eBay Sniping: Why does it even exist?

For the serious discussion of weighty matters and worldly issues. No off-topic posts allowed.

Moderators: Azrael, Moderators General, Prelates

User avatar
Strilanc
Posts: 646
Joined: Fri Dec 08, 2006 7:18 am UTC

eBay Sniping: Why does it even exist?

Postby Strilanc » Thu Aug 27, 2009 5:36 pm UTC

Ebay supports automatic bidding ( http://pages.ebay.com/help/buy/automatic-bidding.html ), meaning you pay what the second-highest bidder bids. But, if you only pay what the second highest bidder bids, there's no reason to snipe an action. You just bid the maximum amount you're willing to pay.

After you bid, assuming you picked your maximum value appropriately, there is no interaction. It doesn't matter if someone bids against you right away, or just before the auction ends. In both cases you either pay what they bid (which is satisfactory because you were willing to pay more) or lose the auction (which is satisfactory because you weren't willing to beat their bid).

Therefore, an interested buyer gains no advantage over you by sniping instead of placing a normal bid. Why do people do it? Does raising the auction's public price (second highest bid) make it more likely you will pay more or lose the auction?
Don't pay attention to this signature, it's contradictory.

General_Norris
Posts: 1399
Joined: Fri Apr 17, 2009 12:10 pm UTC

Re: eBay Sniping: Why does it even exist?

Postby General_Norris » Thu Aug 27, 2009 5:39 pm UTC

People are more likely to bid if someone already bidded so by bidding in the last second you don't attract as much competence.

User avatar
Nova
Posts: 33
Joined: Mon Jan 28, 2008 5:34 am UTC
Location: Northwestern Missouri, USA.

Re: eBay Sniping: Why does it even exist?

Postby Nova » Thu Aug 27, 2009 6:24 pm UTC

Sniping hides my presence from other bidders, which lowers the perceived demand for the item and can result in a lower final price. On a personal level, I derive deep satisfaction from imagining the look on the face of a low-baller who bids only the minimum allowed, watches the auction for a week and sees nobody else bidding, builds up a fantasy around winning the item for their one minimum bid, and then sees their dream dashed in the final second of the auction.
Caffeine, hormones, and a thirst for vengeance.

guenther
Posts: 1840
Joined: Sat May 17, 2008 6:15 am UTC

Re: eBay Sniping: Why does it even exist?

Postby guenther » Thu Aug 27, 2009 6:30 pm UTC

I used to scoff at the idea of sniping, but that was before I found an article saying that it really works, as measured by observing behavior of bidders. (It was from perhaps ten years ago, so I don't know how to find it today.)

I think the problem is that "maximum bid" is very fluid in the bidder's mind. Perhaps I say that $40 is the most I'll pay, but then someone bids $41. It's not hard to convince myself that $42 is reasonable as well since it's not much more. And then once I'm satisfied that $42 is reasonable, then $44 is not too much higher. This process doesn't go on forever, but in my experience, that's how most people place their bids, and they wind up paying more than they predicted they would have ahead of time.

Now if I place my max bid early in the auction, I've given away information on the maximum amount I'm willing to pay (albeit the info is only revealed if someone outbids me). So if my competitor places a bid that doesn't exceed mine, I suspects he's more likely to pick an even higher price. If I had instead placed an artificially lower bid (i.e. a "max bid" that doesn't really reflect the maximum I'm willing to pay), my competitor would likely have settled on a lower max bid for himself. So then if I time it right, I could place my real max bid at the last minute before my competitor has time to react to it, thus winning the auction, and perhaps at a lower price.

This is the strategy I use today. I still believe in using a firm max bid based on my budgeting constraints, and I won't go a penny over it. But now I wait until the last minute. Handing over extra information ahead of time only hurts my odds, it doesn't help.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

User avatar
Vaniver
Posts: 9422
Joined: Fri Oct 13, 2006 2:12 am UTC

Re: eBay Sniping: Why does it even exist?

Postby Vaniver » Fri Aug 28, 2009 4:14 am UTC

Sniping also reduces total exposure- if multiple people are selling an identical item, I'm better off only bidding on one at a time (since I don't want to win two!), which is best done by sniping (or something close to it).
I mostly post over at LessWrong now.

