Tuesday, 30 January 2007

How not to write a "how not to" article

The Torygraph jumps on the eBay-bashing bandwagon this morning, with a scare-mongering smear dressed up as advice on staying safe on eBay. Much of the article is unsubstantiated slurs: "shill bidding is widespread" and "counterfeit goods are rife". Perhaps more importantly, some of the so-called advice they give is downright nonsensical: "If someone has no feedback, then be suspicious." Really? How many thousand feedback did you start with, Mr Lazy Hack?

The section on bogus email, while generally sensible, misses the most important and easiest test of whether an email is a spoof or not: sign into your eBay/Paypal account; if they have something they need to tell you, it will be there. Similarly with bogus web pages, the easiest way to detect them isn't actually to download the toolbar, it's to avoid clicking on potentially dodgy links in emails, and only ever to type the URL into your browser yourself.

It's a shame, because in amongst the dross is some good advice - for example, my own favourite saying, "if it seems too good to be true, it probably is". User eduction is undoubtedly the way to combat fraud, counterfeiting and phishing on the internet in general, but articles like this just scare away the very people they're trying to advise.

So next time you need an article on eBay, Mr Lewis, why not ask someone who knows what they're talking about? We look forward to hearing from you ;-)



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