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How to Win on Ebay: Snipe 676

Posted by timothy
from the use-your-snipe-hunting-rifle dept.
grammar fascist writes "A study by South Korean physicists confirms what some of us have taken for granted for a long time: a single bid at end of auction nets the most wins. From the article: 'Plugging all those data into the model and testing the outcome in terms of how the auctions turned out, the team found that the probability of submitting a winning bid on an item indeed drops with each bid. "Our analysis explicitly shows that the winning strategy is to bid at the last moment as the first attempt rather than incremental bidding from the start." The study appears in the current Physical Review E journal.'"
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How to Win on Ebay: Snipe

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  • by nweaver (113078) on Monday June 26, 2006 @02:42PM (#15607396) Homepage
    Proxy bidding is supposed to allow easy auctions with fairness. The problem is the sniping phenomenon. And there is an easy fix: A bid will extend the auction by ~10 minutes if received in the last 10 minutes. Voila, no more sniping.
    • That's a very good idea. (The more I think about it the more I like it.) There is a problem, though, in that it will not help out folks who live in different time zones. If the auction ends at a time when I would rather be asleep then the extra 10 minutes will not help. The bidders on ebay are spread out over a very large geographic region which makes it difficult to insure some sort of fairness about the end time of an auction.
      • by cayenne8 (626475) on Monday June 26, 2006 @02:54PM (#15607513) Homepage Journal
        " There is a problem, though, in that it will not help out folks who live in different time zones. If the auction ends at a time when I would rather be asleep..."

        Well, there you have it...like most things in life, you gotta figure out what you want and how badly.

        If there is something I really want, I've set my alarm to wake up just to bid on the item...and crash back again after it is over.

        I see nothing wrong with sniping. If you have set your bid to the absolute maximum you are willing to pay, and not a cent more...if no one snipes it at that $$ amount...you will still win. If someone outbids your bid at the last second...well, in your mind you should say.."They paid too much for that..."

        This works pretty closely to a live auction. People can keep bidding till the hammer drops. Sure, it keeps going while bids keep coming in, but, that is the little difference between eBay and a live auction. At least with eBay you CAN win and don't HAVE to be there live.

        • by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Monday June 26, 2006 @03:09PM (#15607655) Homepage Journal
          That's what I've always thought too. The people who come in and snipe at the last minute always end up paying more than I would have for the item because I set my one bid to what I'm willing to pay and then leave the auction alone. While this means I don't get as many items as the snipers, it also means that I don't end up paying more than retail for an item like far too many ebay users I've seen. Unless you're bidding on an game system on the day it's released or something crazy like that, I'd prefer to wait until a good deal rolls around instead of overpaying for my item just to make sure I get it.
          • by technothrasher (689062) on Monday June 26, 2006 @03:22PM (#15607751)
            The people who come in and snipe at the last minute always end up paying more than I would have for the item because I set my one bid to what I'm willing to pay and then leave the auction alone.


            But the problem with this is that you never win the item. If you still just bid the one amount you're willing to pay, but you do it with a snipe, you're much more likely to actually get the auction item. Using a snipe program like jbidwatcher, it's just as easy to snipe as it is not to, so why wouldn't you?
             

            • by Buran (150348) on Monday June 26, 2006 @04:48PM (#15608418)
              Sure you'll win it. If you decide you want to pay $20 and bid $20 early on, your bid has priority over someone else who bids $20 or less later. If someone else wins the item, they will have paid more than you were willing to pay anyway, so you wouldn't have wanted the item. So your point is what, exactly? It does not have any bearing on the strategy being discussed. It's in your best interest to bid sooner if you know exactly what your upper limit is.
              • by technothrasher (689062) on Monday June 26, 2006 @05:33PM (#15608813)
                Sure you'll win it. If you decide you want to pay $20 and bid $20 early on, your bid has priority over someone else who bids $20 or less later.

                Ok, let's say I feel like paying $20 and bid $20 early. Then some newbie retard (ebay is full of them) comes and says, "Hmm, that guy thinks it's worth $20, so I'll pay $25". Ok, I've now just lost the item. Alternatively, nobody bids on it and newbie retard says, "I dunno, I guess I'll bid $10, since maybe I'll get it real cheap". At the last second I can then come along and snipe my $20, and win the item. Same $20 top bid, but I lose on the first auction and win on the second.

