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Fri July 29 2011 14:37:55

eBay Changes Controversial Social Networking Policy

By: Ina Steiner

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eBay updated its social-networking policy that had in effect banned sellers from sharing auctions on sites like Facebook after EcommerceBytes wrote about the policy last week. The blog post garnered many comments questioning the reasoning behind eBay's stance on social networking.

In a nutshell, the policy said sellers would be in violation of shill bidding if their "online friends" bid on their eBay auctions. The toned-down policy removes the mention of "online friends" and states that all selling formats are supported by eBay's social sharing features, though it continues to refer sellers to the site's shill-bidding policy.

The crux of the original policy had stated:

"All selling formats are supported for sharing listings. However, if you want your online friends to buy your shared items, you'll need to offer the items at a fixed price: Important: It's still OK to offer auction-style bidding on your items. But your online friends aren't allowed to bid. That’s because eBay's shill bidding policy doesn't allow anyone who has more access to your item information than the general eBay community to place bids."

Sellers were concerned about how eBay would define an "online friend" - many merchants try to grow their online networks and pride themselves on having many Facebook friends, Twitter and FourSquare followers, and LinkedIn colleagues, believing it can add to their credibility and help them drive traffic to their product listings.

One EcommerceBytes reader commented on our original blog post about the policy, "Who defines what a ''friend'' is? Is it a genuine personal friendship? Or if a previous customer ''friends-me'' on my Facebook business page, are they now considered to be a disqualified ''friend''? Even though I've never met the customer, and even though we aren't friends in real life... is this ''facebook-friend'' no longer permitted to bid on my auctions?"

eBay spokesperson Johnna Hoff notified me today that eBay updated the language to note that all selling formats are supported for sharing listings. "Buyers and sellers should still reference the shill bidding policy to ensure that bids are authentic and fall within the guidelines," Hoff added.

eBay removed the sentence, "if you want your online friends to buy your shared items, you'll need to offer the items at a fixed price" in the updated policy. But it remains up to sellers to make sure their real friends don't bid on their auctions. The policy is found on this page on eBay's website.




Comments (20) | Permalink

Readers Comments

eBay Changes Controversial Social Networking Policy   eBay Changes Controversial Social Networking Policy

This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie

Fri Jul 29 15:14:06 2011

A small success! Thanks for playing such an important role in this Ina!

I wish everything was this easy, but the old policy was so clearly absurd that even the clever wordsmiths and policy wonks at eBay couldn't come up with a plausible defense or justification for it. (But I'm sure it wasn't for a lack of TRYING, however.)

Thanks again, Ina! :-)

eBay Changes Controversial Social Networking Policy   eBay Changes Controversial Social Networking Policy

by: reader0729

Fri Jul 29 15:35:38 2011

I give them an A+ for entertainment value, but a stark F for everything else.

oops, Make that another F
LOL
http://bit.ly/p3HfGO

eBay Changes Controversial Social Networking Policy   eBay Changes Controversial Social Networking Policy

by: silkworm
Web Site

Fri Jul 29 17:28:04 2011

>>''eBay's shill bidding policy doesn't allow anyone who has more access to your item information than the general eBay community to place bids.''<<

How is this any different than any other form of advertising.  Those that see your ads and promos *anywhere* will have more info than the general eBay community.  And seriously, how can they hope to police this policy.  Do you have to provide your FB or Twitter friend lists in order to sell there now?

eBay Changes Controversial Social Networking Policy   eBay Changes Controversial Social Networking Policy

This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
Web Site

Fri Jul 29 18:11:55 2011

“… if you want your online friends to buy your shared items, you'll need to offer the items at a fixed price.”

What amazes me is that this sort of nonsense gets through in the first place. Don’t they bother passing anything past a second person (one with a brain, that is) for comment before they put such nonsense into play? Apparently not. Comical.

And the even more amazing thing is that they have taken notice of an outsider’s comment, and promptly. God help us, what is happening at eBay?

