The Politics of Sniping
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Post Posted: Thu Aug 12, 2004 3:07 pm 
 

Issue #2:  Sniping



Since people are being so gentlemanly … and since we're having soooooo much fun …

:lol:



I thought I'd throw out that ol' classic of catastrophic collector contention:  Sniping!



First off:  It's not against eBay policy.  Here's the official stance.

">>Someone bid on an item I was bidding on at the very last second and won it! Is this allowed?"

"Yes, it is.  Within the eBay Community, this practice is called "sniping" and it means to place a high bid in the closing seconds of an auction-style listing.  As frustrating as it can be to lose an item you really wanted, sniping is part of the eBay experience, and all bids placed before a listing ends are valid - even if they're placed only one second before the listing ends.  One way to help avoid disappointment is to ensure that the maximum bid you enter on the item page is the highest price that you're willing to pay. The eBay system automatically increases your bid up to the maximum price you specify, so entering a higher maximum may help prevent you from being outbid in the closing seconds of a listing."



Personally, I'm a Sniping Rat Bastard.  I "tag" items usually within 24 hours of their posting.  Then my bid magically goes in 3-7 seconds prior to auction end.  The only thing I don't like about this is I sometimes end up outbidding people who are also bidding on my own items.  D'oh!



My argument is that nothing can really be "sniped."  You can get a great deal on an item, yes.  But if you bid too low, the item always goes to the highest bidder.  Sniping is not cheating, because the time of bid entry is irrelevant; you simply offered more than the other guy was willing to pay.  The lesson is to always enter your maximum bid, once, and then leave the item alone.



The problem (which I'm sure we've all experienced!) is that if you commit full-on too early, people can roughly guess your maximum amount if they know you well enough.  And you will be outbid very frequently.



The solution, if you don't want to invest in sniping software, is to use the Watch List feature, and bid only in the last few seconds.  It's the same thing as automated sniping, but you have to be there to enter the bid.



So … is sniping ethical?  Immoral?  Too fun for words?  An abomination upon the face of the earth?



Let the games commence.  I'm going to go clean up the pizza sauce from my last round of battle.

:)

  


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Post Posted: Thu Aug 12, 2004 7:34 pm 
 

Sniping is fine.  Ebay's system practically begs for snipers.



It's fine for this reason... Everyone can snipe.  Snipers LOSE as often as they WIN by that strategy since Ebay will always resolve any 'proxy bidding' loops it has even if it's at the last second.



Snipers are making a bid in a competitive marketplace.  They are placing a bid while an auction is going on.  If they win, they outbid everyone who had bid already anyway, so the seller wins.



If I place a bid higher than yours, you may decide to bid harder just because you know I want something and thus 'make me pay' or you may think that I've noticed somehting about the auction that others have missed. (That happens ALL the time in the "Recent Fun Finds" Thread).



If Sniping hurt the process than all Ebay would have to do is change its software so that bidding continues for 5 minutes after the last bid after time expires.



If you get burned by snipers, consider this... You're not bidding enough. Snipers can't shill/pump or do anything to your bid.  If you don't want to snipe, Bid what you are willing to pay for an auction and be done with it.



Good topic... but not as good as the 'types and quality of shrinkwrap used in the early days" thread of a few months ago.  That was a classic! :D


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Post Posted: Fri Aug 13, 2004 8:12 am 
 

Sniping is fine, in the sense that it doesn't raise the final price, or cheat others out of a fair chance to bid on something.  So it's ethical.  It's not terribly moral.



The problem that I have with sniping is that it is very demotivating for newbie eBayers (like me) to have something "ripped away" in the final minutes/seconds.  Often I bid on something, have the high bid for several days, and end up losing because I don't stay up all night watching my auctions close.  



Snipers LOSE as often as they WIN by that strategy since Ebay will always resolve any 'proxy bidding' loops it has even if it's at the last second.





True, so why snipe?  It's clearly done so that the original bidder doesn't have a chance to "respond".  Place your counter-bid days/hours ahead, as well, and save me the trouble of getting my hopes up...



Maybe if eBay only accepted one bid per person per auction...

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Post Posted: Fri Aug 13, 2004 8:24 am 
 

Sniping has a chance of keeping the auction prices down.  For me thats a good thing since I am unemployed.



As was said if you cant be there when the auction ends it is foolish not to bid what you are willing to pay.



