What’s the deal with eBay bidders with ID’s like x***x?

December 29, 2010

imageI’ve always wondered why it is that when I bid on certain items, I see other bidders with bidding against me with names like x***x or 1***1 or j***3.  I mean, I used to bid against individuals. 

Now I was getting the feeling that I was bidding against robots or automated auction snipers or something… what’s up with that?

IT’S A POLICY THING
Well, after doing some digging the answer apparently lies in a policy change eBay made a ways back around displaying eBay identities during auctions.  In an effort to protect legitimate bidders from other shady individuals who might violate their privacy as a way of influencing the auction process, they started anonymizing people’s eBay IDs during auctions in the auction history after the bid goes above a certain level.

At the top of the bid history page for an auction, it reads:

“To help keep the eBay community safe, enhance bidder privacy, and protect our members from fraudulent emails, eBay has changed how User IDs display on the bid history page. Only you and the seller of the item can view your User ID, all other members will see anonymous user IDs, such as x***y."

In other words, these individuals with x***y have real IDs but they’re just masked.  Not really a big deal.

INTERESTING?  OR UGLY?
The more I read on this topic on the Internet however, the deeper the rabbit hole seemed to go. 

It seems that professional eBay bidders used to study their competition and look at their past histories for what they bought – particularly for determining just how far another person would be willing to pay and whether they really needed the item.  Kinda like a poker game.

Other participants might retaliate against bidders when the get angry over legitimate auction competition resulting griefing, online threats, etc.  Some people sounded like they were actually hunted down by competitors on auctions because they outbid them.

Some sellers specifically list their auction as “private” however the auction is still discoverable during eBay searches.  When people bid on “private” auctions no bidder’s identity is ever revealed, even after the auction is over.

Apparently all this caused a huge uproar a year or so ago – so much so that some people started writing petitions, organizing eBay strikes, etc.

Me?  I just wanted to buy a stupid Tron DVD and just stumbled on all this drama.  Sheesh.

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