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Chacham's Journal: Verbiage: Auctions & avoiding or not honoring sniped bids. 10

Journal by Chacham

I want to start selling things on Ebay again. One thing on ebay that really bothers me is the practice of people to wait until the very last moment to bid. There are even tools to do that! In essence, the week long page is merely an advertisement for a closed bid at the very end.

I think the purpose of the long bid is for people to bid it out. Not neccesarily to sit seriously and think about their maximum price (closed-bid style), rather they should have fun, and get caught in the excitement (open-bid style).

It's been said that people might find the auction at the last moment. I don't think that is true too often. It certainly happens, that cannot be denied, but it doesn't explain the great amount of last-second bids.

I remember once after an auction that i won, i had a very low price until the last few moments. Then a bid came in a pushed mine much higher. I still won, but it took the fun out of it. Not the high price, i fairly bid on that earlier, rather, the silent strike from the other person.

Being angry at that, i actually emailed her over it, and told her in a spiteful manner that even though she tried her sneaky trick, she still lost. I wan't gloating. I was venting.

Instead of ignoring me, or even admitting guilt, she responded that i unfairly hurt her after she did someting that everyone does, and thus is fair game. Unbelievable!

Well, now it's down to the case. I'm getting ready to list things, and i do not want to allow last-moment bids. Either, i think, the close should be a good ten minutes after the last bid (possibly diminishing by half a minute for each new bid entered), or i should ignore all last moment bids.

The question is how to do that. If i let people know that the auction will be closed early, they will just strike the bid in then. Though, if i don't tell them when it'll happen, the excitement of the final-flurry is gone. Perhaps then, i should just cancel any last moment bids that seem like a strike. Such as, retract any bids from anyone that comes in within the last ten minutes of bidding, where the person had [hmm... "had" or "has", this is future past-tense] not bid earlier, or did bid earlier but with great discrepencies in the amounts.

There is the option of using only approved bidders. Though, i fear that will scare too many people away. There's also the idea to make two auctions. Having the first one being a facade to allow bidding on the second one. Hmm, but that'll remove the whole excitement thing.

The best idea is to go elswhere. However, ebay is the major leader in the area, and to go elsewhere is to sell outside the marketplace.

Right now, bid retraction looks like the best route, assuming i explain it very well in the description beforehand. I just wish there were another way.

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Verbiage: Auctions & avoiding or not honoring sniped bids.

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  • I don't use Ebay, but I do have a couple things worth mentioning.

    I have always thought on ebay that the close time should be lengthened if a bid arrives in the last seconds/minutes. The auction should not close until either the seller closes it in such a case or until there has been ~5 minutes after the most recent bid. This would make it closer to a standard auction place.

    However, as a buyer who is looking for low prices I would want to have the auction close immediately since it has my best chance to
  • The root of the problem you have with this is the concept of the time-limited auction. In a traditional auction, bids continue until someone drops out, presumably having reached the maximum price that they are willing to pay. The decision point is based on a certain elapsed time since the last bid, and the auctioneer's perception of whether or not anyone is likely to continue bidding. On eBay, there is no corresponding "overseer" to the auction. It is, frankly, not in the buyer's interest to bid before
    • Thanx for the reply. (Now, on with the show.)

      In a traditional auction, bids continue until someone drops out

      Traditional meaning "open bid" style.

      It is, frankly, not in the buyer's interest to bid before the final few moments.
      Why should I give others the opportunity to drive up the price?


      This is "closed bid" style. Ebay, is distinctly "open bid". Sniping is a hack to use it for "closed bid".

      Would you have vented at the sniper if she had bid up the price ten minutes before the end of the auction?
      • (Closed vs. open bids) That's a good way to characterize it. I did not think of it in that way.

        I can't cite eBay terms of service (my employer blocks the site), only my memory of them. It may or may not be accurate in this case. And you are quite correct about your terms; your intent to make them crystal clear is really all that a bidder needs to know. Should I bid on any of your auctions, I will do so a reasonable time before the end.

        And the other bottom rule is, if you are particpating in the
        • Thanx for the reply. I expected you to fight, yet you didn't. Happily, i was proven incorrect. :)

          Would you give negative feedback to a sniper who won one of your auctions, even if the transaction was otherwise exemplary?

          Good question .

          I would not leave negative feedback. Because, if it isn't explained, it would not be the appropriate. If it is explained, i wouldn't want to honor the bid. Either way, i don't think i'd leave any feedback. Probably the best track.

          Besides, sniped bidding is aceptable to m
          • I'm not too interested in arguing for the sake of argument. I had enough of that in high school debate, which also taught me a lot about how facts can be manipulated. This is a fairly interesting issue of social engineering, and is an example of a massive, but largely unremarked, trend: the replacement of social norms of behavior by systems of rules and incentives, where individuals are expected to follow only the letter of the rules. Something in the nature of legalistic anarchy, if you will. Slashdot
            • Well, i do enjoy arguing for the sake of arguing. :) It's an INTJ trait. Moreso, however, i am interesting in reaching the truth, so i challenge everything, and expect to be challenged.

              As for manipulation of facts, how true. A very good example is where i just read about Israel. One complaint is how Arabs comprise 20% of the population, yet own a meager 3% of the land. Well, the problem is, they leave out that the 80% of Jews own only 3.5% of the land. The rest is state owned and leased to everybody that w
  • eBay will tell you that if you just place a higher maximum bid, sniping does nothing. They are wrong.

    If you're bidding on several things at once and you have a total budget across all auctions then you would typically set your maximum bids across all the auctions to equal your budget. As you get outbid in some auctions you raise the maximum bid in other auctions, hopefully winning some. Sniping prevents you from reacting in time to alter your maximum bids, often causing you to miss everything in this kin

    • Good point. That has happened to me.

      Another issue is a silly one. Knowing if a item is good or not. Sometimes, there is something there that makes it bad, yet it isn't noticeable. However, seeing other bid on it means that someone else liked it. The more bids, the greater amount of veracity given to the item.

      Sniped bids remove that whole idea.

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