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Old 10th Jan 2009, 3:19 pm   #1
Kat Manton
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Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: West Yorkshire, UK.
Posts: 1,701
Default Section C (eBay) Rules Explained

To all forum members
The eBay rules were instigated some time ago to deal with a very serious problem. Their purpose, meaning and application is mostly understood and the majority of members abide by them. However, we still encounter some misunderstanding of what the rules mean, why they exist and how we apply them.

Please take the time to read this; it's taken plenty of time to write

Understanding why the rules exist and how they're applied by the moderating team may prevent you inadvertently falling foul of them.
First, a little history
Several years ago we used to have a section specifically for discussing eBay item listings. Members could tip one another off about items they'd spotted, discuss whether items were worth bidding on, worth the reserve or opening price, help one another identify badly-described or misidentified items and organise themselves so they didn't end up bidding against one another.

In other sections, too; members could discuss items seen on eBay, and post links to their own and other people's active eBay auctions. Members were also free to link to completed auctions for items which they'd won.

This would seem like a reasonable thing to allow freely on this forum. A significant aspect of our hobby involves tracking down and acquiring new additions to our collections; eBay is now firmly entrenched in our community as a source of new projects.
But it went wrong
The discussions would degenerate. Fun would be poked at inaccurate descriptions, poor grammar, terrible photography, the myriad misspellings of 'Bakelite' and so on. Accusations would be levelled at eBay vendors. They'd be publicly criticised for having misrepresented items, or for having packed items so badly that they arrived damaged. Arguments would develop as some members had a good experience with a vendor with which another member had a bad experience.

Just to make things worse, some eBay vendors who'd been discussed in less than glowing terms would join the forum and attempt to defend themselves, often making the arguments worse still.

Some vendors even threatened members, the moderating team and Paul Stenning himself with legal action unless the accusations made against them were removed.
Something had to be done
The moderating team found that monitoring the eBay section itself and other threads where eBay items and vendors were identified was taking up far too much of our time. In fact, more moderator effort was being expended on eBay-related discussions than the rest of the forum put together. We moderate this forum in spare time which we give freely and, most of the time, it's quite enjoyable. The exception was these troublesome eBay discussions. It's not much fun having to intervene in arguments being carried out in public.

So, after some discussion in "The Staff Room", the eBay section was removed and we formulated and introduced rules which were intended to prevent these problems arising again. The hope was that this would reduce the amount of time and effort expended by your moderating team.
The Rules
These can be found by clicking the Forum Rules link in the bar at the top of pretty much every page here. The specific rules we're covering here are to be found in Section C. eBay and other on-line auctions etc.

By and large, instigation of these rules worked. The amount of moderator time and effort expended on eBay-related matters has reduced dramatically.
Occasionally we encounter posts where either a member hasn't read the rules, has chosen to ignore them or is deliberately attempting to circumvent them. Sometimes it may just be an innocent mistake. We try to deal with these on a case-by-case basis.

But it's become apparent that the Section C rules cause some confusion so we're taking the time to clarify them.
What is and is not allowed
We do not permit any post which could lead to discussion of any eBay item, its listing or vendor.

This may seem severe but we tried several less restrictive approaches yet still encountered problems.

If a post provides enough information to identify an item listed on eBay, it will be deleted immediately. This includes direct links to the listing, providing enough information to find the item and attaching images carrying the eBay watermark.

You can use the word 'eBay'. Surprisingly, we have to deal with posts where references to eBay have been disguised, suggesting that the poster believes that all mention of 'eBay' has been banned!

You're welcome to say that an item you're discussing was acquired via eBay, but is it relevant to the discussion? If you're discussing a fault or posting a 'Success Story', how you acquired the item isn't really relevant. If you don't mention it then you avoid the risk of inadvertently providing information which could identify the item listing.

If it's possible to find the item listing from information in the post then we will edit or delete the post at our discretion. It may be more prudent to simply say that you recently acquired the item but not mention where from.

If you're looking for information about an item listed on eBay, do not provide any clues which suggest it's on eBay.
  • Don't provide a link to it.
  • Don't explain how to find it.
  • Don't attach a picture which was obviously downloaded from eBay.
If there's no suggestion that the item is listed on eBay, the item may be discussed within the rules.

Anyway, if you're thinking about buying the item, do you really want to tip-off other collectors?
The following are the only exceptions whereby you may provide a direct link to a current eBay listing.
  1. You may reply to a "wanted" post for an item with a link to an example of that item on eBay.
  2. You may inform another member that a manual for the item they're working on is available on eBay and provide a direct link.
  3. You may inform another member that parts to resolve the fault being discussed are available on eBay and provide a direct link.
The following conditions apply.
  1. The links must not be to your own listing.
  2. No discussion of the eBay item listing or vendor takes place.
Transport Requests
If you are posting a Forum Courier Service 'Transport Request' for an item on eBay which you are considering bidding on subject to transport being available, make it clear.

This avoids the situation (which has arisen) where forum members have changed their plans and made time to collect an item only to be told their efforts were wasted.

Please be considerate and make it clear that such a transport request is provisional and that collection is only possible after the auction has ended.

But do not directly or indirectly identify the item. Apart from being against the rules, it's not exactly a good idea as another member may bid against you...

A generic description is enough; if you state that the item is a fifties woody, console TV, rack-mount military receiver or whatever, that's enough information for anyone considering offering to collect but not enough to identify the item listing.

If someone offers to collect the item, by all means send them full information and an eBay link via the Private Message system if you like.

However, if you provide enough information to identify the item listing (either in the FCS request or any other thread), all threads relating to the item will be deleted.
The eBay rules were instigated to prevent public discussion of eBay item listings (current and completed) and eBay vendors under all but exceptional circumstances.

If your post provides enough information to identify an eBay item listing and/or vendor, it breaches the rules and will be deleted.

In the case of the exceptions above where direct links to listings are permitted, any continuing discussion of the item and/or vendor breaches the rules and will be deleted.

When such posts are deleted, you may be notified by Private Message, receive a zero-point warning or infraction points at our discretion.

Hopefully this has explained the reasoning behind the section C rules and our interpretation and application of them.
Regards, Kat (on behalf of the moderating team.)
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