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Inter-member trading using ACM data

HuwHuw Brickset Towers, Hampshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,450
edited June 2011 in Brickset.com
The 'trade' flag in the ACM could open the doors to some interesting functionality. I have a few ideas about how it might work but I'd be interested to hear yours...

Comments

  • atkinsaratkinsar Member Posts: 4,272
    As a starter, just the ability to review each list of Trades would be great (opt-in would be required, similar to how it is currently done to expose your collection/wanted lists).

    On a more advanced level:

    > match me up with people who have sets listed for trade that are on my wanted list.
    > some way of keeping of track of active trades, I've already found this to be a problem with the limited trading I've done via the forum. I would like to know:
    > what I've agreed to trade and with who
    > have I posted my side of the trade (and what date)/has the other trader posted theirs (and what date)
    > have I received the goods from the other trader/has the other trader received mine
    > some *very* basic feedback system, this may be as simple as allowing me to mark people as preferred traders, or some sort of +/-1 against them for successful/unsuccessful trades. This information would only be available via a trading section of the site and not permeating the entire site.

    more ideas to come I'm sure, but that'll do for now...
  • HuwHuw Brickset Towers, Hampshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,450
    Wow, you've given it more thought than me!

    It looks as if there could be two aspects to this

    - Seeing who has what to trade
    - A 'Trade manager'

    I've given the first some thought:

    Stage 1:
    - New tab on detail pages, 'Trade', which shows who has the set to trade
    - Some sort of indicator and pop-up window on the search results pages showing when someone has a set you mark as wanted

    Stage 2:
    - A means of comparing two people's 'for trade' and 'wanted' lists, maybe selecting the best match

    A 'Trade manager' may well form stage 3, then.

    Now, what about this: Is this -- being able to find 'trading partners' -- something that people would pay for? If so, how, and how much? Annual subscription model or per-trade? Just thinking about whether it could be monetized :-)
  • MatthewMatthew Cheshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 3,734
    @Huw You'd have all the kids going mad, as they couldn't facilitate payment, although I'm sure you deserve a return off this...
  • drdavewatforddrdavewatford Hertfordshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,258
    edited June 2011
    Hey guys,

    Stages 1 and 2 above are no-brainers as far as I'm concerned - they're a logical extension of ACM and indeed the trading culture we've got going on the forum already. Andy's captured most of the key points above.

    I'm less convinced about Stage 3, which would move the forum into a different and more complicated world of increased oversight and potential liability, particularly if it became a paid-for service.
  • HuwHuw Brickset Towers, Hampshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,450
    You're not wrong DrD, and it verges on taking it into BrickLink territory which is not something I plan on doing.
  • rocaorocao Administrator Posts: 4,288
    edited June 2011
    I don't think the Trade Manager, at least how currently suggested, could justify charging a fee.

    The discussion of how some features of Brickset could generate revenue is an interesting one, though, and I'm sure you've thought about it quite a bit, Huw.

    Without needing to go into specifics, are you content with the revenue from affiliate purchasing, or do you think it could/should be larger given the size of the user base? My guess is it's the latter case, as I think a large number of brickset users are unaware of the ability to give Brickset an assist with their online shopping, or simply forget to do so. I know I have been guilty of both in the past. Perhaps more can be done to publicize this and remind people. I imagine you are perhaps a little bashful of repeated mentions, but it was expressed very well by crzypainter in this post (http://www.bricksetforum.com/discussion/comment/8673/#Comment_8673)

    "Huw, If the revenue isn't enough to maintain a healthy income for you and your family, I don't think anyone would begrudge a re-thinking of some of the site elements to include potential for greater profitability. "
  • atkinsaratkinsar Member Posts: 4,272
    edited June 2011
    You're not wrong DrD, and it verges on taking it into BrickLink territory which is not something I plan on doing.
    Now there's something you could charge for ;o). Seriously though, even I think stage 3 is taking it a bit far at this stage and would take a huge amount of effort to implement and maintain and move Brickset firmly into Bricklink's territory. I do worry though, that without clear leadership and a lot of investment of time and effort, Bricklink's future is uncertain, and someone will need to step in at some point. Now I've thrown that hand grenade in, I'll just get back to fixing my bike ;o).

