What More Should we Expect from eBay Ink Blog?

Posted on June 15, 2008. Filed under: eBay, eBayInkBlog | Tags: , , , |

In the “Dear Brews” section of my Blog I have had some readers report that they are being censored on eBay’s Blog (eBayInkBlog.com) by Richard Brewer-Hay so that is the subject of my Blog today.
Now keep in mind that I don’t know Richard, have never met him, and have sent him only a handful of emails relating only to a few issues on the Blog so all my comments are strictly my own based only on the observations of an eBayInkBlog reader.
As I was sitting here this morning drinking my coffee and reviewing all that is happening on eBay, Amazon, and the websites I manage I couldn’t help but think about Richard having coffee this morning and what he must be thinking about.  He is getting ready to head out to eBay Live and I wonder what he is thinking of eBay and eBay sellers now that he has been an eBay employee for a few months.
Just based on the few comments I have seen Richard make, based on the articles he has written, and also based on the things he has NOT said, I really think Richard is a nice guy and I think he cares.  Like most of us, I am sure he cares MOST about being responsible to his family and he does that by bringing home a paycheck from eBay.  But I do believe Richard cares about the truth and I think he has a basic level of caring about those of us who are part of the eBay community, as both buyers and sellers.  We can’t be surprised that he has to try to keep the blog balanced and even tipped heavily in the favor of eBay because eBay pays his bills.  It would be unfair of us to expect Richard to publicly trash his employer. 
Having said that, I can see where Richard started the blog and wrote articles as a “reporter”, someone who seemed to want to investigate what was really happening and he seemed willing to report some of eBay’s flaws in an effort to show that overall eBay was beautiful although not perfect.  But, as people have often said, putting lipstick on a pig doesn’t hide the fact that the pig still looks like a pig.  Over a short time, Richard seems to have changed course to become a “babysitter” who simply cuts and pastes the eBay news into the blog and then spends the majority of his time policing the site by editing or removing comments.
I actually think I would like Richard if I met him in person.  I think eBay made a good choice when they chose Richard and I think that the Blog, under Richard’s personal direction, is a good idea.  One of the goals, I am sure, is to make eBay appear more caring and to put some “faces” to eBay so that we are more likely to be tolerant of some of eBay’s abusive policies if we see eBay as less of an anonymous Big Business and more made up of individual people.  Unfortunately for Richard, I think he went into his new role completely naive to the problems that eBay really has and didn’t fully understand the deep anger and resentment sellers feel.  Richard’s attempt to engage the Ink Readers by talking directly and openly about Feedback and the Seller Dashboard shows that he has the right intentions.  But I believe what has happened is that Richard has been abandoned by those in eBay who could and should be providing more answers to him so that Richard has no responses to give.  Again, this is all pure speculation on my part.
Perhaps Richard has come to the realization that he cannot solve eBay’s problems (there are too many an they are too big), that he cannot explain most things, and that any “reporting” that he does cannot put eBay in a positive light.  However, I do believe there are things Richard could do and could report on that could help to bring about change and/or to provide a better understanding for those of us who are part of the eBay community. 
For example, Richard has given 5 reports about Skype.  It’s obvious that eBay wants to “push” Skype.  How about finding out what users think about Skype?  I know that I had signed up for Skype previously but cancelled all 4 of the Skype phone numbers I had.  Anyone want to know why?  Also, how about finding out what eBay’s policy stand on Skype really is.  First, Skype was not allowed in eBay listings then they were allowed in a few “test” categories although you could provide a direct link in your eBay auction descriptions.  Then Skype became available to add to all listings.  Now, Powerseller Reps say that although the policy is not yet written, they believe the new “Links Policy” will eventually disallow Skype communication because “it could lead to off-eBay sales”.  So, if you want to get the eBay community fired up about Skype, how about finding out why people don’t use it (both those who have and have not tried it) and what is eBay’s long-term policy going to be regarding Skype.
Regarding all the Ink pieces about Education Seminars, Conferences, and Materials that are made available by non-eBay sources, how about finding out what eBay is currently doing and plans to do in the future to educate and retain good buyers and sellers.  Does eBay think it is important to help buyers understand eBay or are buyers being left to figure it out themselves.  FYI, I called an eBay “Buyer Hotline” that has existed for many months that I didn’t even know existed but that I stumbled upon one day by accident (of course the hotline is only for community members who are experiencing a problem AFTER the fact).  There are reports that a new Buyer Hotline to help certain buyers is rolling out soon and select buyers are receiving information on how they can create a pin number so that they can easily call eBay to get help.  And, speaking of education, what about eBay University and what plans (if any) does eBay have to help train new sellers or at the very least to put out information on how sellers can get started on eBay.  Just as eBay doesn’t police their own site (members report other members and manufacturers have to use the VERO program to remove counterfeit merchandise), eBay does not appear to be providing quality information on how to sell on eBay.  I’m not talking about educating someone on how to run a business; I mean how does someone new learn the technical aspects of the eBay system.
There are many other topics that I think deserve attention.  I mentionned only the two above based on the type of articles that are currently appearing on eBayInk (see list below).
In order for Richard to be given a chance to “inform and entertain” us, he must have the support of those within eBay who have the information he needs to respond to Ink Readers.  Without that support, the EbayInkBlog will be nothing more than a glorified eBay Community Board with Richard being the sole moderator who spends his time editing and removing the numerous posts of the disgruntled eBay community. 
Richard is probably enjoying his morning coffee a great deal less than he did a few months ago when he first started blogging for eBay with enthusiasm.  I certainly hope for Richard’s sake, and for those of us who would like to read more than just eBay fluff that we can read anywhere, that eBay management will take a good hard look at the support (or lack of support) that eBayInk is receiving. 
Below is a summary of the eBayInkBlog articles to date.  I have grouped the articles into main topics and out beside each article is the date it was posted.

