eBay will no longer tolerate off-topic posts

eBay will delete all but the last two months of user posts on its Soapbox forum as it turns it into a private board – accessible by invitation only.

eBay cited the reason in the October 25 announcement: “The board content is more appropriate in a private group because it is not related to eBay. Therefore, we are giving you the option to join an invite-only group. which one or more of you can handle.”

But it’s possible that legal issues and the erosion of Section 230 protections offered to platforms — as well as the cost of moderating online discussions — could be contributing factors.

In a Nov. 7 announcement update, eBay said definitively, “All publicly available content posted to the community must relate to eBay.”

The posts on the Soapbox forum were certainly not related to eBay and were more similar to those found on sites like Reddit than on the main eBay forums. Users didn’t comment on eBay’s features or slow sales, but on politics, current events, and other pet peeves. Bashing politicians was a favorite sport.

Same a trivial thread in 2019 over a study showing you can learn a language while you sleep quickly turned into a political dispute among the participants.

It’s unclear what eBay moderators will do now when they encounter off-topic threads on the eBay forums – they had moved them to the Soapbox forum.

eBay has used various third-party companies to power and moderate its discussion forums. In 2013, he left LiveWorld in favor of Lithium, and he reorganized the boards of directors over the years, including in 2014 and in 2016. Khoros now powers eBay boards.

In last month’s announcement, eBay called for volunteers to run the new Soapbox private board, but noted in Monday’s update that it received few takers:

“We haven’t had many volunteers for the private soapbox group. We need more than one person to manage this, and that volunteer will need to be in good standing in the community (no or very few restrictions or bans). Send us an e-mail if you are interested in managing the soapbox.” (askcommunity@ebay.com)

Jessica C. Bell