    @Huw, your ideas for Stage 1 and Stage 2 sound fine and I think would be extremely useful. Trading (mostly of polybags) has been an excellent experience in this forum for me to date, and some formalisation of that functionality on the main site would go down well with the Brickset community. I'm not sure it's an idea that could be monetized though.

  • brickmaticbrickmatic Member Posts: 1,071
    I think there needs to be a system to match the value that people place on their LEGO. In a trade, there are two figures that are important. How much you think the set you're giving away is worth to you and how much the set you're getting is worth to you. If what you're getting is worth the same or more than what you're giving away, you'll be inclined to make the trade. Of course the person you're trading with has to feel the same way from their perspective.

    I think when it comes to trading, matching up people who will trade with each other is the core goal. With the ACM data, there is no way to tell how much value people put on sets. Adding fields to record that information would then make it possible to create a system that matches people up with potential trades.

    From the user end perspective: Log into Brickset and go to the ACM. Mark things you're offering for trade. Put in how much you value the things you're trading and things you want to acquire. Get a notification or email when the system matches you up with a potential trader. This notice lists and links to the proposed trade items. It is then up to the users to contact each other and finalize the specifics of the deal. Maybe there is a trade tab that lists the potential trades and when you and the other guy click on complete this trade it removes the trade and wanted check marks and swaps the items in inventory.
  • atkinsaratkinsar Member Posts: 4,272
    With the ACM data, there is no way to tell how much value people put on sets. Adding fields to record that information would then make it possible to create a system that matches people up with potential trades
    Couldn't you use the current estimated value field to hold that information?

  • brickmaticbrickmatic Member Posts: 1,071
    ^ You could. People would have to know that the number there will be used for trading purposes.
  • Si_UKNZSi_UKNZ NZMember Posts: 4,179
    edited June 2011
    It might be useful to differentiate the 'insured value' which is best case scenario from the 'I'd let it go for' value which is what you could use to trade with.

    I think this would be a killer feature by the way, totally leverages the brickset USP.
  • atkinsaratkinsar Member Posts: 4,272
    ^ Yes you're probably right, although having thought about it some more, and in the interest of keeping things simple, I do wonder if trade valuation is required at all.

    It would be much simpler if it worked something like:

    >You have some stuff you're willing to trade
    >Someone views your trade list (or is led to it via a matching feature based on their wants list)
    >They contact you and either propose a trade or invite you to view their own trade list and asks you to make them an offer.
    >You both decide if the trade is to your liking and either accept or decline.
    >The trade is made and tracked entirely outside of Brickset.

    I fear the extra dimension of matching value of item(s) in addition to just item(s) may be too complex and a step too far at this stage.
  • HuwHuw Brickset Towers, Hampshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,450
    edited June 2011
    Much simpler, and pretty much how I imagined it. Brickset would just be the means to put trader and tradee (is that a word?) in touch with each other, having 'met' through some matching mechanism. Negotiations about price/fairness of trade etc., and tracking the trade would be entirely down to the individuals.
  • drdavewatforddrdavewatford Hertfordshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,258
    ^ Agreed
  • brickmaticbrickmatic Member Posts: 1,071
    edited June 2011
    ^^^ The simpler method you outlined is essentially what the forum does right now.

    You could improve it if there was a page you could go to that listed people that are willing to trade the stuff you want and also want stuff that you have for trade. That cuts out a fair bit of browsing through stuff that will never lead to a trade.

    However, if in my want list there is a Death Star amongst other things and among my will-trade list is a poly bag, the system could suggest to trade my Death Star for someone's poly bag. Not going to happen. That's the problem with not having values.

