Vigilanteism and Ebay
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Post Posted: Mon May 03, 2004 10:15 pm 
 

On a couple of active threads, one of the Acaeum's members (Deadlord36) has been taking action against what he perceives as immoral behaviour by some ebay sellers. He has created at least one ebay id (iluvdnd) for the express purpose of bidding on items by these sellers for the express purpose of leaving negative feedback. Most of these sellers are alleged to have infringed copyright laws, and at least one other has been accused of shill bidding.

Personally, I don't agree with such actions. Ebay makes its own laws, and provides processes to follow if infractions are suspected. I feel that such vigilanteism is misplaced, and will lead to errors being made, and the wrong people penalised - from the recent alleged shill bidding example, it seems clear that an innocent ebay member was made to pay $20 more than they had to, based on the action Deadlord took. What is especially chafing though is that last year Deadlord himself was accused of shilling his own auctions. While each member can come to their own conclusion about whether the accusation was valid or not, what is clear is that Deadlord (at the time) defended the practice. Obviously he has since changed his opinion.

Frank, I don't know what the other Acaeum members think but I would prefer it that you didn't act as a self-styled bounty hunter. If you see infractions within ebay, report them and let ebay police itself. At the very least, if you feel you must take your own action against people that you judge are breaking ebay's rules, don't brag about it here - come up with a new ID, do what you do with it, and keep it to yourself.

Coincidentally, a dormant thread about a reseller surfaced again today after a long period of inactivity, and I noticed a comment from Deadlord which read:

"If you can't be an adult about ebay dealings, don't buy and sell through them."

Good advice.

Regards

Mike

  

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Post Posted: Mon May 03, 2004 10:36 pm 
 

I admitted a mistake on the perceived shill auction, and having made mistakes in past auctions. We all make mistakes in life. I was man enough to admit it.
I'm happy to hear what opinions are, though to be honest, I don't really give a fuck. It has nothing to do with being an eBay policeman. It has everything to do with:

1. Preventing FEDERALLY illegal sales, which, believe it or not, is a crime.
2. Preventing the devaluation of my (and incidentally others) sales and collections.
3. Preventing unscrupulous sellers from fleecing newbays and desperate people.

By creating PDF's and photocopies, unscrupulous sellers are damaging collecting, and when someone does something that affects me negatively, even in the most minute way, I retaliate. You probably think Bernhard Goetz was a criminal.
We have all seen eBay's handling of people like this. It is a joke. They are a business, and as long as what is done does not lose them customers (as banning accounts would), they will not interfere. eBay has every right to ban the account after enough NPB warnings, and the seller is not actually hurt, since their money is refunded when they file an NPB.
I will, however, retire the account, since I hate hearing whining in the Acaeum. I don't brag about it, I joke about it. It is something anyone can do, so there is nothing to take pride in. If I decide to do it again, you won't be informed.
BTW, trying to drum up an anti-Deadlord crowd because of something you personally do not agree with could be viewed as vigilanteism.


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Post Posted: Mon May 03, 2004 10:39 pm 
 

Well, this should be an interesting thread.   :wink:

I agree we need to be really, really careful about accusing a seller of shill bidding, and it seems a mistake was made recently.  

But the PDF issue is pretty cut and dried.  The seller is wrong legally and ethically.  I agree that eBay should take action against the seller but eBay doesn't and that's the problem.  If eBay did that then there would be no need for vigilante justice.  Unfortunately, eBay does not seem to give a hoot about sellers who auction photocopies.  It's simply not in eBay's interests as a profit-making corporation to stop such selling.  Every time they cancel an auction they are losing money, which will upset shareholders.  
Therefore in the case of PDF's, where the seller is 100% wrong without any doubt, it seems it becomes the responsibility of our hobby community to put a stop to the illegal practice to maintain the integrity of our hobby.  

And we're not the only ones.  I recently read a New York Times article about vigilantes on eBay:

With Internet Fraud Up Sharply, EBay Attracts Vigilantes - New York Times

Unfortunately one has to pay NYT money for the article.  If you have access to Lexis or Westlaw you can use the title of the article to get it free.  
In short, we're not alone...
My 2 coppers...

  

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Post Posted: Mon May 03, 2004 11:24 pm 
 

Are you kidding me?

Ebay is a community of sorts and therefore when the community gets out of line, someone needs to smack the shit out of the offending party. Now, I know we are living in a "PC, its society's fault, everybody is offended by something, just can't we all get along world," but screw that.

Someone stood up and did what he thought was right...and in most cases he was correct. I call that initiative.

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Post Posted: Tue May 04, 2004 12:05 am 
 

Hi Frank -

Thanks for the reply.

I'm not trying to drum anything up whatsoever - I didn't know there was an anti-Deadlord crowd. I just disagreed with what you were doing. I thought about sending you a PM, but then considered it was a topic worthy of discussion.

