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Sat Feb 7 2009 15:12:43

Users Concerned over eBay Changes to Chat Boards

By: Ina Steiner

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eBay users from the U.S. and Australia are concerned over changes to the discussion and chat boards. Some users are concerned eBay will remove the community areas where they had built up friendships after years of participation, and many are unhappy due to usability issues of the new design and report discussions are hard to read. 

In Australia, an eBay moderator told users the company might remove threads not related to eBay. "With the new format we are going to be making some changes to the make up of the boards. Nothing is finalized yet but it is possible that general chat threads may no longer be part of the forums and instead only eBay related threads will be allowed." 

An Australian user who has participated on the "ChinWag" board for 5 years wrote to AuctionBytes. "The ChinWag is the link to the outside world for many people. It is a support group for women with breast cancer. It has a Depression Support Group. It helps people to quit smoking. It has a thread for the rehoming of rescued animals. It celebrates the birth of babies, has a Secret Santa every Christmas, mourns the loss of members, discusses current affairs, basically everything that can be talked about, gets talked about on ChinWag." She said users had started a petition to urge eBay to keep the board. 




Old design on the left, new design on the right.

In the U.S, users are reporting difficulties in using the new boards, which have already rolled out. "The design makes rapid scan of topics on a Boards front page impossible. I really think this was done to reduce use so they can justify shutting down the Boards," wrote one eBay user in an email to AuctionBytes. "They have removed the link to the launch board and are starting a new board just to report glitches. Five pages of threads by irate members might have been a bit of an embarrassment. All the threads were locked down at 3 pm. Here's the link, in case you don't have it. It's not as easy to find now."

In addition to redesigning the Discussion Boards, eBay also redesigned My eBay, and is rolling out changes to the View Item pages and eBay Stores pages.

Some users are referring to the, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" principle, questioning why eBay made changes in the first place. Given the demise of other community features on eBay, it does seem interesting it is investing in redesigning the discussion boards. Longtime eBay employees who moderated discussion boards for years were part of the October layoffs, as were those who wrote eBay's Chatter blog, which is on hiatus. eBay also canceled its annual community conference that attracted up to 10,000 users. After more than a year of difficult changes, it's hard to figure out eBay's current thinking on "community."




Comments (91) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Users Concerned over eBay Changes to Chat Boards   Users Concerned over eBay Changes to Chat Boards

by: hatetheboards

Sat Feb 7 15:34:18 2009

I think it's a very concentrated effort to help people forget a very successful past. It helps me to remember that Ebay is being run by losers. They can't get anything right. This can't go on. If we don't have the boards, it's just going to hasten the inevitable exodus to new venues. On the boards, sellers are talking about flat sales and it's expensive to list on Ebay. I'm rethinking if it's even worth going on.

Users Concerned over eBay Changes to Chat Boards   Users Concerned over eBay Changes to Chat Boards

by: On Lies and Secrets

Sat Feb 7 15:37:23 2009

As I recall, the ebay corporation was promising (or threatening depending on your point of view about the matter) a new look to the boards for some time now.  IMO, the look of the interface has changed, but it has not 'improved.'  IMO, the new board format is much harder to read and information is not presented in an intutive way. The new format causes me more eyestrain than the earlier format. Also, changes that board regulars have been asking for (e.g. the ability to edit a post after posting) were not implemented.

It appears that the ebay corporation is still making tweaks to the board format, but very few active posters on the forums I frequent seem to view the changes as a whole as any kind of overall improvement.  

So, I imagine that now the ebay corporation can counter the charges that they need to improve their user interface by stating that they have done so even if actual users don't perceive that the changes are ''improvements''.  IMO, the new discussion boards are the proverbial ''rearranged deck chairs on the titanic.''

Users Concerned over eBay Changes to Chat Boards   Users Concerned over eBay Changes to Chat Boards

by: eBay Customer

Sat Feb 7 16:15:17 2009

I find the net effect of the ''improvements'' to actually detract from my ability/desire to use the boards.

If this is an attempt by eBay to deter users from using the boards to discuss their experiences with eBay, it may be working.  If it is really an attempt to improve the boards, then it is not working and is another unfortunate indicator that the powers that run eBay really do not have a clear understanding (or care) of their customers' (sellers and buyer) needs or desires.  I wish I knew which users eBay used for input in making the changes.  At the very least, I consider this an extremely poor decision on the allocation of corporate resources when you consider the many other areas in eBay that customers have been begging for help on.

Plus the fact they have locked the feedback board tells me either they are really surprised at how widespread the dissatisfaction is for the changes, or they never really cared about the users' input in the first place.

From one perspective, less time spent on the boards will leave me more time to devote to developing my sales presence on non-Ebay sites, something I did not dream of doing in the last 8 years plus that I have been an eBay user.  But many factors (primarily eBay own decisions) have made finding other sales venues a necessity.

I'm just trying to find a silver lining in every dark cloud.