            • by FirienFirien (857374) on Monday June 26, 2006 @05:36PM (#15608854) Homepage
              What? No. If I will pay up to $100 for an item on eBay, but the current bid is $10, then I'll enter $100. My bid will show as $12 or whatever minimum increment it is. If someone bids $20, my $100 bid trumps them and becomes listed as $22. If someone snipes in the last second at $50, I'll win the bid with $52 - without having had to pay any attention to the auction past my original bide. If someone snipes $102 in the last second, then they're paying more than I was willing to pay for the item anyway, and so should win the auction.

              Why on earth do people bid over and over again, or wake up at a specific time? The eBay system is set up so you can put down the single bid you are willing to pay for an item. The automatic system does it for you. It doesn't show anyone what your maximum amount is; in fact the system is set up to the advantage of the buyer, because if I'm willing to pay $100 but the second bidder only bids $20, then the seller only gets $22 of what I was willing to pay and I keep the rest in my pocket. The problem with eBay is that people treat it as a conventional bid, believing for some reason that you should bid over and over again, just above the opposition. This is actually bad for the buyer, because it tends to draw people into bidding higher than they would originally peg as their maximum.

              If you use the system as it is designed, then you cannot be "sniped". You can be outbid by someone who was willing to pay more than you, and it doesn't actually matter whether that happens a second after you bid or a second before the auction closes. If you're outbid, then someone was willing to pay more than you were; simple. However the masses simply do not comprehend this and continue bidding by the rules from another system, which are simply wrong here.

              Sniping works against those who don't understand eBay.
              • by SharpFang (651121) on Monday June 26, 2006 @08:53PM (#15609867) Homepage Journal
                What? No. If I will pay up to $100 for an item on eBay, but the current bid is $10, then I'll enter $100. My bid will show as $12 or whatever minimum increment it is. If someone bids $20, my $100 bid trumps them and becomes listed as $22. If someone snipes in the last second at $50, I'll win the bid with $52

                You bid $100. It shows as $12. A stupid kid comes along, and bids $15. Your bid goes to $17. The kid bids $20. Your bid shows up as $22. After a while the kid bids $80 and your bid shows up as $85. You win and get to pay $85. Or the kid bids $105 and you don't get the item.

                Now if you set up a snipe shot of $100 for that auction, the same kid comes along, bids $15 and leaves happily seeing his bid the highest. You win the auction and get the item for $17.
    • Proxy bidding is supposed to allow easy auctions with fairness. The problem is the sniping phenomenon. And there is an easy fix: A bid will extend the auction by ~10 minutes if received in the last 10 minutes. Voila, no more sniping.

      Yahoo! Japan already does something similar... I think its 15 minutes. Makes things much more fair for the seller.
    • Heisenbidding: You can know how much you will pay, OR if you'll get the item or not, but you can't know both.
    • If you put in the maximum you are willing to pay for it at the start, you can't be sniped.
      • But what is that maximum?

        If there's an item that you're willing to pay up to $10 for, you would probably still take it for $10.05. If it's one that's worth $10.05, you'd probably still consider it a pretty good deal for $10.10. That's where proxy bidding fails, because in the end, unless you enter a massively overpriced proxy bid, you're just going to be sniped by some other guy by 5 cents.
        • by Prairiewest (719875) on Monday June 26, 2006 @03:54PM (#15608016) Homepage
          If there's an item that you're willing to pay up to $10 for, you would probably still take it for $10.05.

          Then $10.00 wasn't really a maximum value was it? The fault would be yours for not bidding $10.05 in the first place. If you bid your absolute maximum amount on every auction, then when you get outbid you won't feel bad for losing the auction.

          Works for me - I see something I like, then I bid my max and forget about it. If I get an email later saying that I won the auction, I go back and pay. I turn off those uselsss "you have been outbid" emails.

