(Mis)Uses of Technology

by Dennis Yang

Filed Under:


eBay Misses The Point With Its Underwhelming Launch Of 'eBay Neighborhoods'

from the they-forgot-to-call-it-a-beta dept

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.

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  • identicon
    Mike F.M, 10 Oct 2007 @ 4:38am

    Why tamper with it?

    One of the best things eBay can do is to stop messing around with its UI and concentrate on ideas like this which could potentially be very useful.

    They have enough knowledge and tools to make this work.


    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    freak3dot, 10 Oct 2007 @ 6:15am

    Better Search

    The problem is with the searching of eBay. You can only search the main auction title. That is entered by the sellers and often contains keyword spam. eBay needs a better search algorithm and keyword spam controls.

    eBay doesn't allow me to see the combined Auction/shipping price in my search or order by it. Similar items tend to be priced very similar when you compare combined Auction/shipping price. However, some sellers hide cost in shipping and others put it where it should be in the starting auction price.

    Hey if eBay can't take a hint maybe Google can figure it out. A Google site for searching auctions. I think I'll go suggest that to them.


    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Oct 2007 @ 8:12am

      Re: Better Search

      Um, you been living in a cave? For at least the past few years, it has been possible to search within both the titles and descriptions of eBay ads. All you have to do is check the little box under the keyword field that says "search titles and descriptions." Furthermore, their search engine is a lot more accurate than most other crappy built-in website search engines I've seen.

      Also, keyword spam control would be very difficult to implement, due to the high potential for false positives. If anything, there should be an abuse reporting feature that, among other things, would let ebayers report sellers that consistently spam unrelated keywords in their listings.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    44444, 10 Oct 2007 @ 7:04am

    Ebay LOCAL might be a good idea

    I like the idea of CraigsList + Ebay. Sellers won't be able to charge ridiculous price for shipping. Users will be more likely to shop on ebay if it deals with Local too.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    dualboot, 10 Oct 2007 @ 7:34am


    Apparently it was a very soft launch, because I constantly use ebay to buy and sell, and I never even heard of these "neighborhoods".

    Also, ebay does have Local. As a seller, I have the option to list a local-pickup only sale by zip code, and buyers can search for local-only listings based on a certain mile radius from their home (selectable, anywhere from about 5 miles to about 300 miles if I remember properly). That's how I sold a dining room set. I wouldn't have even considered it if I had to figure out a way to get it to the buyer. Perhaps they should make their "LOCAL" aspect more publicized since it's apparent that not everyone knows about it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Neal, 10 Oct 2007 @ 8:31am

    Ebay has been missing the point for years

    Again and again Ebay adds, removes, and changes features that drive buyers and sellers away. Guides and neighborhoods, what a useless waste of money and space. I actually noticed the neighboorhoods this morning before visiting Techdirt. My only reaction was to get pissed that they moved my advanced search options further down the page to make room for this junk.

    If Ebay wants to continue to grow their profits they need to quit wasting money on site redesign and start putting it into policing their auctions for fraud and abuse.

    Get proactive about keyword spammers and category abuses. Get proactive about shipping abuse. Get proactive about fraudsters and phishers. Listen to the hundreds of members that actually take the time to voice these, and other, opinions daily on the Ebay forums.

    I used to visit Ebay daily just to see what was there. Now I only visit when there's something long out of production that I need... and even then I'm so frustrated by the difficulty finding items because of the abusers, the annoying ads, and the huge busy pages full of unwanted Ebay features that I don't bother unless I absolutely have to have an item.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Enrico Suarve, 10 Oct 2007 @ 10:29am

    Never really had that problem

    I used to sell on eBay and managed to get a rating of around 500 before giving it up as they sucked more and more of my money and provided less and less support

    I've had problems with my account recently (I won't go into detail) and found that yet again crap knee-jerk responses are all that come out of their 'support team'

    Apart from my account problems, my main issue as a customer at present is the sheer difference in all the regional sites - worldwide market place my arse. I am looking for something very specific so don't actually have the problem of too many results, if I search worldwide from 1 site I get maybe 5 results, however if I then go to sites individually I manage to find 30+

    eBay need to do some joined up thinking with its sites as international searches are hell, actually make an effort with customer support and quit being quite so greedy with the amount of money they take per listing/photo/option/sale/paypal transaction

    I used to use eBay all the time - last few years they are an absolute last resort

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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