Why did auctions, in a matter of years, go from world-shaking innovation to seeming curio? To begin with, the experience of auctions changed over time, generally in ways that made them less appealing to both buyers and sellers. Scot Wingo, CEO of ChannelAdvisor, which consults for ecommerce companies, points to the advent of sniping—the practice of placing winning bids at the last second—as something that has alienated ordinary shoppers. “New bidders don’t understand or expect sniping, so when it happens, you see people leave in frustration,” he says. It’s not that sniping is illicit—depending on the kind of auction, bidding as late as possible often makes sense. But sniping has stripped auctions of much of their entertainment value. What fun is it to wait for seven days, only to be outbid at the last second, with no chance of competing?
Read this awhile back, but loved it. James Surowiecki explains why the internet action has lost its excitement: