What do you think?


So this morning I received a comment on an older entry from Zobovor, who was apparently the person who sniped an auction way back in April that I, Evebird, and obviously others were bidding on.

I don't have the links anymore and quite frankly I don't remember much more of the event other than what I posted.

Primarily he took offense at my animosity to the use of eBay sniping software and people who use it.

Now I'm opening this up to all of you out there because from previous comments and emails many of you have also implied how much you disdain sniping software as well.

For those geeks into this insane collectible crap, do you think auction sniping software is ok to use? Do you use it? If so, why? If you don't use it, why not?

I'm curious about what you all have to think on the matter.


Speaking as someone who has lost countless auctions in the last few seconds because of sniping software i think that people who use said software should be given a thousand paper cuts and then skinned alive, covered in salt and then left in a forest to be the next lunch of the Jabberwock...

On a more serious note, it annoys me because as far as i'm concerned using sniping software goes against the whole concept of an auction...

Never used sniping software and never sniped someone in the last few seconds of an auction because i strive to be a better person than that...

While the guy seems sincere and I can sympathize with his long search for this piece, I can't get behind the use of said sniping software. I have been sniped lots of times and it really pisses me off when I'm sitting there in the last seconds and the item gets snatched away by these artificial bidders. With any other auction venue a real live person has to do the bidding on site. Ebay should be analogous.

I'm of two minds on this one. I agree with Superconductor... but I also think we live in a culture of automation, and the tools for integration and automation exist because people want them.

But, I HATE IT. I hate sniping software. I hate getting sniped. I'd rant more coherently, but I'm in need of coffee, and without sleep.

Perhaps I can google for something that states my position in better terms.

Oh, and I suppose you could use the argument "everybody else uses is, why shouldnt i?" but really, do you wanna be that guy? While it's not illegal, it is shady.

While I often try to manually snipe an auction, I don't like the idea of software that does it for you. It's one ting to care enough to be there when the auction ends, it's another to have a robot in disguise as you do it.

On the other hand, if people used ebay properly and bid what they were willing to pay instead of "50 cent increments" then it wouldn't be so bad. This is part of why I don't mind so much being sniped. Generally I've already put in my max bid a day before be it 2 dollars or 50 dollars.

PS, Zob repaints a lot of Starscream PVCs. Wouldn't it be crazy ironic if he bid on that Ghost of Starscream to turn it into some generic seeker repaint. I doubt it for 88+ bucks though

There must be a glimmer of guilt, otherwise why feel like a general rant about being sniped is a personal attack?

Of course, your earlier post occurred long before the now, when you've been repeatedly told YOU ARE NOT MY DAD WHO ARE YOU TO TELL ME ABOUT MY TRANSFORMERS AND WHAT I SHOULD DO WITH THEM WHO DIED AND MADE YOU MICHAEL BAY? Now you know better.

Bad Nala *figuratively rubbing your nose in shit*

BTW, here in America they're called TRANSPARENT PHANTASM STARSCREAM PVC. Get it right next time.

On a related note, I've long believed ebay should continually extend auctions for say, 5-15 minutes, maybe even an hour, for each bid within the last 5 minutes, so long as people are still bidding. Make it more like a real auction. This would render sniping software essentially useless so long as you had someone on the other side still watching.

Personally, I can't come up with any sound moral objections. It does smack of unfairness, but if the only reason it's unfair is that, as better people, we've agreed not to resort to such means, I don't think I can quite convince myself that my gut feeling (sniping BAD!) is anything other than an expression of the desire not to be sniped. I guess I don't have a firm feeling on it either way--I don't think it's wrong, but it certainly seems unsporting.

That said, I would actually prefer it if eBay would do something to make those sorts of tactics unnecessary, if not counterproductive. Sniping strikes me as an artificial and unnecessary by product of the eBay process.

Re: RJ's first comment -- I fail to see how bidding in 50c increments on eBay is any different than bidding in small increments in real life at an auction. Everybody wants to pay the least they can, no matter if they're WILLING to pay more. Just because I'm willing to pay $80 for an item doesn't mean I want to pay any more than I have to.

