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I already posted this message earlier below in response to the discussion on the $2000+ HP-65, but I fear it was hiding in the thread, so I post it again here to start the topic its own thread. I am interested in hearing what others think, if they've tried it, or after they've tried it.

When I bid on eBay, I use a sniping bot. This bot is automatically set to bid on an item within the last 9 seconds of an auction up to the max bid that I specify. This bot enters my bid on my
behalf when I am not even on the computer. I have had a great deal of success with it. The website for the guy (or guys) running this is at www.vrane.com. You just
create an id/password. Then, at some point when you've made your auction/bid decision, you go to vrane (a.k.a. Amherst Robots), login (as a sniper) and follow
the directions! If you can program an HP, you can do this, and best of all it's free!! Check it out, you'll be amazed at your results!

I put all my bids through this process. It has the added benefit of preventing you from convincing yourself that you're willing to pay more (than you really are)
through marginal increases over the duration of the auction. You name your price to yourself and trust the process. It also helps prevent you from losing auctions
due to the same emotional reasons in the other bidder's camp, not to mention basically removing the effects of schill bidding on your pocket book! You name your
price and you don't disclose until the last minute, all with out even having to be present at the auction's close!

Give it a whirl, I swear by it!

and that is to bid without having to be in attendance. Sniping bots offer absolutely NO benefit in winning auctions.

There are also some disadvantages.

1) You might miss some last minute addition that makes the auction a bad deal. I have seen this often.

2) Cause you to outbid a friend that you may not want to

3) You may not consider this a disadvantage but I do. A bot does not allow you a last minute decision change. Maybe the seller offers a bonus near the end. Or maybe seller changes his mind and says he is ending the auction in 24 hours regardless of the ending time stated. This is legit also. Of course, if you check your auctions often, you will see this, but then you don't need the bot.

4) Cause you to be in violation of an auction rule. Some sellers have a condition that you may not use bots. That is a legit thing to ad. You must comply with sellers conditions, regardless if you like them or not. If you set the bot and never monitor it again, you might get stuck.

Basically, unless you absolutely cannot be present at the close, there is no need for bots.


Maybe this sounds old fashioned, but anything I've bought second-hand has always been purchased from a real person. I mostly find that the item reminds me of the "deal" and I don't want 'bad-vibes' hanging over from that deal. I like to buy from enthusiasts and a good deal of information is usually exchanged.

There's a nice atmosphere on this site - long may it continue.

Thanks, David

david; i agree with you.

Although I'm generally in agreement with David Thompson below, and haven't done much bidding on anything, my stepson has, and his experience being sniped suggests one possible advantage of bots: if you live on the east coast you can go to bed at night and still snipe.

Isn't that what I said by "bid without having to be in attendance"

I'm wondering what will happen when the popularity of these bidding bots increases to the point that it will be possible to have two (or more) bidders, subscribed to bidding bots, bidding on the same item... I guess, with time, your advantage for using these services will decrease as more people start using them. Also, the thrill of winning an auction at the last second is being taken away. Hmmm...

Sellers don't get the full value of the highest bidder. Realize that? (I just bid $120 on something and got it for $99. Sellers-- listen up).

Last minute gunfights appeal to some, but for the buyer who has searched for an item, only to see it slip away as someone else mines THEIR bids, it can be frustrating.

All buyers are thus driven to following the last five minutes of auctions they are interested in-- highly inconvenient.

The use of a bot alleviates that, yes; but you still are sniping... a high-powered-rifle sniper, hiding in the tree. Isn't it the least bit uncomfortable to know that you are wasting the time of all those others who are up bleary-eyed at 2am, trying to complete THEIR collections, usually at 56K baud? (77% of USA is still not on broadband...)

The seller is going through 3 or 5 or 7 DAYS of nail-biting while few show a most feeble interest. WHY? Because eBay's setup is skewed to favor buyers who wait till the last moments (someone said, "early bidders never win", and there is some truth to that, precisely because of the way eBay's auctions are structured.)

The basic idea of ANY transaction is that I as a buyer should give my value and the seller give his; that we are both satisfied when done. Of course, auctions are supposed to net the seller with the MOST he could have gotten for his item, the highest offer setting the market's value. This doesn't exactly happen on eBay though. Auctions are ALSO supposed to benefit the buyer by allowing him to EVENLY compete with others to exact a fair and considered market price from all who participate. But on eBay, the other buyers are only half the danger; the clock presents another.

Someone (I really forget who, stand up and take credit) once suggested an auction structure I am enthusiastic over. It retains all that eBay is while eliminating the advantage of sniping as a strategy. It makes early SERIOUS bidding useful because you may choose to make your bid high enough that no one else considers it worth challenging, then or with ten seconds to go. Yet it still holds the excitement of an auction for both buyer and seller.

