EBay: Sound or Not?
I’ve been interested in the E-Bay auction company for a while in a totally academic way (I’ve never used it, and checking that the above link worked was my first ever visit to their site). Comment elsewhere is not very positive, so I’m not very keen on the idea of using it myself.
Most positive is probably David Chess’s account, which conveys the excitement quite well. But then, just how secure is this setup anyway? This article from the New York Times is all about a suspected ring of "shill" bidders, i.e., bidders who bid up the sale price in an attempt to net the seller a better deal.
Rational buyers should not be taken in by such schemes, whether or not the seller shill-bids themselves or has others to do it for them. If you bid what you think the item is worth, then you will either get it for that price or not, and it should be no concern of yours that someone else may end up paying more than they really wanted. Maybe they’ll sell it onto you later.
More worrying is Phil Agre’s description of the scheme on EBay for communal monitoring of buyers and sellers’ behaviour. Basically, Agre points out that there is not much incentive to be negative in one’s comments about others, thereby devaluing the information there.