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Students Embarrass eBay With Firefox Add-On

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the doing-it-right dept.

Mozilla 269

An anonymous reader sends along a posting from the Grooveking blog on a group of Stanford students who got together to help promote Firefox and ended up releasing a long overdue eBay Toolbar for Firefox before Mozilla and eBay could release their jointly developed extension in Europe. Mozilla's COO said the preemptive release of the eBay Toolbar had ruffled some feathers among European eBay execs. "Besides basic search features, it removes external ads on the site and allows users to see thumbnail pictures on ALL search items, even those sellers didn't pay for. An eBay toolbar has been long overdue... eBay can't be too enthusiastic about this toolbar since it cuts directly into its main sources of revenue: ads and thumbnail fees. But eBay users get a really good deal."

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FP! (-1, Offtopic)

nocomment (239368) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135287)

FP!

Re:FP! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19135391)

Fascist Pedophile?

Makes sense of this slogan (5, Insightful)

Southpaw018 (793465) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135327)

Certainly reinforces the Spread Firefox group's original slogan: Take Back the Web.

Re:Makes sense of this slogan (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19135451)


ACs are modded -6. I don't read you, I don't mod you, I don't see you. Don't like it? Don't be a coward.

This topic was submitted by an AC. Why did you read this post and why did you reply to it?

Re:Makes sense of this slogan (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19135615)


This topic was submitted by an AC. Why did you read this post and why did you reply to it?


This reply was read by an AC. Why did i read this post and why did i reply to it?

Re:Makes sense of this slogan (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19135661)

There are plenty of reasons people may post anonymously. It may have nothing to do with being a "coward". Some of us actually don't live on slashdot and come by here now and then only when we have time. Sometimes very interesting comments pop up from the AC's. Refuse to read it, your loss. But I notice the poster above me has already been modded "troll" for pointing out a very obvious fallacy in the parent...

Re:Makes sense of this slogan (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19135543)

... until Ebay forces viewers to view the ads or the page won't load properly (as do some sites). Here's hoping that doesn't happen..

Re:Makes sense of this slogan (4, Funny)

cdrudge (68377) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135919)

I have plenty of bandwidth. I just don't want to see the ads. Maybe Firefox can load them and display them on my /dev/null monitor.

Re:Makes sense of this slogan (1)

kwanbis (597419) | more than 7 years ago | (#19136467)

so, are you ready to pay for content? cause its either adds that pay, or you pay for content. Someone has to.

Re:Makes sense of this slogan (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19136525)

I'm ready to pay for any site I can't live without. So far that's not a single site.

All well and good, but... (3, Funny)

6Yankee (597075) | more than 7 years ago | (#19136141)

Sure, Firefox can take back the Web.

But only Internet Explorer can hold back the Web.

Re:All well and good, but... (2, Funny)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#19136355)

...down.

The last word didn't make it through, so let me add it for you.

Nice. (4, Interesting)

silentsentinel (1067234) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135347)

Suck it, Ebay. Stop trying to hamstring your sellers. Your costs were exponentially lower when you were born, making more money doesn't entitle you to start charging more money for no real reason.

Prices on Ebay (1, Funny)

MM_LONEWOLF (994599) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135553)

I wonder what when the pictures of these students will somehow mysteriously show up on ebay, with rewards for eliminating these enemies of a global conglomerate.

Re:Nice. (3, Insightful)

r_jensen11 (598210) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135729)

making more money doesn't entitle you to start charging more money for no real reason.

No, but throughout the majority of the world (even China is adopting it), supply and demand does. If the demand for ebay's services increases, why shouldn't they be able to match demand with an increase in price?

Re:Nice. (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#19136057)

Why should they be able to increase prices? Their costs are presumably better than linear(because software pretty much works that way, and their service is basically custom software+a big pile of hardware). If I had something to sell, I wouldn't really care how many bidders their were, as long as there were enough; people in China are not going to bid on my goods.

Re:Nice. (4, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135883)

Your costs were exponentially lower when you were born, making more money doesn't entitle you to start charging more money for no real reason.
You're absolutely right, eBay having higher profits doesn't entitle them to charge more for no reason.

Being a business allows them to charge more for no reason. Don't like it? Don't use them.