          • by Jugalator (259273) on Monday June 26, 2006 @04:15PM (#15608196) Journal
            Then $10.00 wasn't really a maximum value was it? The fault would be yours for not bidding $10.05 in the first place.

            The thing is, even if one bids the absolute maximum one can pay, 10 cents more is still just 10 cents more.

            Unless you happened to bid your entire economy on an item, you'll always be able to afford 10 cents more with no problem whatsoever.
      • True enough. However...

        Sniping does get you bargains precisely because people don't put in their max bids. Try putting a test bid on an item that is just higher than the current high bid but lower than your max. Chances are the former high bidder will come back and outbid you again. If I was to put my max in early against such a person, he'd just bid up until hitting his max or until I was outbid. However, sniping against such a person can save some bucks. I just put my max in at the last minute/sec

    • Great in theory, but what about time sensitive items? Ala tickets? I often bid on (and sometimes win) tickets off of ebay, and sometimes I win and get delivery (electronic tix) just hours before an event.

    • by bcattwoo (737354) on Monday June 26, 2006 @02:53PM (#15607500)
      How is this such a problem? I don't really get what is not "fair" about sniping?

      If the dumbasses that got their auction "stolen" at the last minute didn't put in the absolute maximum that they wanted to pay for the item, then that's their own fault. Either your willing to pay more than anyone else or your not. If you don't put your maximum bid in straight off and keep incrementing your bid, you are really just engaging in really inefficient sniping.

      Adding a ten minute extension wouldn't really solve this. It would work great for sellers because the emotionally invested bidders would run up their bids more than they otherwise would. The buyers however would be better off just joining the snipers rather than fighting them. If everyone sniped it would basically revert to the pre-sniping days.
      • by CCFreak2K (930973) on Monday June 26, 2006 @03:35PM (#15607858) Homepage Journal
        Adding a ten minute extension wouldn't really solve this. It would work great for sellers because the emotionally invested bidders would run up their bids more than they otherwise would. The buyers however would be better off just joining the snipers rather than fighting them. If everyone sniped it would basically revert to the pre-sniping days.

        But think about a real auction: If the auctioneer says "going once...twice..." the item doesn't just go to the person who threw up their paddle at the last moment. It gets extended for another five seconds or so. Now, maybe the same dynamics don't work in the web world, but at least it puts perspective into it.

        What if eBay also had another auction type in addition to normal and Buy It Now ones: silent auctions. It tells you when it ends, the seller may optionally give a reccomended amount, and you get to put in your bid, without knowing what anyone else put down. Now you'd be more compelled to put your maximum bid down.
        • What if eBay also had another auction type in addition to normal and Buy It Now ones: silent auctions. It tells you when it ends, the seller may optionally give a reccomended amount, and you get to put in your bid, without knowing what anyone else put down. Now you'd be more compelled to put your maximum bid down.

          You know, that really is how ebay should work. Would totally get rid of sniping for good.
        • by Fëanáro (130986) on Monday June 26, 2006 @04:51PM (#15608455)
          What if eBay also had another auction type in addition to normal and Buy It Now ones: silent auctions. It tells you when it ends, the seller may optionally give a reccomended amount, and you get to put in your bid, without knowing what anyone else put down. Now you'd be more compelled to put your maximum bid down.


          That is called a Vickrey auction [wikipedia.org]. It has some theoretical advantages but for various reasons never caught quite on.
          (has some theoretical diasadvantages as well, such as the possibility of stable bidder cartels iirc)
        • What if eBay also had another auction type in addition to normal and Buy It Now ones: silent auctions. It tells you when it ends, the seller may optionally give a reccomended amount, and you get to put in your bid, without knowing what anyone else put down. Now you'd be more compelled to put your maximum bid down.

          My sister actually has been part of a team doing academic research on auction results. They took a number of different auction models (11 or so, I think) and ran computer models and did real-world
          • by Skippy_kangaroo (850507) on Monday June 26, 2006 @09:26PM (#15609985)
            It's a pretty standard finding. Bidder strategies will adjust to any changes in auction formats.