Users Concerned over eBay Changes to Chat Boards   Users Concerned over eBay Changes to Chat Boards

by: money honey

Sat Feb 7 16:38:11 2009

Very simple, really. If king JD can't figure out a way to make money, it's no longer part of the "New Ebay Experience". Probably had to pay someone for the old software, so they turned it over to some fresh out of college kids, and ordered them to use free open source software. Ebay has tried to supress User disdain at the way their sales have PLUMMETED like a burning airliner since King JD decided to  default us into a crummy non working search where page placement is based on a subjective, unexplained to customers DSR rating system. Apparently, King JD hated the free wheeling flea market, and decided cancer causing, cheaply made Chinese junk painted with lead, and free shipping from drop shippers is what the Ebay customer wants. No amount of protest has caused this moron to reset his course. Most idiots can figure out to stomp out a fire before it spreads, King JD gleefully roasts marshmallows and strums his lyre, while everything good within Ebay is being destroyed by fire. I hope his golden parachute's wires get tangled and he ends up working at Mickey D's, because NO corporation in America will be dumb enough to employ the moron that ruined Ebay.

Users Concerned over eBay Changes to Chat Boards   Users Concerned over eBay Changes to Chat Boards

by: Pat

Sat Feb 7 16:38:36 2009

Ina,

I have a group of people that I want to bring over to your discussion forums, but when I try to register, I get a message to contact the administrator. What's up with that?

Pat

Users Concerned over eBay Changes to Chat Boards   Users Concerned over eBay Changes to Chat Boards

This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Sat Feb 7 16:39:07 2009

If the plan was to further destroy the sense of community and discourage members from utilizing the boards, eBay has succeeded.

If making the boards clunky and difficult to scan was part of the redesign plan, eBay succeeded.

If burying the icons for new topic, watched topic etc... to make them harder to locate was part of the plan, eBay has succeeded.

If Avatars were included to make the pages slower to load, eBay has succeeded.

If eBay wanted to create a frustrating and cumbersome layout to discourage people from participating, eBay has succeeded.

At least now, eBay can honestly state that despite sales increases at competing sites, they are succeeding at something.

Users Concerned over eBay Changes to Chat Boards   Users Concerned over eBay Changes to Chat Boards

by: kumbaya

Sat Feb 7 16:59:20 2009

''it is possible that general chat threads may no longer be part of the forums and instead only eBay related threads will be allowed.''

Where's the problem? It will clean things up. I go to the boards for solutions. If you want to chat, get a Myspace account.

Users Concerned over eBay Changes to Chat Boards   Users Concerned over eBay Changes to Chat Boards

by: Avengoyle

Sat Feb 7 17:08:37 2009

A valid point, Kumbaya, but the problem is that eBay doesn't employ people to answer questions on the Boards.  They rely on volunteers, and most groups of volunteers have bonded into communities on their respective boards, with a lot of the personal chat that you don't seem to much care for.  When you discourage the community, how many people are going to stick around to answer questions gratis and for giggles alone?

I think we're about to get an answer to that question.

Pat, I was told that to keep down spam, you need to start the registration process for these forums with an email to dsteiner@auctionbytes.com.  I just sent mine - not sure of the procedure from there yet.

Users Concerned over eBay Changes to Chat Boards   Users Concerned over eBay Changes to Chat Boards

This user has validated their user name. by: David Steiner

Sat Feb 7 17:14:21 2009

Pat,

If you, or any of your friends, would like access to the discussions forums, they should send an email to dsteiner@auctionbytes.com, with the subject, "Forum Registration", and I will send them the necessary information.

We use a manual process to keep spammers and bots from registering. It's a little slower process on the front end, but it keeps the forums cleaner.

David Steiner

Users Concerned over eBay Changes to Chat Boards   Users Concerned over eBay Changes to Chat Boards

This user has validated their user name. by: David Steiner

Sat Feb 7 17:15:58 2009

Stole my thunder, Avengoyle. :-)

BTW, I didn't receive a registration email from you. Try again, and put "Forum Registration" in the subject.

David

Users Concerned over eBay Changes to Chat Boards   Users Concerned over eBay Changes to Chat Boards

This user has validated their user name. by: Ina

Sat Feb 7 17:26:04 2009

"Where's the problem? It will clean things up. I go to the boards for solutions. If you want to chat, get a Myspace account."

Less traffic, less sales? Lots of buyers use the boards, not just sellers. :)

I'm remembering the early days when eBay bragged about its community. And remember "the Power of All of Us"?

I am not saying eBay no longer wants community, I'm just trying to figure out its current strategy...

Users Concerned over eBay Changes to Chat Boards   Users Concerned over eBay Changes to Chat Boards

by: Avengoyle

Sat Feb 7 17:28:17 2009

I thought you might be taking a well-earned weekend off, Dave!

I'll try the email again.

[It is a bit of a pain not to find out you have to email until you've filled out the whole registration form.  If we get to fill it in again, best to stop folks who haven't emailed at the outset, before they fill it in, if you can].

Users Concerned over eBay Changes to Chat Boards   Users Concerned over eBay Changes to Chat Boards

by: Avengoyle

Sat Feb 7 17:35:40 2009

[Sorry - just checked - looks like you prefer "David"?  But I may have just put myself on "Mr. Steiner" terms!]

