I have to say that I am rather dissappointed with eBay’s new neighborhood offering. It seems to simply be an amalgam of components which already exist within eBay, as opposed to a genuine development. An eBay Neighborhood consists of the following:
- Discussion boards
- Reviews and guides
And of course associated items and members. What I think is missing is any really interesting functionality to allow members to interact i.e. to discuss and compare items they own and things which they have bought on eBay.
On the product site eBay Neighborhoods lacks any interesting fuctionality to either bind the community or connect demand with supply. At the root of this is eBay’s age old problem of not having an inventory for most sellers to fall back on. This impeads sellers from directly comparing items and easily cataloging their collection. It also prevent any kinds of recommendation engine of the sort seen on Amazon. In this book The Long Tail Chris Anderson talks about Social media being the glue which connects demand and supply. To do this howover there has to be a common point of reference. If each item is different, how can a community build up a body of recommendations? Whilst neighborhoods are definiately an advance in items specific social media, there is nothing ‘sticky’ about any of the applications which will make people stay around long enough to find new products
For interesting fuctionality around collections see new products such as MyThings and iTaggit which allow users to log their purchases, share their collections and discuss their hobbies. Squidoo also does a good job of creating ‘experts’ around a certain subject and similar functionality could be used to envigorate eBay’s MyWorld and AboutMe pages
On the social network side, I think that neigbourhoods fail as they are very limited in their social networking functionality. Members of social networks such as facebook can share a wealth of information about tastes and interests with other members, however on eBay this is very limited. Members of networks only get the same basic information which is visable to any other eBay user.
I hope the this is merely neighborhoods 1.0, with better things to come.