eBay.co.uk is trialing a new innovation to deal with negative feedback disputes. Disputing parties will be able to submit their feedback to a jury of 100 ebayers, who will decided whether or not the feedback was fair. To get feedback overturned 70% or more of the jurers will have to vote in favour of overturning the feedback.
In principle I think that this is a good idea. Groups of people deciding independently on issues can be a very effective way to producing fair results (see The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki ). It will certainly be more effective than eBay employees deciding from on high.
However I have several reservations about this system and I fear that it will require significant changes before it can really work.
- Lack of incentive for jury members. Who has the time to do this, and who cares? eBay is a commercial company and not a public service, why should I give my time to them for free.
- Volume of disputes. Submitting a dispute is free, I can see the volume of disputes being submitted being huge. Auctioning4u for example got 37 negative feedbacks in the last month
- 100% feedback conversion. As this system can only reduce negative feedback, I fear that it will make feedback even less of a differentiating factor than it is at the moment.
I wonder whether to make the system work, eBay will have to introduce some method or credits or payment to encourge people who really care about their feedback to submit disputes, not just people fishing for a reprieve.