            Standard English auctions, Dutch auctions, first price sealed bid auctions, second price sealed bid auctions all end up at pretty much the same price - they just get there by a different route. But English auctions (as well as second price sealed bid auctions) generally have the advantage of truthful revelation of valuation by the bidders.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      You hardly need a scientific study to realize sniping is going to be more successful than incremental bidding -- you eliminate the opportunity for a counter bid, and if you are careful you can leave yourself just enough time to make one additional incremental bid without exposing yourself much to other bidders. Sniping isn't such a bad thing for the following reason:

      Your solution would certainly appear to be of benefit to sellers on the surface, but it would stike a blow against one of the main attractions
    • by robnator (250608) on Monday June 26, 2006 @02:54PM (#15607517)
      robnator's a bit slow... if everyone snipes to win auctions, what's the trouble? If you really wanted it, you'd snipe with bids like $1000...

      thing with the auction concept is you're SUPPOSED to bid what you'd like to pay if no one else is running up the price (rinse. lather, repeat) until you reach your wallet's limit. eBay's modification imposes a time limit to keep auctions from taking forever, but with the maximum bid concept it brings its 'auction' back towards the original.

      the reason people snipe (vs. just bidding their personal maximum to start) is fear of being run up by shills. it's a survival mechanism for your money, if such a thing isn't self-contradicting on eBay...
    • by isaac (2852) on Monday June 26, 2006 @02:57PM (#15607534)
      Proxy bidding is supposed to allow easy auctions with fairness. The problem is the sniping phenomenon. And there is an easy fix: A bid will extend the auction by ~10 minutes if received in the last 10 minutes. Voila, no more sniping.


      eBay has certainly considered and rejected this idea. If this were an auction type offered on eBay, every rational seller would choose it.

      The reason it's not offered is that eBay is more dependent on bidders than sellers at the end of the day. Yes, sellers pay the fees to eBay, but sellers are less mobile than buyers - if a seller is not going to use eBay, what will they use? No other auction site has traffic within an order of magnitude of eBay. Most sellers' only other rational option is a local fixed-price sale through, e.g. craigslist - not an acceptible option to many sellers. Thus, how the sellers feel about sniping is immaterial to eBay - they're the only game in town and the sellers will come anyway.

      OTOH, buyers care less about where they buy things than sellers do about how they sell them. Change the rules on eBay at this point and they will alienate their base of idiots^Wbuyers - the traffic that keeps eBay the only game in town. They already have a major fraud problem that's driving sales of some especially fraud-prone categories like computers and electronics to sites focusing on local cash deals like craigslist. The last thing they want is to change anything else that might alienate buyers.

      (Yes, some buyers hate sniping, but most buyers hate bidding wars even more. Anything that helps sellers raise their average sale price hurts buyers, and since the buyers are what bring in the sellers...)

      -Isaac

      • by LordEd (840443) on Monday June 26, 2006 @03:14PM (#15607686)
        Yes, some buyers hate sniping, but most buyers hate bidding wars even more.
        Excuse me? If a buyer doesn't like bidding wars, then why go to an auction site? The purpose of the site is to bid on items. There are plenty of other places to buy items at fixed prices.
      • by Slak (40625) on Monday June 26, 2006 @03:57PM (#15608042)
        I used to work for a on-line auction company (not eBay, a "Business to Consumer" one). We did implement this logic,
        where the auction would extend 10 minutes after the last bid. Most of the profit on items came during this "extended"
        period of time, and the bidding could get quite furious.

        From a technology view-point, this made the closing auction logic complicated (which then affects category pages and
        search results).

        From eBay's perspective they've already captured the listing fee, and the 10-20% movement in price achieved by
        extending the auction nets them (eBay) only a few more pennies on their percentage of selling price, so why
        would they bother? It's the same tension as real-estate agents - they'd rather get a $100,000 sale 10 days into
        a home's listing than a $120,000 sale 60 days in e.g. a $5000 (assuming 5% commission) at 10 days than $6000
        at 60 days. Can you blame them?