Re: RJ's second comment -- I love this idea.

People are going to be pricks no matter what. Even better when they can be pricks to anonymous people. . . above and beyond the general sniping software debate, it comes down to if you're going to use sniping software, don't be upset when someone you sniped starts calling you names. "Goodness me, such language! All I did was something ethically unsound likely to evoke bad feelings from those victimized! Why such bitter feelings?"

Sniping software ... bad. I loathe getting snipped on eBay ... happens all the time.

Software is not inherently evil; it's just a tool. The real issue lies with the act of sniping - a problem that eBay not only refuses to fix, but actively refers to as "All part of the eBay experience!"

Yahoo Auctions - so popular in Japan - use exactly the system described above: any bid increases the auction length by a period of several minutes. Furthermore, you can't game the system with fifty cent increments, because the higher the price goes, the higher the minimum increment.

I'm sure eBay have their reasons for maintaining this particular status quo; they might not be good reasons, at least from a consumer perspective, but I'm sure they have them. Maybe their engine is too broken to fix?

I don't think that many people use sniping software. I bed that there are many people like me that just don't bother bidding until a few seconds before it ends. It is not software, it is just being patient and not losing cool and thinking you *have* to put in a bid minutes before the auction ends.

I didn't know there's auction sniping software until I read this. If this type of software reads other bidder's max and act, then it seems wrong and I don't plan to use it.

I have only made several puchases on Ebay through manual bids. I don't feel comfortable enter a high number with my bid and expect to pay less, so I try to watch the cost in the last minute, when all the bids actually come in, then decide whether or not to enter a bid based on the cost factor.

I can't stand sniping software, and I'll even use an analogy to explain why.

Pretend you're at a live auction. Bidding has been going for some time on a multitude of items--the one you're after is the last one left, and almost everyone else is gone. You can taste the excitement, you've been waiting--WAITING--for this moment. All day you've been here, just in case that thing went early. Finally, it's up, and you bid. There are a couple of other people there, and bidding is fierce, but at the same time you all recognize that you're simply there, after the same thing. Then, some asshole's BUTLER shows up, out of nowhere, having just walked in out of the rain, and outbids everyone present, walking out with the item for his employer, who couldn't even be bothered to make an appearance himself.

Is it definitively wrong? No, it's perfectly within his right to do so. Is it an assault on sensibility, decency, and fairness? Yes. Frankly, it's simply rude.

I don't like the concept, but then again I'm one of those people that believes in making one or two bids, period. Basically, I think about what it is that I want, put a price tag on it and bid, and then I just let it ride. If I'm outbid outright, well then, it wasn't meant to be.

I think I've had more experience with this as a seller, watching my lots end, and most of the time it's stolen in the last couple of seconds. I end up feeling bad for the person who had it for days, but then again, it's just stuff right. Besides, it's eBay, there'll always be another up soon enough if you're patient.


The debate on sniping is hilarious. What exactly is wrong with setting up a robot to bid? Remember, the sniping software isn't stopping anyone from outbidding the sniper, it's simply storing their highest bid for inclusion in the auction at the last possible second.

True, sniping software certainly allows a sniper to beat a non-sniper who values an item at roughly the same price, but if the market is that tight, the non-sniper should be bidding higher to ensure they get what they want, when they want it. If they can't be bothered, there are usually dozens of similar auctions going off a few hours later.

In fact, the real value of sniping software isn't to beat the people willing to pay less, that would have happened regardless of when the bid was made by the sniper. The real value is in avoiding the countless unethical auction posters that use shill accounts to take early bidders for a ride.

In the last month alone, we've had three transactions "canceled" by Ebay due to the seller accounts being shut down due to shill bidding. In each case sniping software was used, and in reviewing the bids, no one was even close to the final bid....in short, if you want to win the auction, simply bid higher than the snipers and non-snipers...THAT, and not sitting around hitting refresh is what Ebay is all about.