In any case, most likely people that bid at the last second are not going to enter a bid for more than they are willing to pay as well, but sometimes a little gambling takes place.  I remember my early days I bid on an old toy atthe last few seconds, i put a ridiculously high bid in because I figured it was going unnoticed and it was a sure win.  Well all it took was another "sniper" with the same idea only my bid was higher.  I got stuck paying $175 for something that was good for parts.  Never again. :)



On the other hand throwing an early bid in can attract schilling too.





deimos3428 wrote:Sniping is fine, in the sense that it doesn't raise the final price, or cheat others out of a fair chance to bid on something.  So it's ethical.  It's not terribly moral.



The problem that I have with sniping is that it is very demotivating for newbie eBayers (like me) to have something "ripped away" in the final minutes/seconds.  Often I bid on something, have the high bid for several days, and end up losing because I don't stay up all night watching my auctions close.  



Snipers LOSE as often as they WIN by that strategy since Ebay will always resolve any 'proxy bidding' loops it has even if it's at the last second.





True, so why snipe?  It's clearly done so that the original bidder doesn't have a chance to "respond".  Place your counter-bid days/hours ahead, as well, and save me the trouble of getting my hopes up...



Maybe if eBay only accepted one bid per person per auction...


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Post Posted: Fri Aug 13, 2004 8:51 am 
 

deimos3428 wrote:Sniping is fine, in the sense that it doesn't raise the final price, or cheat others out of a fair chance to bid on something. So it's ethical. It's not terribly moral.  




Deimos3428 - I hear sentiments like you mentioned many times.  I can not fathom how sniping can be viewed in such a way.  To me, it seems, eBay has set rules that everyone is aware (or should be aware of).  Winning an auction is like winning a game - you play within the rules an do what it takes to get the victory.



To put it in another perspective:  if you were playing Chess with someone and they made a poor move that left them vulnerable you wouldn't question the ethics or morality of taking advantage of their mistake, would you?  And if the person were a beginner?  Well, if you were already kicking their ass, you might let it go so as not to embarrass them, but if they were actually theatening to beat you, you can bet you would take advantage.



Or for a more "tough guy" comparison:  If a football team is down by 1 point with two minutes to go and the ball on their opponents 15 yard line and the opponent has no "time outs" left.  Do you kick a quick field go and let the opposing team have the ball back with 1 min, 45 sec or do you run the clock down to 3 sec. and kick field goal so the game ends with your kick (one way or another).  It's just like sniping - using the rules to the best of your advantage and winning/losing at the buzzer.



deimos3428 wrote:

The problem that I have with sniping is that it is very demotivating for newbie eBayers (like me) to have something "ripped away" in the final minutes/seconds. Often I bid on something, have the high bid for several days, and end up losing because I don't stay up all night watching my auctions close.


Don't worry about "Newbies" - eBay is here to stay.  They will learn to swim with the bigger fish - or they will suffer many defeats.  Don't be disheartened yourself - I am positive that there is nothing that you want on eBay that won't appear hundreds of times within the year.  Be patient - if there is something that you need right away - well, then sometimes you have to pay more (or wait and try to snipe).



Even when I was a Newbie, I was "sniping" and didn't even know what that was.  I got into it to collect comicbooks - despite the decent sized collection I have, there are thousands of comics I want.  What is the point of even looking for one and watching it?  I might only have $50.00 to spend (or less!).  I would just check to see what was ending soon - if I looked good I would bid at the last second - if not, then I would chose something else.  I couldn't risk tying up a Max bid of $20.00 here and $20.00 there for two days in advance. . .  I would have no cash if I won everything and nothing to show for it if I didn't win any of them!



It's not just eBay - winning at the last second is an inevitable consequence of having a timed event.  It happens in sports, games and any time of "competition".  I guarantee you that all suggestions I have heard on alternate ways of ending an auction or "elimating sniping" are flawed and if they were implemented, then equally "distasteful" (in the eyes of some) practices would surface.  There are always "loopholes" in the system.  There are always ways to best make a battle plan.  



As far as I'm concerned?  If there is something I really want, you had better make sure that your max bid is more than I'm willing to go, because I have a cable internet connection and up 3 browser windows open and ready to go.  I can get my bid recorded with 3 sec. to go (though 8 sec is better, just in case your max is a couple of pennies over mine, I can get in with another bid to cover the new minimum).



