eBay Debuts Member Reviews and Guides

Rob Hof

E Bay Logo

The online marketplace today rolled out a test site for member reviews and product guides. Good idea. I'm sure I'm not the only person who has browsed eBay for a product, like a digital camera, only to veer off to Amazon.com (which has had reviews and "Listmania" guides for years now) to get the skinny from real folks. And I also have to think I'm not the only person who then noticed that Amazon had the same thing, new, at a pretty similar price from a brand-name seller, whether it be Amazon or one of its retail partners.

The only surprise is that it took so long for eBay to do this. Given the transitory nature of eBay listings, it may have a tougher time integrating reviews with product listings as seamlessly as at Amazon, which generally has pretty consistent inventory. Still, it's a natural for the site, which is already built largely on the contributions of its members.

In fact, eBay may have an advantage over just about any other site: Its members already have built-in reputations through their feedback ratings. Granted, they're not for their reviewing prowess or expertise on a particular topic, but they are likely to be a decent proxy for whether people know what they're talking about.

I do wonder whether the growing number of sites that essentially ask their users to offer up valuable content--from Amazon and eBay to Wikipedia--might eventually lead to contribution fatigue. Or maybe there's a limit to the number of people with the time or the psychological need to demonstrate their knowledge to the world. Guess we'll find out soon enough.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.