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Wed Oct 3 2007 14:19:31

eBay Changes Equals Glitches Department

By: Ina Steiner

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From a Computerworld article about eBay Desktop:

Alan Lewis, eBay Desktop program manager, conceded in a Tuesday interview at Adobe's Max conference in Chicago that San Dimas "may appeal more to some than others." But he pointed out that eBay's power users are notoriously vocal.

"They get annoyed if we change the font size on a hyperlink during the fourth-quarter Christmas season," he said.

There's a reason for that that. It's because eBay can't change the font size on a hyperlink without breaking something.

The article is about eBay Desktop, which is an interesting, innovative tool. It is geared towards buyers, not sellers - and there is nothing wrong with that! (And for you power users - Alan is a good guy, and he built an interesting tool - give it a chance before you pooh-pooh it, or at least hear what buyers have to say about it. It's in Beta testing, give eBay your comments now while they are refining it.)

But eBay, don't make users' skepticism over changes seem unfounded. If you need reasons why, just see the previous blog post about the shipping calculator glitch. It's not exactly a mystery why people want eBay to fix what they already have before introducing more features! Yes - particularly before the fourth-quarter holiday-shopping season - some people do rely on eBay revenue rather than steady paychecks, after all.

I personally think eBay's "quiet period" should start October 1st, not in November. And here's a radical idea: take the programmers and have them help out with customer service for 3 months, at a time when it's most needed. It may be an eye-opening experience.




Comments (15) | Permalink

Readers Comments

eBay Changes Equals Glitches Department   eBay Changes Equals Glitches Department

by: Kathy

Wed Oct 3 15:04:09 2007

Ina said:
And here's a radical idea: take the programmers and have them help out with customer service for 3 months, at a time when it's most needed. It may be an eye-opening experience.

Absolutely brilliant Ina!
Send your idea to Meg!

eBay Changes Equals Glitches Department   eBay Changes Equals Glitches Department

by: dimes

Wed Oct 3 15:48:23 2007

Perhaps this would be a good time for Alan to re-visit one of his old blog posts, paying particular attention to what he wrote about the phenomenon of ‘Asshole Poisoning’.

http://alanlewis.typepad.com/weblog/2007/03/bob_s
utton_no_a.html

eBay Changes Equals Glitches Department   eBay Changes Equals Glitches Department

by: Beyond the Treeline

Wed Oct 3 16:52:45 2007

Ina, you referred to a "quiet period" beginning in Nov. That's hogwash -- eBay has *NEVER* delivered on its promise of a [functionality] quiet period. NEVER. And we've been more than quietly observing for the last eight years.

eBay Changes Equals Glitches Department   eBay Changes Equals Glitches Department

by: melrose_stamp

Thu Oct 4 06:57:57 2007

Thank you.  Nice follow-up to the article. -Jeff

eBay Changes Equals Glitches Department   eBay Changes Equals Glitches Department

by: Alan Lewis

Thu Oct 4 12:07:40 2007

That comment was a very poor choice of words on my part, and I'm sorry. I was trying to light-heartedly emphasize that eBay members are very sensitive to change, but what I said could quite reasonably be interpreted as diminishing the importance of this sentiment. Let me make this clear: my personal opinion is that eBay buyers and sellers have every right to be sensitive and even resistant to change of any kind.

I'm trying to learn from our previous mistakes regarding change in redefining how we go about creating and evolving eBay Desktop. Moving from a single user experience (the website) to one where eBay buyers and sellers have choice is a very interesting and exciting move, and I hope that through giving members more choice we can reduce the need to try and pack every user experience into one constantly shifting website.

-Alan

eBay Changes Equals Glitches Department   eBay Changes Equals Glitches Department

This user has validated their user name. by: Ina

Thu Oct 4 12:47:47 2007

Hi Alan,
Thank you for your post. The particularly good thing about eBay Desktop is that it uses the eBay API so has no potential to disrupt the eBay site (from my understanding). There are so many changes coming fast and furiously from eBay this year, I'm extremely sensitive to the potential glitches, disruption and confusion they may cause.

