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Tue Sept 3 2019 23:24:56

eBay Sees Diversity as a Way to Improve Search Results

By: Ina Steiner

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eBay patented a method for search based on diversity to help overcome a major challenge shopping sites face in serving up relevant listings in search results. The system it described "calculates a diversity index for a result set comprising results for a query."

(Note: this is not about the diversity of eBay's workforce, for example - this is about showing shoppers diverse items in search results.)

eBay explained in the patent filing

"Information retrieval relates to the searching of information stored on computing systems, such as searches for web pages, items for sale, documents, and images. To locate particular information, a user specifies a query about the information of interest and a search engine, for example, uses this query in the search. For example, online shopping and auction websites provide a number of publishing, listing, and price-setting mechanisms whereby a seller may list (or publish information concerning) items for sale. A buyer can express interest in or indicate a desire to purchase such items by, for example, submitting a query to the website for use in a search of the requested items. 

"The accurate matching of a query to relevant items is currently a major technical challenge in the field of information retrieval. An example of such a challenge is that item descriptions (e.g., title) tend to be short and such descriptions may be uniquely defined by the sellers. The buyers seeking to purchase the items might use a different vocabulary from the vocabulary used by the sellers to describe the items. As an example, an item identified in the title as a "garnet" does not match a query "January birthstone" submitted by a buyer, although garnet s known as the birthstone for January. In another example, an item identified in the title as "Martin guitar" does not match the query "acoustic guitar" submitted by a buyer, although the Martin guitar is a type of an acoustic guitar. As a result, for example, online shopping and auction websites that use a conventional search engine to locate items may not effectively connect the buyers to the sellers."

The example of "garnet" not matching "January birthstone" jumped out at me. In 2008, I had interviewed Jamie Iannone, who was then eBay Vice President of Global Search, and he had used that very example in talking about eBay's search engine.

It's interesting to look back at what eBay was thinking about search 11 years ago. At the time, Best Match sort was fairly new, and Iannone revealed four factors that influenced Best Match: Item Information - including category, title, attribute, and information about listings; Seller Information - including seller DSR scores, and other bad seller metrics; Demand Data - what are buyers doing on the site; and "Time Ending Soonest."

Now that eBay has moved to 30-day GTC, Time Ending Soonest is a quaint notion!

Do you find that eBay does a good job of finding items like garnets when people search January birthstone?



Comments (25) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Perminate Link for eBay Sees Diversity as a Way to Improve Search Results   eBay Sees Diversity as a Way to Improve Search Results

This user has validated their user name. by: The End

Wed Sep 4 00:53:19 2019

Yes, I use the same method when searching :
Misspellings and omissions just to be sure to cover everything.
In the "Old Days" we called it "Dumbing Down".
Now it has a pretty name.......

Perminate Link for eBay Sees Diversity as a Way to Improve Search Results   eBay Sees Diversity as a Way to Improve Search Results

by: FeelingFroggy This user has validated their user name.

Wed Sep 4 07:37:06 2019

Greedbay doesn't know the meaning of diversity. It only knows greed.

Perminate Link for eBay Sees Diversity as a Way to Improve Search Results   eBay Sees Diversity as a Way to Improve Search Results

by: leathermermaid8 This user has validated their user name.

Wed Sep 4 08:29:00 2019

So basically, they're trying desperately to read/profile a consumer's mind.  Why didn't they ever consider just FIXING their search engine and let sellers/buyers decide what they really want?  We've all been saying this for years.

I've scaled back my eBay visits and purchases because of wading through  irrelevant crap.  I don't have the time.  

If you select "used" in your search, at least 10 or 20 dropshipped NEW (read: garbage) items show up in your search anyway.  Ditto antiques.  And you can't seem to lock a search the way you want without it defaulting back to "all categories".

You really shouldn't have to give every online entity out that asks for your personal data just so you can look at whatever an algorithm assumes you want.  Am I a felon to be profiled now or a consumer?

That, to me, is the opposite of diversity.

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by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Wed Sep 4 09:13:06 2019

Diversity means "give me all your hundreds not just your twentys"

Perminate Link for eBay Sees Diversity as a Way to Improve Search Results   eBay Sees Diversity as a Way to Improve Search Results

by: Whatever This user has validated their user name.

