For the uninitiated eBay is an online auction and shopping website. Like World of Warcraft it will suck up its users' time and money, collecting objects of no value in the 'real world' & allowing people to live without any pesky human interaction.
eBay was created in 1995 as a way to bring the thrill of the auction house to every day (read poor) people. Originally given the brilliantly creative name of AuctionHouse it was part of its creator's personal site which included a tribute to the Ebola virus. Later, the name was changed to eBay. The site's supporters claim this stands for the e-commerce Bay area. Judging by the site's later influence on society it seems more likely it was named after the virus.
The first item ever bought on eBay was a broken printer, which was supposedly bought by a collector of broken printers. Thus paving the way for millions of people around the world with 'slightly scratched' laptops to make a quick profit over the debt-ridden corpses of gullible shopaholics.
Buying merchandise you have never seen off of someone you will never meet may seem like a bad idea, but eBay has the issue covered! Like many Web 2.0 projects it allows users to give feedback at the end of every transaction, so that people will know they can trust the person they are buying from. This is because of a long tradition of internet feedback being accurate and reflecting reality as we know it. This system also works because eBay has made it impossible for anyone to create multiple accounts, and give themselves positive feedback to gain the trust of the community.
Though there are some incredible bargains to be had on eBay (and honestly who hasn't been tempted by a pair of 50 year old shoes going for a cent? A cent!) you can also waste your money on useless and even imaginary items.
These include, but are not limited to:
* Ghosts (USA $6,500)
* Imaginary Friends (UK £1550)
* A cornflake (UK £1.20)
* Someone else's drinking weekend (AU $1,300)
* A cheese sandwich with a picture of a virgin burned into it (US $28,000)
Endless though the possibilities may seem you still can't buy human organs, military weapons or (in the UK at least) cutlery. Which kind of takes away the fun.