Avatar from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, owned by Hasbro.

User avatar
karkaputto
Posts: 29
Joined: Fri Aug 21, 2009 4:54 am UTC
Contact:

Re: eBay Sniping: Why does it even exist?

Postby karkaputto » Fri Aug 28, 2009 5:21 am UTC

let's suppose the item is something where the object in question has a widely known price and everyone values it at that price or at least thinks that everyone else values it at roughly the price they themselves value it at (true for many ebay auctions)

now, everyone knows what they are willing to pay (no more than what they would pay for it elsewhere) and they know that everyone else values it at approximately the same price. (suppose the current price of an item is 90. there are two bidders, and both are willing to pay up to 105 for the item) suppose, then, that two people, A and B, bid the price up to 105 immediately. Now, who wins between A and B is pure luck: it is whoever entered in 105 first.

On the other hand, if both bidders do not bid until the end and instead snipe, they both still have the same shot at winning, but now if they both "cooperate" and both try to bid $91 at the last possible moment, the winner is whoever bids $91 last, and the winner is better off, and the loser goes to snipe elsewhere (and is no worse off than he would've been than in the original situation). obviously, there is huge incentive to defect from this strategy and usually bidding starts going up at 5 minutes before instead of 20 seconds before the end of an auction. however, it is not totally unreasonable to expect that two or more people, knowing all this, will wait until the end and make things better off for the winner, which is more or less random whether they snipe or don't snipe. cooperation is easier with fewer people interested in the item, obviously, and although the nash equilibrium here would be to bid the highest price one is willing to pay immediately, "cooperation" is still possible. see the traveler's dilemma thread (in logic games section of these forums)/wikipedia page for an example of "irrational" cooperation.

Rowan_of_Rin
Posts: 43
Joined: Sat Dec 08, 2007 11:58 am UTC

Re: eBay Sniping: Why does it even exist?

Postby Rowan_of_Rin » Sun Aug 30, 2009 8:23 am UTC

Just like all auctions, eBay is all about playing the psychologies of the other bidders, to get something for the cheapest price, or if you are the seller, to sell for the highest price.

Example:
There is an item at $10. Someone sees this item with no bids, thinks "what a bargain" and bids perhaps $18 for it, as subconsciously they assume they will win, seeing as it is only $10 at the moment. If, say, there was already a bid, they would probably think differently, and assume that other bidder has bid more than the starting price. So I would want to make the other bidder put the lowest bid in, but not entering the auction until the last second. Conversely, I have known sellers who get other people to bid on there items, to set a sort of expectation about the final price, meaning people will bid higher, or snipe higher.

User avatar
Kizyr
Posts: 2070
Joined: Wed Nov 15, 2006 4:16 am UTC
Location: Virginia
Contact:

Re: eBay Sniping: Why does it even exist?

Postby Kizyr » Sun Aug 30, 2009 9:54 am UTC

Strilanc wrote:Therefore, an interested buyer gains no advantage over you by sniping instead of placing a normal bid. Why do people do it? Does raising the auction's public price (second highest bid) make it more likely you will pay more or lose the auction?

If everyone put as their maximum bid their true maximum bid, then there would be no point in sniping. But given other people's behavior regarding the maximum bid being less than their true maximum, and given how other people will try to bid up to see what the previous bidder's maximum bid is, it can sometimes be worth it to snipe. (I'm sure there's a complicated game theory equation for this. But basically, sniping is only effective because of other eBay users' behaviors.) Guenther gave a good explanation of this already; I just wanted to highlight how it's the competitive strategy and withholding of information that make sniping sometimes worthwhile.
~Kizyr
Image

achan1058
Posts: 1783
Joined: Sun Nov 30, 2008 9:50 pm UTC

Re: eBay Sniping: Why does it even exist?

Postby achan1058 » Sun Aug 30, 2009 5:05 pm UTC

My 2 cents:

The thing is, even if e-bay has a perfect design that will disfavour anyone who did dishonest bids and what not, the players don't necessary know or trust the mathematics behind it, and hence play inferior moves. Of course, unless someone punish their moves enough, they are not going to be able to tell the difference between an optimal and a suboptimal move. Given that most people on the internet are not mathematicians, one can usually get away without being punished too heavily, or in fact at all, so they do not learn about how bad their moves are. Furthermore, perhaps strangely enough, once suboptimal moves are played, suboptimal moves by the other player are sometimes required to maximally punish the original bad move.