I don't know why people feel that companies have to justify price increases with some rationale of higher costs for them. Companies do that to make purchasers feel better, but the truth of the matter is that companies (regulated industries aside) can charge whatever the hell they feel like for what they provide. EBay is not in business to make $x profit per transaction; they are in business to maximize $x.

Re:Nice. (5, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | more than 7 years ago | (#19136107)

They're allowed to charge whatever they feel like in much the same way that I'm allowed to be a total asshole. Yeah, it's allowed in a free society, but that doesn't make it good or smart.

Trying to maximize profits at the detriment of your own customers is common practice, and that's largely why so many things are completely screwed up. The world would be better if people were willing to settle for an honest buck, a modest profit, instead of screwing over everyone as far as they're allowed with no consideration for the ramifications.

Re:Nice. (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#19136513)

Trying to maximize profits at the detriment of your own customers is common practice, and that's largely why so many things are completely screwed up. The world would be better if people were willing to settle for an honest buck, a modest profit, instead of screwing over everyone as far as they're allowed with no consideration for the ramifications.
Well, that's a debate about capitalism. Some would argue that your system is inefficient, and would therefore not make best use of resources, and would therefore result in less for everyone.

From a personal standpoint, I'd agree with you -- to the extent that customer goodwill has value that I'd equate to whatever profit I'm not getting by charging more.

As for not considering the ramifications, I don't think that's the problem. I think the problem is that it's impossible to quantify certain ramifications, like customer goodwill, so they are undervalued when large companies do pricing studies.

To get back to the best use of resources and companies maximising profits -- absent huge barriers to entry and unfair business practices, new companies will step in if there is a profit to be made. That's the incentive to enter an industry; so if eBay is making a killing, then a competitor who charges less should be able to enter the field and compete for our business. That leaves us with two competitors (and therefore likely enhanced service as they comepte on levels other than just price) along with better pricing. If eBay just makes a middling profit, then there is no incetive for a competitor to come in.

Re:Nice. (1)

minus_273 (174041) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135999)

Suck it, Ebay.

Stop trying to hamstring your sellers. Your costs were exponentially lower when you were born, making more money doesn't entitle you to start charging more money for no real reason.
um yes they have a reason. They want more profits. That is a valid and real reason. They also have every right to raise rates as they like. It is private business.

Re:Nice. (1)

MM_LONEWOLF (994599) | more than 7 years ago | (#19136075)

Is it, or is it just another company designed to aid Microsoft's plan to rule the world?

That's what you get when... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19136653)

eBay can't be too enthusiastic about this toolbar since it cuts directly into its main sources of revenue: ads and thumbnail fees.

Well, that's what you get when your business model involves BEING ANNOYING!! In other words selling ad space, the poison that is slowly eroding the entire Net... Businesses that can only make money on ad space piss me off, and I think this is ultimately a doomed business model as we all find more and more ways to block these annoying ads!!

Suck it, Ebay. Stop trying to hamstring your sellers. Your costs were exponentially lower when you were born, making more money doesn't entitle you to start charging more money for no real reason.

Right! They have become real fee whores over the years...

Get your act together eBay! You are loosing your core customer base with your fee whoring, poor service as of late, and not doing enough about fraud and dead beat bidders!!

And then eBay said.... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19135355)

Hello lawsuit.

And then Uncle Sam said ... (1)

PhxBlue (562201) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135961)

SLAPP.

Re:And then eBay said.... (1)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 7 years ago | (#19136171)

Unfortunately for them, that won't make the add-on go away though.

Re:And then eBay said.... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#19136435)

Based on ... what exactly?

Re:And then eBay said.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19136669)

>Based on ... what exactly?

"I have more money and lawyers than you do"?

Embarrass? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19135385)

Why is this such a big deal? It's a lot easier for a bunch of student programmers like this to release a toolbar than it is for eBay.

The problem isn't making the plugin. That's relatively easy. I guarentee is doesn't take eBay very long to make a toolbar for their own site, assuming they have programmers that are a least a bit competent.

No, the problem is testing. If an offical toolbar from eBay causes even the smallest problem, eBay is on the hook. For a bunch of students this isn't a problem.

*Was* the problem testing? (5, Insightful)

Bearpaw (13080) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135531)

Or was the problem trying to figure out a way to implement it that increased ad revenues?

