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Posted by Jonathan Levinger
Jonathan Levinger May 15, 2010 12:43PMAbout the auctions, if this is to work there should be some strict rules; rare species category should contain rare species not Calcite, Quartz etc. Display mineral specimens should show mineral specimens not the tumbled stones and carving rough, cutting stones and gems should be in the category provided for this only. Already this auction attempt looks worst than eBay.
If it can be kept clean and to the subject it will bring in serious collectors, otherwise it will be a site for junkies to post their barbarous soliciting in a way telephone soliciting is done.
I may sound very orthodox in my views but being to strict is better than anarchy.
I believe that we could in the realm of minerals and fossils beat eBay by leaps if only we think straight and keep away from flea market attitude.
So jump on the bandwagon and do some thinking.
Jonathan Levinger May 15, 2010 08:06PMHere is a copy of what David said about auctions;
from an example of this can be seen in the auctions - which I don't believe any of the managers are very interested in policing - if anyone is interested in doing this, Jolyon would probably like to hear from you).
I would be willing to help but first we have to set the goals and rules.
I have made some attempts to do that for the Thumbnail collectors forum in order to display only thumbnails and indicate if they are available or not. There I simply sent a comment to every inappropriate picture.
In the case of the auctions it is more complex task but could be done.
Donald Slater May 15, 2010 11:18PMI agree with you that minerals should be posted in the proper category, no quartz , calcite etc. in the rare mineral etc. Ideally it should be up to the person posting not a moderator, but it would probably not take care of all the wrong postings. I don't know if is carelessness, or that person thinking he will get their item noticed more, or a misunderstanding of the terms. Posting your item in the wrong category could and will probably cost you a sale or cause much lower bidding. Some interested in only tumbled items will not look in the mineral section and people interested only in fine crystals will not bid on the item. I am sure everybody has plenty of things to do so finding a moderator may be difficult. It may take several people taking turns. I don't know what the answer is.
Rob Woodside May 15, 2010 11:58PMI watched this a bit and had been reluctant to interfere with seller's designations, but I bit the bullet earlier and rearranged a few, as someone else did a day or so ago. It seems to me that the only way to make an auction site a go to place is to post good minerals without ridiculous reserves.
Jonathan Levinger May 17, 2010 04:59PMIf you look at every mineral related category on eBay you will easily get my point. I was one of very few on eBay in 2000.
Looking for a specimen in say display specimens would produce a list of 90% display specimens and few that I would rather hide or re trim or split in few displayable pieces.
By 2005 there would be about 50 times as many items and 50% had nothing to do with the category. Right now it is even worst despite the fact that eBay is trying to learn about this (Mineral) section and do some improvement. Problem with their solution is that instead of some policing they are simply adding more category and encouraging people to list in more than one, of course to make more money. They make the money on listing fees and consider final sale fees as a bonus. So I hardly ever look for specimens on eBay.
Now why is so many people that list in the wrong category is simple, it is a greed driven simpletons view that if you can slap your information on to every ones face as often as possible you will eventually run in some suckers that will buy. Greed has no scruples and has no interest in anything but profit. While lots of you will say oh that is stupid way to reason and there must be only few people that will do it, have a look at eBay or even closer at our auctions here and see what was listed in the rare species and what in display specimens.
Auctions would have to be strictly policed right from the beginning or it will become a cheap flea market bazaar useful only to those that care less about this noble site.
I am not discussing the prices, that is up to every vendor to shape according to his own experience and targeted clientele.
Ariel S Wall May 19, 2010 07:41PMIt apears to me that tthe auctions are dead in the water and that a buy it now for a fixed price(reasonable) is the only way to revive this. If mindat charged a flat fee of .25 per listing pre paid. So say you pay mindat $5 and you get 20 listings. If they were paid in advance rater than after, this could generate some significant revenue i think and make it worth while. Otherwise I dont see this going anywhere. I think that if members pages had an area for this it would be a good format. To show what you have in your collection not for sale and an area of what is for sale.
Jonathan Levinger May 19, 2010 09:43PMAuctions are fun and working for some individual dealers but this are well managed.
