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eBay to thwart spammers

Bad for trade, the company finally observes

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It took ages and hundreds of thousands of complaints, but auction site eBay has finally lifted a finger towards discouraging the low-life spammers who trawl their site sucking up e-mail addys to add to their victim lists.

The company has now developed a scheme (simple enough to have been implemented ages ago, but we digress) to conceal the e-mail addresses of those offering goods. As things now stand, any registered user can learn another's e-mail addy merely by clicking on a seller's or a bidder's user name.

eBay will shift to a CGI form pictured here which will forward the bidder's e-mail to the seller, but not reveal the seller's e-mail addy unless s/he should reply to the bid.

Altruism is hardly the chief motivator here; according to the Associated Press, eBay has been losing its cut of the action when the seller and bidder, aware of each other's e-mail addys, conduct a sale privately after meeting on the site.

eBay's networks will be used to forward the messages, but the company assures us that they will not be monitoring the contents. To discourage private sales off site, the company will be including a little plea in its new CGI form, reminding us to play nice.

"Solicitations to buy or sell items outside of eBay violate eBay rules and are not covered by services that protect members such as feedback, insurance, escrow, and dispute resolution. If this is an offer to buy/sell items outside of eBay, please do not participate."

Whether that will suffice to discourage auction abusers is anyone's guess; but so long as it thwarts or at least inconveniences spammers, we're all for it. ®

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