About EbayInkBlog
So Why Ebay Ink – 4/02
Can An Employee Really Be Transparent – 4/02
Welcome – 4/02
The First 24 Hours – 4/02
We Have the Technology… Better, Stronger, Faster – 5/27
Ink Comment Subscription – 5/29
Blog Search – 6/05
About Trust & Safety:
One Final Flak Jacket Reference – 4/11
A Timely Message from John Canfield – 4/14
Romanian Fraudster Vladuz Arrested Thursday Morning – 4/17
The Arrest of Vladuz: A Team Effort – 5/14
About Skype:
Skype Adds New Features to the Business Control Panel – 4/08
Skype Hype – 4/21
Skype Keeps on Moving – 5/05
No Cannes Do?  No Problem! – 5/09
Catching Up With the Nomad – 5/28
Kudos for EBay (Feel-Good Pieces):
Ebay Wins Application of the Year at MYSQL Conference & Expo – 4/15
Habitat for Hummanity – 4/23
Digging the Dirt – 4/28
Myanimar Cyclone Relief Efforts – 5/06
Good Stuff – 5/29
Small Change.  Big Change – 5/29
Public Relations / Advertisements:
Ebay In Reports First Quarter 2008 Results – 4/16
A Few Minutes with eBay Inc CFO Bob Swan – 4/16
John Donahoe Interviews Pierre Omidyar – 4/29
The Buck Starts Here – 5/07
When the Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Selling – 5/08
Minty Fresh – 5/08
Shop Now… Pay Later – 5/15
Online Classified Information – 5/23
Oodles of Opportunities – 6/05
Ebay Mobile – 6/09
Ebay Out of the Box and One Click Away – 6/12
Education / Information from Sources Outside Ebay:
Ebay At ChannelAdvisor’s Catalyst Conference – 4/02
PESA/ECMTA Best Practices “Improving Your DSRs” – 4/11
Ink on the Road – 4/21
Lorrie Norrington Keynote at Ecommerce Summit – 4/23
Ecommerce Summit Q&A Part 1 – 4/24
Ecommerce Summit Q&A Part 2 – 4/29
Ebay Affiliate Program – 5/05
PESA/ECMTA Community Roundtable – 6/11
Paypal and Australian Initiative:
EBay Australia Announces Safe Payment Initiative – 4/09
Some Things Were Said, Not All of Them Were Printed – 5/09
Ebay Responds to ACCC Draft Notice – 6/13
Communication with Ink Readers:
We Have a Cross-Border Trade Team… Who Knew? – 4/08
John Donahoe Talks to EBay Ink – 4/18
The F-Word -5/01
Ebay Partners with Buy.Com – 5/03
Accountability: The Evolution of the Ebay Feedback System – 5/07
Small Sellers: Our Competitive Advantage – 5/09
Feedback on Feedback to Feedback – 5/16
Knowing Where You Stand – 5/19



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4 Responses to “What More Should we Expect from eBay Ink Blog?”

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I think Richard will eventually realize the kind of company he’ll really working for and will eventually quit. I give that blog one year. As for the blog itself, I’m finished with it. I refuse to be censored anymore just because I make a few statements about the company. True statements I might add. The truth apparently hurts. Well, you can’t hide it Richard – the truth is being posted everywhere and you can’t censor it. People despise your company with a vengeance. It’s not the kind of company I’d be happy working for.