I won't try and argue, since the points you make have some validity, and I've already had my say. Although I will say I don't consider my post as 'whining' - I was just telling you what I thought of your actions.

Regards

Mike

  

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Post Posted: Tue May 04, 2004 1:04 am 
 

Noted.
Sorry if I seem a little agitated, but I am not one of those who complains about the price of gas while filling up my SUV. If something strikes me as broken, I do not rely on others to fix it, I grab a wrench and do it myself. I do feel bad about the shill incident, though, and I won't jump a suspected shill seller again.


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Post Posted: Tue May 04, 2004 1:31 am 
 

Could this thread possibly be complete without a post from me in it? :roll:

I do not like sellers that attempt to steal others intellectual property. Because Ebay is so slow to react and prefers to hide behind the "we listen only to the copyright holder" shield, I really do not have a problem with others in the Ebay community taking up the challenge to deal with such lawbreakers.

As far as shill bidders, it is an easy thing to accuse someone of but it is difficult to prove. You really have to have an abundence of evidence, compelling evidence, to make the accusation stick. That is why it is far better to to just e-mail those that have been harmed and invite them to this forum to view the evidence for themselves. They can then take whatever action they wish. To try to involve yourself in the bidding has too great of a chance of hurting an innocent person.

-PD

  


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Post Posted: Tue May 04, 2004 1:51 am 
 

We are gathered here today to mourn the passing of our favorite anti-shiller and pdf killer, iluvdnd.

Not many can claim to have known iluvdnd and he had few friends.

In fact he only had one successful Ebay transaction in his entire life, and that, was a piece of shredded shrinkwrap.

We'll never really know what possessed iluvdnd to bid on every illegal collection of pdf files, attempt to shill unscrupulous sellers and attempt to bring order to a cruel and chaotic world.

Some called him 'vigilante', others 'policeman' and still others called him 'bitsy pookums' but that's probably more than you all wanted to know.

Sure, he made mistakes.. sometimes huge whopping mistakes... but overall, his record was pretty good at spotting fraud in this eulogizer's opinion.  Now... he's gone.

Rest In Peace iluvdnd, you'll be remembered, if not even missed occasionally.

:cry:  :cry:  :cry:  :cry:  :cry:  :cry:  :cry:  :cry:  :cry:  :cry:


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Post Posted: Tue May 04, 2004 1:52 am 
 

HURRAY for the Villains and Vigilantes (iluvdnd in this case)!!!
Down with the Whiners!!

ok ok i go to bed now rumble mumble....

  

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Post Posted: Tue May 04, 2004 4:03 am 
 

I heard he has a son............


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Post Posted: Tue May 04, 2004 4:34 am 
 

The easiest way to get rid of PDF or photocopies sellers is to report to WOTC. It has proven to be a fast and reliable procedure.

Sellers who infringed upon copyrights; reported.


- "When the going gets weird, the Weird turn pro."

Hunter S. Thompson (July 18, 1937 - Feb 20, 2005)



  

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Post Posted: Tue May 04, 2004 2:28 pm 
 

While a mistake can happen - and care does need to be exercised - I think vigilanteism is absolutely necessary in EBay and the positives outweigh the negatives.

EBay cannot (and in many cases, does not care to, and in some cases wouldn't, even if they could do so with great ease) police itself.  That leaves it up to the members to do what they can.  

I like the community comparison.

If WotC handles PDFs well, by all means, enlist someone with some serious muscle.

  


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Post Posted: Tue May 04, 2004 3:44 pm 
 

mordrin wrote:If WotC handles PDFs well, by all means, enlist someone with some serious muscle.


Mordrin, I am not sure if I totally understood this (English is a foreign language to me). However, if this means you're looking for someone at WOTC to report to, you may want to follow the link I provided in my previous reply. It leads to the copyright infringement thread, which is well-known by Frank (= Deadlord36 = iluvdnd =pdfkilla), too. One may ask, why Frank chose to wade into these PDF auctions as pdfkilla while there is a legal and reliable method to end such auctions quick and painless, if not to brag on this forum about it.

Same with the shilling auctions. A year ago, Frank was shilling his own auctions. Now he poses as the sheriff of eBay with iluvdnd. Why? Who gave him the right to decide who is a shiller and who not? Who gave him the right to wade into such auctions? It is the sole concern of those who have been shilled.

Someone who seriously wanted to help, would have written those shilled people about the shilling and these (and only these) persons might have decided for themselves to take actions (pull their bids or report to eBay if the auction was already finished).

Of course, such quiet work behind the scenes is not of much use for posing as the big avenger of shilled eBayers.

We all should have learned that vigilante justice works only in Charles Bronson movies and can NEVER be the answer to our problems.


