Code soup


Yesterday’s problems with Paypal continued this morning with many sellers reporting problems with eBay’s Checkout. These problems made a welcome change from last week’s Paypal problems, when new payments were not flagged as new, and from the week before, when eBay’s auction management software, Selling Manager Pro, failed.

Despite being widely reported as if it were actually news, this kind of breakdown in site functionality is something that eBay sellers deal with every day. And it’s about time it all got fixed. Properly.

Go on any eBay message board these days, and you’ll find that “PNR” is some kind of in-joke. It stands for “page not responding“, eBay’s error page in case of server failure. And it’s something that every eBay seller knows well, just as well, in fact, as they know that ten days after a cheap listing day, the site will grind to an over-burdened halt. Recent CLDs in both the UK and Canada had to be extended because their initial implementation was faulty. One has to wonder just what their programmers are doing, and whether they actually have a test server.

But it’s not just the site architecture that’s below par: its front end is horrible code soup too. With a recent report critising 97% of websites for failing accessibilty guidelines, eBay might be forgiven for thinking they can get away with the multiple nested tables, single pixel shim layout they’ve got at the moment, but it can really be only a matter of time before someone, somewhere decides to get the lawyers involved.

When was the last time that eBay’s site got rewritten from the ground up? Not in the last seven years while I’ve been using it. I can understand that with literally millions of lines of code, this is a major task. That’s why it needs to be done now. The current state of affairs, where each new feature breaks something and needs more bodges to hold it all together, cannot go on much longer.

For Cobb’s sake, can we get this fixed?


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