Basically, all that is required is that the eBay clock for an auction is dynamically reset to five minutes left, any time a higher bid is made WITH five minutes or left on the auction. So if Chris uses his bot at nine seconds to go, the auction ends five minutes later than that, unless WITHIN that five minutes, someone else (or even Chris or his bot) chooses to make a higher bid, in which case the clock is reset again, etc.

Now for the seller, potentially stretching the auction say, an hour (*that would be 12 or MORE new high bids*) would be worth any additional money netted.

For the buyer, he would get the item when his bid went unchallenged in the last last last five minutes. But he could spend the time considering whether it was worth more to him than it is worth to anyone else. Like ye old auctions, the call of "Going... GOING... Gone!"

Sniping would be less fruitful, and auction prices would tend to reflect more considered prices from the get-go.

Your bot would not be needed to time-shift unless you wanted to be one of the ones dragging the price up to seller's nirvana; putting the price at a value that no one else beats... that is the name of the game under this system, and it can be done earlier, even days earlier. Guys who don't live in DSL-land could still react to the "one dollar more" syndrome, if they chose to.

The secret weapon of sniping with "the bomb"-- entering a $10000 bid on a $350 item, knowing that, in the last seconds, nobody will match that, and you'll get it, at worst, one buck higher than other bidders... that will virtually end because there's a very REAL risk that a shill will make you EAT a considerable portion of your bomb. While it could happen today, the risk would be MUCH greater under a dynamically-timed system.

I would recommend this system to eBay; I would also hope they did better verification and pre-screening of registered "users"; getting eBay identities or changing them should be more tied to reality: an ID could be confirmed by tying it to a hard mailing address: you keep your "sunglasses" until you respond with a verification code MAILED to your residence. A Driver's License or Social Security number (in those areas where it is available) could ALSO enable eBay to cross check the residence to the person. A checkmark might appear instead of sunglasses to show that eBay has SOMEHOW successfully corroborated the identity of the user...

You should be able to change your ID, but with the following change: your OLD ID always appears (with the dates you used it) on your feedback stats page.

Changes to eBay, I know, might be hard to accomplish. But sellers and buyers BOTH would benefit from a more even-handed structure.

In the meantime, maybe my bot will HAVE to battle your bot, and may the best bot win... ;-/

LOL... or maybe eBay will offer its OWN bots...

These bots have been around for ever.

It will be no different than two or more snipers or any other bidder, bidding at the same time. The highest one will win.

There is no advantage to using a bot, other than you don't have to be present to bid.

You said: "Sellers don't get the full value of the highest bidder. Realize that? (I just bid $120 on something and got it for $99. Sellers-- listen up)."

Sellers know this. It is no big mystery. But the reality is that sellers are quite happy at the $99 since they probably figured they would get $75.

Your bomb idea is a really horrible strategy. Often two will try the same thing. One will be stuck. It happens all the time. "booklung" had it happen last week. He paid $2000+ on something that he should have gotten for much less. But he can afford it. And your $120, I expect, is more that YOU thought the item was worth too.

You said: "Isn't it the least bit uncomfortable to know that you are wasting the time of all those others who are up bleary-eyed at 2am, trying to complete THEIR collections, usually at 56K baud? (77% of USA is still not on broadband...)"

I don't use bots but, that is irrelevant.

The higher bid wins. If you want an item at $120 and that is all you will pay, a bot that bids $125 or an early bidder that bids $125 or a last minute manual sniper bids $125, they will win the item over you, won't they. So, your time is wasted no more by a bot than a bider who stays up. Either way, you have bid less.

So, the fact is, just bid the maximum you will pay and you have done all you can do. Nothing; no strategy; no sniping; no bot; no nothing will beat you, if you have the high bid.

I hear a lot of people complaining about bots and sniping but these people don't win anyway, because they are looking for bargains (nothing wrong with that). But their complaint is not that someone is sniping or using a bot. Their real comlaint is that someone is willing to pay more.

Your idea about adding 5 minutes to the end of an auction is a good one. But if they ever institue that policy, you will hear a lot of real complaining because there will be "no more bargains, ever" on eBay. Prices will really skyrocket, then.

I can't believe the whining that is going on here. I always thought people who use HP calcs are a bit smarter than average.

The bottom line on eBay or any other auction is that the highest bidder gets the prize. Not the earliest, or the person who does the most nail-biting, or whatever. At the end of an auction, if you put in the highest bid, you will win, whether you entered it the first second of the auction or the last.

All those who complain about last-second sniping are really saying: since I put in an early bid, please don't outbid me, or if you do, please give me the opportunity to outbid you, because I didn't want to take the risk of putting in a higher bid earlier, but now that I see you are willing to pay more, I am.

