Anthropology, Department of


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Published in Nebraska Anthropologist Vol. 20 (2005). Copyright © Kyle Gibson, M.A.; published by The University of Nebraska-Lincoln AnthroGroup.


EBay employs a system known as "feedback" to assure trust between those buying and selling items using its service. Feedback information on past auctions is available for all to see; a positive reputation is likely to increase a seller's business just as a negative reputation can harm it. The importance of a good eBay reputation (i.e., highfeedback score) may lead members of the eBay community to react harshly if they receive neutral or negative feedback. Here, the hypothesis that negative feedback is reciprocated/punished with negative feedback is supported The feedback system eBay uses does not serve the best interests of eBay members - it is simply not the most honest system possible. A more honest system would incorporate blind feedback in order to sidestep the inclination of some members to punish on principle alone.

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