I can see this debate making sense if sniping software flat out stopped other people from bidding, but you can all use this tool to ease your auction flow, so stop thinking with your emotions and start thinking with your pocketbooks.

Faust X

I use a sniper tool (its free and places the bid during the last 10 seconds of the auction.) I used to HATE getting sniped in the closing seconds of an auction. If people would just use ebay the way its SUPPOSED to work and put in the maximum amount they're willing to pay and leave it alone, it wouldn't be as bad and I'd not use a sniping tool. You could just enter your maximum bid and be done with it. You could see if the current high bid was more than you wanted to pay and just move on to another auction. I use a sniping tool because:

1)I want to be able to play on an even playing field with those people that have faster than dial-up access. Its a pain in the arse to hit re-load and have to wait 5 minutes while the page does so. Getting something faster than dial-up is not an option for me, unless high-speed becomes available in my area at a comparable price. (Currently, it is not.)
2) If an auction closes late night/early morning or over the weekend, I don't want to be parked in front of my computer watching the close of auction. I'd rather be watching MST3K re-runs.
3) Its just fun to say you "sniped" something.

I wish eBay worked like a regular auction and auctions didn't close as long as bids were still being received. Do I feel bad for the guy that has been the high bidder for three days and gets picked off at the last second? Sure. But that guy used to be me.


Really? Jesus christ. That guy used to get really really tired of my brilliant comedic stylings back in the day on a.t.t.

I don't know why people even bother with traditional uses for ebay anymore. it's not an auction site, it's a bunch of shit for sale with jacked up buy-it-now prices, gouging on shipping, and general bullshittery.

that being said, I'm probably gonna throw all my alternators up on there soon.

-hx, don't suppose you or anyone else here is interested in a complete set of the Wal-Mart Dinobots, eh?

Not to sure what to say that hasn't already said elsewhere here, so I'll just say that I think sniping is cowardly and wrong. Here are a couple of blog posts I've written on the matter, which I've taken a little flak for, but I still stand by the words.

hoop: i can't imagine a world where anybody really ever wants the Wal-Mart Dinobots.

That being said, I own a set.

Sniping is psychologically damaging.

Here's what happens (and why "bid your maximum amount" is crap advice):

You see an item on sale Monday morning at 10am. It's opening bid is a dollar. It could be a Grimlock you've thought about off-and-on for a few years, it could be an ugly-ass piece of jewelry you've stumbled on out of boredom. Hell, I'll pay ten dollars for that, you think, and so you place your max bid of ten dollars.

Fast-forward to a few hours before the end of the auction. You receive an email that someone's outbid you. Hell, you think, I have an auction going? So you go to check it out, and sure enough, there's that ugly-ass piece of simulated Grimlock you thought you'd throw ten dollars on. But someone in the world is willing to pay ten fifty for it. Weird.

And this is when it happens: the tingle that runs up the back of your neck. The sudden, unexpected realization that YOU WILL DIE UNLESS YOU HAVE THAT ITEM, AND YOU WILL NOW PAY ANYTHING, INCLUDING BODY ORGANS, TO HAVE IT.

So now you are chained to eBay. You HAVE TO HAVE THIS ITEM. The only possible reason for your obsession is because SOMEONE ELSE WANTS IT MORE THAN YOU. But you also really didn't want to have to pay more than your original ten dollars. Money's tight. You have to pay bills. But right now your immediate need of this item is more important than even air. So you sit in front of the computer, increasing your bid fifty cents at a time (sometimes adding an extra cent to fake them out), repeatedly hitting refresh, counting down the minutes until IT WILL BE YOURS.

The muscles in your arms are tense. You're starting to sweat a little. You feel like you do when you've consumed way too much coffee: shaky and nervous and your bowels are going to explode but you have to hold it in because there are only a few more seconds and then it's yours and you can go on with life.

And then someone comes in and swipes the item out from under you.

And before you melt in your chair in a release of tension, you check the account of the person who swiped you, and it's someone who owns an eBay store that will eventually turn around and resell the item with a higher minimum bid.