Wed Sep 4 09:50:57 2019

They "Fixed" search? Really? Search on eBay is just a HUGE joke now. Must have hired a tekie guy down at the campus bar after a few cocktails. Hope they didn't pay that guy too much money - so as the clock is winding down - how much time do you think they have left till the final curtain?

Perminate Link for eBay Sees Diversity as a Way to Improve Search Results   eBay Sees Diversity as a Way to Improve Search Results

by: RL15 This user has validated their user name.

Wed Sep 4 09:56:11 2019

fleecebay, there was a time someone could enter what they wanted to buy and amazing, it showed what they wanted.

go back to that = search fixed

oh wait, your communist china scammers listings would not be shown.

the more it changes the more it stays the same

Perminate Link for eBay Sees Diversity as a Way to Improve Search Results   eBay Sees Diversity as a Way to Improve Search Results

This user has validated their user name. by: CanBrit

Wed Sep 4 10:05:35 2019

Maybe they should just hire a few psychics and be done with it.

Perminate Link for eBay Sees Diversity as a Way to Improve Search Results   eBay Sees Diversity as a Way to Improve Search Results

by: OnlyPollyPocket This user has validated their user name.

Wed Sep 4 10:58:29 2019

"I've scaled back my eBay visits and purchases because of wading through  irrelevant crap.  I don't have the time."

Ditto

Perminate Link for eBay Sees Diversity as a Way to Improve Search Results   eBay Sees Diversity as a Way to Improve Search Results

by: booklover27 This user has validated their user name.

Wed Sep 4 11:13:14 2019

Diversity is just another name for more junk that is irrelevant to your search.  This will add more garbage to the quagmire that is Ebay...I used to purchase about $2000 a month on ebay and I am now down to about 200.00.  This due to all my favorite sellers leaving, poor search function and  high fees that got rid of all the penny sellers.  Also, they're categories are mired with sellers placing wrong products in wrong locations.  Ebay is despicable just like their management teams.

Perminate Link for eBay Sees Diversity as a Way to Improve Search Results   eBay Sees Diversity as a Way to Improve Search Results

by: ebayout This user has validated their user name.

Wed Sep 4 11:30:53 2019

Worse...once you hopefully find what you searched for, you then hard to scroll and up and down through all the crap ads/similar stuff to find the actual description.

Perminate Link for eBay Sees Diversity as a Way to Improve Search Results   eBay Sees Diversity as a Way to Improve Search Results

by: Cargo11 This user has validated their user name.

Wed Sep 4 12:01:51 2019

"convoluted" the Ebay new and improved search engine - because trying to weed out cr*p from your search - I.e. Martin guitar will only bring in 20,000 more of acoustic guitar in the "findings".  Google is now even more frustrating - if you see an item you have searched for and click on the link to Ebay - the item is no where to be found - only now re-directed to a list of non-related listings - and if you take your time to type in the original listing - the listings show none found or China stuff that may or may not be similar.  So in essence it is now convoluted even more.  Especially when in the past a quick search for a Martin guitar MIGHT have brought up 250, later - the word "guitar" would generate 10,000 listings added to the original search - and now in the grand scheme of things Martin (i.e the Bird, the TV sitcom, the foods) will all be free game to be included in the listings with every single listing of guitar that is acoustic - NO WONDER no one sees any listings anymore that directly relate to specific words - everything that can be added dilutes the search instead of refining it.  The last realm of a person tying in January birthstone could at least maybe find the 1000 listings directed at that buyer - now the poor fellow will find 100,000 listings to wade, or drown in - 'cause of course - Chinese will make sure all of their millions of listings for all of their faux gemstones (like india) will be listed with January Birthstone in all of their descriptions regardless if the stone was actually for January or not.........You can't make this ^&*( up - really can't.  So now Ebay will be known as the "You can't find anything specific on our site", but we offer free shipping, free returns and take your money.

Perminate Link for eBay Sees Diversity as a Way to Improve Search Results   eBay Sees Diversity as a Way to Improve Search Results

by: FeelingFroggy This user has validated their user name.

