites institute changes carefully with much thought and testing so they don't disrupt something that works.

Ebay, however, seems to be unable to go a day without disrupting something and creating work for their users.  This is one of many reasons why I took their affiliate ads off of my websites.  As a seller, I just gave up on their platform.  As a buyer... ha!  Haven't shopped there in years and refuse to go there now.
What Do You Think of eBay Eliminating Wildcard Searches?   What Do You Think of eBay Eliminating Wildcard Searches?
by: Beth This user has validated their user name.
       
Tue Oct 23 11:07:55 2012
Just incredibly stupid... one more in along line of "STUPID DECISIONS"  I hope they are at leasting writing a top ten stupid decision list for us?  
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