Running a French Holiday Gite in Rural Brittany

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Finding mis-spelt listings on ebay

Nothing to do with France this posting (so turn the page if you're not interested!)

I came across a pretty neat site today, TypoBuddy that searches on ebay for common misspellings in item listings.

The idea is you put in what you are searching for and then TypoBuddy searches on ebay but with variant spellings of the words you've put in. So searching for "xbox star wars" you'll find entries such as "xbox star wrs", "xbox star warzs", "xbox staa wars", etc which hopefully other people won't have found and thus will close for a lower selling price.

Well that's the theory anyway, how did it work in practice?

Personally I found the user interface a bit confusing because firstly I was told there my eBay results were "48 typos of 'wars' with xbox star" but when I clicked the link, I got nothing back. What was happing was that TypoBuddy found 48 different word variations of 'wars' (waars, waz, etc) but hadn't actually undertaken the search on ebay until I clicked the link, when nothing was actually returned - meaning either ebay users can type properly (unlikely) or the suggested misspellings were out.

TypoBuddy is just one of a growing set of such auction finder sites; a couple of others I tried out were Gumshoo and FatFingers.

Each of these search sites has similar features although they all differ slightly.

TypoBuddy allows you to try each misspelt word in turn and also does searches of
Fatfingers is I think one of the older search tools it tries less aggressive misspellings than TypoBuddy
Gumshoo has a very nice user interface allowing you to filter out junk listings, find those with free shipping, search for new/used items and a neat trend analysis to see if the seller's rating is on average going up or down over the last 30 days.

So do they work?

Well sort of. Trying searches for "xbox star wars", "Christian Dior" and "home theatre system" I generally didn't find many "hidden auction listings" but Gumshoo and TypoBuddy both turned up a "Home Cinema System Theartre" and Fatfingers turned some "xbox starwars" games.

Christian Dior was the most successful search as FatFingers and TypoBuddy managed to turn up listings for Chritian Dior, Christain Dior, Cristian Dor and Christain Dior, Chrisian Dior and Chirsian Dior.

If you're really keen to find such listings then you probably need to use more than one search engine; Gumshoo definitely looks nicest but has the poorest results and FatFingers and TypoBuddy both seem to be much better with FatFingers perhaps slightly ahead.

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