December 4, 2008
There are few human instincts that are less powerful than winning. With that, however, comes the unfortunate problem of cheating. In the real world, cheating usually has a fairly direct consequence that makes you not want to do it again. Out in the online world, however, things are just a bit different.
Consider, for example, eBay. The number-one online auction site recently started a promotion called Holliday Doorbusters where people could buy certain items, from sports cars to mini-saunas for the low, low price of one dollar. Sounds like a good idea, right? Unfortunately, things didn?t work quite as planned.
The promotion?s catch was that the first user to find and bid on certain items wins. However, it didn?t take long before clever coders created scripts that could find and buy the steeply discounted items before humans could. It reached the point where some items were bought before anyone actually saw the items.