While some eBay users may not want to download software to their computers (I put Desktop on my laptop rather than my main workhorse PC), it's a user's choice. For those buyers who want a richer eBay experience, eBay Desktop provides it. Congratulations on the many months of hard work you put into the project. If it gets buyers excited about bidding on eBay, you'll make many people happy.
Ina

eBay Changes Equals Glitches Department   eBay Changes Equals Glitches Department

by: t_e_v

Thu Oct 4 19:01:25 2007


From what I can see thru screenshots and reading i-net reviews, this may help in bringing back some magic to Buying on ebay, ( Hope they are paying you well for this Alan. )  
 I would really like to check this out further, however, much like most all the new changes on ebay it is not totally compatible with my antiquated system. I may be in the minority, but I can not afford to purchase a new computer each time the creators decide to introduce the latest, greatest, fastest version. (Maybe Hannaka Harry will be good to me this year, LOL)

Good luck with this Alan.

t_e_v


eBay Changes Equals Glitches Department   eBay Changes Equals Glitches Department

by: mindelec

Fri Oct 5 04:58:31 2007

''There's a reason for that that. It's because eBay can't change the font size on a hyperlink without breaking something.''

no truer words have been spoken.

love the idea about what to do with programmers with restless fingers.  that or make them list using SYI for 8hrs a day, lol.

btw, ebay hasn't had a ''quiet time'' in years. if i recall, last year they messed around with the shipping time display in dec and completely didn't understand what the problem was.

eBay Changes Equals Glitches Department   eBay Changes Equals Glitches Department

by: PackyRat

Fri Oct 5 08:37:42 2007

The whole problem with eBay and the constant flood of englitchments centers on Meg's words to USA Today in 2005:

''It's better to put something out there and see the reaction and fix it on the fly. You could spend six months getting it perfect in the lab or six days in the lab, and we're better off spending six days, putting it out there, getting feedback and then evolving it.''

When its publically stated that eBay is willing to treat the entire site and the buyers & sellers as real time guinea pigs, there shouldn't be much of a question why we spend so much of our time banging our heads on our keyboards.

eBay Changes Equals Glitches Department   eBay Changes Equals Glitches Department

by: carrconnection

Fri Oct 5 10:42:38 2007

Ebay is strongly promoting using Paypal shipping. To bad that the shipping link is broke and no one at ebay or PP is fixing it.
One response from PP was to use USPS.COM until this problem is fixed. Calling PP is a 20 minute waste. No phone jockey has a clue. My powerseller advisor had some lame advise that would take 10 minutes per package to implement. Apparently he does not ship multiple items per day. Ebay promoting the shipping link that doesn't work is almost comical but the losing money part isn't funny for me. As for resolution, if I responded the way E and PP have, I would be kicked off as a non performing loser.

eBay Changes Equals Glitches Department   eBay Changes Equals Glitches Department

by: Vi

Fri Oct 5 17:21:19 2007

I think the problems lie more with eBay management than with the programmers.  I'm a software developer myself and I can't tell you how many times we developers have had to send out code that we weren't happy with simply because managers were in a hurry to get something out the door and make their deadlines so they can look good to their managers.  Good software takes design, good development practices, and testing.  Unfortunately, these are often neglected.  

eBay has a very complex software infrastructure, and that takes good developers.  The trick is in how the development process is managed so that everyone's piece of the process plays well with all the others.  eBay obviously has some management issues, so I'd be more inclined to blame them rather than programmers who are simply doing what they're told.

The idea of having these developers work the support lines might sound good, but developers would likely not interact well with users, since they know how everything works under the hood and would probably not be able to relate with people who don't "speak geek."  I am generalizing a bit, but I've worked as a developer for 18 years, and this is how things usually work.