Grow up!

I have to say hat I am impressed with the debate/dialogue as a result of my comments on bot use in auctions. I didn't expect that, but I am very glad of it!

Although I don't like Mike's condescending tone, I have to agree with him primarily: A bot allows you to bid while not needing to be present, and that is its best feature.

But not its only feature.

I think that there is an additional benefit though, and I touched on it in my first post.

First, a couple of points:

I believe that it can be very tempting to some eBay newcomers (read: sh*t disturbers) to try to drive up the price of an auction.

I also believe that it can be very tempting to marginally bid up the price of an auction, even if you're an experienced eBayer. You talk yourself into that next bid increment, over and over again until you see your name up there as the high bidder. One may do this for a few irrational reasons, be it ego (i.e. you just have to beat the other guy, I've gotten myself caught up in this scenario), or be it emotional desire for the object without the much needed rational thought in a purchase, or whatever... you can come up with a lot of reasons to want something. Remember the very human allocation problem of economics, "unlimited wants with limited resources..." we can be nonsensical at times in purchases and forget our limited resources in the heat of bidding. I don't want to get caught up with others in that, and I don't want to
encourage that if I can help it.

So the benefit?

Well, I find that if I pick my price point ahead of time, I am satisfied with what I am willing to pay. Now it becomes a question of whether or not I want to make a target for someone else to try and attain or beat. The answer is I don't! So usually, I consider the object of my desire, pick a price, ad a couple of bucks and a few pennies, and set the bot. This way I am doing what eBay and Mike suggest, but I
am not tipping my hand. I may or may not get my item, but I am invariably satisfied with my efforts.

As for a few of the other points brought up in the thread:

I haven't yet seen someone say that they do not allow bot bids on their auctions, I am not saying it doesn't happen, I just haven't seen it. I would have to cross that bridge when I got to it. Just a thought though, how could they distinguish between a manual snipe and a bot snipe? In fact, why would you not want to encourage it? If you get enough people doing it, in a sense you stretch out the last 9 or 10 seconds with a bunch of extra "botted" bids, which one could argue would have a similar net effect to dynamically adding 5 minutes to the end of an auction.

By the way, I think that dynamically adding 5 minutes to the end of an auction is a very interesting consideration. However, I agree that it would add a lot of value to
objects, marginally driving prices up, primarily due to the emotional reasons I talked of above.

I have been tempted to do the so called "bomb" snipe, both by bot or by manual snipe. It just doesn't make sense in the end because, as is obvious (i.e. booklung and his HP-65), you could get hung out to dry. I usually tack a few extra buck and a few cents to make screwball number, like $67.14, just to give myself an marginal edge. Maybe we could that "bomblet" sniping (I'm thinking of the little tiny bombs in cluster bombs)!

Finally, I follow the auctions that I am interested in on a daily basis, and usually only set up a bot with a day or two to go. I haven't had any surprise changes yet, but it is a good thought, and I must say, one that I haven't given much consideration to. There I go again, seems I am closing right where I began, I am agreeing with Mike in spite of myself!! :-)

At any rate, despite my agreement with a lot of what Mike has said, I do not believe that he has fully described the benefits to using a bot, and in fact, sees them in a very limited light.

Of course, we are all entitled to our opinions and experience!

I love this web site! Happy holidays to all!

These bidding phenomena are being actively studied
in economics and computer science.
For an interesting paper comparing auction methods
for goods with difficult-to-evaluate subjective value,
see "Optimal Auction Design for Agents with Hard Valuation Problems", by David C. Parkes, available from http://www.eecs.harvard.edu/~parkes/publist.html, and follow citations.

No relation to the author of the paper.


Christopher: I completely concur. I've been using iSnipeIt software and it has allowed me to prevent getting "outbid" by those who reconsider my high-bid and try to beat it.

This "last second" bidding also prevents others from "running up the price" without actually becoming the high-bidder. (yes, there are bidding techniques that allow you to force people to pay more for an item!)

Hi Jimmy;

Hmmm... so glad you cleared that up. "Highest bidder gets the prize", eh? Wow. Well, I've been doing it wrong, all this time... stupid me.

You see, I always looked at items on eBay and considered the item's price as a FLUID thing. I thought I would, should try to always MINIMIZE my Commitment to a particular item and still MAXIMIZE my potential for getting it. Not very grown-up, I guess.

I had thought that auctions involved psychology, timing, studying alternatives, being more informed than others on particular items, watching others bids, making quick decisions whether OR NOT to bid depending on external factors that mattered to me, as well as internal factors on eBay itself, sometimes letting other people know what I was doing and other times leaving them guessing.

