Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Warning eBay Sellers! Data Mining In Progress.

Something I must have overlooked when I was writing my previous eBay T&S rant, is the fact that eBay used Data Mining software to determine that most of the neutrals left for sellers were actually examples of a negative buying experience. I guess it just didn't hit me at the time but that would have to be one very sophisticated data mining program to provide measurable results. Just think of how many different comments had to me mined, cataloged, rated, etc. I know eBay doesn't do much manual labor, so the software must have done it for them and the results were so conclusive that they included Neutrals in the calculation for Seller non-performance.

eBay lives and dies by metrics, so I would have to conclude that there was truth in their comments regarding Neutral feedback even though my own personal experiences were different than that.

This is where I normally would just end my post but I am hearing disturbing news that eBay T&S is actually using comments left in feedback to crack down on sellers. Well of course they would, they have such a powerful data mining tool and now they can look for comments in feedback based on keywords like fraud, crook, counterfeit etc and restrict or suspend sellers based on a comment left by a disgruntled buyer. Where will this end as eBay becomes Big Brother? Will eBay start mining feedback left by sellers looking for words that are abusive? Will they now hold comments left in feedback against sellers? This is a very slippery slope we're on.

Now, I am a pretty conservative guy but if this Data Mining tool is not reigned in, your choice of words may come back to haunt you. Right now, I am hearing of sellers being restricted solely on the basis of comments left in a customers feedback, stating that the product was a fake. eBay apparently is not researching the validity of the complaint nor is it contacting sellers to hear their side of the story or seek proof that the product in question was legitimate. Instead these sellers are just being restricted.

Extend this out to its logical conclusion. eBay doesn't accomplish what they wanted with the current crackdown on sellers. Too many sellers cleaned up their act so they have to move one step further in their crusade by targeting sellers specifically. This may even be happening as I write this.

Word of warning to sellers, watch what you say in your feedback to bad buyers, it may be the last feedback you leave.

Update: BTW, I have contacted eBay PR for a comment and will let you when and if they respond. As I said in response to a comment left by a reader. I have heard this from sellers
who have been restricted for comments in feedback from buyers.


Anonymous said...

I normally like your speculation but I think you're getting into tinfoil hat territory here. I don't think eBay would bother to look at how you're responding to a feedback or the feedback you're leaving for others when they have more valuable metrics to look at

What they're more likely to look at is the comments that a seller receives when they get a sub 3 rating on their stars.

If you give a neg and rate a seller a one on shipping you can attach a message to it that goes directly to TnS, if anything they'll start restricing someone based on those

Randy Smythe said...

Yeah, I normally don't go that left of field but I have actual information from sellers that they were told the restriction came because of comments left in negative feedback so I ran with it.

I have an email in to eBay PR for a comment.

Randy Smythe said...

One more thing! The negs certainly could have included a DSR rating of 1 plus a note to T&S I was not aware that that was an option. So the conspiracy may end there. Hopefully eBay will get back to me with that response.

BTW, I loved your Tin Hat territory comment. Funny thing is I just got measured for mine the other day.

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