Of course, I never use "sniping software".  Where is the fun in winning unless you do it yourself!  Sometimes, my heart actually pounds loud and the adrenaline flows in the last few moments. . . it always a rush to win something you really want!  (And there is no "rush" in checking your email an hour after the auction to find out you won - it's all in the "sniping" baby!


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Post Posted: Fri Aug 13, 2004 9:03 am 
 

Could be my Marine Corps mentality, but if someone does not take every precaution and use every advantage to win, regardless of the challenge or venue, then they deserve to lose. I am not advocating cheating, but the current eBay system monitors cheating, so that is not an option anyways. Well, unless you're Gay Emporium.

BTW, has anyone made the connection that "Sarah" (supposedly "helping" James) has the EXACT SAME WRITING STYLE as he does? This guy has MPD. I already alerted eBay that I expect his account to be disabled. If I don't hear back by next week, to court we go.


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Post Posted: Fri Aug 13, 2004 10:15 am 
 

Deimos3428 - I hear sentiments like you mentioned many times. I can not fathom how sniping can be viewed in such a way




It's called "sour grapes", DUH.  :wink: With a little idealism thrown in for good measure.




Winning an auction is like winning a game - you play within the rules an do what it takes to get the victory.





I don't think winning an auction is like winning a game, that's I suppose where our philosophies diverge.  I think "winning" an auction is a horrible misnomer used for marketing purposes (and way to go marketers, it's very pervasive!).  Since we don't agree on that base point, arguing further won't do much good.  



Basically, you're of the opinion that anything that doesn't break the rules is valid.  That's an ethical argument, and a correct one.  The moral argument is that just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should do something.  This is also correct.



As far as I'm concerned? If there is something I really want, you had better make sure that your max bid is more than I'm willing to go, because I have a cable internet connection and up 3 browser windows open and ready to go. I can get my bid recorded with 3 sec. to go




Your cable internet connection and 3 browser windows cannot save you all of the time.  While that is quite impressive, I have an extremely low latency internet backbone connection @ 1 Gbps.  I do not have much time/money/desire to snipe, however.

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Post Posted: Fri Aug 13, 2004 10:59 am 
 

deimos3428 wrote:Basically, you're of the opinion that anything that doesn't break the rules is valid. That's an ethical argument, and a correct one. The moral argument is that just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should do something. This is also correct.




Hmm, that is interesting (and I don't mean to get too philosophical), but who is my moral obligation actually to?  Is my moral obligation to another potential buyer who I do not even know?  Maybe my moral obligation is to the seller - I know that I will pay for the item instantly (this "other" buyer may never pay and thus by "sniping" and I am not only giving the seller more money, but guaranteeing him a sucessful transaction.).



My moral obligation could be to eBay - since I want the item, I owe it to them to bid as high as I am honestly willing to pay.



My obligation could be to the collecting community - if I win a high grade Amazing Spider-Man, I am confident in my abilities to preserve it in the current condition as long as I own it.  Another buyer might be careless and let it get damaged.



Just some thoughts on the ambiguous nature of morality.



(Oh, and sorry If I sounded too pompous in my previous post)

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Post Posted: Fri Aug 13, 2004 11:05 am 
 

Sniping also prevents other collectors from seeing what you are bidding on until it is too late. Thereby perhaps drawing less attention to the item.



I admit, I occasionally check the bidder list for eyeamgawd to see if he is bidding on anything interesting I may have missed.



I do not like sniping (it is bad for my blood pressure) but it is a necessary evil.

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Post Posted: Fri Aug 13, 2004 11:17 am 
 

Hmm, that is interesting (and I don't mean to get too philosophical), but who is my moral obligation actually to? Is my moral obligation to another potential buyer who I do not even know? Maybe my moral obligation is to the seller - I know that I will pay for the item instantly (this "other" buyer may never pay and thus by "sniping" and I am not only giving the seller more money, but guaranteeing him a sucessful transaction.).



My moral obligation could be to eBay - since I want the item, I owe it to them to bid as high as I am honestly willing to pay.



My obligation could be to the collecting community - if I win a high grade Amazing Spider-Man, I am confident in my abilities to preserve it in the current condition as long as I own it. Another buyer might be careless and let it get damaged.



Just some thoughts on the ambiguous nature of morality.