- "When the going gets weird, the Weird turn pro."

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Post Posted: Tue May 04, 2004 5:11 pm 
 

Ah, Ralf, my most vocal anti-supporter..........
Perhaps due to your unfamiliarity with English, you may have misinterpreted this thread as being primarily about shill auctions. I won't discuss shilling, it has been beaten to death a million times over. A single incident, which has no real relevance to the issue at hand here.
Show me the posts where I "bragged", please. Joked, possibly. And reporting PDF sellers merely gets the auction cancelled, IF they manage to act in time. I have tracked these sellers, and their response is to submit another auction. When they get spanked with negative feedback that is impossible to remove (since the auction itself is illegal), they quickly drop illegal sales. Check the track records of the PDF'ers and you will see that I am right. So it IS having a positive effect.
I'm not a sheriff, either. They are elected officials. Vigilante, yes.
As I said before, PDF's affect ALL of us. To be dead honest with you, all I care about is the effect on collection values, mine in particular.
I'm sure WoTC is doing the best they can, and if the operation were entirely under their roof I believe there would be no issue, but it is not. So it is hypocritical for me to complain about PDF'ers when it is within my power to do something about it.


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Post Posted: Tue May 04, 2004 5:33 pm 
 

Vigilantes have a responsibility to ALWAYS be sure they are right, or the mob can turn on them.  I think though, that there are enough 'bad sellers' 'shillers' and 'pdfers' out there that the community does need to act directly and therefore, some are going to act as Vigilantes.

Just have to be careful as Frank learned not so long ago.  If it gets to the point of 'innocent' folks getting harmed any more than RARELY, I'm sure there would be pressure on any vigilante to stop doing what they were doing.

As for official channels being persued, those need to be persued as well but let's face it guys... this is a little niche corner of the collecting / intellectual property universe.  The FBI is not going to care if someone pdf's a bunch of modules or shills their copy of G1... they've got other things to do.

I regret that community policing is necessary but it is. IMHO.

I also don't think anyone should shy away from opposing a vigilante who they think is misbehaving... after all "Who Watches The Watchmen?" (Comic book reference there)....

So Ralf.. keep your eye out for PDfs and make sure Frank stays in line... I'll keep reporting PDFs as I see them and warning newbayers via Email.

The community here will continue to monitor the whole Ebay ecosystem and I'm sure someone will pop up.

One thing I'm willing to bet though... if Acaeum members didn't report and spike these auctions, we would be AWASH in PDFs and SHilled auctions.  It would be worse than it is today by a far shot.

-Jon


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Post Posted: Tue May 04, 2004 5:41 pm 
 

I think what is at issue here is how can we, as a D&D collecting community, police our hobby. Is it right to interject yourself into an illegal auction to prevent the sale of illegal items? I do agree with Ralf that it is best to work within the framework of Ebay and the copyright holders if such an avenue works both effectively and expeditiously. It has been shown that WotC does take this matter seriously and moves rather quickly to have offenders removed.

However, rather than entering into a heated argument, how about we try to establish some guidelines as to if and when a person can take matters into their own hands. We do have a thread for reporting copyright infringement. Perhaps a standard operating procedure would be to have the offending auction posted and when the auction was reported to WotC. If the auction is still there after 24/36/48 or whatever hours, then and only then should someone jump in and try to prevent the successful completion of the auction.

Any thoughts?

As far as the issue of shill bidding, I think we can all see that the only way to deal with such an activity is to simply inform the buyer of the possiblity of shill bidding and pointing them here to the evidence. As I have said, I will be more than happy to volunteer my time to investigate any suspected shill bidding and post the evidence here (both pro and con).

-PD

  

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Post Posted: Tue May 04, 2004 9:11 pm 
 

I think that is a great idea, as long as someone is nominated to keep track of timing and informs me when it is time to step in. I say me because, since I am the one who has actually acted here, I assume I am nominated to be the strongarm. If anyone else wants the position, I'd be glad to forfeit it. The pay is lousy, but the benefits are good.


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Post Posted: Tue May 04, 2004 9:22 pm 
 

That's the spirit. Back into the fray...


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And I could've bought these damn modules off the 1$ rack!!!

New modules for your Old School game http://pacesettergames.com/

Everything Pacesetter at http://pacesettergames.blog.com/

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Post Posted: Tue May 04, 2004 11:05 pm 
 

Okay, but what do we do about BIN auctions for PDFs?  Time is of the essence in those auctions, and if they don't get nipped right away, then the item might be sold by the time WotC responds or our time clock for action expires.

  

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Post Posted: Tue May 04, 2004 11:26 pm 
 

I buy them. Just because I agree to this framework doesn't mean I will not exercise sound judgement, or abandon my opinions.


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