I came across this fascinating piece on Auctionbyte, about how some users are gaming the eBay rating system.
Many eBay users are familiar with sellers who use a low-price/high-shipping strategy to manipulate eBay search results. But less well known is the technique of listing 1-cent eBooks with zero shipping charges. In fact, it would appear at first glance to be a money-losing strategy, since eBay charges a minimum 5-cent listing fee for Stores (and 20 cents for core listings). But sellers employing the strategy offer multiple quantities of the items in each listing.
While sellers legitimately sell digital content on eBay, many of the 1-cent eBook, no-shipping Store listings AuctionBytes examined looked suspect, including the possibility that sellers are in effect creating “feedback farms” – creating multiple User IDs that bid on these listings to quickly build up positive feedback ratings.
One such listing posted on September 20 netted the seller close to 1,000 feedback points in a 4-day period. The item for sale was a 1-cent/no shipping eBook that promised in the headline to make sellers $100/day by selling on eBay. By the evening of September 24, there were 9012 of these eBooks still available for sale through this one listing. (The listing contained photos of scantily clad women for no obvious reason.)
One UK website owner is apparently well aware of the penny eBook strategy and created a page to help users quickly overcome the restrictions eBay places on new accounts. “I know what it’s like when you have just opened your ebay account and have restrictions in place such as not being able to list “buy it now” auctions. To help with this problem I put together this short helper page which will get you 10 positive feedbacks within 100 seconds” (http://www.tradedemon.net/10EbayFeedbacks.php). The page includes links to active penny listings on eBay with instructions to buy 10 1-penny eBooks and leave positive feedback for the seller. “By the time you finish all 10, your feedback should be on 10.”
The article also talks about the struggle between the eBay policy enforcers and people trying to make a buck. Now, I don’t recommend that you do any of the things mentioned in the article, but check it out…Its an interesting case study on how it really hard for a horizontal e-business like eBay, to work effectively in the long tail economy.