Creating an Ignore List of eBay Sellers
Meaningless words make matches but waste time and lose friends.
By Bruce McKinney
Over the past year I've seen a proliferation of bogus descriptions in the eBay listings. Anyone who searches eBay for books and ephemera sees them. Some are very overblown and tend to include something close to an encyclopedia of names, terms and phrases at the end of the real description. All this crap is included simply to create matches with the random terms that people use when searching. Those searching choose terms because they are meaningful. Wily sellers subvert the searcher's logic by cramming every conceivable term in at the end of the description and interested browsers then trip over these false matches. No one expects to find appropriate material every time. However, in time patterns emerge. Frequently it is the same seller who again and again dumps the contents of the unabridged dictionary onto the final listing pages.
To these folks I say "this is your right." Then again, I too have rights and I want to sweep all reference to such sellers off my pages. I'd like an option to block sellers whose material I won't consider if for no other reason than that the terms I'm searching are rarely material to the items such sellers offer. Just as at the top of the market there may be bidders who bid only at Sotheby's or Christies but not both, eBay bidders should have the right to exclude sellers who wear out their proverbial welcome. I say let the next generation of neophytes learn first hand of some of the problems of internet presentation. For me, I've learned and now I only seek protection.
I'm a regular eBay buyer and find the service useful. There is a constant flow of interesting material and once in a while a gem. Prices are generally low. If you are a buyer this is appealing. If you are a seller you want to leave no stone unturned to attract bidders. It's absolutely understandable. HOWEVER, where do you draw the line between complete description and abusive inclusion of extraneous material to attract additional bidders? As a potential bidder I should have some control over what I see. I want an option to exclude some sellers.
Listing sites such as Abe, Alibris, ILAB-ABAA and Choosebooks all developed as paid services for sellers and free services for buyers. eBay followed a similar path although their process is different. Selling on eBay is like taking a canoe over the Niagara Falls, listing on the listings sites like paddling across Lake Erie.
In eBay's case the seller pays both listing and, if the lots sell, success fees. The financial relationship is between eBay and seller. eBay provides separate services to buyers including PayPal accounts, insurance and dispute mediation. eBay in fact seems to be continually developing tools to further convert the "wild west" of the internet into an orderly Main Street.
Creating an Ignore List of eBay Sellers
I don't blame the seller. I just don't want to have to look at it.
Now its time to give bidders some control over not only what they see but also whose material they see. Just as I can choose to follow a seller's auctions let me also exclude others.
Bidder dislike for a particular seller can arise for a multitude of reasons. Once in a while the issue is ethics. More often it is simply impatience with consistent over-description. This is not a list to share. That would be unfair to sellers because it suggests a strongly negative view and may be entirely personal. Whatever the buyer's motivation for excluding a seller it will be a helpful tool - improving the eBay experience, saving time and very subtly informing [but only by your absence] the occasional seller you prefer to exclude from searches. In time I believe it may change behavior.
eBay already makes it easy to identify and follow sellers whose material you like. When I find an item of interest I usually then click on VIEW SELLER'S OTHER ITEMS. On that page is an option to ADD TO FAVORITE SEARCHES. On the next screen you can add a seller and choose a period for receiving emails whenever they post new material. To track interesting sellers who post infrequently this is particularly helpful.
So if eBay goes this far to make it possible to follow the listings of specific sellers it seems only appropriate they also make it possible to exclude specific sellers. The online world, which has been dominated by those who pay to list, should now make room at the table for those who pay to buy.