We Spoke, Proxibid Listened … kind of

In case you haven’t heard, Proxibid has published an announcement in the wake of a bad decision that seemingly was made initially without touching base with enough auctioneers and top bidders–changing the user name to “You/Internet.”

Here’s the announcement:


    Dear Valued Proxibid Bidders,

    You spoke and we listened! Recently we made a change that many bidders did not like. Based on your feedback, we have adjusted the way your username will be displayed to other bidders. Beginning Monday, November 7, usernames will display the first and last letter of the username. This change will offer bidders the elements of competition and community they’ve come to expect from Proxibid, while still providing best-in-class security.

    Example:

    Username = Proxibid
    Displayed = P****D

Auctioneers complained to Proxiblog about the “You/Internet” policy after we ran this post .

Proxiblog knows corporate policies and how difficult it can be to retract a bad one. People are going to lose face, and we feel bad about that, as Proxibid employees are among the most dedicated and hard-working in the business–including the ones responsible for these decisions. And in that sense, we applaud the portal. But it made a common corporate error: Proxiblog is on a list of top bidders that was supposed to consult on changes, and we were never contacted for the first change and now, the second.

Concerning the half-way change back to initial letter and end letter, rather than complete username, we do know that Proxibid did ask auctioneers for their input because they contacted us, forwarding Proxibid’s emails, and asking for our opinion.

Here’s what we would have advised if asked:

  1. We cannot verify this, but we had learned from our auctioneer contacts that certain newer bidders were complaining due to the competition from experienced users. It is not unethical for an experienced bidder to use strategy to discourage a newbie who pays over retail consisently for a certain coin so that that coin no longer is available on Proxibid. The result of this, Proxibid, is that these people drive us to iCollector or AuctionZip to secure that coin. Auctioneers know whom I am talking about without even using the username. How about three words: Carson City. VAM!
  2. If you can’t guess the name based on “Username = Proxibid, Displayed = P****D,” you’ll soon recognize the user based on bidding habits in the specific section (Coins and Currency) of the portal. Let’s test that auctioneers. Who’s bidding now: “G****9” or “h****y”?
  3. Auctioneers using audio function are revealing the usernames anyway to create bidder competition and circumvent the “You/Internet” usage. Will the new policy allow auctioneers to see the entire user name? If so, the asterisk policy is easily sidestepped with audio and auctioneer creativity.
  4. Several digitally uninformed bidders use the same username for all their Internet business, including eBay. We have warned against this practice in several posts, and it’s not Proxibid’s responsiblity to teach them about online security. If they don’t know that each platform, application and registration requires different usernames and passwords, they shouldn’t be bidding online anyway, because it can result in policy missteps like this.
  5. And while we’re at it, Proxibid could have easily avoided this issue by requiring username changes every three months, as banks do, to ensure security. Maxim: If you think like a computer, you can solve the issue like a computer. If you think like a referee, you end up with policies that the computer only circumvents in the end.

Would our Proxiblog viewers find it curious that we prefer “You/Internet” rather than this new asterisk rule? Reason: We have stopped overbidding for coins to teach novice users strategy and have funds left to spare for other portals and online auctions. Couple that with bid retraction policies, and our bottom line has improved significantly.

Moreover, we’ll know precisely who is bidding after a pattern of a week with the new method. But we’ll try to practice restraint.

Morale of this story? Proxibid’s technological history requires more than just quality control. It requires brand. Proxibid had the reputation of the wild online west when it came to coins. It promoted a culture more like a social network than a traditional portal. The more it looks like other portals, to create an even playing field for bidders, the more it must adopt the same technological fixes. The more it does that, the more it resembles everything else. It’s a digital programming pattern that we expected a tech-company like Proxibid to realize.

We would have informed Proxibid of this had it asked us as one of its major numismatic bidders. It’s too bad we had to do this in a post. We admire this company more than any other, including the hard-working, diligent employees responsible for some of the features we dislike.

But admiration doesn’t always mean telling the portal that its policy decisions are the right ones. If you have an opinion on this, rather than leave a comment with us, we strongly advise sending your opinion directly to Proxibid at info@proxibid.com.

In the end, we only wish Proxibid the best. Let them hear your voice, especially if you disagree with us, so that they can make future fixes in their own interest.

Proxiblog is an independent entity with no connection to the auction portal Proxibid. Our intent is to uphold basic numismatic standards as established by the American Numismatic Association and the National Auctioneer Association and to ensure a pleasurable bidding experience not only on Proxibid but also on similar portals such as iCollector and AuctionZip.

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