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I'd like some input-- Thoughts on a tool/app that creates a chat box for every eBay seller/item?


RH
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Member · Posted

One of the things that frustrates me and many others is all of the counterfeit or cheap junk you can find on eBay.  Usually you can spot the fake stuff, especially if you're really into a niche like gaming, but we all buy stuff that is out of our realm of expertise.  Sometimes it's hard to find good information.

Also consider that some times you might want to ask questions about items or goods and hope someone, other than the seller, will discuss an item.  You might want to ask what others think about the condition, connect with item watchers, see if someone has the same item in your area, maybe wanting to sell but not ship.  If a seller is inclined, they don't have to be the bad guy.  Having a chat window could be an easy way to strike up a conversation with the seller and get answers more quickly and easily.

I've been rolling around the idea of creating a tool where users create accounts and by either a browser extension or an app for iOS/Android, you can browse eBay and there are chat windows for either the item or the seller, or both, depending on what page you are on.  I know this could be controversial for eBay because they try to tightly control buyer/seller communication so that people can't back door purchase but I don't see this being that big of an issue since the users account would likely be decoupled from the service.  Also, I don't see this being illegal, so that shouldn't be an issue.

So, what do you guys think?  Other than advertising for this service, I don't see any harm in creating it.  I mean, eBay may hate it but I think it could be a nice feature.  Is this a worthwhile venture?  Would you use it or want to use it?  How could I promote it so people would find it and want to use the service?

I would have to have some form of revenue stream because hosting something like this isn't free but, honestly, if it broke even and gave me a few extra bucks each month for video games, I'd be happy.  Anyone have a decent way to do that in the most unobtrusive way possible?  It could be ad bars, or Patreon/donate here buttons.  I'm open to ideas for revenue as well.

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Member · Posted
2 minutes ago, Code Monkey said:

Would the seller also need to have an account on your application or would it use the eBay API to send the communication to their eBay account?

I'm debating on using the eBay API or using a different login tool.  I'd like to make it so that if you use an eBay account, you can be "verified" as the seller in the chat, however, that might break the eBay TOS as an API developer, so I don't know if I can.  Instead, you'd have to trust that someone is the seller, or just message them on eBay and say "hey, did I just speak with you?" and they can verify if it's them.

Regardless, I don't want to create a chat tool with DMing functionality.  In that case, there would be no way for a buyer to give a seller their contact info without making it public.  In that regard, eBay still wins, unless people want to be foolish and post their email address anyways.  Of course, they could just as well say "DM me on Twitter.  ThisIsMyAccountId".

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32 minutes ago, RH said:

I'm debating on using the eBay API or using a different login tool.  I'd like to make it so that if you use an eBay account, you can be "verified" as the seller in the chat, however, that might break the eBay TOS as an API developer, so I don't know if I can.  Instead, you'd have to trust that someone is the seller, or just message them on eBay and say "hey, did I just speak with you?" and they can verify if it's them.

Regardless, I don't want to create a chat tool with DMing functionality.  In that case, there would be no way for a buyer to give a seller their contact info without making it public.  In that regard, eBay still wins, unless people want to be foolish and post their email address anyways.  Of course, they could just as well say "DM me on Twitter.  ThisIsMyAccountId".

The eBay API does allow for OAUTH authentication using eBay credentials and then you can verify it's them but personally I would not use it because I would want all of that seller's communication about an item to be linked to their eBay profile on eBay so I can reference it as legally binding in the event of a legal case. If I open a case against them, eBay needs to be able to go and inspect the communication to make a decision.

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Member · Posted
18 minutes ago, Code Monkey said:

The eBay API does allow for OAUTH authentication using eBay credentials and then you can verify it's them but personally I would not use it because I would want all of that seller's communication about an item to be linked to their eBay profile on eBay so I can reference it as legally binding in the event of a legal case. If I open a case against them, eBay needs to be able to go and inspect the communication to make a decision.

That would make sense, I suppose, or I could have a small disclaimer that any discussion with the seller through outside-of-ebay methods is not legally binding.  I don't know.  It's a small detail.  For now, I imagine I'll just tap into typical means of auth like Google/Facebook/Other OAUTH types.

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Member · Posted
29 minutes ago, Gloves said:

Have you considered how something like this could be used as a tool to backdoor people? 

I get that this is open communication, but I don't see how this is different. In fact, this is "better" than standard eBay communication. Since I'm not thinking about making a DMing system, nor am I going to verify sellers, not only will all communication have to be public, you can't even verify as a backdoor buyer that you are talking to the actual seller.