As for the community, many of us were lured onto the Boards because of the intelligent and witty posting of members already there.  There were two who tempted me onto the Bidding Board - one was given an "indefinite" suspension for a bit of troll roasting.  The "indefinites" are supposedly appealable after 90 days.  He has been appealing but I think we're nearly 2 months past that point, but he has not received any response at all.  The second has just said farewell to the Boards because of the present changes.  

So to me the Boards look much less attractive already.

Users Concerned over eBay Changes to Chat Boards   Users Concerned over eBay Changes to Chat Boards

by: OOAK_handcrafts

Sat Feb 7 18:01:42 2009

The new format will take some getting used to. But we will get used to it. :)

I'm especially liking the Ignore Button.

All the trolling divas on the boards just hate that. Too bad for them. ;)

Users Concerned over eBay Changes to Chat Boards   Users Concerned over eBay Changes to Chat Boards

by: Patricia

Sat Feb 7 18:08:50 2009

This may come as a surprise to some because I'm always griping about Ebay but I'm adjusting to the new boards and I like them!  First, there is finally, finally an ignore button.  This deters the resident trolls so that the rest of the posters can have a decent conversation without the stupid nonsense they generate.  Second, if you're using Firefox there is an add on that will allow you to delete anything on the new boards that bothers you.  I deleted the whole left column and the center topics column immediately spread out and became readable again.  So, give the boards a good try before you start grumbling.  Find that Firefox add on...it will help a LOT.

Users Concerned over eBay Changes to Chat Boards   Users Concerned over eBay Changes to Chat Boards

by: Dave

Sat Feb 7 18:09:35 2009


Very puzzling, EBAY seems to be working all-out to drive "eyeballs" away from their site! Certainly if the new chat rooms initiative is taken at face value - the new boards are clunky and difficult to scan, the icons for new topic, watched topics, are now harder to locate, avatars make the pages slower to load, all combined with a frustrating and cumbersome layout to discourage people from participating, plus, soon only ebay threads will be allowed. Why EBAY do you want to discourage folks at your site - advertising dollars are tied to page views and site visits - what are you thinking? Do you hate your customers so much?

Users Concerned over eBay Changes to Chat Boards   Users Concerned over eBay Changes to Chat Boards

This user has validated their user name. by: David Steiner

Sat Feb 7 18:36:01 2009

No, you're still on "David" terms. There are a couple of 'software' reasons for doing it the way it's done, but I agree, it's not ideal.

David

Users Concerned over eBay Changes to Chat Boards   Users Concerned over eBay Changes to Chat Boards

by: ebay user

Sat Feb 7 18:40:12 2009

I think the removal of the community forums on eBay would be a good thing.  It might encourage the mothers who spend all day there to leave their computers and spend time with their children.

Users Concerned over eBay Changes to Chat Boards   Users Concerned over eBay Changes to Chat Boards

by: Rach

Sat Feb 7 18:42:10 2009

The Chin Wag is on the au website and has been threatened by eBay moderator Shane of being on of the ones to be closed down because according to him all we talk about is lost dogs, cheating husbands and what's on for dinner. CW is one of the most used boards on the au site and the things we have achieved there are amazing. We have collected money to send someone overseas to see her injured mother, enough money to build a garden in remeberance to a child who died of SIDS, we have found lost toys for children, sourced products not available in a posters area, helped raise money for a baby who was born very ill, raised money for children with cancer, watched children and posters pass away, celebrated the births and marriages of posters and their children.... the list is endless. Plus despite us being seen by Shane as just housewives we actually do discuss and debate current affairs. There is a thread going there that names over 400 ids of people who regularly log onto the boards and post or lurk and there are many more names to come.

Users Concerned over eBay Changes to Chat Boards   Users Concerned over eBay Changes to Chat Boards

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Sat Feb 7 18:52:49 2009

IMO, the principle reasons ebay changed the chat board format is threefold.

1. The new format requires fewer employees.
2. The new format is designed to deliberately discourage participation so that ehay can incrementally eliminate the boards.
3. The new format is deliberately designed to ultimately destroy chat cliques so that only ebay NewSpeak remains.

And then they will shut them down citing lack of participation.

We must NEVER forget that the ultra greedy corporations like ebay are at heart fascists.

Fascists must eradicate free speech and an objective media and have total control over workers in order to survive.

"In Australia, an eBay moderator told users the company might remove threads not related to eBay. "With the new format we are going to be making some changes to the make up of the boards. Nothing is finalized yet but it is possible that general chat threads may no longer be part of the forums and instead only eBay related threads will be allowed."

Not only will they eventually remove non ebay related threads, they will also remove threads they don't like and threads that contain any opinion or fact contrary to the vomit heaving from the putrid cesspool of ebay's LYING SPIN MACHINE.

Many on the boards have the capability to set up Death to Ebay chatboards where ebay can't censor like the dyed in the wool fascists they are.

Ebay no longher makes any phony pretext of a "community." Of course, there really never was an ebay community only a carefully constructed and maintained, warm and fuzzy illusion that Mother Meg created to make you think she actually cared about you. LOL!

Death to ebay corp. in 2009.

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