Jeff Atwood writes:
Swoopo [a major penny-auction site] is evil beyond the likes of Saddam Hussein, The Balrog, OSB, Darth Vader, and Barbra Streisand -- combined.Wow, that's a lot of evil. Or at least a lot of bitterness on Mr. Atwood's part. Let's take his complaints one by one.
First, he quotes another blogger as saying that bids placed in the last few seconds of the auction are ignored. I can't confirm or deny that that is true, and there is no way to know whether it's just a delay in his Internet connection or a flaw in the Swoopo site (certainly, Swoopo isn't ignoring bid attempts on purpose -- they want as many bids as possible) but it's a common problem in real-life auctions and with online auctions. It's nothing peculiar to Swoopo or penny auctions generally.
Second, he complains there is no reliable way to win. Well, duh. If there were a reliable way to win, it wouldn't be an auction, it would be a sale.
Third, and this I think goes to the heart of his objection to penny auctions, he says it's gambling.
Well, to begin with, it isn't gambling. It just isn't. My next post (wittily entitled, "It isn't gambling") will explain why, but for the moment, just accept that it isn't.
But if it were gambling, does that really make it worse the Saddam Hussein and Barbra Streisand put together? No, Atwood admits gambling would be, "OK, I guess, if it was properly regulated as gambling" (bold-face in the original), although what kind of regulation he is hoping for is left unstated.
So his real complaint seems to be that the people who run and the people who participate in penny auctions don't agree with him when he wrongly labels it gambling.
As Lisa Simpson is wont to say, Meh.