Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Mass hysteria at eBay!!!!!! Everything is GREAT!!!!!!


Anyone who's done any buying of stuff on eBay knows that, if you pay for what you've won within a couple of days of winning it, you automatically qualify as a

FANTASTIC BUYER!!!!
with
LIGHTNING FAST PAYMENT!!!!!


This is how 90% of eBay sellers rate their customers after a successful — maybe "uneventful" would be more accurate — sale of an item. Everything is in CAPS and dozens of exclamation points.

Imagine if this was standard operating procedure at, say, Sears. You go to buy a dishwasher, or a wrench, or a pack of socks. You take the item (except for the dishwasher) to the cash register. The clerk reads the total price that you can plainly see on the register's digital display. You hand over a check, or a plastic card, or even actual money.

"OMG THANK YOU SOOOOO MUCH!!!!!
FANTASTIC BUYER HERE, EVERYONE!!!!
A++++++++++++++++ RATING!!!!!
NO PROBLEMS AT ALL WITH THIS ONE!!!!!!!!!
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!!!!!!
PLEASE COME BACK AND SEE OUR OTHER ITEMS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
WONDERFUL DOING BUSINESS WITH YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


In the real world, you would run out of Sears in terror, and you'd never go back because the clerks there are all insane. But on eBay, screaming hysterics are... normal.

Interestingly, buyers tend not to rate sellers this way. Buyers calmly write rational things like, "Item arrived in great shape and was packaged well" or "Thanks, I am happy with this purchase." (Okay, most ratings actually read more like "itm arivde in grate shap & was pckged wel" and "tks, i m hapy w/this perchus.") Then they give the seller five stars — and immediately duck and cover, because they know that a barrage of exclamation points and screaming caps will be raining down on them any second after the seller sees the positive rating.

Maybe eBay would like to give each of its sellers a free copy of Strunk and White's Elements of Style, with a particular page marked that reads:

Do not attempt to emphasize simple statements by using a mark of exclamation.

And notice how that rule ends: with a period.

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