    I'm not convinced that coding the former improvement is much easier than the latter improvement. It's just a few more variables to algorithmically crunch, but you're still match-making. If you don't match-make, then you're dealing with high noise-to-signal because as an individual you wade through many offers that are not of interest or not possible.

  • atkinsaratkinsar Member Posts: 4,272
    edited June 2011
    However, if in my want list there is a Death Star amongst other things and among my will-trade list is a poly bag, the system could suggest to trade my Death Star for someone's poly bag. Not going to happen. That's the problem with not having values.
    If you have a Death Star in your want list, it could match you up with people willing to trade a Death Star (i.e. in their Trade List). You could then either come to a cash agreement or offer/ask them to choose something from your trade list. I think that's a big step up from what the forum provides.

    IMO, valuations are fraught with difficulty, people will overvalue their trades (or not fill the value in at all) and trades are not always 1:1, you could offer multiple items in exchange for 1, which would add a further dimension and complication. I'm not saying that the idea doesn't have some legs and it probably is worthy of further thought/discussion, but let's get a simple trade feature up and running first and then look to see where it can be expanded.
  • rocaorocao Administrator Posts: 4,288
    Is it important to make a distinction between "for sale" and "for trade"? There are definitely scenarios when a user might want one transaction and not the other, so should the system allow that specification or should we just assume that "for trade" might simply mean "available"?
  • brickmaticbrickmatic Member Posts: 1,071
    edited June 2011
    ^ Right. I was thinking of a trading system. If you mean sale, then matching up people doesn't really matter. They can agree to a price on their own, no big deal. However, if you're talking about trade finding people with what you want is not enough. You need to find people with what you want who also want something you have. And the trade needs to be of approximate equal value for both traders.

    Also, you can already sell on Ebay and you can sell in the AFOL community on Bricklink. So, what's the point of yet another sales market? When the forum was started it was to create something different from what was already out there. Is that the same idea behind the trading (or sales) system? If so, what will differentiate Brickset from Ebay and Bricklink?
  • rocaorocao Administrator Posts: 4,288
    ^ I'm not proposing a transaction system, just a presentation of a willingness to sell a set. And the 'willingness' is really the key, as many sets in my collection would be fair game if I received an attractive enough offer, but I'm not actively looking to sell them so I wouldn't list them on eBay or Bricklink. This designation is present on Lugnet where I used to maintain my setlist, and I've fielded dozens of inquiries over the years.
  • brickmaticbrickmatic Member Posts: 1,071
    edited June 2011
    ^ Just out of curiosity, how many sets have you sold, traded, or acquired via Lugnet over the years?

    Also, to clarify, I'm not suggesting a transaction system either. I'm suggesting a match-making system.
  • rocaorocao Administrator Posts: 4,288
    I would have to go through about a decade of emails, but my ballpark would be that I've had about 30 or so inquiries, performed sales on about half of them, and a couple of those led to pretty substantial transactions.

    To clarify my own point, I'm suggesting that an additional designation of "For sale" be presented. And that's probably the extent to what is needed, whereas "For trade" could benefit from added collection matching.
  • Si_UKNZSi_UKNZ NZMember Posts: 4,179
    just reawakening this idea ..... still think its worth pursuing ..
  • MinifigsMeMinifigsMe Member Posts: 2,844
    Agreed, it would be so helpful, I'd like to go back to the idea of having multiple own lists (so one can be easily seen as sets that can be traded)
  • kylejohnson11kylejohnson11 Member Posts: 508
    At a minimum would it be an option to eliminate the 6 minitue window for editing in the marketplace and allow for unlimited editing to update the lists in the first post?
  • rocaorocao Administrator Posts: 4,288
    ^ I'm afraid it's not an option. A change to the edit window would affect the entire forum, and we believe that should not be allowed to protect the integrity of discussions.
  • kylejohnson11kylejohnson11 Member Posts: 508
    @rocao understandable for the rest of the forums. I was unsure if Vinilla Forums had an option to change it for certain sections.
  • Si_UKNZSi_UKNZ NZMember Posts: 4,179
    Maybe the 'sales' area should run some kind of different platform then?
    Would be useful for it to have a bunch of different features too (e.g. easy links to the database - which could also create the cross referencing in the database so there could be a 'for sale by members' tab on each item page in the main site).
    It would also be nice if there was an easy way to link paypal transactions to items.
    Or, at the very least, give each individual item for sale an item# like bricklink or ebay, because then the paypal payment could reference this # (in the notes manually or automated) whcih would give some degree of traceability/ protection for non payers.
  • Cam_n_StuCam_n_Stu UKMember Posts: 368
    ^ Some really good ideas there Si.