I like to see minerals changing hands as easily as possible and mindat making money in the process.
I think that I should transfer this topic to the auction page where it belongs and we can continue to discuss it from there.
Roger Lang May 19, 2010 11:43PMFolks,
the mindat auctions are drop dead at the moment. Too many issues (as missing buy now, and some other data entering stuff) and IMO too much stuff comparable to the lower end at ebay in the wrong categories, as Jonathan said. Of course there must be a space for tumbled stones etc but if it is up to the seller to list in the category this will lead to nothing long term. To get rid of the high reserves there must be a listing fee depending on start price .. also a fixed percentage after sale for mindat too. I am a regular at another well designed and splendid working specialized mineral auction site and i would NEVER change focus to mindat auctins at the moment although i have have to pay the fees at "my" site now etc. .. but the good moderation is benign to my auctions and i am not reluctant to pay for this.
As far as for now ... very reluctant to post auctions here. I see great danger of mindat being transferred from an excellent database and educational site to a flea market. The idea of a selling section on members pages isn´t bad, all could be compiled on an auction/selling page. But as it works now it won´t work well IMO.
Ralph Bottrill May 20, 2010 01:58AMOne thing sellers need is the capacity to edit listings and especially relist at reduced prices, else you have to completely start the listing again. Buy-it-now would be good too. There are some good items going through, but with very low sales rates for some reason.
Donald Slater May 21, 2010 05:05PMWhat drives me away from an individual auction is the hidden reserve. I won't waste my time watching and bidding to find out even though I have the high bid, I didn't reach the hidden reserve. I don't know what the point is especially on Mindat auctions. I guess on Ebay it is a way to reduce your listing cost but then there is an extra fee for setting a reserve. I haven't bought or sold on Ebay for a long time so maybe it is different now. I have been looking at Mindat auctions and considering bidding but don't want to play the reserve game. A Buy it now price would be good. I am also considering listing as well when I get some time so I hope it stays.
John Sobolewski May 21, 2010 08:00PMHere are some barriers that have prevented me from bidding on mindats auctions:
1. Eliminate the hidden reserve since it is perceived as a waste of time to potential
2. A "Buy me now" capability would help.
3. Too many poor specimens have a much too high starting price (if they do not have reserve).
Remember that this is an auction and the starting prices should be low. It seems that too many
sellers use the retail price as their starting price.
4. When an item is fairly priced, high shipping costs can double or trebble the final price.
Sellers with multiple listings should consider consolidating shipping charges to reduce the
per item shipping costs if a buyer buys multiple items.
5. Since buying based on a photo can be risky, a return policy would help. If a seller is
not willing to give a full refund, he/she should realize that the asking price should be much
lower because of the risk to the buyer.
6. Many mindat folks are serious collectors and expect to see good photos of good or rare
specimens at competitive total prices, including shipping. I do not believe that junk or average
specimens of common species will sell on Mindat.
It seems to me that some sellers have tried to unload their poor and not saleable specimens on
Minat at retail or higher prices. That is bad for Mindat and I believe that had a lot to do with many
people loosing interest in the auctions. John S.
sharath May 21, 2010 11:50PMproblems with auctions:
1.very poor quality minerals
2. very poor quality minerals
3. photos are very small, you need to go into each on every page individually to look at the larger image. needs more time. a waste of time when a large fraction of the listings are actually junk.
4. no clear-cut policy : return/ shipping charge / where will it be posted from
5. appears the forum has been taken over by trash dealers rather than private collectors. pre-payment will not only make money for mindat but ask drive away the unscrupulos elements.
6. reserve price should be disclosed.
7. extent/nature of damage or incompleteness of crystallization should be clearly noted. Other sellers have to compulsorily state "No damage" or "Complete crystallization". Other wise, a cube in photo may actually be a wedge in real; also damages absent in photogenic face may be present on the pheriphery.