That blog is an absolute waste of time. It serves no purpose other than to spew out eBay propaganda and spin. Even the supposed “executive posts” get ignored once they are left. Why didn’t Brian Burke answer any questions? Too busy? How busy is a “Global Feedback Manager”? And Lorrie Norrington. She should get people to write and edit her copy so it at least makes sense. I guess she’s also too busy to answer a few questions, but maybe she’s embarrassed to answer the questions since her statements make no sense. The comment threads on some of the hotter topics approach 500 to 1000 comments, and where is Richard? No where to be found. People leave question, opinions, valid anger and disgust, and it all goes ignored. Say anything against eBay or about an individual, and your sentence used to be edited. Now, the entire message is deleted, within minutes, and they set a flag on you so your messages don’t appear at all. Well, after leaving a few subsequent messages and having them not appear, they can got to hell. I’ve seen a lot worse said by some of the other regulars, yet I see their comments stay posted. This is why I don’t trust eBay or ANY public blog with my true identity. I’m sure many people are using pseudonyms, although a few brave ones are using their true identity, or very close to it.

Richard Brewer-Hay is now Richard Brewer-Borg. I know he’s got to bring a paycheck home every week, and trashing his own company wouldn’t be tolerated, but it’s become a little too stuffy there. A little too sensitive, and the blog is now exactly what it is: a cut-and-paste PR outlet. It’s about as transparent as a brick wall. Actually, Richard IS transparent. We all can see right through him.

I worked as a technical writer for many years, and I’m guessing Richard is working on a contract basis. I agree it’s a ridiculous waste of time and space. It’s not Richard’s fault; he probably does try hard to get answers, but if no one returns your messages, there’s really nothing you can do but make the best of it. I always thought Ebay Ink was set up to impress corporate clients, but the comments are pretty vile towards Ebay, deservedly so.

I rarely go there and have noticed people are pretty much done posting comments.

Oh, one more comment. Brews, you’ve done a great job at getting answers and providing info. I always check in daily to see what you’ve written.

Many many of my posts are censored, and it peeves me, but I am trying to keep in mind Richards position which is conflicting- take care of pregnant wife and daughter and work for demonic individuals or tell the world what these people are and not be able to take care of his family. Kids come first!

I did write this this morning and it was not permitted- he uses a filter that it set to scan for the many vulgarities – like stupid idiots those types of things, and he reviews those later and decides what to do with it. I found an article someone did on him and that is where I learned.

This is my response to the new item page- infuriating

I am very concerned about eBay managements’ adjustments- I am beginning to feel as though I am purchasing services from people who have lost touch with reality and now envision themselves as Stalin and us the peasants of Socialist Russia.

How do you people live in this country and have not the slightest understanding of the concept of capitalism? It is competition that drives the market- duh. You talk about wanting to compete in the market- do you even know who your competitors are? I don’t think you do – I don’t think you have a clue about anything. The only entity beating eBay out of the market is eBay management. There is nothing strategic in your approach you appear as though you wake up with a new idea daily and begin rolling it out without ever running any valuable preliminary test studies or pilots. Where do you get your ideas? Why are they so half a**ed?

Last year shortly after I opened my store I started learning all the RULES concerning what you could and couldn’t do in your store- there was then more what couldn’t be done than what could, and I told my husband this place boarders on communism in practice. Well, you have jumped right into the bloody pool with this generic item page you intend on using much to your own detriment, but you are to base to perceive this reality.

This collectivism BS you are taking with stores and our products is outrageous. You provide no incentive for anyone to want to do something for YOU! Yet every action you take forces us to do for you and only you. Your stupid 5% or 15% “reward” token is not a motivator and clearly wasn’t meant to be otherwise it would have been a benefit for all sellers. You have forced people to conform to your demands through totalitarianism. You have abused your customers by taking advantage of their reliance on eBay’s marketplace, and you slaughter those who either can’t conform quickly enough or those whose selling behavior is not conducive to your self interested plan.

You are so stupid! so very very stupid! What do you imagine will take place once eBay becomes the Clock Work Orange? Do you honestly believe that sellers will continue to be motivated by your emotional violence or your pathetic rewards once the competition is driven from the marketplace? If we all have 4.8 + DSRs, if we all have 99.9+ FBRs, if everyone with the same product has it listed for the same price with free shipping and all of your dictates within the listing, and the same visual for each listing regardless of who is selling it there will be no more incentive to remain on eBay!!!! It is impossible to compete with a clone- there will not be any advantage for any seller- it’ll be a crap shoot. As time goes the defeated getting no where not making any money reality will set in and you will be left with nothing but a bunch of stupid applications, free shipping graphics, an ineffective annoying search algorithm, and an empty ugly generic listing template all created for your totalitarian power.

I am appalled by your approach and if you don’t recognize the reality of what you are doing than I am appalled by your lack of education and inability to conceive the basest of concepts relative to marketplace systems.

And I am flabbergasted that the CEO studied economics and views his vision as leading to success- what did you do sleep through your studies?

I’ll post it here if you don’t mind

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