Picking at the scab.

§ September 6th, 2007 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off on Picking at the scab.

I was kinda stewing a bit about the whole “eBay canning some of my auctions” thing, so while I was at the shop on Wednesday…well, it was kinda slow, what with no new comics yet, so I actually used the eBay “Live Help” function for the first time. Basically, it’s a chat window that connects you directly to some eBay employee (I’m assuming it is a live person, and not eBay’s version of Eliza*), and so I asked this person what was up with my auctions getting canned, while other naughty comics on the eBay got off (har har) scot-free.

Well, he didn’t have any answers for me, so he directed me to the page where I could contact someone else regarding this policy. I sent a message explaining what happened, asking why this policy was enforced so sporadically (for example, why my auction for the UK underground Edward’s Heave was removed, where the entire adult content was some bad words and a cartoon nipple, while there were nearly 200 auction listings for Preacher, the content of any given issue being far worse than anything in Edward’s Heave).

The response I’ve received told me, in essence:

1. The items were removed because they said “Adults Only” on the cover. [And so did several of the other items I listed but were left online, because…]

2. My other auctions were not removed because only the auctions that were reported to eBay were reviewed.

3. They rely on user reports for violating items, and that sellers are responsible for their own compliance.

To sum up: so long as no one complains, you apparently can get away with listing adult material outside the adult section. But, if you annoy a user who then reports you, eBay’s kinda obligated to do something about it, rather than risk showing up in some “PORN FOR SALE ON AUCTION SITE” news story.

When I sent in that e-mail, I did half-jokingly mention to Employee Jeff, “Gee, I sure hope I’m not about to screw things up for everybody” — you know, suddenly because of me all auctions for, say, DC’s Vertigo line are now restricted to the naughty eBay section. The likelihood of that happening is pretty slim, admittedly, since the eBay-owned PayPal payment service is prohibited, for various legal reasons, from being used for “adult” material, and I doubt eBay would want to take the hit in potentially lost PayPal fees from moving so many items to the mature area (where the PayPal option is verboten).

A few people threw the word “censorship” around in reference to my experience here, and I don’t really think it’s censorship per se. EBay’s policy on this material is clearly stated, and I just happened to get caught. It smacks more of eBay, Inc. covering its ass, trying to show a complainer that, oops, we don’t want that dirty stuff out where the young’uns can see it! See, it’s gone! No reason to complain! Or file a class action lawsuit! I think any actual censorious intent would likely not have let my auction for Gay Comics stand, since you know how would-be censoring busybodies like the gays.

I’m not saying that kind of censoring abuse isn’t possible, or hasn’t happened, on eBay. I just don’t think it’s the case here.

One other thing…when you sign up for eBay, one of the things you agree to under “Terms of use and your privacy” is that you’re at least 18 years old. So, theoretically, every potential bidder on eBay is an adult anyway, and if they’re not, that’s eBay’s fault, not the seller’s. See, buck successfully passed back!

For your convenience, here’s more “fun for all ages!” comic book stuff allowed to remain in eBay’s general listing section:

Bondage Fairies

Threshold (Avatar’s porn ‘n’ violence anthology)

R. Crumb stuff

Milo Manara

“Hey, Mike, bitter much?”

“Nah, not me.”

Pal Dorian ain’t busy enough, so he started a new When Fangirls Attack-esque linkblog Comic Gays. Go, encourage the man. At least check out his great logo.

* Yes, I linked to Wikipedia again. You’ll live.

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