EBay is beefing up community-building capabilities on its online auction site to include support for blogs, a new wiki for members to share information and new types of alerts for users to stay on top of sales, the company announced on Wednesday.
The eBay Wiki will let anyone post and edit articles on topics of interest to eBay users. The site, www.ebaywiki.com, looks a lot like a blog, including the capability for visitors to post comments about articles. But unlike a blog, anyone can alter the content of existing posts.
Visitors can browse headlines based on categories including eBay policies, seller tools and specialty sites. Many of the articles posted on the site so far are how-to type articles that might help users learn about how eBay works. JotSpot, a Wiki technology and hosting company, powers the eBay Wiki.
In addition to the wiki, eBay is also now hosting blogs for users. EBay enthusiasts can create blogs that will appear on the blogs.ebay.com Web site. Bloggers can post photos, allow others to comment on their postings and enable RSS (Really Simple Syndication).
The blog site is arranged in two columns: one lists all of the latest postings across all of the blogs and the other links to individual blogs by title. So far, many of the bloggers appear to be written by eBay sellers hoping to draw attention to items for sale.
EBay also introduced some new alert features in the US, some of which are already available in other markets. Bidders will be able to choose to be alerted via a phone call when three minutes remain before an auction closes. Buyers can also opt to receive text messages when they're outbid or when time is running out. Users can also re-bid on items via text message.
Buyers will also be able to opt to receive an outbid or time warning alert via AOL, Yahoo or MSN instant messenger. Skype users will be able to sign up for such alerts next year. All of the other alert offerings will become available within the next couple of weeks.
EBay offers slightly different alert mechanisms in different markets. In the U.K., for example, eBay users can elect to receive text messages for a number of situations such as being outbid, losing an item or receiving feedback from a buyer. Last week, eBay Germany introduced a customized mobile browser from Opera Software ASA that allows users to do anything they do on the eBay.com Web site from their mobile phones.
Separately, eBay announced on Tuesday that it will allow sellers to add a "Skype me" button next to items for sale so that potential buyers can make a VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) call to the seller in the US. EBay bought Skype late last year.