Crooks Distort eBay Guide Votes by Using Multiple Accounts
Scammers, rip-off merchants, conmen and crooks cheat the eBay system by registering multiple negative votes using multiple accounts and identities.
eBay Guides Voting Interference
Shortly after we published one of our eBay guides, warning about dubious practices by a fellow dealer and eBay member, our eBay guides were hit by a malicious attack of negative voting.
It is easy to see why. The last thing a crook wants is for some concerned fellow member to publish a warning about them or their methods, and they will lose business. To defend themselves, they launch a counter-attack, which also acts as a damage limitation exercise for themselves.
Most eBay scammers operate multiple accounts, and perhaps other dodgy friends who will "lend" their eBay accounts. They simply view the guides that singles them out, and place multiple "unhelpful" votes against it. The guides votes system requires a positive feedback of at least 5, so this is not hard to achieve. (You could read our guide about it). This reduces the visibility of the guide, making it harder for the casual user to find without searching hard.
In addition to this, they can also view all the whistleblowers guides, and vote against them, thus making all that members guides harder to find.
eBay apparently and quite rightly take a dim view of this interference with their system, although they seem to do very little about it, to deter it or stop it altogether.
There are several easy measures which eBay could take to reduce or discourage this disruptive behaviour.
One would be to disable the "No" vote feature. This would improve the usability and integrity of the system. Surely it is more important for these guides to help people, and it is not necessary to provide a "not helpful" voting button. If members do not find it helpful, then they simply do not vote.
Another measure would be to show a log of members who voted, and whether their vote was positive or negative. A neutral could even be added although it would probably be of limited use. This would mirror the feedback system, although there would be no need for a comments section. Although this would not stop scammers from vote manipulation, it would expose them to the original guide editor, to eBay itself, and to other members.
This would hopefully encourage all members to vote responsibly.
Shortly before the interference, we had started a log of the "helpfulness votes" of our guides. Although only about 3% to 4% of viewings result in a vote, we noted that 93.5% of the votes were positive, and 6.5% negative. Over a few days our guides received about 400 negative votes, and a further 100 over the next few days. For this to happen, somebody must have recorded two or three votes against each of our 180 or so guides. Obviously for this to happen, the person must have used two or three different identities.
We reported this to eBay who advised us that it appeared to be a clear cut case of "interference", and said they would investigate it, they record IP addresses of voters, although their technical team was tied up attempting a major bug fix. We are waiting to see what they can tell us.
Although this tactical voting abuse does not directly harm our reputation, it does suppress the visibility of our guides, and makes it more difficult for other members to see our warning. It seems to be just one more method which crooked and dishonest operators will use to protect themselves or cause harm to honest members who oppose them or make it harder for them to scam people. The more guides we have published, the more susceptible we become to this sort of attack.
It is our opinion that eBay could stop this kind of abuse by removing the "No" vote button, and simply retain the "Yes" button. In any case, we think you should be aware of another trick used by scammers. This makes all the more reason why you should use your "Yes" vote whenever you find an eBay guide which provides any help at all. This helps to minimise the spoiling actions of the crooks and fraudsters.
We have also notice what we believe is a knock-on effect. Once a guide has acquired a few "No" votes, it seems to encourage others to follow. Although it would be hard to prove this, it is something which we believe we can identify and quantify through the statistics we have kept.
An eBay member published a very brief guide with the theme "Don't get ripped of by Chard". This was clearly defamatory, and is quite unfounded. We brought it to eBay's attention, and they removed it immediately. We have requested the identity and contact information for the member who published it, who is from Essex, as are the member who we originally warned about.
About the Author
Lawrence Chard is a director of Chard Coins of Blackpool, England, and has over 42 years experience in numismatic and bullion coins.
Chard have maintained a dealing service for both collectors and investors in bullion and numismatic coins. During the period from 1965 to 1971, we were one of only a small number of dealers who were granted a dealers licence.
All our images and text are copyright.
Actually, we also notice that Investors in Time are using our world famous and much copied photograph of a 1974 krugerrand on their website, without our copyright permission.
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Crooks Distort eBay Guide Votes with Multiple Accounts
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16 October 2006
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