General_Norris
Posts: 1399
Joined: Fri Apr 17, 2009 12:10 pm UTC

Re: eBay Sniping: Why does it even exist?

Postby General_Norris » Sun Aug 30, 2009 10:03 pm UTC

A good reason is that the average bidder has money but doesn't trust his knoweldge of the item so they flock towards what others thought was fine.

For example if I want to buy a NES I'm not sure if it's in good condition or working but if other bidders choose a certain NES it will be fine.

User avatar
Azrael
CATS. CATS ARE NICE.
Posts: 6491
Joined: Thu Apr 26, 2007 1:16 am UTC
Location: Boston

Re: eBay Sniping: Why does it even exist?

Postby Azrael » Mon Aug 31, 2009 2:05 am UTC

*surreptitiously points at the fact that this topic is in SB*

Some posts removed.

User avatar
Strilanc
Posts: 646
Joined: Fri Dec 08, 2006 7:18 am UTC

Re: eBay Sniping: Why does it even exist?

Postby Strilanc » Mon Aug 31, 2009 4:52 pm UTC

Based on what people have said, I believe it comes down to the fact that ebay reveals the second-highest bid. This reveals some information about the highest bid, which author bidders use to their benefit (and your detriment).

In order to truly make sniping irrelevant I believe it would be necessary to hide *all* bids, possibly including the minimum price, until the auction ended. That makes snipes equivalent to normal bids.

Unfortunately, I don't think people would like so little feedback on the progress of an auction.
Don't pay attention to this signature, it's contradictory.

achan1058
Posts: 1783
Joined: Sun Nov 30, 2008 9:50 pm UTC

Re: eBay Sniping: Why does it even exist?

Postby achan1058 » Mon Aug 31, 2009 6:30 pm UTC

Strilanc wrote:In order to truly make sniping irrelevant I believe it would be necessary to hide *all* bids, possibly including the minimum price, until the auction ended. That makes snipes equivalent to normal bids.
Not true, if everyone is a perfect mathematician. There are systems which not bidding your true price is never going to be optimal, at least that's the info I have gotten from the graduate seminars in my school. All we need to do is to ensure that people who don't bid the true price is punished enough.

User avatar
Zamfir
I built a novelty castle, the irony was lost on some.
Posts: 7604
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:43 pm UTC
Location: Nederland

Re: eBay Sniping: Why does it even exist?

Postby Zamfir » Tue Sep 01, 2009 12:21 pm UTC

Strilanc wrote:Based on what people have said, I believe it comes down to the fact that ebay reveals the second-highest bid. This reveals some information about the highest bid, which author bidders use to their benefit (and your detriment).

In order to truly make sniping irrelevant I believe it would be necessary to hide *all* bids, possibly including the minimum price, until the auction ended. That makes snipes equivalent to normal bids.

Unfortunately, I don't think people would like so little feedback on the progress of an auction.


The question is what eBay wants to accomplish. To some extent, ebay bidding is an amusing game. I once got a weird tick to buy neckties on eBay, and I bought 6 or so just for fun. I even wear some of them, so the money wasn't entirely wasted, but the process of looking for potential bargains, bidding, looking to see what happened, the mild excitement when the auction was about to end made it fun to do. Without that, I suspect eBay would get a lot less business.

Another point is Vanivers remark: you can't bid for several items at the same time if you only want one. So even without sniping, it doesn't make sense to bid more than a few hours before the closing of the auction. And if you can get no indication whether your current bid is high enough, you have to wait for an auction to finish even if you are bidding way too low. So in a system without indicated current price, you would still only bid at the last moment, since otherwise you might have to wait a long time only to find that you never had a chance anyway.


In short: ebay is not just an auction where people know they are interested in a particular item. It is also a shop, where people look around for stuff they didn't knew they wanted. it has to cater to that too.

User avatar
SunAvatar
Posts: 206
Joined: Sat Dec 15, 2007 3:36 pm UTC
Location: Austin, TX
Contact:

Re: eBay Sniping: Why does it even exist?