Good questions, too, and I won't try to answer them for you, as it comes down to personal world view.  I hope I didn't give the impression that sniping is something I'd never do, because I certainly would, given the chance.  I do think it's mean/cruel/wrong/awful/slimy/etc.  Does that make me more or less evil than the guy that doesn't think it's wrong?  :twisted:

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Post Posted: Fri Aug 13, 2004 11:45 pm 
 

Here we go with the sniping thread again.



If you do not participate in sniping, you will rarely get the most desirable items listed on Ebay.  Live with it and participate, it is fun and brings some challenge to this hobby!!


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Post Posted: Fri Aug 13, 2004 11:56 pm 
 

Think of it another way...has anyone reading this post ever been at a real auction?  



The seller decides what he wants to start the bidding at.  The auctioneer starts rambling prices.  One person bids...another...another...the first person bids again...and the routine develops into a classic game of chicken.  If you go into a "real" auction without determining how much you are willing to spend, you can really outbid your checking account.  Then again, you may get one heck of a deal.  It's just the luck of the draw.  



Granted, a real auction ends when no one else is willing to up his "snipe"!!!



The things one needs to know before placing a bid are:



1.  What is the item.

2.  Is the item genuine.

3.  What is the item worth.

4.  What are you willing to pay for the item?

5.  Is there anyone in the crowd that hates you enough to outbid you or upbid you enough that you will lose the auction or at least spend the maximum you were willing to bid (or more if you are baited into a bidding war)?

6.  Is Frank Ferris in the crowd with a fake ID?

7.  What will your wife do if she finds out you bid on the item!?



From there, place your maximum bid and leave the auction alone!  You might get lucky and get the item for far less than you were willing to pay...you might lose...you might win at your maximum.  I would be willing to bet that after following these steps, the average of these three will be...hmmmmm...right around 33.3% for each item after all is said and done.  



But most importantly, someone above noted that the patience is the key.  The item, no matter how rare (unless an unique item...and even then they may be resold) will be listed again!!!  Use the tools Ebay give you and watch for keywords.....



All the best...


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Post Posted: Sat Aug 14, 2004 12:30 am 
 

Sniping is good because you have up until the last minute to change your mind!  LOL!



When you bid early on something, if another similar but better item comes along, you sit there hoping someone outbids you on the inferior item.  Sniping software also allows you to watch more items than ebay does.



Snipe or be sniped.  It's that simple.


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Post Posted: Sat Aug 14, 2004 6:47 am 
 

morgansurname wrote:Think of it another way...has anyone reading this post ever been at a real auction?




I was at a real auction a couple of weeks ago.  There was an item I was interested in.  So, from the back of the hall, I watched/listened to two bidders arriving at what one of them thought was the final bid.  Going once, going twice.  Then I step in and up the ante.  Auctioneer asks if there are anymore bids.  I can see the previous high bidder in a discussion with his partner.  Meanwhile the hammer comes down as the auctioneer wants to move on to the many other lots for sale.  My late bids destroys the opposition.  :D   Sniping in action in the real world!



To be honest, I couldn't believe that there wasn't a counter bid as the price was still relatively low.  But I can only assume that I took the other bidder by surprise.



morgansurname wrote:Granted, a real auction ends when no one else is willing to up his "snipe"!!!




So, sniping can work in real auctions.  And there is also a very definite time limit.  If the auctioneer has hundreds of lots to get through he won't waste too much time waiting for you to think whether you want to bid again.  The auction ends when the auctioneer decides that he has waited long enough for another bid.  This might be 30 seconds at the start of the day.  But it might only be a few seconds at the end of the day which can be a good time to pick up bargains.

  

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Post Posted: Wed Sep 01, 2004 11:05 pm 
 

Now, I am a defender of sniping...but...

I just got blasted off an R1...by an Acaeum member no less...

So much for honor among thieves... 8O  :D


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

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Post Posted: Wed Sep 01, 2004 11:14 pm 
 

Gee, that is the Acaeum member who won mine and hasn't paid me for it yet..... Nor has he e-mailed me after an offer for a Tamoachan and Inverness that I could have gotten in a lot fell thru. Looks like I'll give it till tomorrow and offer it to the highest bidder.
Now that I think of it, bbarsh, do you want mine if the second bidder doesn't? I have R2 as well.


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