Re:*Was* the problem testing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19136001)

Who said all businesses had to be UNICEF? profit != bad.

Re:Embarrass? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19135539)

I have an idea: Slap "Beta" on it and let the users test it. I should probably patent that.

Re:Embarrass? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19135609)

Or just follow the MS model and call it 1.0 and release it as-is.

Re:Embarrass? (1)

MM_LONEWOLF (994599) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135855)

Yes, but because you are a person interested in the subject, and Ebay IS the subject in a sense, your suggestion will be ignored even though it is probably the best idea out there. Heck, even if the vast majority of Ebay users said this, they probably wouldn't do that.

Re:Embarrass? (5, Insightful)

Kasis (918962) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135557)

Sounded great to me, I use eBay a lot. I installed it, found that it's completely US-centric with no option to localise. In addition all the extras such as Amazon search and Froogle search are all focused on the US.

I uninstalled and will begin looking for something similar which supports users outside the US.

On a side note, has it really taken this long for somebody to realise that an eBay toolbar might be a good idea??

Re:Embarrass? (1)

ohearn (969704) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135601)

"On a side note, has it really taken this long for somebody to realise that an eBay toolbar might be a good idea??"

No, it probably just took this long for someone to find a way to do it without some small slip up that they could have been sued to death over because of the US's position on IP laws.

Re:Embarrass? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19135791)

I can't see why people want a search toolbar for every site they visit. I just set up a custom search that works in the main address bar. g <search term> searches google, w <search term> search wikipedia, imdb <search term> searchs imbd. Saves a lot of screen space just having the one bar to type into.

Re:Embarrass? (1)

MM_LONEWOLF (994599) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135945)

Not to mention the thousands of brain cells that might die when reading Google, Wikipedia, and Internet Movie Database.

Good lord... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19135417)

Someone get that little bugger some Tucks. His ass is on fire!

Ebay (1, Interesting)

jrwr00 (1035020) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135439)

Well then they are ether going to have to change there site code or talk to the students to get those ads back or something.... EBay shame on you for not releasing you own toolbar so this didnt happen

Re:Ebay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19135479)

No, it has more to do with the fact that there are no project managers and marketing people pushing and pulling on features. Less management overhead means a quicker project delivery.

Re:Ebay (1)

httpdotcom (749192) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135649)

The students didn't make the ads disappear...adding the AdBlock plugin to Firefox did that.

So, how many people (5, Interesting)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135457)

Just installed it and started typing in their personal information, with absolutely no idea what this plugin was doing with it?

Uh huh. Oh, now you're thinking through the security implications.

It's probably not a particularly clever piece of phishing, but the next one might be.

Re:So, how many people (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135989)

Well, as long as it doesn't package any binaries in it and doesn't use XPCOM to load them, it's fairely straightforward to open up the XPI (which is a ZIP anyway,) and look at the JS, XUL and RDF content. If there are binaries, then it'll just take a bit more time.

Re:So, how many people (2, Insightful)

winnabago (949419) | more than 7 years ago | (#19136419)

Well, as long as it doesn't package any binaries in it and doesn't use XPCOM to load them, it's fairely straightforward to open up the XPI (which is a ZIP anyway,) and look at the JS, XUL and RDF content. If there are binaries, then it'll just take a bit more time.

Great, I'll just tell grandma to follow this simple procedure to make sure the emails she's getting arent phishing attempts. She's going to be so happy now that she can install toolbars. Just open the XPI, make sure you're not using XPCOM, and check the JS, XUL, and, wait....um, the RDF, yeah. Oh, and there is another step for binaries. It's great that she's safe from ebay scams now. The parent had a good point, would YOU trust ebay software on your computer?

Re:So, how many people (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 7 years ago | (#19136535)

I am not talking to any grandmothers here I think. You have conveniently forgotten the case of Sony spyware [wikipedia.org] distributed on their CDs. I don't know, it COULD have been a grandmother with enough tech skills, who figured that one out. You are not being fare to grandmothers.

Re:So, how many people (1)

dedazo (737510) | more than 7 years ago | (#19136617)

If there are binaries, then it'll just take a bit more time.

Yeah, I felt the same way about ActiveX binaries. But just a little bit more time than verifying that it doesn't use XPCOM and look in the XPI (which everyone knows is a ZIP anyway) and look at the JS, ZUL and RDF. Yeah.

