September 18, 2005

ebay decay

James Kew takes a further look at ebay's messy scam and spam problems and asks an important question:

But you don’t need to be an active eBay participant to spot the litter in the parking lot. The spam we all get is indication enough that it’s not a neighbourhood for the unwary. The sheer determined volume of phishing emails I get, every day, trying to con me into giving up my passwords to fake sites, is a huge disincentive for me ever to join eBay or PayPal. If it looks and smells that bad from the outside, I wonder, is it really worth the risk and hassle to be inside? To say nothing of the extra work: if I joined eBay, would I then have to read all those dodgy emails to determine if any of them were genuine?

Jeneane paints a picture of eBay in decay, its fabric undermined by legions of scammers and by automation technologies which favour bulk and commercial sellers over everyday individuals. I’m not sure that’s entirely true; eBay obviously works well for many millions of its customers. But in a landscape littered with spams and scams, is eBay an inviting, or exciting, prospect for new customers any more?

My take on it is that ebay is still inviting to new customers, but not the same kind of particpants that cared about ebay and being part of the ebay community when it was vibrant. The model has changed and not for the better.

If ebay doesn't find a way to get back to the origin of what attracts buyers and sellers to a marketplace and keeps them there, it may indeed reach the end of the Gonzo lifecycle. Ebay's scammers and spammers -- as well as the businesses that simply use ebay as another channel in a long list of sales touchpoints -- have taken the joy out of being there.

And Skype can't change that, only aggravate it.