Postby SunAvatar » Tue Sep 01, 2009 4:14 pm UTC

The problem with eBay is that one auction may end at a lower price than another. I may be willing to pay up to $100 for a widget rather than have no widget at all, but if I can get a widget for $85 then I will not pay $100.

Since there are multiple chances to snag an item on eBay, I am loath to bid $100. What if I end up winning the item at $95, while there is another auction closing at $75 or such? In practice, I'm better off just bidding $100 and taking my chances, assuming the luxury of spending my time on other things is worth at least $20 to me---but the thought of the lost money seems more tangible than the thought of the lost few hours, and so I end up doing the irrational thing unless I make an effort not to.

Enter snipers. Since most people won't make an effort and thus will do the irrational thing, it follows that most people are not bidding their true valuation. Thus by bidding his own true valuation at the last second, the sniper can often receive the item for less than its "true" value (i.e. the value that others would be willing to pay rather than go without).
Non est salvatori salvator,
neque defensori dominus,
nec pater nec pater,
nihil supernum.

snet
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Sep 13, 2009 7:51 am UTC

Re: eBay Sniping: Why does it even exist?

Postby snet » Mon Sep 14, 2009 6:20 pm UTC

guenther wrote:I think the problem is that "maximum bid" is very fluid in the bidder's mind. Perhaps I say that $40 is the most I'll pay, but then someone bids $41. It's not hard to convince myself that $42 is reasonable as well since it's not much more. And then once I'm satisfied that $42 is reasonable, then $44 is not too much higher. This process doesn't go on forever, but in my experience, that's how most people place their bids, and they wind up paying more than they predicted they would have ahead of time.


sounds like poker when youre playing a conservative player once you get them in low they can convince themselves to put just one more dollar on a 5 dollar bet and then it just snowballs from there.

tahrey
Posts: 94
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2008 9:48 am UTC

Re: eBay Sniping: Why does it even exist?

Postby tahrey » Tue Oct 06, 2009 1:22 pm UTC

In my own personal case... it's complicated. It helped me score my motorcycle for one thing.

If items on there are somewhat of a commodity status, plenty of them, at a price where I don't much have to think about the purchase, there's no point (plus, they tend to be "buy it now" these days). Unfortunately a lot of what I use eBay for are things that I either can't source, or can't afford through other channels. Which often means they tend to be rather limited supply. Competition is tight. So is money. In order to get the thing you want/need, within budget, and within a sensible timescale, you have to raise your game. Throw morals to the wind somewhat. If you don't, some other bugger will, so you have to sink to their level to make sure it'll be someone else crying into their discount beer at the end of the day.

I agree that it's partly psychological. You remove the impression of competition somewhat. I had it done to me on a few cycles... after taking the time to have gone view them, etc. (Learner-legal machines that aren't utter dogs, heinously expensive, or brand-new chinese tat that will fall apart in 6 months are like gold nuggets here in the UK... and I eventually found mine)
Even the sniper is drawn in somewhat. You have a certain budget, and you know from observation and the "blue books" what a realistic lower price is for one that isn't either a/ actually rotten, b/ an incredible fluke that leaves the seller crying into their drink. The aim of the game is to pay as little as possible, as you're only doing this because you're poor. So, once other auctions for similar items are out of the way, you put a low bid on, testing the water, seeing if anyone else is interested, seeing how high it'll go. You get outbid by a couple of guys. You're more certain it may be worth having, and that you'll have to pay closer to the true value. Put on a higher bid that could secure it if the other bidders aren't just dicking around, then go away and leave it awhile. Maybe check in from time to time. See what happens. See that the others do want it, but are bidding up cautiously, and it takes some repeats until they outbid you. It's unlikely the maximum they've put on is all that high. They want it, but their available budget is less than yours. Maybe only by a few percent, but they're obviously not squandering. If they'd put that higher price on first, you'd maybe now be the high bidder, but you'd have got there quicker. So they may have incremented it a little at a time, seeing how much they have to stretch themselves over what they're comfortable with in order to eke you out. 25.... 50.... 60... 70, and they've got it. Maybe they've added a little extra on top, putting themselves 100 over their original "comfortable" budget figure but still vaguely within their max.

