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EBay has pulled an auction in which the entire staff of ZDNet's Tech Update were available for sale.

Personnel included three staff in San Francisco and seven in Boston, and touted the group as "formerly a vital division of one of the top ten highest-trafficked sites on the Web, currently available to instantly implement professional Web site or print magazine. Bi-coastal staff has familiarity with information technology issues, HTML, Vignette, and AP style."

"Resumes available to highest bidder. Bidders should be prepared to make a total annual commitment for salary and benefits in the high six figures."

A spokesperson for Ebay told us that the listing fell foul of a technicality.

"We do advertise professional services," he told us. "But the reason we removed it was that it contained wording that made it appear that there was a price to be determined. It appeared that winning bidder would have to determine what the individual would be paid."

Gallows humor from insiders, or a prank? The debt-laden tech behemoth, which had run up $2.4 billion in accumulated deficits last fall, employs 1,500 staff and laid off five per cent of its workers a fortnight ago.

"I've no idea," editor-in-chief Dan Farber told us, although he suspected that it may be former CNET staffers.

So the mystery continues.

Bidding had reached $8.50 when eBay pulled the plug. Which is a bargain indeed, if it includes Dr Bonkers.

At that price, I would have been tempted to put in a bid myself, possibly topping $9, if only to lead the new recruits down to The Edinburgh Castle for a long, complex and unbelievably dangerous Register initiation ceremony. But by the time I woke up, it was gone. ®

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