    Your first comment made me wonder if there is any decent trading platform software out there that is designed to be branded/skinned, i.e. just as Huw did with this forum software? It seems we would be looking for a virtual marketplace system rather than a traditional ecommerce system and I realise this would most likely only stack up if it could be monetised.

    Having said that I have just sold a handful of sets on eBay and struggled to rationalise their three bites at the cherry charges: listing fees, final value fees and then PayPal fees. On the other hand I have never bought or sold on Bricklink due to the clunky interface and the opaque nature of the shipping costs so a good alternative would be very welcome and I suspect well used with the traffic levels the main Brickset site is seeing these days!
  • Cam_n_StuCam_n_Stu UKMember Posts: 368
    edited December 2011
    ...or you could go the whole hog, spin up a full parts database a la Bricklink, deploy this, which intriguingly says on the benefits page "Reduce IT Risk: With Marketplace, you own the source code – which means you have ultimate control", or something similar and give up the day job! ;-)
  • rocaorocao Administrator Posts: 4,288
    edited December 2011
    Just to give you some perspective, there was considerable debate among the staff about whether or not there should even be a marketplace category, let alone the desire to create or provide a platform :P
  • MatthewMatthew Cheshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 3,734
    On the other hand I have never bought or sold on Bricklink due to the clunky interface
    Just thought I'd mention that Eric Smith (BrickLink admin) has announced he is working on a new site, so it might not be 'clunky' for too much longer...
  • Si_UKNZSi_UKNZ NZMember Posts: 4,179
    ^ about time!
    (however, based on past performance im not holding my breath)
  • drdavewatforddrdavewatford Hertfordshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,258
    Just to give you some perspective, there was considerable debate among the staff about whether or not there should even be a marketplace category, let alone the desire to create or provide a platform :P
    Although to be fair, there was also a spirited debate amongst the staff about whether we even needed a forum....

    :-P

  • YellowcastleYellowcastle Member Posts: 4,401
    edited December 2011
    Although to be fair, there was also a spirited debate amongst the staff about whether we even needed a forum....
    :-P
    And in keeping with this spirit of disclosure, there was also a vigorous discussion as to the color of the boathouse at Hereford and whether blue horseshoe really loved Endicott Steel. :o)
  • atkinsaratkinsar Member Posts: 4,272
    Just thought I'd mention that Eric Smith (BrickLink admin) has announced he is working on a new site, so it might not be 'clunky' for too much longer...
    Oh right, that's interesting, got any other information, is there a discussion going in the Bricklink forum about it?

  • MatthewMatthew Cheshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 3,734
    ^ There was a message in the forum, which I can't find, but it's mentioned here http://www.bricklink.com/danjezek/oneyearlater.html
  • sidersddsidersdd USAMember Posts: 2,432
    I believe these are the only posts Eric had which hinted at changes for Bricklink:

    http://www.bricklink.com/message.asp?ID=572537

    http://www.bricklink.com/message.asp?ID=580201

    I think all the other posts are mostly speculation/ideas/feedback.
  • atkinsaratkinsar Member Posts: 4,272
    ^ and ^^, thanks guys, will have a read.
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