        -Slak
    • by rwyoder (759998) on Monday June 26, 2006 @03:05PM (#15607604)
      Proxy bidding is supposed to allow easy auctions with fairness. The problem is the sniping phenomenon. And there is an easy fix: A bid will extend the auction by ~10 minutes if received in the last 10 minutes. Voila, no more sniping.
      Or randomize the time the auction ends. i.e. eBay will tell you what *hour* the auction will end, but the auction will end on some random *minute* after that hour.
  • Not only that (Score:5, Insightful)

    by roman_mir (125474) on Monday June 26, 2006 @02:42PM (#15607399) Homepage Journal
    but I bet this is the best strategy to result in lowest prices at the end of the auction and this is the strategy I've been using for the past six years to win and keep the costs to a minimum.
  • So... (Score:5, Funny)

    by gsfprez (27403) on Monday June 26, 2006 @02:44PM (#15607412)
    should i wait to say "First Post" 7 days from now?
  • by Orange Crush (934731) on Monday June 26, 2006 @02:45PM (#15607416)

    . . . East Ukrainian dentists declare in their recent study that "Manned spaceflight is more difficult than they thought."

    (Seriously . . . shouldn't physists be studying . . . I dunno . . . physics?)

  • Sure, but... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Vorondil28 (864578) on Monday June 26, 2006 @02:45PM (#15607419) Journal
    "Our analysis explicitly shows that the winning strategy is to bid at the last moment as the first attempt rather than incremental bidding from the start."

    Sure, but does that get you the best price? The whole point of eBay's bidding system is that you supply your maximum bid, and they bid for you up to that amount. Thus, you spend less time spamming F5, and you get the best possible price (assuming your max is high enough). Sniping is best used for snatching rare items for which money is no object and using it on any old item is both a waste of time and possibly money.
    • by jfengel (409917) on Monday June 26, 2006 @02:54PM (#15607506) Homepage Journal
      Sniping works when people don't actually know what something is worth. Every time you make a bid, you literally raise the price of the item: you declare that it's worth at least this much to you. And if nobody knows what the price is, they know that it's worth a little bit more when you raise the price.

      By sniping, they lower the final price by hiding the information of what they're willing to bid. The auto-bidding feature is supposed to do that for you, but information still leaks out: it tells you the value of the second-higest bid, which is probably close to that of the highest bid. It's a good proxy of the actual price, and you're raising that.

      Personally, I don't get too bugged about the snipers. I know what it's worth to me and let the auto-bidders handle it. If I get sniped, it means they were willing to pay more than I was. The seller gets screwed a bit, because the sniper was hiding their willingness to pay more (and therefore probably more than they ended up paying.) But the only thing being done to me as a bidder is that I got my hopes up.

      So I don't get my hopes up, and I don't bid on eBay for anything I really, really want. I use eBay not for its auction, but for its flea-market: the ability to get stuff I can't get elsewhere. I usually just pay the "buy it now" price.
    • Re:Sure, but... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Maestro4k (707634)

      Sure, but does that get you the best price?

      Often it does, it depends on the other bidders and human nature.

      The whole point of eBay's bidding system is that you supply your maximum bid, and they bid for you up to that amount. Thus, you spend less time spamming F5, and you get the best possible price (assuming your max is high enough). Sniping is best used for snatching rare items for which money is no object and using it on any old item is both a waste of time and possibly money.

      Ahh, but the thing is

    • Re:Sure, but... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by p0tat03 (985078) on Monday June 26, 2006 @03:00PM (#15607560)
      It becomes psychological. I'm an armchair sniper for everything I do on eBay for the following reasons: 1 - People get emotionally invested in auctions for items they really want, especially eBay newbies. By competing with them, you are goading them into increasing their maximum - which screws you as much as it screws them. When the competitive spirit is introduced your price jumps up. 2 - Normal non-sniping bidders most likely will not be watching the final seconds of an auction, so you deny them the opportunity to revise their bid and possibly outbid you; again, this comes down to the competitive spirit and peopel going "weeeeeeell, I suppose I can pay $30 instead of $25..." 3 - As other poster suggests, you hide the true value of something. Most seasoned eBay users will simply go to identical past items to get a bead on what to expect, but often I see auctions go *above* MSRP. You do not want to give away what you're willing to pay for it until you absolutely must.
  • Physicists? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by adrenalinerush (518023) on Monday June 26, 2006 @02:45PM (#15607423)

    First off, we needed a study to tell us this? Second, these were physicists? Pardon me if I'm not seeing the physics in online auctions.