And, for your entertainment, a compilation of (mostly inane) eBay executive quotes from along the way, at:

http://forums.auctionbytes.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=24159>
Enron
/ eBay / PayPal / Donahoe: Dead Men Walking.

eBay Changes Controversial Social Networking Policy   eBay Changes Controversial Social Networking Policy

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

Fri Jul 29 21:12:08 2011

The second major laugh in one week brought to us by ebay's Keystone Cops.

Like ebafia ever really cared about shill bidding.

The word lame doesn't even begin to cover it.

Probably something the seller advocate came up with.

eBay Changes Controversial Social Networking Policy   eBay Changes Controversial Social Networking Policy

by: pete

Fri Jul 29 21:55:48 2011

"eBay a backward looking company"

Make more u-turns than a lost drunk (no offence to drunks)

eBay Changes Controversial Social Networking Policy   eBay Changes Controversial Social Networking Policy

by: Windsor Bear

Fri Jul 29 22:11:31 2011

...must have been time to calm down some of the "noise"...

eBay Changes Controversial Social Networking Policy   eBay Changes Controversial Social Networking Policy

by: Y.D.D.D

Fri Jul 29 23:42:28 2011

Who care what wish washy Donahoe does or does not do, every seller that has not ran for the doors out to, I am planning my exit !

Every new seller thinking about selling on eBay, just read and study all the archives here, and see how unhappy us sellers are that have not left

Don't care what you do Donahoe, you ruined peoples lives that depended on eBay, you killed the site, it is a sinking, from the Donahoe Iceberg

eBay Changes Controversial Social Networking Policy   eBay Changes Controversial Social Networking Policy

by: Macko

Sat Jul 30 07:22:54 2011

After doing business with the same fella on ebay for 7 years, He and I have met in person several times, we have become, What I consider ''GOOD Friends'' and introduced our familys to one another. Hmmmmmm, now the Gods at eBay are dictating to us who can sell to who! This I have a problem with. Its bad enough they tell me how to pay for an item. Its also bad enough to keep me from knowing just WHO is bidding on items....but to keep me from doing business with a FRIEND???...Hah! John Donahoe and his perverted ILK can take a long walk off a short pier!..PLEASE!!

eBay Changes Controversial Social Networking Policy   eBay Changes Controversial Social Networking Policy

by: Mr Obvious

Sat Jul 30 11:51:42 2011

I'd still send out private messages to all your facebook friends advising them they can purchase your items OFF ebay, and pay with methods other than paypal.

You'll save 9%  fees on shipping.
That and 'just because'. Heh!

eBay Changes Controversial Social Networking Policy   eBay Changes Controversial Social Networking Policy

by: Paul

Sat Jul 30 12:47:15 2011

Comical :-) What a joke ''Feebay'' has become..

eBay Changes Controversial Social Networking Policy   eBay Changes Controversial Social Networking Policy

by: Joe Average

Sun Jul 31 13:11:20 2011

Friends dont let friends shop on eBay at all.

Especially the young Facebook crowd. Nothing on eBay that they cannot find elsewhere.

eBay Changes Controversial Social Networking Policy   eBay Changes Controversial Social Networking Policy

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

Sun Jul 31 15:48:25 2011

Phillip Cohen asks how such poorly conceived policies ever see the light of day.

Spend a few minutes over at glassdoor.com reading comments made by past and present ebay employees, and you'll certain trends emerge.

You'll see, for example, that ebay has what can only accurately be described as a chaotic chain of command where one department has no idea what another, related department is doing or has done.

You'll see employees who seem to be far more concerned about the freebies ebay offers (snacks, sodas, gym, etc.) than they appear to be about their work.

Reading between the lines, you can see just how young and inexperienced most people in the few layers of management are. My guess is that embarassing policies are made by ebay's Kiddie Corps. when it backfires, they are far too stubborn to admit their mistakes so they usually compound them just to demonstrate their authority and what will eventually prove to be fatal intransigence.

