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What’s Behind Disappearing eBay Discussion Board Posts

What's Behind Disappearing eBay Discussion Board Posts

An eBay manager surprised sellers when he revealed eBay routinely archives discussion board posts. “We’ve been archiving content for well over a decade and we will continue to do so,” said Brian Burke, who is Senior Manager of Seller Advocacy and Engagement and has been at eBay for over two decades.

He explained in a thread on the eBay discussion boards on Thursday that previously, “archived” content could still appear in outside search engine results. “We now can archive content in a manner that removes it from Community (what we’ve been doing) as well as search engines. We have started with all the content we had previously archived,” he said.

Burke explained in general terms how eBay determines what content to archive:

“We are walking our way into archiving current active content, but three factors will drive whether content is archived: recency, relevancy and accuracy. We haven’t “flipped a switch” this is a process.

Relevancy: Content no longer relevant can cause confusion – e.g. How do I connect my PayPal account to my eBay selling account?

Accuracy: Inaccurate content can cause frustration, or worse, issues that result in site violations – e.g. Our policies change, and an answer about a Prohibited and Restricted item policy may no longer be accurate

Recency: older content, even if accurate, causes doubt with consumers of the content – e.g. can I trust this answer from 12 years ago?”

When a seller asked what was the distinction between archiving and deleting content, an eBay moderator responded as follows: “The benefit of archiving is that if we need to pull out the content someday, it’s available. As a general rule of thumb, we don’t delete content from Community.”

We recall instances when discussion board content has seemingly been deleted, such as when eBay upgraded its discussion boards or migrated to a different platform.

Generally speaking, it’s good practice to keep content (if you’ve ever tried to find a thread you were sure existed but couldn’t find, you know the frustration).

But it’s also frustrating when someone replies to an ancient discussion board thread, which can lead people to think an old thread is new.

One thing that discussion board posts have going for them: they include dates. eBay’s help pages, on the other hand, have always been challenging to navigate. There are times when it’s unclear if a particular help topic is new or outdated or when a particular piece of information was added to a help page.

The important thing for sellers to remember: if you find a particular discussion to be helpful, you may want to document it in case eBay “disappears” it.

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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). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.