1. you should expect sellers to list at very low price. you cannot expect him/her to incur loss.but the start price/reserve should be reasonable say 25-50% of retail. or there should be a buy it now price or a page where specimens can be sold for fixed prices rather than
2. may be users (even if they are not buyers) can be allowed to comment on listings. this way bad listings will get thrashed. people can comment on the quality of the minerals/ price. this will serve as a means for moderation.
Jolyon & Katya Ralph May 22, 2010 12:01AMHere are my thoughts:
> 1. Eliminate the hidden reserve since it is perceived as a waste
> of time to potential bidders.
I'm starting to agree with this. Sellers like the reserve feature, but bidders universally hate them. Perhaps we should try removing it for now.
> 2. A "Buy me now" capability would help.
I wasn't particularly keen on doing this before, but it is (apart from your point 1) the most requested addition - I think we may need to add it.
> 3. Too many poor specimens have a much too high starting price (if they do not have reserve).
> Remember that this is an auction and the starting prices should be low. It seems that too many
> sellers use the retail price as their starting price.
This is the problem of running auctions for free, sellers have no risk so can price things ridiculously. Other than charging for the auctions (which we're not ready to do yet) I'm not sure how we'd deal with this.
> 4. When an item is fairly priced, high shipping costs can double or trebble the final price.
> Sellers with multiple listings should consider consolidating shipping charges to reduce the
> per item shipping costs if a buyer buys multiple items.
I would expect all sellers to combine items and consolidate shipping charges whether they say this in their conditions or not, in fact (unlike ebay), I may make it a condition of sale in the future that sellers agree to this. On ebay people use this as a way of getting round paying ebay their commissions, and I don't want that here! Plus, it's unfair to the buyer.
> 5. Since buying based on a photo can be risky, a return policy would help. If a seller is
> not willing to give a full refund, he/she should realize that the asking price should be much
> lower because of the risk to the buyer.
For auctions the risk is always with the buyer - if you dislike it, then that's too bad. However, if the item is sold as a Mumbojumboite and it's really just quartz, (ie the description is significantly inaccurate) then a refund should be given. Similarly if it is damaged during shipping a refund would be appropriate (alternatively you could negotiate a partial refund).
For 'buy-it-now' style auctions, full distance sale rights would apply, which would mean you have the right to a full refund if the specimen is returned within 10 days of receipt.
The official policy that we will support is that sellers should refund specimen cost PLUS the original postage costs to ship the specimen out (regardless of whether the reason for return was incorrect description or just because the customer didn't like it), however the seller does not have any obligation to refund the cost of returning the specimen to the seller - this should be borne by the buyer and should be done in no less of a secure way than the original specimen was sent (so if it was sent to you by recorded delivery, that's what you should use to send it back).
If however the fault was the original seller (for example, he sends the wrong specimen, or significant damage was not described), then I would expect the seller to make good the return postage cost as well. HOWEVER, where it is something that would be regarded as an 'honest' mistake (and most mineral misidentifications would come under this category), the dealer would not be obliged to refund the cost of return.
These will be a minimum requirement from all sellers who participate in mindat auctions. These rules are not yet in place, but they will be soon. Sellers may of course offer greater guarantees to their customers (ie always offering to refund return postage cost), but that is up to them.
> 6. Many mindat folks are serious collectors and expect to see good photos of good or rare
> specimens at competitive total prices, including shipping. I do not believe that junk or average
> specimens of common species will sell on Mindat.
They may sell if the starting price and delivery cost are reasonable - but I agree it's not really what the auctions are for.
Debbie Woolf May 22, 2010 12:15AMSharath, the auctions do state where the item is located, most sellers quote shipping costs, some quote info on returns, yes further work needs to be done we've waited a few years to get this far & seeing as they've only been running a few months it will be a while before finalized. BTW you have to be a registered member for 3 months before you can make a comment on any auction but we don't need to see slanging matches of peoples opinions as you suggest 'thrashed' this will just put of buyers & sellers & defeat the object.