You'll also read how perhaps the least capable people get promoted within ebay. (Sociopathy at work.)

Ebay would be far better served by drastically reducing their bloated management bureaucracy, requiring coordinated and thorough reviews before policies are implemented, and most importantly hiring experienced, ethical ADULTS to make critical decisions.

I won't hold my breath.

eBay Changes Controversial Social Networking Policy   eBay Changes Controversial Social Networking Policy

by: College

Mon Aug 1 00:27:51 2011

Ebay is ran by a bunch of college grads who are using college textbook theories in real life.

It's a bunch of no business owners playing business owners in what they think is a college enviroment.

It's the way JD runs his companies. Full of meetings and things from college textbooks which they think makes sense to a real business owner.

eBay Changes Controversial Social Networking Policy   eBay Changes Controversial Social Networking Policy

This user has validated their user name. by: Tula

Mon Aug 1 08:15:46 2011

There was an article I read recently in Forbes about how some companies are failing when they attempt to apply old-style (Bain & Co.) business models to new-style businesses. eBay was not among their examples, but probably should have been.

eBay Changes Controversial Social Networking Policy   eBay Changes Controversial Social Networking Policy

by: nadine

Mon Aug 1 09:08:59 2011

Ming, you forget the most often repeated lament from the glassdoor.com eBay reviews: the lament that senior management is clueless and changes course about once every three months. You see some version of this complaint in well over half the reviews. You NEVER see this in any review of Amazon (there, they just complain that the the bosses are cheap and work them too hard).

I don't think it is curable at this point short of a hostile takeover.

eBay Changes Controversial Social Networking Policy   eBay Changes Controversial Social Networking Policy

by: Diana

Mon Aug 1 15:35:56 2011

Could we try out homes and cars too?  What a ridiculous policy!  What overpaid executive dreams this stuff up?  Surely no one who really sells on eBay for sure!

eBay Changes Controversial Social Networking Policy   eBay Changes Controversial Social Networking Policy

by: a_c_green

Tue Aug 2 16:00:03 2011

> Surely no one who really sells on eBay for sure!

Bingo. There's no evidence that those making decisions are actually selling anything themselves, a process that would help them to learn about the company that they are attempting to manage.

This reminds me of one of their seller get-togethers from 2-3 years ago now. (I think it was the one where a YouTube video of a seller meltdown at a Q&A session went viral.) When challenged, one of their management people said that Yes, she was a seller on eBay, and proceeded to briefly talk about selling a pair of shoes that she'd worn to one event and then decided to get rid of.

Subsequently, her completed listing for those shows was located. It showed that she had listed the shoes as new, not used, made no mention of having worn them already, and even had one of her photos uploaded sideways, apparently unable to figure out how to turn it right-side-up.

This jarring level of cluelessness did not help her credibility claims at all, but does not seem to be all that unusual among eBay executives. You'd think that someone at that high level would interrupt a new-ideas meeting to say, ''That's ridiculous, and here's why,'' but unfortunately they do not have the insight of actual seller experience that would tell them not to pursue such a bad decision.

eBay Changes Controversial Social Networking Policy   eBay Changes Controversial Social Networking Policy

by: kiddingright

Thu Aug 4 08:12:42 2011

NEWS FLASH

If you are creating a link to an item why pick the worst run, highest price venue.
when I promote I send my buyers  to anywhere
but
ebay

eBay Changes Controversial Social Networking Policy   eBay Changes Controversial Social Networking Policy

by: buck efay

Thu Aug 11 14:20:49 2011

In June, Ebay's Christopher Payne delivered an address to the IRCE Coference stating ebay will be introducing in the second half of 2011 a innovation that will allow consumers to show their fb friends items they are considering to purchase & solicit feedback. So while Ebay was telling us NO FB, they are busily building out this function. What a bunch of morons. If you need anymore proof that one hand don't know what the other is doing at Ebay, here's proof.



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