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Wed Feb 10 2010 18:17:19

eBay Passing off an Old Playground as a New Garden

By: David Steiner

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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.




Comments (42) | Permalink

Readers Comments

eBay Passing off an Old Playground as a New Garden   eBay Passing off an Old Playground as a New Garden

by: Krista

Wed Feb 10 18:38:16 2010

You only left one thing out, Ina. You didn't mention how the mainstream press, like the New York Times and Ecommerce-Guide swallowed eBay's spin hook, line and sinker.

Bad on them!

eBay Passing off an Old Playground as a New Garden   eBay Passing off an Old Playground as a New Garden

by: X-eBay Seller

Wed Feb 10 18:52:47 2010

Geez about time someone called them out. The've only been doing this for the past 10 years!

If they just followed the K-I-S-S rule, so many sellers wouldn't be kissing them off right now!

eBay Passing off an Old Playground as a New Garden   eBay Passing off an Old Playground as a New Garden

by: San Jose Missionary

Wed Feb 10 19:11:51 2010

I think in online gaming RBH is what's known as a n00b

eBay Passing off an Old Playground as a New Garden   eBay Passing off an Old Playground as a New Garden

by: getting on

Wed Feb 10 19:31:34 2010

The wheel and Ebay have had something in common for years.

eBay Passing off an Old Playground as a New Garden   eBay Passing off an Old Playground as a New Garden

by: Patricia

Wed Feb 10 19:33:13 2010

Yep....like little children at play...its all make believe.  That company seriously needs adult supervision!  In any event, I used to fall for that "help us out" line - no more.  I wouldn't waste 2 minutes giving them my opinion.  One thing I learned thru my years on Ebay - a seller's opinion means less than nothing to these people!

eBay Passing off an Old Playground as a New Garden   eBay Passing off an Old Playground as a New Garden

by: fruity

Wed Feb 10 20:16:57 2010

Oh poor poor ebay, looks like when Meg Whitman left she took some of your staff and now all you can do is recycle your muck ups from the last 5 years

No one cares what you do, you have already proven yourself as separatists, deciding who gets to drink from the water fountain

You are mean, inconsiderate, do nothing, care nothing, take everything, grab 'em by the ankles, this is a stick up, beat em if you have to conglomerate of sinister people doing bad things. You are pure evil and satan on earth. You know what happens to bad people who push innocents around? Eventually what happens is you push the wrong innocent around who opens up a can of whoopa** on you and the moment when there's an opportunity the rest of the villagers grab rocks and sticks and you finally get it.

Welcome to 2010. The year that you become marginalized. geezerbay!

eBay Passing off an Old Playground as a New Garden   eBay Passing off an Old Playground as a New Garden

by: Ron

Wed Feb 10 21:11:22 2010

Until eBay deals with the fact that they are trying to cater to different markets (auctions vs fixed price, small seller community vs Diamond sellers, collectibles/antiques vs new liquidation items), it really doesn't matter what processes or policies that they institute or who they ask about those processes, because different types of sellers or buyers will have radically different needs.  They need to start constructing their processes to be category specific and auction/fixed price specific.  I know that when I'm trying to find a unique vintage collectible, that I really don't want to be looking at some type of China made piece of garbage.

eBay Passing off an Old Playground as a New Garden   eBay Passing off an Old Playground as a New Garden

by: RicRoe

Wed Feb 10 21:45:24 2010

John Donahoe's eBay has mastered the art of misdirection. eBay's inability to be straight with their users is a well known fact.

The ''Garden'' will likely be fertilized with more of the same bull ship Mr Donahoe and his management team have been heaping on eBay users for the past 3 years.

This is little more than eBay placing a preview of yet another unwelcome change so they can later make false statements about how much users liked what they saw.

eBay is losing buyers not because search results are unsightly, but because search results are irrelevant.

Until eBay manages to present buyers with what they are looking for, the appearance of how results are returned is as irrelevant as eBay's search results.

Wasting time and effort on appearance when results are inaccurate is like putting whipped cream on dog turds...  turds look better with whipped cream, but nobody is going to eat them.

eBay has their priorities all wrong.

Fix search, and stop antagonizing sellers with false and misleading statements about how paying higher fees will save them money.

Restore honesty and transparency and rebuild the community Mr Donahoe and his team have systematically dismantled.

Mr Donahoe, listen to the ''noise'' because the silence is deafening.



eBay Passing off an Old Playground as a New Garden   eBay Passing off an Old Playground as a New Garden

by: JD

Wed Feb 10 21:49:20 2010


I don't know why but after reading the article I find myself wondering if Ina or David have ever been NARU'd...

Strange but true...



eBay Passing off an Old Playground as a New Garden   eBay Passing off an Old Playground as a New Garden

by: JD

Wed Feb 10 21:52:45 2010


John Donahoe's eBay should master the art of e-customerservice...

eBay Passing off an Old Playground as a New Garden   eBay Passing off an Old Playground as a New Garden

by: On Lies and Secrets

Wed Feb 10 21:54:32 2010

''Is a short corporate memory causing eBay to reinvent the same wheel time and time again, while failing to address other, more pressing problems?''

How I would love to know the answer to this question.  Why are they bothering with this when there are so many systemic and profound problems on the site? They had a major outage a couple of months ago and now they spend their resources on dredging up what amounts to a failed idea from a few years ago.  Why?  Why do they want to make feedback so easy for testing junk features, but make it difficult to contact them when someone experiences a real problem with the site or a transaction?  There is something seriously wrong with ebay management...

eBay Passing off an Old Playground as a New Garden   eBay Passing off an Old Playground as a New Garden

by: J.G.