Donald Slater May 22, 2010 06:44PMThanks Jolyon for the comments. Good ideas. I think the main points like hidden reserves and guarantees are the most important. These protect the seller. Things like the prices being too high and low quality will work themselves out. If the prices are too high and the quality too low for the price, they won't sell and the seller will either not try again or try at a lower price. What is too high to some may not be too high to someone so why not ask. I sometimes think people who use hidden reserves here and on Ebay are just feeling out the market and trying to see what their item is worth which is unfair to the bidder and a waste or time. If they don't want to sell their item for less that $100 then that should be the starting price. If it is worth that or more someone will bid on it. The old saying is true, "An item is only worth what someone is willing to pay",
Michael Shaw May 22, 2010 10:20PMI have participated in the auctions in the past and have been fortunate to sell 16 specimens to 8 different buyers. Most buyers have told me through email contact that they were pleased with their purchase. Some sort of feedback or seller rating through the auction site would be very helpful to both sellers and future buyers. Both seller and buyer have to complete a form to conclude the sale - why not make this information available.
As a buyer myself, I hate hidden reserves and choose not to use them. I believe the starting prices on my listings were quite fair based on what I would be happy to let the specimen go for. In most cases, this price was considerably lower than what a full-time dealer would offer for a similar piece. But 25% lower is too low. Most items sell with only one or maybe two bids, so essentially the site isn't really functioning like an auction. I'm not sure if this is related to the low number of potential bidders, the amount of poor quality material, or other reasons, but the end result is that with one bidder, the starting price is a "buy it now" price.
Lastly, after contacting the buyer to arrange for payment and shipping on two sold items (not included in the above 16), I never heard back from the buyer. Why would someone bid on a specimen if they didn't intend to complete the transaction?
I have no problem with the proposed changes to the site as I already adhere to the proposed rules, but I would like to see the feedback issue addressed.
sharath May 23, 2010 01:27AMCompletely agree with Slater. There should be a mechanism to protect the seller from loss and the buyer from wasting his/her time. A disclosed reserve along with a buy it now option would be ideal. The auction in the present form appears to allow 'testing the market'.
and Debbie thanks for your comments. I haven't bought anything from the auction yet. Whenever a good specimen is listed it unfortunately fall outside my theme. And yes the auction is still a baby and needs to grow; and that needs feedback and criticism.
I'm strongly intersted in the success of this auction as it allows a private collector to sell his/her specimens directly to another collector and thus reduce cost. As your collection grows there are bound to be doubles,ones that no longer fit your theme etc. A dealer would only pay half or less the going price. This auction has the potential to get a better price for the seller while letting the buyer have it for less than the going. A fair bargain for both. This can also be a good forum for field collectors to sell excess. Yes, I know, field collector seldom let go their stuff. Thats because they are offered nickles and dime.
Dana Slaughter May 23, 2010 03:38AMHi,
A very interesting conversation! Many good points and some that frankly I just don't get. I've only listed three items on mindat and all received multiple bids and I was happy with the final price reached on each item. I guess that I just don't put a whole lot of thought into the process. I try to upload several very good and representative photos that are not photo-shopped so as to make the specimen look different than actuality. This is my biggest gripe about mineral dealer websites. I also give a fairly lengthy (for mindat) description of the specimen along with full locality information. I do not gouge on shipping---why charge $5.00 for a rock that can be sent for $2.50? Again, another one of my peeves. Lastly, I ship everything right away and I pack items carefully.
It seems that there is little interest in most of the mindat auctions. But I've also noticed a dramatic decline in the number of hits that specimens are getting in my eBay auctions as well. Some items that would get 100 hits are now getting 30-40. There is definitely a decline in general traffic though I've noticed that my items are increasingly being purchased by the same band of 15-20 buyers. I don't mind as I would rather good rocks go to good homes and good people that I've come to know. There has been a general bias against buying specimens on auction sites within the mindat conversation history. Some people definitely have been burned and many outright swindled (not here, but on eBay, etc) and are hesitant to buy again. That's to be expected. But a number of collectors expect to get $100 rocks for $6.00 and hence the reserve price insertion.