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Administrator · Posted
6 minutes ago, RH said:

I get that this is open communication, but I don't see how this is different. In fact, this is "better" than standard eBay communication. Since I'm not thinking about making a DMing system, nor am I going to verify sellers, not only will all communication have to be public, you can't even verify as a backdoor buyer that you are talking to the actual seller.

I suppose then, I'm not sure I see the point. 

The purpose is to let people talk to each other about an item on eBay openly, right? You can do that now in a plethora of ways; post here, any gaming forum, reddit, etc.. 

There are a few holes. If it's an extension for instance, your only real method of monetization is something like patreon, or charging for the extension itself (good luck getting user buy-in on the latter). 

If it's an app, you run into typical app nonsense, first of which is its *yet another app* and it has a very specific niche purpose, which relies very heavily on there being many users. 

You'd have to manage how users find content, I'm having a hard time visualizing exactly how you're envisioning people finding content that needs to be replied to, which is also relevant to them. 

Would it be limited to just video games? If so, how would you do so? Do you care at all about items that weren't listed properly (example: a video game posted under board games or something)? 

I don't wanna shit on your thing or anything, I'm just thinking out loud really. Some stuff you may need to consider if you've not already. Naturally I wish you the best if it's something you want to do. I might spitball some more if you're interested in discussing further. 

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Member · Posted
15 minutes ago, Gloves said:

I suppose then, I'm not sure I see the point. 

The purpose is to let people talk to each other about an item on eBay openly, right? You can do that now in a plethora of ways; post here, any gaming forum, reddit, etc.. 

There are a few holes. If it's an extension for instance, your only real method of monetization is something like patreon, or charging for the extension itself (good luck getting user buy-in on the latter). 

If it's an app, you run into typical app nonsense, first of which is its *yet another app* and it has a very specific niche purpose, which relies very heavily on there being many users. 

You'd have to manage how users find content, I'm having a hard time visualizing exactly how you're envisioning people finding content that needs to be replied to, which is also relevant to them. 

Would it be limited to just video games? If so, how would you do so? Do you care at all about items that weren't listed properly (example: a video game posted under board games or something)? 

I don't wanna shit on your thing or anything, I'm just thinking out loud really. Some stuff you may need to consider if you've not already. Naturally I wish you the best if it's something you want to do. I might spitball some more if you're interested in discussing further. 

I really appreciate the hard questions.  First, the basic premise is that I'll pull from the URL query string the item ID and from the seller page, maybe the seller ID.  That way, there can also be a "chat room" for each seller.  I'm not going to do anything fancy like create a chat room for products.  The idea is, if you want to discuss a specific item for sale (or a specific seller) all you have to do is browse to that page, click on the extension icon, and the chat window will pop up.

My #1 issue is that I understand that for a chat service to work, people need to use it.  Each day millions, if not 10s of millions, of items are for sell each day on eBay.  So, I'll need to think of a good way to guerilla market this.  Regardless, if the right communities find the tool and use it, then it could be useful for a niche or two (like videos games and maybe cards) and the active chat rooms will start off as the items that will get the most attention.

After an initial release, I might find a way to have a series of links so "similar" items that already have discussions.  That way people can find active chat rooms, focused on the items they are looking at. This might be a version two of the application.

Regarding monetization, I've considered two revenue streams.  To start out with, I thought about adding a simple button at the top.  It asks, "if you want to support this tool, then consider clicking the button below to apply our affiliate ID.  We will get a small percentage of the proceeds of the sale."  This would be a non-obtrusive way for people to support the service.

Regarding security, first I'll filter out any blatantly dirty words and the like.  I'll want it to be as PG rated as it can get, so it will be accessible.  Regarding hyperlinks, I will not format them.  I'll have a general disclaimer regarding security but if people copy-and-paste hyper links, people will have to manually copy-and-paste them into their browser.

I really am thinking of creating a barebones, simple tool that people on eBay can use to communicate with each other and share info, ask questions or raise red flags of risk for items.  I'm also considering expanding this to other markets like Amazon, Etsy or other places where the public can buy and sell items.  Simply put, I want to create an open communication channel that is directly coupled to the service, as opposed than someone having to go here, or Reddit or any other community.

Again, thanks for your words.  It's best to work through all of these scenarios before investing to much time.  I'm not even sure such a tool could succeed.  Again, my #1 personal question is how would I advertise this?  I do have an idea for an in-app purchase.  Something people would use to both give karma (think Reddit Gold) but also use it for sticky-posts.  If people refer friends, they get free points.  I'm not sure how well that will work, but if you want people to use and share a service, IMHO, it has to be more than a good service.  It also needs to incentive sharing the service.

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