Got any more recommendations I might want to pass on to aunt Tilly and cousin Joe Bob when they ask me about Firefox?

I don't have any sympathy for eBay. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19135465)

You had your chance.

Money, Money, Money (5, Insightful)

InfiniteSingularity (1095799) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135467)

"eBay can't be too enthusiastic about this toolbar since it cuts directly into its main sources of revenue: ads and thumbnail fees."

That is why Ebay have not finished their own toolbar yet. They were too busy trying to figure out how to code the bar without messing up their revenue streams. Had they have just made the bar functional and user friendly, they might have already finished it. Fortunately for everyone else, the Stanford group was only concerned about a functional, working toolbar.

Re:Money, Money, Money (1)

MM_LONEWOLF (994599) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135581)

Or they just decided to piss off a big coorporation for kicks.

Re:Money, Money, Money (1)

malsdavis (542216) | more than 7 years ago | (#19136407)

I think you've uncovered one of the primary causes of software delays and usability stoppers of today.

The "free" market isn't completely faultless.

Whoa! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19135477)

whenever someone develops freeanalreports.com [slashdot.org] toolbar for firefox, then i'll stand up and take notice!!!!

EBay was Late Because... (4, Funny)

BoRegardless (721219) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135481)

It was trying to figure out how to load up more ads...?

Re:EBay was Late Because... (3, Funny)

multipartmixed (163409) | more than 7 years ago | (#19136369)

Oh, I figured eBay was late because she'd been fucking Craig's List.

Toolbar looks cool and all... (5, Funny)

should_be_linear (779431) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135483)

... but it should be mentioned that they could create it that fast only thanks to breaking 173 Microsoft patents.

Re:Toolbar looks cool and all... (1)

Eudial (590661) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135703)

... but it should be mentioned that they could create it that fast only thanks to breaking 173 Microsoft patents.


Be careful, rumor has it Microsoft has patented revealing how many Microsoft-patents something violates.

Re:Toolbar looks cool and all... (1)

dAzED1 (33635) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135871)

don't be absurd; IBM has prior art on doing that to SCO.

Re:Toolbar looks cool and all... (1)

john83 (923470) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135979)

More importantly, Euler has prior art on the number 173.

Very cool (1)

joshier (957448) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135487)

Very cool, but I am in the UK, and the plugin keeps relocating back to '.com' ebay.

Any chances of a quick fix?.. or any existing ebay tool bars with support for .co.uk?

Read the Heartwarming story... (4, Funny)

Icarus1919 (802533) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135493)

...of a couple of spunky Stanford kids with nothing going for them. And a coach, who believed they had it in them all along...

Read the Asswarming story... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19135827)

...of a couple of spunky Stanford kids with nothing going for them. And a coach, who believed they had it in them all along...


The coach believed they had it in them because he put it in them. Why do you think they were spunky?

In other news... (-1, Troll)

TheWoozle (984500) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135497)

people still use eBay?

DMCA notice (3, Funny)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135501)

in 3.. 2..

Re:DMCA notice (1)

imbaczek (690596) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135815)

somewhat funny but fortunately not possible in Europe :)

Re:DMCA notice (1)

Tuoqui (1091447) | more than 7 years ago | (#19136023)

And unfortunately DMCA notices ONLY apply to copyrighted material or means to circumvent the access of copyrighted material.

So I would imagine that the toolbar by NOT displaying some portions of the website is not breaking any laws (its the same as having Adblock Plus on I imagine). Of course the only point of contention could be the 'see preview image regardless if seller payed for it or not' part could be the only portion that is even remotely DMCA-able. In which case they remove that minor bit of functionality and go on their way.

Just goes to show, Open Source can and will bite the big players in the ass if they are too slow.

Re:DMCA notice (1)

profplump (309017) | more than 7 years ago | (#19136257)

I think one could argue that the page itself is copyrighted content, and that the ads are part of the content protection mechanism. It's not entirely sensible, but I don't see how it's any more unreasonable than most DMCA claims.

Cool. Not surprising, but cool. (5, Insightful)

Control Group (105494) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135579)

I am Jack's complete lack of surprise.

A couple guys who want to do something they think is cool turned out to be faster at it than a couple corporations trying to do something to monetize what they perceive as something users want.