I used to start virtually all of my auctions on eBay at 99 cents but I actually did have a $100 rock go for $6 (fortunately it went to one of my regulars!) and have now switched almost exclusively to the Buy-it-Now format. I would like to see this added to mindat auctions. I also would love to be able to see feedback from buyers and sellers. And I would like to see the mindat management team to have the right to move items into proper categories, remove bogus items entirely and, in general, have the right of final authority on all auctions. I, too, am disturbed by the loose use of words like "rare" or "museum quality," etc. Lastly, I really want the mindat auction and sale site to work as I would much rather contribute a portion of my sales to mindat than to eBay! I'm on mindat every day and appreciate the enormous amount of work and time that has gone into making this the world's most trusted and valuable mineral resource. Sure, there are still some warts but we must all understand that it is a work-in-progress.
In the meantime, I will continue to add a rock or two every now and again to the mindat auctions. It seems to me that my regular customers on eBay are largely unaware of mindat despite the fact that I have a link on an eBay page directly to the site. A fair number use mindat regularly as I do and also love the site. Still others liken it to a good mineral show that is gradually being turned into a flea market. There are some characters out there that detract a bit from the site but, unless they are excessively obnoxious or belligerent, there is probably not much that can be done.
In the meantime, I will check the auctions regularly (I have two bids on items right now!) and will add more items to the auction as time allows. Thanks to Jolyon and his team for this remarkable web resource. The auction service is a minor part of the overall experience and I would like to see it grow so that we can toss a little coin into the mindat coffers.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/23/2010 04:33AM by Dana Slaughter.
Matthew Barrand May 23, 2010 07:42AMIm all for transactions but i hope this site doesnt turn to far away from the helpful friendly resource that it is at the moment. To try to keep it more personal: the items description should also contain the story behind the mineral itself. Anything that will turn the buy/sell transaction into a more personal exchange is worth it, i believe. I know its not really feasible but it would be cool if trading was an option. Trading is a bit different and it would encourage what this site is all about.
Becky Coulson May 26, 2010 07:53AMWhen the auction began, I was very happy with the minerals I bid on and purchased, and the communication/shipping was rapid (including one from an honest dealer in Poland). I really hope the auction continues. My only comments would be these:
1. Like some others, I find hidden reserves a hindrance, and would like to know immediately if I can be competitive (without insulting the dealer with a too-low bid!) When I encounter a hidden reserve, I look elsewhere.
2. The categories can be very helpful, but I would much appreciate a listing by where the specimens are (not just where they originate). The reason is simple - shipping costs. (I would love to bid on Australian minerals, but the shipping raises the bar a bit too high.) I also appreciate Dana's comment about charging actual shipping costs, rather that a high, flat fee. (The sellers I dealt with did that, and it kept the cost down.) This is simple to do with internet access to postal rates.
Many thanks, and I do look forward to future auctions. Becky
Jolyon & Katya Ralph May 26, 2010 11:10AMBecky said:
>I would much appreciate a listing by where the specimens are (not just where they originate).
>The reason is simple - shipping costs. (I would love to bid on Australian minerals, but the
>shipping raises the bar a bit too high.)
Very good idea - these are the sorts of ideas that can help make the auctions work right. I'll add it close to the top of my auction to-do list.
Rock Currier May 26, 2010 08:33PMJolyon,
Though your heart may not be with the auction part off mindat (that is also not my main interest), I think most of us realize that if Mindat is to have long term viability and grow into what we would all like to see it become, you do need to concentrate, when possible, on the portions of mindat, like the auction that are going to bring it long term sustainable income. I for one would encourage you to concentrate on these areas of the website, and the auction is one of those areas along with advertising and of course outright donations and gifts. Once the financial side is addressed, then we can all go off and play all we want. Have you thought of trying to set up an endowment fund, the proceeds of which can be used to fund Mindat activities?
Crystals not pistols.
Jolyon & Katya Ralph May 26, 2010 09:52PMRock (and everyone)
I generally alternate in my spare time between work on mindat that is of purely information work and things that could help with mindat (and my own) future financial success - this includes other projects semi-related to mindat (such as minfind.com) and things which are entirely unrelated (such as allworldjobs.com). I'm just started some work which will help improve mineral pages (after the work i did previously on locality pages), so after this is done the auctions (and revised mindat page sponsorship) are next on the agenda.