    If this story were on Fark.com, I think it would merit the 'still no cure for cancer' tagline.

  • by Bombcar (16057) <racbmob@bombca[ ]om ['r.c' in gap]> on Monday June 26, 2006 @02:45PM (#15607425) Homepage Journal
    If you bid more than once on an item, someone must be bidding against you, so of course your chances are reduced.

    If you only bid once on an item, it could be the only bid. I wonder if they controlled for that.
  • by Hoplite3 (671379) on Monday June 26, 2006 @02:46PM (#15607426)
    Ebay allows users to set their secret maximum bid, so in a rational world a bidder just sets this at the highest price he's willing to pay. However, rational thought has nothing to do with markets (except in economics textbooks, for some reason), so people keep ratcheting up their maximum bid to win. The result is that the "max bid" system doesn't perform as it was intended, but it was a good idea.

    Not the first good idea to be defeated by irrationalism, and not the last.
    • by null etc. (524767) on Monday June 26, 2006 @02:57PM (#15607538)
      Not the first good idea to be defeated by irrationalism, and not the last.

      This isn't as irrational as you might suppose.

      I might bid a maximum of $75 on an old computer that's hard to find, but once I find out that 4 other people are willing to bid higher than that, the perceived value of the old computer has now risen in my eyes, based on the perceived demand. I therefore might be willing to spend more money on that old computer, knowing that the market is large enough so that I could sell it back if I wanted to.

  • by cazbar (582875) on Monday June 26, 2006 @02:46PM (#15607430)
    People like to bid based on even dollar amounts. I've won auctions by bidding 2-3 cents more than the even dollar amount.

    For example, if you want to bid $20 for something, bid $20.02 instead so if somebody else puts a bid of $20 on it, you still win.
  • Old news (Score:5, Informative)

    by epsalon (518482) * <slash@alon.wox.org> on Monday June 26, 2006 @02:47PM (#15607444) Homepage Journal
    The acutal paper [nber.org] is from 2000. This has been tought for the past 3 years in an undergraduate eCommerce course.

    The paper has an interesting comparison between eBay and Amazon, for two distinct cases: common value and private value.
  • Easy solution? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Red Flayer (890720) on Monday June 26, 2006 @02:48PM (#15607453) Journal
    I've been sniped many times on EBay auctions, and it doesn't really bother me at all -- there is automatic bidding that will increase your bid to your maximum if someone tries to snipe you. In the end, they valued the item more than I did.

    But why doesn't EBay operate like flesh-and-blood auctions? Keep the bidding open for the normal duration of time, but then extend the auction time whenever a new bid is placed? You know, like "going, going, gone!" Fairly easy to add 3 or 5 minutes to the end of an auction -- and those who haven't set incremental bidding can still get in on the close if they want to.
    • Re:Easy solution? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nietsch (112711)
      Because that won't work: Those that really want the item no matter the cost will try to snipe it themselves. The rest of the people will not put that much effort in, so 5 mins more or less will not make a difference at all. Neither will an hour if most people are asleep at that time.

      The sniping phenomenon is a solution to the problem that bids are visible to other users. In effect it transforms the auction into a blind auction, except for those people that don't understand it that well.

      Another thing to note
  • by TheRequiem13 (978749) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [meiuqereht]> on Monday June 26, 2006 @02:48PM (#15607458)
    Studying ebay counts as physics in South Korea?

    What's the probability of overpriced shipping?
  • by BertieBaggio (944287) * <bob&manics,eu> on Monday June 26, 2006 @02:48PM (#15607459) Homepage

    1 Snipe eBay auctions
    2 ?????
    3 Profit!

    Actually, I have a forumla that gives the best chance of winning an auction: bid 10x what the item is worth. Can I have some money to study the obvious^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H research the tricky questions of our age now please?

    The fact that this was tagged as duh before it had any comments is very telling.

