THE FUTURE for eBay Reviews, Guides and Blogs
I am quite new to writing Reviews and Guides but have recently managed to compile over a dozen guides. I have been a buyer and seller on eBay for about 8 years now and have had well over 10,000 transactions so I do have a great deal of experience and knowledge that I feel I can pass on.
I have some concerns about the future direction that guides will take and this guide is intended to stimulate some discussion and I hope will be received as constructive. As I see it the positives of reviews and guides are:
- An opportunity for those who have knowledge to pass it on to others.
- An opportunity for eBay participants to enhance their profiles on the internet. This will be the primary reason that many sellers will write guides and reviews.
- Provide a place where detailed information is easily available without having to leave eBay
I might add to this list as time goes by but I am concerned by some of the less positive aspects that have been highlighted through reading the ebay guides discussion board
Some of the questions that arise and should be considered by those who intend to write guides are:
- As of today there are a great many guides that are either frivolous, useless or nonsensical that surely have no place on eBay and are ultimately a waste of space that will clog up searches. One suggestion has been that guides should be a minimum of - say 200 words. This may help but one of the guides that comes under the "frivolous" category includes the same word repeated more than 200 times. Another problem in dealing with the nonsensical guides is that many of them have attracted "yes" votes and that would make it more difficult to justify arbitrarily removing them. Of course, the fact is that eBay would be horrified at the prospect of having to monitor, edit and approve every guide so you have to wonder whether all guides in their entirety might be eventually removed.
This guide is an illustration of what I mean - A Wibler
- There are guides that are critical of eBay including one from a top 100 reviewer who encourages sellers to close their stores and sell on other auction sites.
- There are reports on the discussion board of plagiarism ie guides that copy other guides. This will surely be a major problem as time goes by.
- Reports of general abuses of the voting system and manipulation of the system ie flooding some reviewers with "no" votes.
- Concerns about pornographic or unlawful material being posted as guides.
- Concerns about scams resulting from guides and guides with "phishing" links that attempt to relieve you of your password.
- Guides that are purely written to attack other members. These are often written after an unsuccessful transaction. The feedback system is the place to leave comments.
- Editing: Guides can be heavily edited after receiving many votes. This can result in a guide that may end up looking completely different to its original format. Those who voted originally may not approve of the changes and might not have voted had they known of the revised content.
- Legal implications: It appears that the information in guides and reviews is rarely monitored, approved or edited by a anyone other than the writer. Whilst it is true that other members can "report" a guide this ultimately means that eBay are hoping that its members will do the job in policing the guides and this is a risky approach. There are many cases where guides contain defamatory or grossly inappropriate subject matter. Recent court decisions could result in legal action against the writer or even against eBay.
- Glitches and gremlins: Guides seem to have been plagued but recent glitches. One minute they appear on all searches, the next they dont. Issues with guides not appearing at all have been commonplace and very disappointing for those who spend many hours compiling detailed information.
It seems quite obvious to me that some people attempt to manipulate the voting for guides by either submitting votes for their own guides using different user ids or voting "no" for guides that have been written by those who have a higher ranking. I have also heard of jealous competitors voting "no" purely out of spite. I really can't see the point of allowing "no" votes. A "yes" vote is an endorsement for a well written and useful guide but if someone reads a guide and does not find it useful they should not cast a vote at all.
The bottom line is that "no" votes do not motivate people to write more guides.
These are a few of my concerns which I hope will be reviewed constructively. They are all factors to consider when writing guides. Others may have more points to add. I wonder if eBay will be able to police and control the guides bearing in mind the recent problems with eBay stores. There is no way that eBay will be able to physically check every guide to weed out the inappropriate content and the job of controlling voting manipulation is going to be very tough indeed.
Despite the concerns that I have raised here, there are some wonderfully informative guides and an encyclopedic wealth of information that outweighs the negative aspects of guides and reviews.
I reiterate that this guide is intended to be constructive but I know that some people have written a huge number of guides already and I feel that it is important to take a long view when considering the future for guides. Hopefully this guide will encourage some healthy debate amongst reviewers.