The future of mindat is secure financially, obviously I'd like it to be in a position where it could bring in enough money for me personally that I could devote a much greater percentage of my time to it - in the long term auctions will be one part of this, but there are other areas too, and what I don't want is to be sucked so much into running the auctions that I have no time left to continue to grow the information side of the site, which is really where my interest lies.
Craig Mercer May 27, 2010 01:05PMA wonderful site, full of excellent information, beautiful photo's and incredible people is MinDat. Definitely not a place for auctions though. That's my opinion anyway, and seems to be seconded by some of the other threads and comments i'm reading.
A while back when a thread was started up concerning what to do with our unwanted collection, I offered to donate my entire collection to MinDat apon death, where it could be sold (auctioned) with all profits going towards the continued costs of the site. No one ever said anything, or acted apon such a great idea. Anyway to late now, my collection is going to a museum where it will probably sit in boxes out the back and collect dust.
Jolyon & Katya Ralph May 27, 2010 01:50PM>I offered to donate my entire collection to MinDat apon death, where it could be sold (auctioned) with all profits going
> towards the continued costs of the site. No one ever said anything, or acted apon such a great idea.
You never suggested this to me! One would think I was probably the right person to suggest this to ;)
In general, the idea of donations to support mindat.org, be they collections, books or just as importantly copyrights on articles, books etc, on death would be something I would absolutely support.
Van King July 23, 2010 02:20AMI noticed the concern of bidders not paying for auctions they won. I state in my auctions that if payment is not sent or there is no communication in 5 days, I will relist the item. I suggest that the seller has a block bidder option if they find someone hasn't pay for an item for two auctions. There should be a similar option regarding sellers who do not deliver. This could be an automatic option. A feedback score is a desirable option as well.
Best Wishes, Van King
Michael Beck February 18, 2011 11:00PMLast night I bid on 2 items one with a 12.99 starting price so i bid 12.99 no problem won the auction.The other auction had a starting price of 15.00 then i get this hidden reserve not met message. This is a serious waste of my time I have better things to do.The old addage is very true to assume is to make an a-- out of u and me.. I imagian I'll get over it but what a serious turn off to bidding on another auction posted by any one with a hidden reserves.Now that my childish rant is done I guess the question is. Is their any way to see which auctions have these hidden reserves?
Don Saathoff February 19, 2011 01:44AMMichael, when I run into the "Reserve not met" message I immediately assume the piece is costlier than I'm willing to pay....so I quit bidding!! High reserves are especially damaging to newer collectors who come to the auction for material for their collections that they can afford. Most of us older, "jaded" collectors already have most of the material in the auctions - purchased at older prices!!
Kristopher Dingfield February 24, 2011 06:26PMI agree with most of what you all are saying. I personaly wish I could lower a "hidden" reserve or just be able to accept a bid at closing or after that was close enough for me to accept. I have sold a number of items on mindat and most of those have been to repeat buyers. I generaly list items on mindat cheaper then I would on e-bay because I expect mindat users to be of ths sort that would apreciate a good deal for a descent stone.
Kristopher Dingfield February 25, 2011 08:26PMI will personaly just use the starting bid to moderate my listings from now on. I wish I could see peoples questions too. I noticed several questions on one of my last listings after it was won, and though I think the person posting questions was a little sharp if I had been alerted to the questions durring the auction I could have at least responded. I have heard other buyers complain about certain sellers not answering questions, and at first I thought maybe they where right, but if the seller in question never realised that there was a question how could said seller respond?
Thanks everyone for posing these concerns.
Ron Cogar March 24, 2011 06:40AMI've bought 2 specimens from a dealer, paid for them, didn't get an acknowledgement, and don't know if they shipped them. I posted a message on the listing (evidently the only way to contact them) and have had no response. How am I supposed to rectify this if I can't contact the seller directly??? There are serious buyer protection issues here that need addressed!!!
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Copyright © mindat.org and the Hudson Institute of Mineralogy 1993-2017, except where stated. Mindat.org relies on the contributions of thousands of members and supporters.