Wed Sep 4 12:22:16 2019

We stopped buying on Ebay a year ago. Its a shame because there are 9 of us in the house. If we can't find it on Amazon we just trot our backsides to the mall on saturday and make a day of it. No lost here. We no longer care.

Perminate Link for eBay Sees Diversity as a Way to Improve Search Results   eBay Sees Diversity as a Way to Improve Search Results

by: wackymacs This user has validated their user name.

Wed Sep 4 12:37:39 2019

The myth of ''diversity'' DOES NOT WORK in any way, shape or form - period!  

Perminate Link for eBay Sees Diversity as a Way to Improve Search Results   eBay Sees Diversity as a Way to Improve Search Results

by: thievesBay This user has validated their user name.

Wed Sep 4 13:00:53 2019

So it seems their plan is to show even more irrelevant results? That's what I'm getting out of this. It's like they're actually trying to drive away every seller and buyer on purpose. Worst management and marketing ever. Incompetence rules at eBay.

Perminate Link for eBay Sees Diversity as a Way to Improve Search Results   eBay Sees Diversity as a Way to Improve Search Results

by: ebayout This user has validated their user name.

Wed Sep 4 17:02:03 2019

Diversity won't help it's stock price. It just got downgraded...again.
All the markets shot up today...and ebay lost 10 cents.

Perminate Link for eBay Sees Diversity as a Way to Improve Search Results   eBay Sees Diversity as a Way to Improve Search Results

by: ZZ This user has validated their user name.

Wed Sep 4 21:59:56 2019

Diversity is being shown "sponsored' listings that don't quite match the key words you were searching for or else butt into the top even though you asked for a search by price.
Diversity means adding more conflicting item specifics to lead buyers down a path you didn't want them to take. The best example I can think of is when you are selling a common polo shirt:
If you select Clothing/Mens/Shirts/polo shirts you will not be found by buyers because since ebay added "polo" as a subcategory, they screwed up the item specifice for that so almost no sellers use it.
So you chose  'casual button-down shirts'.  Of course a polo only has a few buttons but this is where the vast majority of them are located.
Once you try narrow the search using item specifics, you get several options under 'style': 'Polo, Rugby' where most are, 'Golf/Polo' which has some, and 'Golf /Polo' (notice the space after 'golf') which has the fewest.
Recalling that we are in sub-category 'casual button-down shirts', other item specifics for 'style' include: 'button-down', 'button-up', 'button-front', 'button-up shirt', and 'camp shirt' (which used to be what a button-front shirt was called until somebody added all these other options), with the total of style choices now at 34.

Perminate Link for eBay Sees Diversity as a Way to Improve Search Results   eBay Sees Diversity as a Way to Improve Search Results

by: wellspring This user has validated their user name.

Wed Sep 4 22:19:46 2019

I signed up to receive notifications of listings for “clear self seal bags.” What do I receive everyday from ebay? Clear glass, self sealing mason jars. Really?  

Perminate Link for eBay Sees Diversity as a Way to Improve Search Results   eBay Sees Diversity as a Way to Improve Search Results

by: OhWhatFun This user has validated their user name.

Wed Sep 4 22:35:57 2019

Omg. I was just trying to find shipping boxes yesterday, it took so long. So many inaccuracies,  completely ridiculous!  This was fixed, it gets worse every time!  If I didn't need to use my PayPal credit I would have gone somewhere else..

Perminate Link for eBay Sees Diversity as a Way to Improve Search Results   eBay Sees Diversity as a Way to Improve Search Results

by: OhWhatFun This user has validated their user name.

Wed Sep 4 22:40:31 2019

Oh and "sponsored" listings do not have a seller name. So I  have to open and weed through to check the seller. A lot of trouble and you know, if you are paying for an ad, ebay really should let the seller have their name on the ad.

Perminate Link for eBay Sees Diversity as a Way to Improve Search Results   eBay Sees Diversity as a Way to Improve Search Results

by: BargainzBabylon This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 5 01:30:49 2019

"Now that eBay has moved to 30-day GTC, Time Ending Soonest is a quaint notion!"

Not really - it's easy for sellers to end our listings at the end of a 30-day cycle if we decide to, and don't automatically assume that those of us who do so will relist any time soon, or at all. One can still sort by 'ending soonest' and if someone wants something, they'd best go ahead and purchase it.  

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