Hack 48 Make Good Use of the About Me Page


Set up a static page on eBay for all the stuff that would otherwise clutter up your auction pages.

Many sellers make the mistake of including pages and pages of payment and shipping terms, only to supplement it with a single sentence about the item itself. No wonder bidders never read descriptions!

I hate clutter, whether it's on one of my own auctions or someone else's. I like to reserve the space in my auction descriptions for information about the item being sold, mostly because bidders have a limited attention span, and I, as a seller, have a limited amount of time to prepare my auctions.

eBay allows any user to build a static page right on the eBay web site ? separate from their auctions ? with whatever content he or she wants to make public. Although anyone can put together an About Me page by going to Site Map About Me, it's sellers who will benefit most from this feature.

Since the About Me page is separate from auctions, its content can be modified at any time, even after your auctions have received bids. See [Hack #50] and [Hack #51] for more information.

Although you can maintain your own web page on any off-eBay site, there are significant advantages to using the About Me feature. For one, the information on the page will appear more trustworthy to your bidders because it looks like part of the eBay site, complete with the eBay logo and menu bar. Second, a link to your About Me page will appear next to your user ID whenever your ID appears on eBay. And finally, you'll be able to insert dynamic, eBay-specific content in your page, as follows.

4.17.1 Just Say No to Templates

When you use the About Me feature for the first time, eBay presents a selection of different templates that you can choose from to frame your page. The next step involves filling in about a dozen fields with your personalized information (see Figure 4-13), such as a title, welcome message, something called "another paragraph," and some of your favorite links. You can also choose to display recent feedback and a list of your items for sale, right on the page.

Figure 4-13. The About Me setup page is the first thing you see when you build an About Me page, but it doesn't afford the flexibility of the optional HTML editor interface

If you want to have full control over the look of your page, you can skip the setup page by clicking Preview at the bottom of the page. Then, on the next page, click "Edit using HTML." You'll then be shown a single edit box, prefilled with the HTML code from your current About Me page. You can proceed to modify or replace this code as you see fit. See [Hack #40] for assistance in this area, as well as information on using a WYSIWYG web page editor to create pages like this.

Once you leave the template interface, you won't be able to go back without "starting over," which effectively deletes your page and returns you to the blank slate provided when you first started. For this reason, you should always keep a copy of your custom About Me page in a text file on your computer. Just highlight all the text in the edit box (Ctrl-A), copy to the clipboard (Ctrl-C), and paste into your favorite text editor (Ctrl-V). Do this every time you modify your page.

Since the page is hosted on the eBay site, you'll have access to features not otherwise available if you were to host the page yourself. Using specialized HTML tags, you can insert eBay-specific content, such as recent feedback and a list of your running auctions. In all, five tags are available, each with a selection of options to further customize your page.


Instead of putting your email address in your About Me page, you can take advantage of eBay's privacy features. Having your bidders contact you through the Contact an eBay Member form will reduce the spam and other nuisance emails you might otherwise get. For example:

<ebayuserid nofeedback nomask>

The nofeedback and nomask options remove the feedback in parentheses and the icons that would normally appear after your user ID. If you want more flexibility, you can include a hard-coded link to the same page, like this:

<a href="http://cgi3.ebay.com/aw-cgi/eBayISAPI.dll?ReturnUserEmail&requested=user_ID">contact me</a>
<eBayFeedback size=n>

Use this tag to include a table with some recent feedback you've received; specify size=15 to show the last 15 comments. You can further customize the table with the following additional options:

  • alternatecolor=red (the color of the upper line of each comment; see [Hack #41] for a list of supported colors)

  • color=white (the color of the lower line of each comment)

  • border=1 (the width, in pixels, of the table border)

  • tablewidth=100% (the width of the table, as a percentage of the width of the browser window)


This tag places a table with a list of your running auctions right in your text, similar to the "View seller's other items" page. You can customize the table with these options:

  • sort=n (where n can be 8 to show newly listed auctions first, 2 to show the oldest auctions first, 3 to show the auctions ending first, or 4 to show the lowest-price items first)

  • since=n (include a positive number for n to show completed items, up to 30 days old)

  • category=n (restrict the listing to items in a single category; see [Hack #12] for more information on the category number to include here)

  • border, tablewidth, and cellpadding (see <eBayFeedback>, above)


These two tags display the date you first registered and the current date in eBay time, respectively.

You might use <eBayMemberSince> like this:

eBay member since <ebaymembersince format="%B %d, %Y">

and you'd see something like "eBay member since May 31st, 2003" in your About Me page. The idea is to imply a certain level of trustworthiness, corresponding to the length of time you've been buying and selling on eBay. But since this date never changes, there's no reason you can't simply type it directly onto your page.

Since <eBayTime> doesn't necessarily show either the seller's local time or the bidder's local time, but rather only the current time in eBay's time zone (Pacific time, GMT-8:00), its usefulness on this page is limited.

The codes used in the format string are as follows. To format the date, include %A for the day of the week (%a to abbreviate), %m for the month number, %B for the month name (%b to abbreviate), %d for the day of the month, and %Y for the year (%y for only two digits). Likewise, to format the time, type %I for the hour (%H for 24-hour clock), %M for the minute, %S for the second, and %p for the appropriate "AM" or "PM" text. (Note that the codes are case-sensitive; %Y is different from %y.)

4.17.2 Referencing the About Me Page

Once you've built an About Me page, a little "me" icon will appear next to your user ID (right after the feedback rating) wherever your ID appears on the eBay site. Another user can simply click the icon to view your About Me page. But you can also link directly to your About Me page in your auctions using this simple URL:


If you want eBay's little "me" icon to appear in your link, use this code:

See <a href="http://members.ebay.com/aboutme/user_ID/" target=_blank><img 
src="http://pics.ebay.com/aw/pics/aboutme-small.gif" border=0></a> for 
payment and shipping terms.

If your About Me page is complicated or lengthy, you may want to divide it up with named anchors. For instance:

<a name="shipping"></a>
My Shipping Terms . . . 
<a name="payment"></a>
My Payment Terms . . .

You can then jump to any anchor on the page by placing a # sign at the end of the URL, followed by the anchor name. For example, you may want to place this code in your auction description:

Please read my <a href="http://members.ebay.com/aboutme/user_ID/#shipping">
shipping terms</a> and my <a href="http://members.ebay.com/aboutme/user_ID/
#payment">payment terms</a> before you bid.

This would create two links, each to a different part of your About Me page.