But, I now see I should instead have stated my net worth as my bid in all cases. What a flawless strategy! Can't miss!

LOL... if it makes you snipers feel warm and fuzzy inside, keep chanting your "Highest bidder always wins" mantra. Don't even consider the reason you snipe-- because it simultaneously rides only one bid increment over other bids, and it LEAVES NO OPTION OPEN for anyone ELSE to be that "high bidder". If you snipers are so confident in your mantra, why not do your sniping an hour early?

Maybe poker is only a matter of gathering certain cards. Maybe chess is just trapping the other guy's king. eBay, however, is a game like Tic-Tac-Toe... it has a certain EXPLOITABLE quality about it. Sniping IS that exploitation.

If that works for you, okay. Whether or not you "bot" to do it, fine-- the effect is the same.

But when you say others WHINE "please give me the opportunity to outbid you, because I didn't want to take the risk of putting in a higher bid earlier, but now that I see you are willing to pay more, I am", understand that YOU didn't take the risk, EITHER, in fact arranged NOT to take that risk, hid behind the clock to avoid the same risk.

eBay allows that. But let your motto read "The highest bidder sneaking under the wire wins". Because your words to the contrary, that the time factor is irrelevant, are eloquently betrayed by your actions. In fact, in a separate thread, what does Mike complain causes overly-high prices on eBay? Early bidders???? LOL...

Who exactly is whining and who is smugly self-justifying his actions is a matter of opinion, of course. But to over-simplify a complex subject, spout a maxim YOU don't rely solely upon, imply less intelligence than YOU are displaying, and tell ANY of us, individually or generally, to "grow up": sounds like an opinion developed primarily for your convenience.

So, if you don't mind, I'll just go over here and play with my blocks-- until I'm old enough to wake up to your sage advice.

I bid snipe. I learned very quickly that bid sniping is how many eBay auctions are won. If I didn't bid snipe, I usually lost. If I did bid snipe, I usually won.

I am a motivated buyer. Acting ethically, and within the bounds of the eBay rules and the law, I will do what I can to increase the odds of winning the auction for the least amount of money. Among other things, this means I bid snipe. However, since I have limited financial resources, I have never used the "bomb" bidding strategy, and I have occasionally decided not to bid because I believed the auction would close for more money than I was willing to pay.

I bid snipe because it works for me. If eBay changes the rules or other circumstances make bid sniping ineffective, I will change my bidding strategy.

(BTW, in this bid sniping debate, I believe we've only heard from bidders. What do eBay sellers think about bid sniping?)

Mike S;

That's what works because of eBay's structure. We know that, and unless and until eBay changes its auction structure, it will continue to work.

I've no problem with you whatever. It's eBay's peculiarity-- and also anyone who acts as if eBay DOESN'T have a built-in, stock, well-known, characteristic which virtually forces that strategy on you, if you can practice it.

It's NOT an equal playing field for all contestants; more power to you if you can employ the strategies available to you and find success.

The marketplace, and its venues, will always shape our collecting. Some avoid eBay because they see it as overpriced for their tastes. Some love eBay because of the ready availability of merchandise. Many other auction sites exist, like say Yahoo's, but none have the pull of eBay simply because the mass of sellers and buyers is there, and everywhere else is Mickey-Mouse in comparison.

So eBay is the Big Show. If I am selling, it's eBay I am going to; if I am buying, I am checking for the stuff on eBay first.

So the question of eBay's shortcomings is NOT a slam on YOU. It's a question of what and where and how are the most fruitful methods of overcoming those obstacles, some of which are universal, as in shill-bidding and "bomb"-sniping, both of which we know occur, though to what extent we cannot quantify except by noting some highly anomalous prices; some of which are only a problem to some of us, such as the importance of access-speed in auctions, and the feedback backlash problem, in which buyers don't dare report bad sale experiences, since the main feedback they will affect is their own.

To my mind, talking, venting, chronicling and discussing any and all aspects of a major venue like eBay is fair discussion. If the issue at hand is sniping, though, half the talk is stunted because most of those eBayers who regularly employ the strategy take a personal affront to the suggestion that they are winning by exploiting a quirk of the venue. It's not a crime, it's not against the rules; but these guys want us to know that no advantage is really gained by bidding in those last few seconds... "if you were a serious bidder, it wouldn't matter".

My hat is off to you, Mike S., for employing a winning strategy responsibly, and NOT throwing snow about it. In YOUR presence at least, I can talk sensibly about eBay as a venue, my own bidding, my successes, my frustrations and my solutions.

Glynn, I absolutely agree, in fact, see my assertions above on the topic. Thanks for being tough on Mike, he does have a bit of an attitude about this topic. I never stopped to think that it might be smoke screen... thanks for pointing that out too!