Wait.

Closer to the ending time, come back. See if there's been any advance. Consider what you're really happy with paying for the thing, vs your budget, and all the other costs that may come with. Be brutal with yourself.
But it's enough. And it'll blow the current top bidder out of the water, with little time to react. They'll have to let it go.

60 seconds. 30. 20. 15.... Do it. (10) Type in the absolute max you'd pay without kicking yourself for overdoing it. Hit enter. (8) And then on the "are you sure". (6) Pray that the internet gods don't throw congestion in your way. (4)... the page refreshes. You're the current top bidder, and not so much higher than the previous one, though it's not by the minimum... someone else also bid. Let's see how badly THEY want it. (2). Hit F5. Still highest. No change. (1) And again.

Winner.

Oh yeah. I got my thing. And I'm not broke. And I don't have to waste yet more goddamn time going to view another one, and going through the whole bid thing again.
There's several other bidders listed, on the official bid history. A litany of people who don't quite understand how it works, having put in their one maximum - and unrealistically, naively, over-optimistically low - bid and then left it to run (or were other people in the same position as yours who forgot, or couldn't come back, or changed their mind when seeing that ANYONE else was bidding...). One nearly-ran who was themselves maybe too nice, or too naive, or just slightly too broke to afford it (and will have to console themselves with the more rusty one you put one speculative minimum-price bid on then ignored) although they otherwise played the game well. And one other similar sniper who didn't go quite as far out, didn't have quite as fast a browser... whatever. They almost ruined your shit, but didn't succeed.

Get on to the seller, do all the normal stuff, relax, have a cup of tea, high-five the mirror.

Done, done, onto the next one. You've got leathers, boots and gloves to buy, after all, and the potential saving there is arguably a lot more than for the machine itself. Wash, rinse, repeat.
(Doesn't matter that they're 2nd hand and a bit whiffy. They'll be full of your own sweat soon enough. But go to an actual bike shop for the helmet. Some things you HAVE to do right)

And on similar occasions for an old but decent laptop, or hard to source parts, or...
But don't bother with it for the ol' 3.5" bay card reader, the MP3 FM transmitter and all that guff. Not worth the effort. Pay the man his still-quite-low asking price, get the thing, everybody happy.

Some of this may be dumb inexperience. I've only got the 30 feedback so far over 5+ years (not that many things bought, but many bid on and viewed)... but I'm not an eBay whore. I make use of it as an incredibly valuable tool for those things that regular channels fail to deliver, or overcharge on. You have to know how to play it to best exploit that. Even with the "short" history, it's probably saved me £1500 or more... If I was actually regularly buying genuinely rare, valuable things, instead of being a scroogey scavenger (occasional chinese PC part or wierd fluffy thing from UFOCatcher excepted), the sniping would be an even more powerful tool in the armoury. You've seen how real-life auctions work, where someone HAS to have a thing, and will serially bid up against a "rival", even when the stakes get to stupid levels. eBay exploits the "internet effect" to get rid of some layers of the interpersonal reaction. The other guys may get into a bidding war, if you respond to them........ so to keep the price realistic after all is said and done, you have to cool it. Wait it out. Don't give them anything else to bid against. Prematurely putting in the maximum you would ACTUALLY pay for it gives them that stimulus, a thing to beat, almost for the principle of beating it rather than securing the item. Let them stew. THEN when it's too late to start a bidding war, put in your limit. Maybe you'll still be beat. But just maybe, you'll get that priceless artefact for your own, and without some other herbert(ha) getting into a hormone-fuelled monetary spat with you that jacks up the price.

After all, you may want to resell it, and who likes doing that at a loss? ;)

tahrey
Posts: 94
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2008 9:48 am UTC

Re: eBay Sniping: Why does it even exist?

Postby tahrey » Tue Oct 06, 2009 1:34 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:The question is what eBay wants to accomplish. To some extent, ebay bidding is an amusing game. I once got a weird tick to buy neckties on eBay, and I bought 6 or so just for fun. I even wear some of them, so the money wasn't entirely wasted, but the process of looking for potential bargains, bidding, looking to see what happened, the mild excitement when the auction was about to end made it fun to do. Without that, I suspect eBay would get a lot less business.