  • eBay: (Score:3, Funny)

    by Shadow Wrought (586631) * <shadow DOT wrought AT gmail DOT com> on Monday June 26, 2006 @02:49PM (#15607473) Homepage Journal
    One bid, one win.
  • by Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) on Monday June 26, 2006 @02:51PM (#15607484)
    ... unless the item has a 'Buy It Now' button.
  • by drooling-dog (189103) on Monday June 26, 2006 @02:56PM (#15607528)
    Keep in mind that "winning" an auction only means that you're willing to pay more for something than anyone else...
  • by DysenteryInTheRanks (902824) on Monday June 26, 2006 @03:00PM (#15607568) Homepage
    South Korea!

    First they had a veterinarian who [wikipedia.org] claimed to clone the first human!

    Now they have a PHYSICIST who claims to be an expert on EBAY AUCTIONS!

    Next up: a lawyer who can communicate with dolphins!

    Yay Korea! Insane on both halves of the peninsla!
  • eSnipe (Score:3, Interesting)

    by arrrrg (902404) on Monday June 26, 2006 @03:01PM (#15607571)
    eSnipe [esnipe.com] will snipe items at your behest, so you don't have to be sitting around your computer waiting for auctions to end. It's been around for quite some time, and I believe it has a decent-sized userbase ... I've never used it, but the existence of such a tool seems to imply that this study's conclusion has been obvious to many for a long time. It's just common sense ... items with more bids tend to gather more attention, whereas items with 0 bids often slip through the cracks. That's why, as a seller, it's often beneficial to start with $0.01 price and do a reserve auction rather than just starting bidding at your reserve price.
  • by Evro (18923) <evandhoffmanNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday June 26, 2006 @03:20PM (#15607741) Homepage Journal
    It sounds like one of the basic assumptions of this article is that the object of ebay is to win. That's an incorrect assumption: the object of eBay is to get what you want at the lowest price you're willing to spend. If you're only willing to spend $25 on an iPod, put in a bid of $25. eBay's proxy bidding will handle the pissant bidders trying to nickel and dime their way up. Eventually one of two things will happen: A) you'll be the high bidder and get the item you want for a price less than or equal to the amount you wanted to pay, or B) someone will outbid you and you won't get the item at the price you want, at which point you can either let it go or re-evaluate the amount you're willing to spend.

    People get caught up in the "game" of bidding on eBay which is how you see digital cameras that retail for $299, and sell on Amazon for $240, sell on eBay for $320 -- that's an example I've seen with my own eyes. People are stupid and so sniping is effective.
  • by iJed (594606) on Monday June 26, 2006 @03:31PM (#15607825) Homepage
    "A study by South Korean physicists confirms that people can in fact make money out of stating what is blatantly obvious to everyone"
  • by wheany (460585) <wheany+sd@iki.fi> on Monday June 26, 2006 @03:36PM (#15607862) Homepage Journal
    A+A+A+AAAAAAA++++++ Great article, would read again.
  • by vinn01 (178295) on Monday June 26, 2006 @04:23PM (#15608251)

    The reason that sniping is the best strategy is because an auction is a competition. One way to help win a competition is to reduce the number competitors. On eBay that means not indicating your interest in an item until the very last seconds of the auction.

    In a confusing environment like eBay, many people look for validation of their decisions. One way to validate their uncertain decision is by bidding on something that someone else is bidding on. It makes some people feel good that there is someone else that made the same choice as they did. If you multiply this out, you end up with auctions having 20+ bidders (the madness of crowds). That's a lot of competition. The chances of winning against that many bidders is poor.

    If you want to have less competition, and thus win, do not indicate your interest in an item until you have to.

  • by scharkalvin (72228) on Monday June 26, 2006 @04:47PM (#15608412) Homepage
    Sniping may net you a win but not the lowest price.
    If the item up for auction is a rare collector's item
    and you are a collector and MUST have the item, then
    snipe you must.

    But if the item is readily available elsewhere and you
    are just looking for a bargin, then just place a bid
    for the highest price that you are willing to pay and
    walk away.

