|Wed Feb 10 2010 18:17:19|
eBay Passing off an Old Playground as a New Garden
By: David Steiner
eBay users who tested eBay's new search features in the "Playground" in 2007 might be surprised to learn that they gave feedback on features that were actually "set in stone." eBay's Joshua Ramirez said today that the old Playgound was really a matter of eBay telling users, "here's a sneak peek of what we're going to release in the near future."
But that's not what Jeff King, eBay's Senior Director of Finding at the time, had to say when soliciting feedback on Playground. On May 3, 2007, he wrote, "Your input and feedback on these projects has been invaluable, helping us figure out what works well and what does not."
And in June 2007, King wrote: "The Playground is a site that allows anyone - not just those in our test groups - to try out the new Finding experience. When you are in the Playground, you're still using eBay as before, and have access to all the same listings, but you get to experiment with our new method of finding items. Come try it out and let us know what you think. We want your feedback on everything from the look and feel to whether you're finding the right items easily."
eBay users posted comments in the eBay blog yesterday that they saw no difference between the old Playground and Garden by eBay, launched yesterday. eBay's corporate blogger Richard Brewer-Hay responded with a tweet:
For longtime eBayers, there is a fundamental difference between the Playground & #eBayGarden http://bit.ly/9dXmbE
He links to a video where Joshua Ramirez, Product Owner, eBay Garden, says: "We had a Playground that actually pre-dated me as well, but the original Playground was really a place where the features were more set in stone, there was more like, here's a sneak peek of what we're going to release in the near future. Whereas the Garden is really about, help us build this product with you. We know that there are issues with the ways you guys are using the site and you need to solve these problems, so come help us solve these problems with us."
Sellers could justifiably be confused, since there seems to be negligible difference between eBay's Playground and the search component of Garden by eBay. In an About.com article written by former eBay employee Aron Hsiao wrote:
"Of course, one of the major reasons for the existence of eBay Playground is the opportunity for eBay to hear from its members about new features - how well they work, whether they're useful, and/or what needs to be improved. To facilitate this kind of communication, eBay places another link at the top of every page on eBay Playground, which reads: Give us your opinion."
As with Mr. Ramirez, the Playground pre-dates Mr. Brewer-Hay, who can be forgiven for not remembering details. However, long-time sellers who have many more years of experience with the site are growing frustrated watching eBay reinvent a previously existing feature and market it as "innovation." Is a short corporate memory causing eBay to reinvent the same wheel time and time again, while failing to address other, more pressing problems?
Why should sellers believe that eBay is more interested in soliciting actionable feedback from its users now than it was in 2007? To some veteran eBay sellers, it's a case of Lucy, Charlie Brown and the football. "No THIS time we're REALLY interested in your feedback..." *Swoosh - Plop!*
But perhaps most disturbing is that eBay seems to have convinced themselves that they are innovating, when in fact, they're simply recycling, retooling and renaming features that already existed on their site.
David Steiner is President of AuctionBytes.com.