Kind of like http://xkcd.com/576/, but with the interactive fun of a casual browser-based videogame...

achan1058
Posts: 1783
Joined: Sun Nov 30, 2008 9:50 pm UTC

Re: eBay Sniping: Why does it even exist?

Postby achan1058 » Tue Oct 06, 2009 2:04 pm UTC

tahrey wrote:*snip*
The only reason that this happens is either because you, or your opponent, fails to understands the mathematics behind it, or let emotion cloud your judgement. If your opponent bid his true maximum at the beginning (ie. the amount which if he goes over, he will drop), then sniping is entirely useless, and it gives the sniper a rather big frustration.

User avatar
Zamfir
I built a novelty castle, the irony was lost on some.
Posts: 7604
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:43 pm UTC
Location: Nederland

Re: eBay Sniping: Why does it even exist?

Postby Zamfir » Tue Oct 06, 2009 2:43 pm UTC

achan1058 wrote:The only reason that this happens is either because you, or your opponent, fails to understands the mathematics behind it, or let emotion cloud your judgement. If your opponent bid his true maximum at the beginning (ie. the amount which if he goes over, he will drop), then sniping is entirely useless, and it gives the sniper a rather big frustration.

The emotions are clearly a large part of it, but you are missing some points.

Given that ebay biddings are more or less binding offers, why should you not put in your offer at the last moment? If you put it earlier, you risk finding a better buy and still having to buy this one. Of course, this doesn't mean you should put in your offer in the last 10 seconds, but putting in a high offer earlier than say the last hour is not smart.

A second point is that, as tahrey notes, researching ebay items is 'costly' in itself, both in time and effort. Especially if you visit people. The trouble here is that you do not know whether an item was worth researching until you have done the research. So if you find out that an item is worthwhile, you do not want to signal that to others by bidding a serious amount. This too doesn't require split-second sniping, but it does mean not bidding till the end of the auction.

So, for both reasons you are not bidding your full amount till late in the auction. Then why not go the extra step and bid in the last few seconds, to prevent others from raising their bid on emotional grounds?

User avatar
BlackSails
Posts: 5315
Joined: Thu Dec 20, 2007 5:48 am UTC

Re: eBay Sniping: Why does it even exist?

Postby BlackSails » Tue Oct 06, 2009 6:44 pm UTC

There are a few ways that Ebay could end sniping, very resonably.

1) Give only approximate times for the end of the action

or
2) Make it so auctions dont end until X time after the last bid, or when the seller ends it, whichever comes first.


Im sure there are many more methods.

User avatar
Yakk
Poster with most posts but no title.
Posts: 11129
Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2007 7:27 pm UTC
Location: E pur si muove

Re: eBay Sniping: Why does it even exist?

Postby Yakk » Tue Oct 06, 2009 8:18 pm UTC

Suppose you bid the most you will bid.

Someone else looks at the item, at 10$, and says "I don't know how much I'd bid, but I would pay at least 15$ for this", and they bid 15$.

ebay automatically transmits the information to this poster that 'sorry, someone else is willing to pay more'.

So every ounce of effort you put into figuring out your max bid is easily available to later bidders. They don't have to determine (and expose) their max bid -- they just have to decide if they are willing to spend more than what is currently displayed.

If you instead snipe, you reduce the amount of information you give out.

Now, such sniping can be as simple as putting in your max bid at a fraction of a second before the bid closes (and letting ebay work out how much you should pay), or a crawl upwards towards the right value.

Similarly, imagine if there are N people. One person not in that collection has put in their max bid of 100$. Each of those N people are willing to spend up to 150$ for the item, but would rather pay less.

One of them does a ramp up to 101$ before hand (doesn't matter which). Now everyone knows that a bid over 101 is going to only compete against snipers.

They can build a model of what they think other snipers are going to bid, then bid probabilistically based on that model and maximize their probability * (cost-utility) ratio. This quite easily doesn't involve bidding 150$.

...

If ebay didn't publish any bidding behaviour, and calculating your max bid was free, then ebay's system would 'find the right price' without anything like sniping.

