Friday, November 27, 2009

Will today be the day?

Will today be the day that eBid finally announces when the all new site is going live? Well, no, probably not. We've been waiting a while now, to say the least, and there's nothing to show anything's different today. But one has to hope. 

eBid promised seven days notice of the "go live" date, and also promised the site update would happen before the next newsletter came out. Since the latter is due in less than seven days, both of these things can no longer be true. If eBid has one major failing in how it communicates with its customers, it's in the timing. 

Unlike most big sites the management at eBid actually have a human face (two, in fact, the owner's Gazza & Mark) and they post to the forums on an irregular but reasonably frequent basis. They've also improved on letting folks know in advance (albeit just minutes sometimes) about unexpected outages and updates. But there's one thing they never get right: the timing. eBid keeps time about as well as a chocolate clock. Estimates of how long the system will be down are invariably wildly optimistic, and guessing what the real timing will be has become something of a forum game. 

That's all very amusing in its way, but for something as important as a major system overhaul, flagging up a deadline and then wandering past it without a murmur is really unacceptable. 

I love eBid. I've tied my colours to its mast in a major way with my eBid Widgets site and the support services that I provide, but that doesn't mean I have to accept everything they do with religious fervour. It doesn't mean I can't call them on it when they get something wrong. 

So come on guys. This won't do! Tell us when the new site goes live. Make it a sensible date and time (not, for example, in the immediate build-up to Christmas) and then stick to it! And bear in mind when you're estimating the downtime... if you say "the site will be down for a day", and it comes back in five hours, you're heroes. If you say "the site will be down for 40 minutes" and it comes back in two hours, you surely ain't. So remember: be timely, be informative, and err on the site of caution.

And do it today, I'll look like a genius. ;o)

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