  • Sniper fees (Score:5, Interesting)

    by metamatic (202216) on Monday June 26, 2006 @04:48PM (#15608425) Homepage Journal
    I've been thinking of adding something to my auctions saying "$2 discount if you bid before the last hour". Hence effectively implementing a "sniper fee" to discourage snipers--the idea being that by encouraging early bidders, you effectively raise the visible value of the item. Has anyone tried this?
  • by gatesvp (957062) on Monday June 26, 2006 @04:51PM (#15608449)
    Is that you don't get the best deals.

    In the big supply-demand chain, if you are bidding on high demand / low supply items then you'll get raked across the coals with last-minute sniping. But if you want tickets to tonight's Aerosmith, then that's what you're facing.

    I'm into Magic cards (i.e. collectibles), where the bidding is often very different. For the most part e-bay doesn't have oodles of truly unique collectibles, just a few. If I'm looking for specific batch of Magic cards, I just set e-bay to e-mail me every couple of days when new auctions come up. When I find an auction I place my max bid and then I forget it. There's enough throughput on e-bay that I can just bid on the next one.

    With a 50% variation on some similar auctions and various ending times (to foil snipers?), I don't have to watch over my bid. If I'm not getting my item for $X then I can raise my future bids or just keep trying. Again, these items are always coming up for auction, so this is ideal for the set it and leave it approach. Every once in a while, you'll even get a dead fish, where you're the only "real" bidder and you hit that 50% cheaper mark. I've bottom-fed a good part of my collection in this fashion.

    In this case, the snipers just get their cards earlier (in exchange for paying more). And I stand the best chances of getting my goods for the price I'm willing to pay.

    • by Lactoso (853587) on Monday June 26, 2006 @05:25PM (#15608757) Homepage
      With all due respect gatesvp, I'm having some trouble understanding your reasoning.

      You're stating that sniping is worse for you than using eBay's proxy bidding (when you place your max bid up front and let eBay dispense the increases as necessary)? I can't think of a single possible scenario (assuming no outages, early endings, etc..) where placing a bid earlier (and thusly, announcing your intentions to all possible competitors) is better than placing a bid as late in the game as possible.

      And that's not even considering the fact that the majority of snipers use automated sniping sites (www.esnipe.com and www.auctionsniper.com for example), that allow you to set up your bid ahead of time, JUST LIKE EBAY, except you're not locked into it. You can go back and review it, edit it or cancel it up to 5 minutes before the end of the auction. You can't do that with eBay proxy bidding. Once you've placed your eBay proxy bid, you're locked in (except for retracting your bid which is a no-no).

      Better yet, the two aforementioned sniping sites allow you to group a collection of bids together in 'bid groups' so that you can try sniping multiple similar auctions and once one of them wins, the other bids will automatically be cancelled.

      Here's [moyen.org] an excellent resource for sniping information which will be of benefit to anyone looking for logical arguments and reasons for sniping and not illogical, flawed reasons not to.

  • Last Post! (Score:5, Funny)

    by The_Pey (532136) on Monday June 26, 2006 @05:01PM (#15608554)
    Regarding eBay sniping...

    LAST POST!!!


    What do you mean, someone posted after me?

    Damn.
  • by no-body (127863) on Monday June 26, 2006 @11:48PM (#15610557)
    Bidding in the last few seconds sure beats everything else.

    You go on the auction 5 minutes before end, post your max amount 10 seconds before end and - either get it or not - often you time out till after auction end.

    Now - if everyone does it that way and 10+ folks are posting at the last 10 seconds, it becomes a lottery.
    The server has a certain processing time and does the bids sequentially - probably doing atomic locks on some auction resources. Well, there is a cutoff time where working off the queue stops - the highest offer wins at that point.

    There are delays in bidding of up to 10 seconds at times - maybe they are doing it on purpose - add a random delay of a couple of seconds to every bidder the last 30 seconds before close? Internet does it by default anyway if the net is busy.

    If the sellers are unhappy about the price they get - they can enter a minimum bid requirement.

    With sniping it's the same auction principle as without - just in a much smaller time frame....

"Someone's been mean to you! Tell me who it is, so I can punch him tastefully." -- Ralph Bakshi's Mighty Mouse

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