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EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 17 - July 01, 2000 - ISSN 1528-6703     4 of 0

Who Says You Can't Take It with You? 'Virtual' Feedback to Go

By Ina Steiner

July 01, 2000

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Wouldn't it be nice if your eBay feedback could be referenced when bidding or selling on Amazon Auctions, and vice versa? Virtual Feedback (http://www.virtualfeedback.com) has created a one-stop feedback rating system that allows you to "advertise" your feedback rating anywhere. So if you build up a lot of feedback from transactions on one site, your feedback rating "travels" with you when you buy and sell on other sites. The Virtual Feedback system works for any transactions: online auctions, Web site sales, or anyplace you buy or sell items.

How It Works
You cannot use the feedback left for you on an online auction site. For instance, eBay does not allow users to tout their feedback profile anywhere, other than eBay. So you must have people give you feedback on the Virtual Feedback Web site itself.

You do not have to be a registered user to get rated (so you better behave yourself!), but you do have to register to rate someone else. You can only register one account. Although not totally fail-safe, the system searches for similar names, addresses, etc., and attempts to enforce their one-account policy. When you register, you list all of your email accounts and auction user IDs.

Once you have registered, Virtual Feedback provides you with the HTML code that you insert into your auction descriptions to let bidders know you are a member of Virtual Feedback. It also shows how many times you've been rated. Bidders can click on a link to be taken right to your ratings.

Feedback Rating System
You can rate different aspects of a transaction, so if someone you are rating excelled in most areas (like item description, packaging and correspondence), but performed poorly in one area (like slow shipment), then you can rate them accordingly.

Potential Problems
Human nature being what it is, I wondered what would prevent someone from leaving unjustified negative (or "revenge") feedback. "No one can really stop anyone from leaving vengeful feedback, however the product description must be stated," stated Reyne Haines of Virtual Feedback. You are allowed to leave comments about the feedback that you receive. "Virtual Feedback will not play moderator. However, if someone were to complain about feedback from someone they don't know, we would contact that person and ask for additional information. If they did not respond, I believe it would be removed."

Virtual Feedback is an excellent idea and, in theory, should work very well to protect people. It will be interesting to see if it takes hold, and whether people will respect the system by giving only honest, justified feedback.

About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.

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