But once early bidders bid information leaks, and it costs effort to find your max bid, this gives early bidders a disadvantage.

achan1058 wrote:The only reason that this happens is either because you, or your opponent, fails to understands the mathematics behind it, or let emotion cloud your judgement. If your opponent bid his true maximum at the beginning (ie. the amount which if he goes over, he will drop), then sniping is entirely useless, and it gives the sniper a rather big frustration.

Yes, if everyone else plays ebay while ignoring the information leak, and finds calculating the max price they are willing to spend on an item utterly free, then sniping is pointless.

Neither of these things are reasonable models of reality.
Blacksails wrote:2) Make it so auctions dont end until X time after the last bid, or when the seller ends it, whichever comes first.

I like a system where the min bid-up amount grows as you approach the end of the auction.

So 1 week before the min bid-increment 0.1$. 1 day before it is 5$. 1 hour before it is 15$. 1 second before it is 100$.

This can be a function of the current price of the item.

This gives an advantage to people who bid earlier on an item, thus leaking information about how much the item is worth. In exchange, they get a smaller bid increment.
One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision - BR

Last edited by JHVH on Fri Oct 23, 4004 BCE 6:17 pm, edited 6 times in total.

User avatar
Bhelliom
Posts: 275
Joined: Wed Jun 18, 2008 1:30 pm UTC

Re: eBay Sniping: Why does it even exist?

Postby Bhelliom » Tue Oct 06, 2009 8:48 pm UTC

Yakk wrote:
Blacksails wrote:2) Make it so auctions dont end until X time after the last bid, or when the seller ends it, whichever comes first.

I like a system where the min bid-up amount grows as you approach the end of the auction.

So 1 week before the min bid-increment 0.1$. 1 day before it is 5$. 1 hour before it is 15$. 1 second before it is 100$.

This can be a function of the current price of the item.

This gives an advantage to people who bid earlier on an item, thus leaking information about how much the item is worth. In exchange, they get a smaller bid increment.


YES! This would destroy those ass-hat eBay snipers! Let it be done!
"Eloquently Blunt"

guenther
Posts: 1840
Joined: Sat May 17, 2008 6:15 am UTC

Re: eBay Sniping: Why does it even exist?

Postby guenther » Tue Oct 06, 2009 9:02 pm UTC

But why would ebay want to stop the sniping? They've got a nice and simple system that people keep using despite buyers grumbling.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

User avatar
Yakk
Poster with most posts but no title.
Posts: 11129
Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2007 7:27 pm UTC
Location: E pur si muove

Re: eBay Sniping: Why does it even exist?

Postby Yakk » Tue Oct 06, 2009 9:31 pm UTC

guenther wrote:But why would ebay want to stop the sniping? They've got a nice and simple system that people keep using despite buyers grumbling.

Because I know about sniping, and cannot be bothered to set up a system to snipe, and am uninterested in buying from ebay where sniping exists.

I want to use ebay to buy things, not play bidding games. The current system is great if you want to play games.

I'm aware that ebay is now a conservative creature, because it doesn't want to mess up its own success. So ebay is unlikely to risk changing.
One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision - BR

Last edited by JHVH on Fri Oct 23, 4004 BCE 6:17 pm, edited 6 times in total.

achan1058
Posts: 1783
Joined: Sun Nov 30, 2008 9:50 pm UTC

Re: eBay Sniping: Why does it even exist?

Postby achan1058 » Tue Oct 06, 2009 11:15 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:So, for both reasons you are not bidding your full amount till late in the auction. Then why not go the extra step and bid in the last few seconds, to prevent others from raising their bid on emotional grounds?
The risk involved with your ISP and lag is a good reason.

Anyways, I like Yakk's idea very much.

MrGee
Posts: 998
Joined: Sat Jun 14, 2008 9:33 pm UTC

Re: eBay Sniping: Why does it even exist?

Postby MrGee » Wed Oct 07, 2009 12:16 am UTC

Some factors I see:

-Bidding your max on every auction runs the risk of overcommitting your resources if you win them all, as Vaniver said. Frustratingly, sniping compounds this problem because the price of your auctions are likely to skyrocket at the last second. Vicious cycle, but might be overcome with a smarter bidding agent?

