Stamp Collectors Against Dodgy Sellers
July 10, 2004:
The StampChat board was finally taken down, after providing a place of transition to its successor, the StampChat+ board.
March 31, 2004:
The StampChat board was very successful in providing a forum for the discussion of misdescribed items and other fraud on eBay and other online auction sites. It grew into a very popular board with much lively discussion, attracting collectors with a wide range of expertise.
Unfortunately, the lack of security on the board meant that anonymous posters could disrupt conversations and make defamatory comments to other board members. Also, philatelic discussions often turned into arguments between board members, disrupting the harmony of the board. Moderator Dave Frick asked posters who wished to remain anonymous to register with him, and spent much of his time moderating the board and removing defamatory posts whilst striving to maintain an atmosphere of open discussion.
In addition, a number of individuals harassed Dave privately, with some threatening legal or FBI action. Dave responded by introducing restrictions on the discussion of fraudulent items and unethical sellers. Board members were asked not to identify sellers in their discussions, nor to post direct links to auctions. Links to scans were not be able to be connected with a specific seller.
On February 25, during a discussion of enhancements and alternatives to the current board set-up, Dave stated that he would close down the StampChat board at the end of March. This would give participants five weeks to design a successor board that would not be fraught with the problems Dave was encountering on the current board, which he had set up in two days as an initial response to the censorship on the eBay Stamps chat board.
In the ensuing weeks, various board prototypes were prepared and tested. The eventual replacement was selected on the basis of its non-US location, its security system requiring posters to register before they could post, and the capability for multiple moderators to take the strain off any one individual. The non-threaded format was chosen to keep a familiar, friendly and easy-to-navigate feel to the board. By the end of March, most teething problems had been sorted out and Stampchat members had migrated to the new StampChat+ board.
May 31, 2003:
On 9 May, the suspension of Saratoga Ring seller pcheltenham was cause for celebration on the eBay Stamps chat board. By mid-May, however, posting any auction or seller ID on the board was cause for a deleted post and a warning letter from the eBay Moderation Team. Conversations became disjointed and board members felt more and more frustrated when they could not be sure that any post they made, however innocuous, would remain, as those containing any off-eBay links were apparently also fair game for deletion.
Dave Frick, a long-time supporter of those who actively further the cause of exposing fraud on eBay, decided to implement an alternative message board, where discussions that would now be deleted by eBay could be discussed. This StampChat board, which began operation on 20 May, is defined as "Supporting issues important to the online philatelic community".
A growing number of posters has shown that a board that is receptive to the posting of misdescribed items on eBay and other online auction houses has been long overdue in the Stamps community. The Stampchat board also supports both specialist and general postings and questions in a friendly and welcoming atmosphere.
May 2, 2003:
After an increasing blitz of deleting posts on the eBay Stamps chat board by the "Moderation" team , board members are at a loss to know what can and can't be posted, especially when, at the top of the board, the following lines appear:
"eBay encourages open communication between members of the eBay community........
This board is not connected in any way with the company, and any messages are solely the opinion and responsibility of the person posting the message."
Just over a month ago, the chat boards were contracted out to independent company LiveWorld Inc, and a "Report" button added to every post. Gone are the days when auctions of out-of the ordinary items could be safely posted on the board and their merits or otherwise discussed by board members, as this now appears to be regarded as a violation of the eBay board usage policy clause "Posting auction reports or member violations".
Posts on the most egregious fraud of all, that of the Saratoga Ring's stamp alteration operation (documented here) are deleted as well as those discussing other auctions, but apparently only when sellers' names or individual auction item numbers are explicitly mentioned, and then noticed by "snitchers".