e-bay item

From: Doug <doug_at_blinkenlights.com>
Date: Wed Mar 3 02:50:06 1999

[ah, the flame burns on due to digest readers]

On Wed, 3 Mar 1999, Bill Yakowenko wrote:

> Of course, if posting these "heads-up" messages has an equal
> chance of helping or hurting, then *failing* to post them
> does too, as does discouraging people from posting them. So
> how come people keep doing that, instead of watching movies?

Mmm, philosophy is strictly forbidden here according to the FAQ, but I'd
have to say a harmful act is not equivalent to the absense of a helpful

> We are all friends here, right? Giving the same news to
> everybody is perfectly fair, and increases the chance that
> one of our friends will win (instead of a total stranger).

I have no problem with that idea in principle. I simply see auctions as a
special case. If a list member, or any other collector, expends the
effort to ACTIVELY SEEK AN ITEM OUT, then I find it unfair for some third
party to destroy the fruits of that effort by carelessly tossing a bone to
a bunch of lazy bidders.

> As for the "logical extreme" of posting 17000 items from e-bay to here,
> nobody does that because, contrary to your assertion, it is not a duty
> to post these things; it is a nicety. Making the leap from that to
> "duty" is nuts. (And I think your guestimate of 17000 interesting items
> is high by about a factor of about 10000. But that's beside the point.)

I was responding directly to Marvin's assertion that it was "not right"
to exclude any group. I took that to the logical extreme: it would be
Marvin's duty to be all-inclusive if he felt it was not right to exclude
anybody's interest. Of course, advertising even 17 ebay items per
day here is absurd. So was the exclusion argument.

> The more ridiculous the arguments become, the more obvious it is that
> you are just being selfish, and want the rest of the world to help you

OK, I'm selfish. But that's not the main reason that I dislike the
practice of posting auctions here. Very rarely do these postings affect
me directly. But they're like stray bullets. You never know when one of
these completely ARBITRARY picks is going to cost you money and waste the
time you spent hunting down some obscurity that somebody else happens to
think is "neat" when he crossed it by accident.

> along with that. Prove me wrong here; the next time you find a great
> deal out there, post an article here saying how much you bid, and
> explaining why everyone else here should let you have it for that great
> price and not interfere. Explain why you deserve it more than anyone
> else. If you can't do that, then you have no right to be upset when
> people notify others whom they think will be interested, and those
> people bid.

How about a real-life example. I assume it's well known that I collect
obscure early "toy" computers (among others). I've spent a fair amount of
time researching to discover their existence, find out about their
history, etc. And when I acquire one, I document it, gloat about it on
the list, and present it to the world via the web.

So, one day, some list member is searching ebay and comes across a Minivac
by accident.

Of course, I've been stalking this thing from the moment it appeared, and
then suddenly "Hey everybody! Look at this neat thing on ebay! I have no
idea what it is, but it sure is neat!" Within minutes, some other list
member (known not to be a collector, BTW) bids the thing up to $200 or so.

Sigh. And of course, the same scenario is repeated over and over again,
and different list members, many of whom specialize in some niche, are
struck by another random bullet.

But what irks me most about this "service" is that there are literally
100's if not 1000's of interesting collectible computer items on any given
day. I easily find *many* of them by spending just a few minutes a day
using my patented semi-automatic techniques :-) So it makes absolutely no
sense to me, and looks like pure noise to me, when I see somebody pick one
or two or 10 of them at random here (with the side-effects described

So, sure, I'm selfish and cheap. But am I wrong to expect to save a few
bucks in exchange for the small effort I expend compared to those who say
they want to do nothing but have these finds fed to them?

-- Doug
Received on Wed Mar 03 1999 - 02:50:06 GMT

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