Wed Feb 10 23:47:03 2010

@On Lies

Simple answer:  More smoke and mirrors, more phony Lite-Brite maps to obscure the actual counts. Also, it's always about the money.  This costs them nothing, it's already done.

@Ric

I can't get the image of the whipped cream and dog do out of my head.  ROFLMAO!

eBay Passing off an Old Playground as a New Garden   eBay Passing off an Old Playground as a New Garden

This user has validated their user name. by: Ed Gadfly

Wed Feb 10 23:54:41 2010

You guys read Twitter? Dick Brewer Hay is all aflutter with ideas of eBay TV.

Call me a 20th century geezer, but shouldn't you finish one job before you start another?

eBay, did YOU (not ''we'' this ain't France) fix ''Best Match''?

eBay did YOU, after THREE years, finally come through with the Flat Rate boxes you promised us YEARS ago? Dick Brewer Hay, I know you don't sell on on eBay (2 blog posts in a week is a hell of an effort from you), but don't you understand that this is something we really need? Like, we need it MORE than additional propaganda over the Internet.

And it might be a lot easier to program a webpage input to accept ANY SIZE PACKAGE, than to start a TV service, make Griff interesting and actually draw more than 25 kool-aid drinking admirers.

Speaking of Griff and flat Rate boxes and empty promises... I have an idea how to get the Seller Advocate to help us - LET'S BRIBE HIM!!! Nothing motivates people like money right?!? (I will not acknowledge the reader who just mumbled ''sex''.)

I mean, look how you can get people to jump over penny savings in non-store, store showing up in core!

So let's send our cash, checks and money orders to Uncle Grief (no PayPay, we don't want Grieffola to pull a SNAD on us) and hopefully the Seller Advocate (TM) will pause from smashing Hummels long enough to get us our stinking boxes.

Really, what does it say about such a beneficial master as eBay, when you have to consider BRIBING a highly paid, benefit bestowed Seller Advocate (TM) to keep the promise the massive eCommerce giant made so long ago...

Fire up your Twit machine Dick Brewer Hay - let the metabolically challenged ex-eCommerce evangelist know we're willing to pay him off! It's the New American Way - bonuses for overpaid people who can't do their jobs, from the people who can afford it least.

Hat's off to you JD. We begged, you ignore us. Gosh, your Mothers must be proud!

I love you JD. I love you Griff. Freedom IS slavery. 2 + 2 DOES equal 5, the playing field is fair and level and... people ARE BASICALLY GOOD!!!

(Another glass of kool-aid please... got grape?)

eBay Passing off an Old Playground as a New Garden   eBay Passing off an Old Playground as a New Garden

by: Scott

Thu Feb 11 00:20:33 2010

"Senior Director of Finding"

I still laugh every time I hear that.  It's gotta be one of the top five stupidest job titles ever.

Like Forrest said . . .

eBay Passing off an Old Playground as a New Garden   eBay Passing off an Old Playground as a New Garden

by: summer in the city

Thu Feb 11 00:59:29 2010



LOLOL that video!!! Cue card alert!!!

Reminds me of those POW videos from Al-Qaeda! You just know there's somebody standing just off camera with a machine gun. Those poor schmucks look like they just finished six months in Gitmo.  

If this is the best strategy the aya-Ho-la can come up with to de-geezer ebay's image, they might as well start passing out the Metamucil right now.



eBay Passing off an Old Playground as a New Garden   eBay Passing off an Old Playground as a New Garden

by: Angus McCapitalist Dundee

Thu Feb 11 02:15:45 2010

Are lower level eBay employee salaries a matter of public record? Readers might be interested to know what positions held by those like RBH were paid out last year...
granted corporate PR folks only hang around anywhere for a short time, really, its part of the game, chewed up, spit out, burnt out, yet, still, readers are curious. Pretty cushy jobs vs. the return, compared to independent internet retail circa 2010.....

eBay Passing off an Old Playground as a New Garden   eBay Passing off an Old Playground as a New Garden

by: joe

Thu Feb 11 08:52:37 2010


A fish rots from the head down...

eBay Passing off an Old Playground as a New Garden   eBay Passing off an Old Playground as a New Garden

by: Kathy

Thu Feb 11 09:04:43 2010

See, eBay's lips moved. They lied.

eBay Passing off an Old Playground as a New Garden   eBay Passing off an Old Playground as a New Garden

by: old timer

Thu Feb 11 11:21:40 2010

After a decade plus on eBay, I only know one truth with eBay: they lie, they lie continually, they lie for their own best interest, they lie to sellers, they lie to buyers, they lie to the government, they lie to the media, they lie to their own employees...

Anyone who accepts anything eBay says gets just what they deserve.

From the Moody Blues:
..It riles them to believe that you perceive the web they weave, and keep on thinking free...

It's time for sellers to get out of Dodge.

eBay Passing off an Old Playground as a New Garden   eBay Passing off an Old Playground as a New Garden

by: Patricia

Thu Feb 11 11:57:18 2010

Seems to me the name of the game is ''sales'' and to get more sales you need to have two things....an extremely simplified search that includes allowing a newbie buyer to just browse....and fairness and a level playing field to ALL sellers both large and small!  Ebay needs to first work on its reputation for lying and deceit, it needs to make an honest attempt at ridding the site of scam sellers AND scam buyers.  It needs to make the environment comfortable for all buyers to come in and find what they want.  In that respect it needs to get its hands out of sellers business except when they are fraudulent.  Then and only then it needs to come down like a hammer.  These gimmicks ''playgrounds'' and ''gardens'' insult an adult intelligence.  Ebay...stop playing useless games!!!

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