Thus you are left with the realization that all people everywhere suck, life is not a bowl of cherries, and yes, you may have saved yourself a few bucks, but you got all worked up into a lather for absolutely nothing.

Which reminds me, I haven't looked for a Zen Xtra in a while. I'll be on eBay.

Very, very well put Kelmeister.

I can't count how many times I've through through the "I've been sniped on eBay syndrome".

Typo on previous post: should read: " ... I've been through the ..."

Don't buy that much on eBay, don't use sniping software, been sniped, and have made many last minute bids manually. I think Ramenjunkie had it right - any bid should automatically give other bidders 5 or 10 minutes to counter. No decent live auctioneer would close an auction with active bidding, and eBay is doing a huge disservice to their sellers by basing everything on the clock.

I use a sniping program, and I think it is essential based on how eBay auctions are run.

Really, the reward for waiting to bid until the final seconds of an eBay auction serves only the bidder. As much as people might not like to admit it, we're all in it for the cheapest deal possible. And the sellers are also looking to get the highest dollar amount possible for each item, so they want the bids to be numerous.

I used to play the game as a previous poster had mentioned...you could wait an entire week watching an auction, thinking that you were actually in the running to win it. But nope, you're competing with other people NOT to see who will spend more, but who gets a higher number in at one specific second on one specific day. We're to a point where the only seconds that matter in the auction are the last three. Which is good. I don't need to really be tempted to bid an extra hundred bucks on something in the panic of losing it...setting a snipe makes you really think about how much something is worth to you and not getting caught up in buyer's panic.

I've been to real auctions, and those were so much worse when I was bidding against another person who was sitting right across from me, and I know he is getting mad as I run the prices up on him, and I am getting mad as he keeps countering me until I have no more money to bid on the items.

So, put me down firmly in favor of sniping.

The only thing I have to add to this discussion is that if I had the luxury of staying at home, sitting in front of my computer to watch the conclusion of auctions I'm bidding on, I'd probably just do that. The vast majority of auctions I'm interested in, though, seem to end during the middle of the day (when I'm at work) or the middle of the night (when I'm asleep). It's in my best interest to bid as close as possible to the end of the auction, of course, but obviously I can't always be there to do it myself.

I guess I could just ask a friend to watch the auction for me, and tell them to keep outbidding people until the price reaches x dollar amount. In practice, though, isn't that exactly the same as employing sniping software for the same purpose?


kelmeister: It's like you've read my mind. I've had that EXACT same experience probably a hundred times.

Maybe that's the real reason I use a sniper tool, to keep from having an aneurysm.

All's fair in war and robots I say. Heck, I outsniped Zob back in 2000 to win a bag of broken Megatron. It happens. At the very least the thrill of losing to the snipe generates interesting blog fodder.

I thought it funny that Zob's keyword search led him here. I wonder if he googled "fuckers who sniped me on ghost Starscream". Guess what the number one result on that is.

I was late in the game on getting a cable modem, and I lost countless auctions in my time because I didn't have the necessary computer requirements to become a legitimate ebay buyer. Ebay is absolutely not an auction house by any means. I snipe constantly, I really do. As a collector, I believe its your absolute duty to do so, to the point that I get mad at people who bid days ahead of time, because they're only driving up the price that I'll eventually have to pay. Now I do have a certain moral code, I don't believe in sniping software. When I snipe manually, I'm the guy settign his alarm clock to get up in the middle of the night or risking my job at work to check an ebay auction and bid, I take it seriously because when it comes to your crack of any type, if you really want it you should fight for it. And when was the last time in your entire life you saw an absolutely fair fight? Boxing has weightclasses and they're always tilted one way.
So no to sniping software, but if you take your collection seriously and are willing to put in the work to snipe, I say go for it. In the end as a collector your number one goal should be getting it for the cheapest price.

sad but I think its true. feel free to debate me, I'm always open to hear other opinions. so far though it sounds like a lot of people are sore because they lose to snipers. so did i, and it sucks. but i was there in the last few seconds and the guy who supposedly wanted it more wasn't.

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This page contains a single entry by Nala published on August 1, 2007 7:53 AM.

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