-People, being lazy and bound by physical limitations, cannot calculate their true value easily. It is more efficient in computation time to bid a sum that is definitely lower than your true value, and then refine your calculations if that value is exceeded. This also implies that, as an auction approaches the maximum bids of the participants, the calculation becomes more difficult and bids will asymptotically approach the maximum true value. Therefore, you can guess that someone is nearing their true value by their bidding behavior.

Note that this does NOT help you win auctions for less money! It just explains the apparent phenomenon of hand-entered bids. In fact, you are really saving your OPPONENT money if you give up when you sense a determined bidder.

-However, you could also view sniping as collusion, which does save money. All bidders tacitly agree to bid, say, half their true value. If everyone does, the results are the same and the winner saves money. Of course, the equillibrium is not Nash, so all those who are outbid plan to defect. Now, if you plan to defect against someone, you should do it at the last second so that they don't have a chance to defect as well and recapture the bid. And yet, you want to defect (outbid) by as little as possible to save at least some money. Hence, you would expect a flurry of tiny bids toward the end of the auction, which is exactly what is observed.

The reason you feel anger toward these snipers is that they are breaking your tacit agreement to collude. Plus the Blue Balls Effect.

cleverdan
Posts: 56
Joined: Sat Feb 23, 2008 5:41 am UTC

Re: eBay Sniping: Why does it even exist?

Postby cleverdan » Thu Oct 22, 2009 4:54 am UTC

Would this system work:

Bidding is always extended 5 minutes after the posted closing time, and you are only welcome to bid in that last extra five minutes if you had previously bid upon the item. That way, you would be able to have a chance of counterbidding against snipers.

I anticipate it would work?

User avatar
TheSkyMovesSideways
Posts: 589
Joined: Thu Oct 02, 2008 8:36 am UTC
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Contact:

Re: eBay Sniping: Why does it even exist?

Postby TheSkyMovesSideways » Thu Oct 22, 2009 5:26 am UTC

cleverdan wrote:I anticipate it would work?

People would just throw in a low bid early, then snipe at the end of the extra 5 minutes.

Besides, I don't think it's necessary. If you enter the maximum amount that you are willing to pay, then the only way someone (even a sniper) can outbid you is if they bid more than you are willing to pay. And that's how auctions work. :)
I had all kinds of plans in case of a zombie attack.
I just figured I'd be on the other side.
~ASW

htbeef
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed Sep 16, 2009 6:17 pm UTC

Re: eBay Sniping: Why does it even exist?

Postby htbeef » Fri Oct 23, 2009 10:59 pm UTC

Bid sniping works in many cases. Here's why.

In many cases, people (for whatever reason) don't bid what they are willing to pay for it. If that is the case, then placing a bid in at the last second against this person reduces the amount of time the first person has to re-evaluate their bid. The end result is that you can end up winning the auction for less money. Here's an example played out with, and without bid sniping.

With bid sniping:
Auction for whatever. Current price is very low (say $5) and no one has bid on it yet. Person thinks the most they'd pay for it is $40, so they enter a bid for $40. 10 seconds before the auction ends, someone snipes (bid $45) and the price goes to $40.50. Auction ends and the sniper wins the auction. The person is upset, realizing that they would have payed another buck to win the auction.

Without sniping:
Auction for whatever. Current price is very low (say $5) and no one has bid on it yet. Person thinks the most they'd pay for it is $40, so they enter a bid for $40. A second person bids $45. The price on the auction goes to $40.50. The first person sees this and thinks, well, I COULD pay $41 or $42 for it, and enter the bids. Price goes up to $42.50. Person realizes that $43 is just too much more then what they are willing to pay, and the second person wins the auction for $42.50

In both cases, the second bidder (the "sniper") enters in the maximum amount they think they are willing to pay. But, in the sniper situation, only pays $40.50 (instead of $42.50). Clearly, there are situations where sniping results in winning an auction for less money. Now, how often does a situation like this arise when bidding? I contend, more often then you might think. So, even if you (the bidder) have a more accurate understanding of what your true maximum bid is, it is smarter to only enter that in at the end so that the person you are bidding against does not have time to re-evaluate their own maximum bid (as in many cases, it is not really the MOST they'd pay for the item).


Return to “Serious Business”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 10 guests