Oh, and I'd bet a lot of eBay developers would skip using the SYI in favor of writing their own personalized listing tool using the eBay API.  That's what I'd do :-)  

Computer geeks also have no patience for user-friendly features of software or web sites because those things just get in the way of them getting directly to what they want to do.  This is why they'd stink at answering support questions :-)

eBay Changes Equals Glitches Department   eBay Changes Equals Glitches Department

by: Boycott Ebay

Sat Oct 6 10:23:27 2007

It would be nice if Ebay spent as much time on fixing the major holes in security on their site as they do on developing new toys. It's too bad that Desktop can't fix the hole that allowed 'someone' (V?) on 10-5-07 to temporarily NARU several members who regularly post on the Trust and Safety board. See the T & S board for details.

eBay Changes Equals Glitches Department   eBay Changes Equals Glitches Department

by: Peter Leeflang - CEO Leeflang Archive Corp

Sat Oct 6 13:11:18 2007

Ina et al., San Dimas, Alan's baby, is a piece of junk. This is from a powerseller who has tested it extensively for a long time.
It diminishes the visibillity of our offerings considerably because:

1) It does not search in description text (Ebay's online interface does)

2) Even the 'title search' is useless, as it does give a lot less search results for the same queries as in the online version (example: We queried for "Berton Braley' and it came with ONE result, ignoring 58 other 'Berton Braleys' we found through the online version). How can Ebay sell anything if only 1 in 58 of items is visible to buyers using San Dimas?

Ebay has again managed to make sellers and their products even more invisible.

eBay Changes Equals Glitches Department   eBay Changes Equals Glitches Department

by: Alan Lewis

Sun Oct 7 22:40:04 2007

Peter,

1. eBay Desktop will support Search in Description. It does not at present due to a limitation in the eBay Shopping APIs. I made the call to use the (faster) Shopping APIs right now rather than use slower but more functionally complete Trading APIs because I felt it was more important to bring out the Beta with an emphasis on speed rather than completeness. This and other functionality will come.

2. I just did a search in the public beta (eBay Desktop) for ''Berton Braley'' and got 5 items back. On the website, 5 items come back too. If you were on the very early private beta, back then we did not return store items because of performance constraints. Now we do, and in fact we return all store items for every search instead of following the site's ''rule of 30''.

Peter - I'd like to hear more of your thoughts on the product since it sounds like you were an early tester. My email address isn't hard to find (find my blog and its linked from there), and I'd like to hear from you in person.

-Alan

eBay Changes Equals Glitches Department   eBay Changes Equals Glitches Department

by: Peter Leeflang - CEO Leeflang Archive Corp

Tue Oct 9 10:04:01 2007

Alan,

The only thing that I read in your reaction to my posting is a confirmation that my observation, that present San Dimas diminishes visibility, is true.

It is irresponsible of Ebay to release such a product, as it will be adopted by our present repeat buyers and prospective new buyers and they will never know what they are missing out, while their purchasing with us will diminish.

That kind of careless approach will hurt our business not grow it.

We would never release ANY site or software which would (initially) diminish our own visibility (which inmediately results in lesser sales). IN fact, our corse principle with our site is to INCREASE visibility with every function and cut out any function with does the reverse.

Your present San Dimas would mean that I would first have to make a step back in sales. Maybe Ebay's own financial reserves allow it to do such a step back, but small businesses do not have such margins, especially in an extra vulnerable recession period like this where prices are coming down and marketing costs are going up.

I want to add that I'm sure that your approach will work with simple commodities, as those can be described in the title almost 100%.

However, whom you are putting out of business with San Dimas are those selling complex commodities or non-commodity type categories (unique items, antique items or new and used media like books, magazines, CDs, DVDs etc) though, which require description searching. Example: In our magazine back issues category many sales result from description search. Or how would anyone buy a CD that contains multiple artists if he cannot search for an artist's name?

Peter



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