Let me put on my surprised face.

And now.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19135583)

I have a second GOOD reason to upgrade to Firefox!

Re:And now.... (1)

MM_LONEWOLF (994599) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135623)

What was the first reason, boycotting Microsoft and Internet Explorer?

Re:And now.... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#19136557)

Maybe boycotting EBays version of "sponsored links"?

Well.... (1)

A_Non_Moose (413034) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135675)

eBay can't be too enthusiastic about this toolbar since it cuts directly into its main sources of revenue: ads and thumbnail fees.


True, very true, but if the exec's hadn't been sitting around with their "thumbs up thier as^H^HeBays"
and released *something*, then they would not have had thier thunder^Wbirds stolen.

(ok, ok, put the pointy stick down, I'll stop!)

Quote source? (2, Informative)

vain gloria (831093) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135677)

Mozilla's COO said the preemptive release of the eBay Toolbar had ruffled some feathers among European eBay execs.
Where does the quote in the summary come from? It's not in any of TFAs.

Re:Quote source? (1)

ian13550 (697991) | more than 7 years ago | (#19136203)

Damn good question!!!

Re:Quote source? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#19136529)

Where does the quote in the summary come from? It's not in any of TFAs.

It's not a quote. It's an anecdote. Do you see it in quotation marks? But it would be nice to know where it came from. Probably the submitter just forgot to insert a link.

"Ignore" sellers? (3, Interesting)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135715)

Does it let me "ignore" sellers by name, feedback ratio and feedback quantity so I never see their listings? If it does, I'll download it right now. There are half a dozen or so "power sellers" who flood the search terms I regularly look for with auctions I wouldn't bid on in a million years. And then there are all the 98.2% positive feedback guys who I wouldn't touch with a 10 foot pole (99% is my normal cutoff) and all the obviously re-registered accounts that are too slick to legitimately have only 8 feedbacks.

I'd very much like an "ignore" option.

Re:"Ignore" sellers? (4, Interesting)

oo (94735) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135933)

98.2% positive feedback? What's wrong with that? You do realize that that's less than 4 negatives for 200 transactions? It's so easy to end up with retaliatory negatives from sellers when you use your account for both buying and selling.

Don't be a chickenshit. And for fuck's sake don't leave negative retaliatory feedback when I give you a neutral. The ebay feedback system is so broken that people like you think a single negative and fifty positives is a complete disaster. It definitely needs more granularity.

99% cutoff = paranoid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19136083)

And then there are all the 98.2% positive feedback guys who I wouldn't touch with a 10 foot pole (99% is my normal cutoff)

Congradulations. You've just ignored all of those sellers who have sold 99 items or less, and have received a single negative feedback, potentially due to an earlier "revenge" feedback. Seriously, blanket cut-offs like this are going to rule out a good number of items. But hey, I guess that just means I won't be competing against your bids.

Re:99% cutoff = paranoid (0, Offtopic)

oo (94735) | more than 7 years ago | (#19136255)

Um, I think you meant to post this in response to Spazmania, especially since you quoted him, not me.

But, yeah, I definitely agree with you.

Excellent Work! (1)

FreeKill (1020271) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135769)

This is hysterical. I hope Ebay and Mozilla keep dragging their feet long enough for new users to get used to the other toolbar. Once that happens, they'll almost be forced to implement some of the features just to convince people to switch.

Inevitable problems (3, Interesting)

MM_LONEWOLF (994599) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135773)

Here's the problem. Intelligent people with decent coding knowledge created a free piece of software that sounds pretty good. Ebay appearantly doesn't want them to use it, and started raising a ruckus. But what happens when hundreds of people with programming skills start doing things like this, especially if computer programming becomes part of high school curriculum? ( http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/05/15/142 0238 [slashdot.org] ) One day, the flood will hit, Ebay, Microsoft, Apple, and everything else will collapse, and the Open Source Community will rejoice.

Re:Inevitable problems (4, Insightful)

Irish_Samurai (224931) | more than 7 years ago | (#19136463)

Actually, I assume that the instant OSS development becomes ubiquitous in the teenage demographic that the OSS community is going to pretty much suck.

Re:Inevitable problems (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19136527)

You mean in much the same way that Linux rose up and overthrew Microsoft? Oh wait nm...

