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eBay Reveals New Head of Community, Will Revamp Forums

eBay says it’s working to build a better online community and it will begin rolling out improvements to the discussion boards in the fall, including redesigning the experience.

“There will be more employees engaging – particularly where questions are left unanswered. This is part of a new engagement model. Employees from across the company – product, customer service, seller experience, etc – will be reading through posts and jumping in with info where it makes sense.”

eBay’s new CEO Devin Wenig has made changes to the marketplace since taking over the company in July 2015, with more promised. One plan is to give sellers a greater chance to share information about themselves – something Etsy, 11Main, and now Amazon Handmade is doing in the hopes shoppers will be charmed by seller “storytelling.”

The eBay Community Team wrote on a new thread on the eBay boards this week, “We’re reimagining the online Community experience at eBay and we can’t do this without you. Over the next several weeks we’ll post updates, questions and ideas right here – in an effort to get your input on what you would like the new Community online experience to include.”

Sellers responded with suggestions, from clarification of the policies in which the forum moderators remove links or whole posts to allowing sellers to link to their own listings they had questions about if their post wasn’t self-promotional in nature. “Likewise there should be some flexibility in posting links to off-eBay pages. I once got a 3-day vacation after posting a link to an Amazon listing in a thread where the seller was looking for help in identifying a toy.”

But the most requested change was for helpful participation from eBay employees, and several expressed dissatisfaction that users had to go to social networking sites in order to get attention from eBay staff.

“Many of the boards and especially the advanced boards should have regular participation by eBay representatives who can help clarify rules and policies,” a user wrote. “It is a shame that the only place that the seller can go where eBay reps actively participate in discussions is outside of eBay. Sellers should not have to go to Facebook or LinkedIn to discuss issues, learn about changes or get complex problems resolved. I do know in the past this would have been very difficult or impossible due to the lack of structure and some of the boards. But this is no longer the case. It is time for eBay to actively participate in their own boards.”

eBay responded to the suggestion and said the company believed it could do a better job of connecting users with employees, and referenced “many employees who are itching to get on the boards and chime in.”

Users should expect to see more of an eBay presence on various boards over the next several weeks, the Community Team wrote.

It also introduced a new community manager in the US, “Alan@eBay” (who is Alan Aisbitt), replacing eBay’s former Director of Community Jeff Terrell, who left the company last year. Aisbitt was head of community at eBay UK for 3 years, and has been with eBay since 2009.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
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. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.