EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 1120 - October 03, 2005     2 of 4

Sellers Frustrated by eBay's Handling of Firefox

By Mark O'Neill

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A petition being circulated by Mozilla Firefox users highlights the problems faced by eBay users who don't use Internet Explorer (IE) as their default browser. The online petition, currently with over 1,000 signatures, urges eBay to support alternative browsers such as Firefox. Some of the complaints are that some features of the eBay site do not work properly when viewed with the Firefox browser, such as the selling page (SYI) where sellers write their auction titles and descriptions.

In Internet Explorer, the auction-description box on the SYI page has a plain-view tab and an HTML-view tab. In Firefox, it is just a plain box with no tabs; you have to click on another link to see a preview of the page. Once you have uploaded a photo to your eBay listing, you can see the photo on the eBay page right using Internet Explorer - but not when using Firefox.

For this reason, many Firefox users abandon the eBay site's listing tool and use Turbo Lister or another auction listing tool to list their eBay auctions.

Programming code on auction pages that work fine on Internet Explorer may break down when viewed on Firefox.

"The main reason for the problem is not Firefox itself," a Mozilla Firefox programmer explained. "The problem is the eBay site is written to be solely compatible with Internet Explorer. Internet Explorer was written to allow poorly written programming code to work as though it is perfect code and Firefox has the opposite approach in that it enforces strict web standards. This means auction pages which may appear normally in Internet Explorer will come up as garbage on Firefox because Firefox has a more strict approach when it comes to the standard of the programming code on the page."

In addition, there is no eBay toolbar for Mozilla Firefox as yet (, which has angered some Firefox users. But with the recent introduction of a Google toolbar for Firefox, some are hopeful that eBay will follow suit and introduce their own Firefox toolbar.

Firefox already has a built-in eBay search engine and also a helpful extension tool called "pet names," which allows you to assign secret names to secure (https) websites such as Paypal. So if someone sends you a phishing email, you can see instantly if you are on a fake site by seeing if your pet name is on the screen.

Firefox is flourishing due to the constant security problems that seem to plague Internet Explorer. Many reports state that Firefox is becoming the second most-used browser after Internet Explorer with a market share around 10 percent, and slowly rising.

The Firefox petition to eBay

The Firefox browser

About the author:

Mark O'Neill is Managing Editor of the popular tech blog, He is a Scotsman, now living the ex-pat life in Wurzburg, Germany. You can also find him on MarkO'

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