You mean the "hundreds of people with programming skills" who comprise open source community that forks projects at the drop of a hat because they can't check their egos at the door and work to make quality products TOGETHER? Some do, to be sure, but consider examples including the KDE vs GNOME vs every other window manager debate, the Firefox vs Iceweasel crap, and so forth... lots of projects that functionally do the same thing, or perhaps ARE the same thing just rebranded with very minor changes. My point is that they CAN'T rise up to "cast down [ebay/apple/ms/etc]" because they have no cohesive central dictatorial leadership (e.g. Linus, Steve Jobs, etc) to lead the way, so egos are what's driving the bus.

Please don't get me wrong.... I'd *LOVE* to see these big companies that run roughshod over their users toppled. I think that if all of the people who worked on Linux GUIs had some central leadership and managed to check their egos at the door, they could put together a GUI experience that would rival Apple's. But they're so fragmented that it's just not going to happen. (There are other examples, it's not just the Linux GUI situation that's the problem, but it's an obvious one to illustrate my point.)

The extreme openness of open software is also its Achilles' heel, because it tends to encourage fragmentation. Availability of source code isn't enough, you need central, dictatorial, visionary leadership as well.

Consider Linux (the kernel), Firefox, Apache, etc. These are amazingly successful open source projects... what do they have in common? Strong leadership, and internal conflict resolution to keep people willing to help, instead of forking the moment their egos get bruised.

With that, specific projects can (and have) be clear victories over the MS/etc alternatives. (E.g. Firefox). But in general the open source community needs to deal with this issue before they can start rejoicing.

More than embarrassment (5, Insightful)

Dancindan84 (1056246) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135783)

They've done more than embarrass eBay. They both released their plugin first, and done it "better" from a customer standpoint by bypassing ads and including all pictures. eBay cannot simply release their plugin now, as informed users are going to pick the one that has a better UI (one without ads and with more pictures). They also cannot simply change their site functionality to break the student plugin, as they'll alienate customers who are using it. Even if they did that quickly to minimise market penetration it would only be a temporary solution, as any changes will likely be worked around quickly. They'd back to the problem of competing with a plugin that has no ads and better functionality.

Sounds kind of like DRM CDs vs. digital format music. You don't have to be a lawyer to figure out if the customer prefers better functionality. Let's hope eBay takes a different approach than the recording industry has. I'm not optimistic.

PFffffffffft (2, Interesting)

multipartmixed (163409) | more than 7 years ago | (#19136459)

Wanna know what's probably happening at eBay right now?

Hello? Dev team? When will the toolbar be ready? Really? Six weeks? I think not. Ship in 3 or you're fired. Click.

Hello? Systems D00ds / Web Devs? Put the security enhancements on hold. You have three weeks to figure out how to break the Stanford tool bar; the sooner the better. And then roll out the changes with some new eye-candy so we don't look like asses.

Re:More than embarrassment (2, Insightful)

yukk (638002) | more than 7 years ago | (#19136483)

Well, maybe they can't compete with savvy Firefox users who read slashdot, but for the other 99.99% of the world who don't read ./ but do visit EBay and see the big shiny banner advertising the New, Improved, Official, Guaranteed, and Approved by Martha Stewart version of the Ebay Toolbar for Winners, this is likely to be the one they'll download.

Market research (4, Insightful)

basic0 (182925) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135849)

These students (and probably several posts appearing in this thread) have just given eBay some free, valuable market research. Pay attention:

1. eBay has great brand awareness. People know about it, and the opinion is generally positive. Hell, it can't be too negative if a bunch of programmer (lazy) students (even lazier) are writing software on their time to access eBay features.

2. Users LOATHE ads. This should be obvious. Is it just me, or are advertisements starting to have a reverse effect? You see an advertisement or commercial spot, and suddenly you're pissed off at the company in question for ramming advertising down your throat and find yourself not wanting to buy whatever they're selling, even if you need it.

3. eBay's "gallery" view stuff hurts the overall user experience. I understand they want to make more money, but the fact that one of the first things these programmers bypassed is the gallery exclusion garbage is very telling. People don't want to click through even 1 or 2 things to see a picture of an item. They want to see it immediately, particularly those who haven't the foggiest about web design, image hosting, or listing fees. That group most likely has no idea why there's so much inconsistency between item listings on eBay, and it's a matter of confusion on an already intimidating (to a new user) website.

