eBay Live 8 fiasco

The fiasco:

Live 8: Bob Gendolf and friends are presenting the G8 meeting in Scotland with a plan to end poverty in Africa and stop 30,000 children dying every single day. They are staging Live 8 10 concerts, 100 artists, a million spectators, 2 billion viewers to support that message;

People could win Live 8 tickets by SMS. 2 millions TXT messages were sent for the London event.

Bob Geldof condemned profiteering when winners offered those tickets for sale on eBay. eBay initially defended the listings with spokespeople from eBay’s various international subsidiaries singing a variation of “We are allowing the tickets because we live in a free market where people can make up their own minds about what they would like to buy and sell.” Actually most eBay terms and conditions list event tickets as saleable only if they have a right to transfer.

After eBay refused to pull the listings Bob Geldof called for a boycott of eBay and later called for fake listings and fake bids to sink the process. eBay gave in. Suddenly they claim to be listening to their customers.

Lastly eBay attacks customers and begins suspending users who bid on items.

The Lesson

  1. eBay was not responsive to Geldolf’s request to stop sales. When the most media savy celebrity in the world asks a favour, pay attention.
  2. Geldolf’s call to action got results and eBay was powerless to stop the damage to their business. eBay changed their tune but not their attitude, this is standard operating procedure for them.
  3. eBay punishes users for acting when eBay wouldn’t. They have to be seen to do something. It’s a shame they couldn’t admit they made a mistake and claim to learn from their mistakes.

PS I hate it when I store research material for later then don’t get around to commenting on it in a timely manner. This should have been published last week. Oh well…

Update 3 July 2005: Spelling of Bob Geldof’s name corrected. Despite knowing how to spell it my fingers typed Bob Gendolf ;)

eBay Watch

Welcome to the Online Watch category. I’ll be posting observations on eBay and online marketplaces.

This category used to be called “eBay Watch”, but I’m expanding it beyond just eBay.

Shrine to Spirits

My travels often lead me to a welcoming, though unfamiliar, bar. Beer puts me to sleep, I can drink wine only around a meal. Now spirits are a wonder. Check out the Shrine to Spirits before your next seedy circuit, you may try a more adventuresome drink.

Javascript nasty

Today I also came across a nasty endless loop Javascript. This sucker can trap IE, Firefox and Opera in an endless loop requiring you to kill the application via task manager or kill the process if using one of the *nix.

Go get the NoScript – Firefox Extension immediately.

From the description

NoScript allows JavaScript execution only for trusted domains of your choice (e.g. your home-banking web site). This whitelist based pre-emptive script blocking approach prevents exploitation of security vulnerabilities (known and even unknown!) with no loss of functionality… Experts will agree: Firefox is really safer with NoScript ;-)

If you doubt the need for this I point you to the following site. I won’t link to it as it will kill 90% of my visitors’ browsers. Save your work first and copy the address and paste it into your address bar. It will kick off an endless loop javascript. Let me know if your browser is safe. Of course that applies only if you have javascript on.

unfix.org/~jeroen/archive/javascript_loop.html

American or British Spelling

A dozen years ago I was a publisher of childrens and adult non-fiction books. That role allowed me to set editorial policy on spelling and style usage. We decided to follow the lead of the Macquarie Dictionary as the leading arbiter of Australian English.

We’d discuss and debate the correct or preferred spelling of words. Normally I’d push for rewriting the piece to avoid the problem words.

One funny point was the assumption that Americans spelled things wrongly. Specifically the belief that the omission of the penultimate u in word ending in -our. In simpler terms we’re talking about humour, humor; favour, favor; colour, color and so on.

Interestingly at the time the Macquarie dictionary was showing the American spelling as correct but not as widely used.

Most Commonwealth citizens assumed American English was just a slothful and illiterate simplification of the Queen’s English. At the time I came across some research that the American War of Independence predated the standardisation of English. I wish I could find that research now.

Today I came across H.L. Mencken’s The American Language: An Inquiry into the Development of English in the United States.

There’s a fascinating chapter on American Spelling and the Influence of Webster.