by Tyler Cowen
on November 16, 2006 at 7:12 am
www.ebooboos.com is devoted soley to finding spelling mistakes, and thus underpriced assets, on ebay.com.
Here is my previous post on that topic.
it comes up with mp3 player priced at 0.01$, but the shipping fee is 39.99$.
The website can cut down on searching cost a little bit, but it may find a lot of Akerlof’s Lemons.
Overall, it may not save searching time.
If you really like one dollar deal, it is fun.
Back when I was shopping ebay fairly regularly, I got some good bargains by searching on mispellings of whatever it was I wanted. It worked better with niche items, where the sellers probably aren’t mass marketers, but rather are estate disposal folks who just are unfamiliar with the product.
I suspect the mp3 player could be driven by an ‘intentional’ misspelling – the assumption is that their ‘target’ audience is stupid, and either won’t notice or won’t be put off by the misspellings – the same folks who respond to “perskrpshun 4 betr secks” type spam avoidance emails. The ebay marketer put the misspelling in the ad as a way of separating themselves from the mass of similar products when their target searches for the product, but misspells it in the search. (Having different misspellings of the same word in the same ad, or in similar ads from the same marketer, would back this up.)
I am amused that Ebooboos.com itself misspells “collectibles” on its home page. I am less amused that it is broadcasting a secret I have been using for about a year to buy certain Ebay items at low prices.
“Soley”? That’ll be $100.
As someone who runs a site similar in concept to e boo boo’s I guess I can answer some of Pauls questions.
You can’t know that the is searching for the most common misspellings because of the way that the search is carried out. Basically, there are four ways to misspell a typed word: 1) missing out a letter, 2) accidentally duplicating a letter, 3) switching the order of two letter and 4) striking an adjacent key.
It’s pretty easy to programmatically reproduce these errors. The problem is that as the search string entered by the user increases in length, then the number of possible misspellings also increases.
Unfortunately Ebay can only accept search strings of a certain length (around 350 characters) so there’s a chance that some perfectly possible misspellings will get overlooked.
Because of the way that e boo boos works you’ll never see the search string. Other sites (such as my own) do because they direct you and your search to Ebay.
As to your suggestion that people such as myself may hold back a certain misspelling I can tell you (in my case at least) it doesn’t happen. Most of these misspelling sites cover their hosting costs by accepting a small (and I really do mean SMALL) payment from Ebay once an item sells. It wouldn’t be in the interest of the person running the site to reduce their chance of getting such a payment !
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