It should also tell eBay something about itself. eBay has been around for something like 11 years, Firefox for 5 or 6, and it's been quite popular for the last couple of years (read: other big companies have been producing toolbars for Firefox without much problem). Why did this even have to happen? Get with it eBay...

Re:Market research (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 7 years ago | (#19136289)

2. Users LOATHE ads. This should be obvious. Is it just me, or are advertisements starting to have a reverse effect? You see an advertisement or commercial spot, and suddenly you're pissed off at the company in question for ramming advertising down your throat and find yourself not wanting to buy whatever they're selling, even if you need it.

Exactly. If I'm considering two items that are otherwise the same I consider their advertising. If I can remember seeing an ad for one of the products, I buy the other one.

Re:Market research (1)

JonXP (850946) | more than 7 years ago | (#19136665)


2. Users LOATHE ads. This should be obvious. Is it just me, or are advertisements starting to have a reverse effect? You see an advertisement or commercial spot, and suddenly you're pissed off at the company in question for ramming advertising down your throat and find yourself not wanting to buy whatever they're selling, even if you need it.


Well, I don't actually "loathe" ads unless they get in my way. Otherwise, I'm perfectly fine with them. I don't consider buying a billboard to be any more "ramming it down my throat" than buying a banner ad.

(Those stupid DHTML pop-up ads can go to hell though. I'll never, ever buy whatever that purple medicine is thanks to those.)

Where's the Toolbar? (1)

Inhibit (105449) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135889)

I distinctly read "an e-bay toolbar for FireFox" but what I see on the site is a hacked version *of* FireFox. These are two distinctly different things. Could someone please point out the individual toolbar download? I'm certainly not going to install a second version of FireFox just to get some toolbar included.

Nice job...but embasrassing to Mozilla too... (0)

Brad_sk (919670) | more than 7 years ago | (#19135909)

>before Mozilla and eBay could release their jointly developed extension in Europe.

Its an embarrassment to Firefox folks too then...Way to go guys. Really useful add-on

damn students (3, Funny)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 7 years ago | (#19136025)

Can't they simply go back to creating Counter Strike maps.
Oh wait...

Suspension (0, Redundant)

phorm (591458) | more than 7 years ago | (#19136553)

Because they were suspended for making them based on their schools?

Oh no, we're embarassed (2, Insightful)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 7 years ago | (#19136091)

We're embarassed. All we have is our youth, billions of dollars and our good looks. Whoo hoo, I'm buying a walk in humidor.

ToS violation, not DCMA (1, Informative)

Pap22 (1054324) | more than 7 years ago | (#19136139)

No encryption or security was bypassed so it is not a DCMA violation. However, it does directly violate the ToS of their website:

http://pages.ebay.com/help/policies/user-agreement .html [ebay.com]

In other words, you're accessing their content without accessing their site, which is a violation of their ToS. This is theft. They will accordingly code their site to block any access from this new "toolbar".

Re:ToS violation, not DCMA (1)

Poorcku (831174) | more than 7 years ago | (#19136461)

Should this happen, i propose Mozilla to withdraw the support for the official toolbar and remove it from mozilla.org. If ebay likes the offerings of open source programming then they should not have double standards. And Mozilla should have the balls.

Re:ToS violation, not DCMA (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#19136595)

In other words, you're accessing their content without accessing their site, which is a violation of their ToS. This is theft. They will accordingly code their site to block any access from this new "toolbar".

How did this get modded up? The toolbar modifies the pages, it doesn't show you a different page.

Also, they actually DO have a beta release of their toolbar now, so the same objection would apply to their toolbar.

Goes to show (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#19136275)

"Commercial" software (which doesn't necessarily mean that you pay for it, only that some corporation is behind its creation) gives you what the company wants you to have.

Free software gives you what you want to have.

Re:Goes to show (1)

StrawberryFrog (67065) | more than 7 years ago | (#19136611)

Nope, free software gives you what you the makers wanted to have themselves.
Software that you have built to spec gives you what you want to have. Give or take some bugs and design errors.

Two letters come to mind when reading .. (2, Funny)

madsheep (984404) | more than 7 years ago | (#19136545)

..and one of them repeats: L O L
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