Like many, I am interested in reputation systems, and eBay has built the largest public reputation system. Many have noted how feedback on eBay is overwhelmingly positive — a 97% positive rating would be a reason to be wary of a seller.
It’s also noted that people do this because they are scared of revenge feedback — I give you a negative, you do it back to me. One would think that since the buyer’s only real duty is to send the money that the seller should provide positive feedback immediately upon receipt of that money, but they don’t.
Some fixes have been proposed, including:
- letting you see the count of total auctions the party has been buyer or seller in, so you can see how many resulted in no feedback at all. Right now only eBay knows how large that number is.
- double-blind feedback. That is to say that feedback is not revealed until both parties have entered it, or if only one party enters it, after the feedback period has expired.
- Marking revenge feedback, ie. putting a mark next to negatives that were a response to an outgoing negative.
Thus you could have very low fear of revenge feedback and there would be no argument about who should go first.
This idea’s fairly obvious, so like many other obvious ideas about eBay one wonders if eBay doesn’t feel some benefit to themselves from not doing it, though it’s hard to see. I’m also curious as to why eBay doesn’t offer a “going, going, gone” auction where the auction closes only after 5 minutes with no bidding. That seems to be in the interests of sellers (and eBay which gets a cut of the selling price) and it’s certainly not something they are unaware of.
The only proposition I’ve heard is that eBay has decided that there is a positive value to itself (and possibly sellers) from bid-sniping, the process of bidding preemptively in the last minute of an auction to not give other live bidders (who didn’t use the automatic rebidder) a chance to come in with more. The only way this could be good woudl be if Snipers deliberately overbid in order to trump anything. Any research or thoughts on this? It may also be the case that the sniped auctions are more “fun,” or more of a contest. And finally having fixed closing times does facilitate participating in multiple auctions for the same thing.
I have also posted updated eBay thoughts and an even simpler system which eliminates revenge and in fact now have an eBay tag for all eBay related posts, including thoughts on eBay’s solution to all this.
Please Note: This thread is for discussion of philosophical or abstract aspects of the feedback system. Please do not post stories of your own particular problems from a particular seller or transaction. Keep it abstract.