After several years of stellar growth, eBay has been starting to feel a few pains due to its size. Buyers complain that millions of listings make it difficult to find what they are looking for. So, in an effort to make the shopping experience more comfortable, eBay has launched "eBay Neighborhoods," which seeks to create communities of like minded buyers and sellers
. Upon first glance, this seems like a lackluster effort. Just 600 neighborhoods were created in the initial launch -- why limit this at all? User-created groups have seen great success at sites like Flickr and Facebook. By limiting users to an arbitrary list, eBay loses out on the possibility to exploit its long tail -- and with 559.1 million items listed in the second quarter, the long tail is most certainly there. When posting a topic for discussion, users are asked to "Enter a comma-separated list of eBay auction numbers." Wow, seriously? If eBay wishes to create a better sense of community amongst its users, perhaps it needs to take a look around at the many social networks that have popped up in recent years. Oh, wait, it looks like they are familiar with Yelp, since they seemed to have "borrowed
" a few of their
images. It doesn't really feel like eBay tried very hard with this product launch. Even the name "neighborhoods" seems antiquated, evoking memories of the late-90's homepage website, Geocities. Heck, if eBay wants to create communities, shouldn't it look to that huge social network (hidden in a telephony app) it already bought called Skype? Maybe that could help justify all those long lost synergies.