Schneier on Security
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June 24, 2011
Selling a Good Reputation on eBay
Here's someone who is selling positive feedback on eBay:
Hello, for sale is a picture of a tree. This tree is an original and was taken by me. I have gotten nothing but 100% feedback from people from this picture. Great Picture! Once payment is made I will send you picture via email. Once payment is made and I send picture through email 100% feedback will be given to the buyer!!!! Once you pay for the item send me a ebay message with your email and I will email you the picture!
Posted on June 24, 2011 at 1:59 PM
• 33 Comments
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Trading and selling positive feedback has been going on for a while on eBay. Although such a blatant example will probably be killed fairly quickly, especially if people are reporting it.
Does feedback even matter anymore? I don't think Ebay cares at all.
It's curious that internet reputation systems haven't yet built in good auditing of who has rated whom.
Or am I just behind the internet times, and have they already?
In most non-digital reputation systems I'm aware of, the identity of the referrer matters a great deal, and all feedback is heavily weighted based on their (un)trusted status.
Job references, for example, are generally discredited if they are family members.
This is precisely the problem Google made it's name solving (for web pages), and a little bit of a meta system on Ebay's part might put an end to shenanigans like this.
Yup, sounds like Ebay needs some trust transitivity...
So, I'm not being paranoid when I look through feedback to judge its 'smell'. Phew!
This listing (180657018848) has been removed, or this item is not available.
good link, you can also copy this picture and paste it onto a Microsoft word page
E-mail that to Mark Carges, their CTO :-)
Maybe that is what Anthony Wiener should have done. At $1/pic, he'd have been a *very* wealthy ex-legislator.
"Hello, for sale is a picture of bulging underwear. This erection picture is an original and was taken by me..."
I do care about feedback, but only feedback of comparable value. When I see feedback on low value products and then a high value sale, I assume a scam is order.
A year or two ago, eBay decided that all negative feedback by a seller about a buyer was "abuse" and removed the capability. Since then, all "reputations" on eBay have been meaningless.
We all could really use a competitor to eBay. Better yet, many competitors.
eBay has direct competitors such as iOffer and Bonanza, but traffic at those sites is two orders of magnitude lower than at eBay. Yahoo! Shopping allows small businesses to set up eStores, but, again, traffic is low compared with eBay.
@John David Galt: the reason for that was that sellers would (explicitely or implicitely) threaten to leave negative feedback for buyers that left non-positive feedback for them... so buyers never gave anything but positive feedback, which made the seller ratings useless.
I think it was a smart move on their part.
By far the best comment I've seen on Ebay feedback comes from xkcd:
Be sure to note the mouse-over caption.
This has been going on for years and years....
If you search on eBay for "ebook", then sort by lowest price first, you'll find hundreds of ebooks or sale for $0.01 that say things like "I will leave good feedback for you if you leave good feedback for me" and stuff like that. Simple way to boost your feedback.
Any time you are buying anything on eBay, make sure and check the sellers feedback score. If you see a bunch of $0.01 auctions, skip that seller.
"@John David Galt: the reason for that was that sellers would (explicitely or implicitely) threaten to leave negative feedback for buyers that left non-positive feedback for them..."
yup, that is what happened to me a couple of times at ebay. I bought two items that were not as described (one was a fake copy, and the other one was not compatible with a particular HP smartphone like the seller claimed).
Anyway neither person was willing to admit fault or accept a return. When I left negative feedback, they did the same to me. I ended up closing my eBay account as I no longer felt I could rely on the descriptions or on the feedback.
From a customer point of view I prefer the feedback system at Amazon (feedback is only left on the seller) or at freelancer.com (neither side knows what the feedback is unless their side has also left feedback).
Alternatively, an eBay sell could pay a Chinese jail warden to have inmates to make false eBay purchases of higher value (fake) products and leave positive feedback. Though this may not work if the eBay commission is % of sale?
And eBay is not the only place where you can buy Social Reputation.
Viral Agencies on Twitter sell personal or professional Social Reputation... "with 100% satisfaction guaranteed".
Interesting point, but on the internet I think things are a bit different. You have to expect not to know most of the people on the internet, so it probably isn't possible to evaluate references like that. However, if you can accumulate an aggregate of references, even if they are from strangers, it starts to be worth a lot more. If 100 (or 300, 500, 1000, etc.) strangers unanimously said you were a trustworthy seller, would you stop to doubt them because you didn't know them?
On the internet, no one knows you're a dog -- or a stranger (or a confederate).
I had a nearly identical scheme years ago and warned the feedback system could be manipulated. It usually works out pretty well, though, so it's a good system. To deal with this problem, I used to tell people to look at the seller's history to see what they sold and to who. Shouldn't be 100 of the same item and name...
Verified PayPal accounts are also traded online for about $70 a piece. Facebook accounts are cheaper, currently. Facebook and Gmail accounts used to be useful only for spammers, but they've increased in value due to sites that let you log in with a Gmail or Facebook account. And the Share feature.
Reminds me of a fictional character I read once who declared, "I have no reputation and even less desire for one." :-)
hard to believe some of you/so many couldn't figure out how to leave neg. FB for a seller w/out recourse against you... you wait til the last day/last hour of the FB period and leave your negative FB then... worked like a charm.
but as noted, feedback on eBay now is worthless, as is their entire system generally, I rarely buy and no longer sell there because now buyers routinely extort from sellers concessions by threatening negative FB knowing the seller has no recourse (i.e., you sell a perfectly good item and the buyer says it's "not as advertised" and wants 10/20/40% off or you'll get neg. FB) --- F that, as they say.
The entire eBay feedback system needs an overhaul as massive as Sony's security. In its current state, it's a complete fail.
Nothing new here. Two years ago Bruce Schneier reported here http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2009/06/... on scam attempts on him when he sold a laptop.
At the time Sean commented "You can't even trust people with seemingly good track records. There are plenty of people selling positive feedback." and gave the example of a user called picmaster who was apparently doing much the same as this.
Weird... seems like it's mostly ebay.com US that is targeted by scammers. I've gone through ~2k transactions since ebay was founded, and had only 4 incidents, none of which was fraud. (1 never reacted to payment mails, 1 destroyed the item and tried to return [I guess he only needed a certain spare part], 1 was unable to read the listing and expected to receive something completely different, 1 left neg feedback even though everything was fine).
My personal opinion is that since ebay forbid neg feedback for sellers, that the feedback counter has become more or less useless. Ok, it still allows to filter out 0-rep customers, but that's about it.
I don't get the impression ebay really cares about scams unless they're really overt. After all, if someone falls for a scam, ebay gets a commission. If enough people fall for a scam, ebay suspends the scammer's paypal account and pockets any money which is not claimed by scammees. You only have to type wholesale list into ebay to see that one of the most common scams is as healthy as ever.
EBay is just a lousy company that unfortunately appeared at the right time and grew large enough to naturally suppress competition.
I can think of a half dozen well-known, trivial to detect scams on eBay that have been around for a decade with no action on eBay's part.
At the end of the day, I have greater faith in Craigslist than eBay -- and that says alot.
Will you, Email me Please I have a couple of things that need to be addressed
and I would be happy to give anything you need
I own 2 brick and mortar stores. We attempted to expand our business to some online boutique items on ebay. One buyer bought a pair of designer jeans from us, claimed they were fakes and charged back the payment though pay pal. We never received the jeans back and the money was stolen, ahem.. ah, charged back as well. We don't use ebay any more. If people want to steal from us now, they have to drive over and do it in person with some integrity.
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