Managing Frustrations

One of my primary motivators for building this website (the original version was a Tumblr blog) was frustration.  The frustration stemmed from the sheer amount of repeated questions that we would see over and over again within the misprint community.  All of the answers were so basic!  Why couldn't people understand?  My thoughts were that if I could build an easy to understand beginner's guide then we wouldn't repeatedly see all the same newb questions and as a result, less frustration!  Wishful thinking eh?

As admins of the Misprints and Rarities Facebook Group, my compatriots and I have put a considerable amount of time and energy into both directly helping folks out as well as creating resources for them to help themselves.  Other prominent and active members of the community have done the same.  Despite our best efforts, there is still a steady stream of people who think a card shifted 1mm is miscut, can't identify NFC (or even know what it means), or wonder why their foil cutline wasn't approved.  Can't you see it?  It's right there in the group rules!  Why are you emailing me about your 'miscut' that's not even off-centered?  I covered that in the beginner's guide!  UGH!

Image from: https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/frustrated-facebook-5-tips-reclaim-sanity/

Image from: https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/frustrated-facebook-5-tips-reclaim-sanity/

Is it laziness?  Is it ignorance?  Is is plain stupidity?  Worse yet, did I not explain it correctly?  Could I have made it easier to understand?  Is my expertise bias clouding my perspective?  It's probably all of the above and then some.  Knowing that doesn't seem to help the frustration though!  As passionate collectors, there's only so much we can take!  RAAAGGGEEEEE!  FRUSTRATION!  SMASH FACE ON DESK!...ok sorry.  Got a bit carried away there.

Like it or not, frustration is a natural reaction.  I don't know if anyone in the misprint community has reached a level of zen where they don't get at least a little bit bothered when someone asks a question that was answered 2 comments up in a thread or gets angry at YOU for declining their post even though it's clearly laid out in the rules.  I'm sure you get the point now.  I'll stop kicking this horse with this segue;  What we do with that frustration is IMPORTANT.

unrulymob.jpg

The misprint community has a variety of reputations, not all of which are overwhelmingly positive.  I'd like to say the the frustration is the cause, but the reality of it is how fellow community members let that frustration influence their actions.  It may not seem like it, but even being a little bit of a jerk has consequences for the misprint community.  I often wonder how many potential misprint collectors have been deterred from the hobby when they met an unwelcome reception to what they felt was a reasonable question or when they wanted to share something they thought was cool.  It's sad to think about, and I've seen it happen.

 

So you're still frustrated.  What do you do?  Never fear!  I present you with these simple options of what to do when your goat has been gotten:

  1. Politely direct the question asker to the already existing resources that answers their questions.  The key word is 'politely.'  It's really not that difficult to be courteous.  You don't have to bend over backwards with overwhelming kindness, but just don't be an ass.  It really doesn't take much energy.  Sometimes it can even feel good to help others.  Don't feel like expending that tiny bit of extra energy?  Try the next strategies.
  2. Ignore it.  Let it slide.  Roll your eyes and move on.  It turns out that you don't HAVE to let the internet know how you feel.  If you're not going to add anything constructive to the conversation, then don't say anything.  Over time you'll hopefully develop a thicker skin or at least desensitize yourself to the newbs.
  3. Channel the frustration into something productive.  Build a website, write a blog, make some Youtube videos (see a pattern here?), make a Facebook group for people that share your feelings, go to the gym, play with the dog, or really just anything else.  Emotions generate energy, which you can utilize to your advantage.

Personally, I employ each of the above strategies.  When I choose each one is context specific and/or based on my mood.  I've often considered how much leniency to afford the folks who come seeking help.  How much energy should I expect people to put in before I put energy in myself?  That's a question that we each have to answer for ourselves.

I have a few thoughts left to leave you with.  The first is don't let the visible newbness get you down.  It's very easy to color our perceptions based on the content that is most visible.  Constantly seeing the same annoying questions over and over again can lead you to believe that nobody is listening.  Keep in mind what you're not seeing are the people who actually learned something from your efforts.  They're out there and there are probably more of them than you think.  If you're one of the folks who have been helped out by the misprint community, say thanks!  Showing appreciation for our efforts can go a long way.

That's it for now!  I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic.  Have any advice or other strategies to share?  Comment below or send me an email.  Thanks for reading!

$1 Bids, the dickest of dick moves.

The Misprints and Rarities Facebook group has become the primary marketplace for auctioning off misprints and rarities.  Unlike eBay, the FB group has a tremendous amount of visibility directly to the target audience.  Also unlike eBay, Facebook auctions are a sequential series of non-binding, unregulated comments.  There's an inherit risk when buying and selling on FB, but it's usually a small one since we're a moderated community.  "So what does this have to do with $1 bids, Jason?" you ask.  Well, it's that whole community thing.

I suppose the title of this blog is slightly misleading.  Despite my strong aversion to $1 bids, there is a time and a place for them.  Personally, I believe that place to be on any item that's current bid is less than $5.  After that, is when the dick moves start, and get progressively dickier.  Outbidding by $1 on anything higher than $50 is downright shameful.  Context is key here.  If you outbid a fellow community member by $1 every time they place a bid, it's disrespectful and a waste of their time (it also generates spam level FB notifications), even if their bid is lower than your potential maximum.  In most cases, $1 is not enough of a deterrent for people to fold.  All you're doing is being annoying. 

There are 'strategic' reasons to make $1 bids on auctions.  They mask your potential highest bid, they will save you the most amount of money when they stick, and they put other bidders on tilt.  If your MO is to win auctions for the least amount of money, those are pretty good strategies.  You're welcome to exercise them if you want, but don't pretend that you're not being an asshat to other members when you do that stuff.  If you find yourself not respected by the community at large, don't be surprised.  Misprint collectors are a pretty tight knit community.  Bad reputations will not serve you well in the long run.  If you show respect to other members, you will in turn be respected.

Most sellers set $1 minimum bid increments as a means to prevent dealing in pennies (something that can easily be done by just saying. "Bids must be in whole dollar amounts.").  They also have the added benefit of continually bumping your auction thread.  Higher visibility usually leads to more action and higher end prices on auctions.  This can backfire though.  It doesn't always guarantee you more bidding action.  When members see a post get bumped to the top of the group a million times a day, they start ignoring it.  What you think is helping, can actually hurt you.  Additionally, there are members who are less likely to even bother bidding against the $1 bargain hunters because it's not worth the hassle.  If you want the best way to get solid action on your items, I would recommend using a minimum bid system that escalates in proportion to the current bid.  Here's what that might look like;

  • Minimum bid on cards < $10 is $1
  • Minimum bid on cards < $20 is $2
  • Minimum bid on cards < $30 is $3
  • Minimum bid on cards < $50 is $5
  • Minimum bid on cards < $100 is $10
  • etc, you get the math that's going on here and can fill in all the blanks.

I prefer this over flat % based minimum bid systems because it's very easy for bidders to calculate what the minimum bid on an item is.  This is a great idea for sellers because it can net you HIGHER prices when true bidding wars break out.  Bidders will be forced to be very thoughtful about their bids, and it will make things smoother in the long run.

If you want to employ the $1 bidding strategy, go ahead, but know that you are doing so at the cost of a negative impact to your reputation in the community.  There are a lot of collectors who don't share that sentiment, but there are also a lot of collectors who feel the same as I do.  If you want that sort of action, go to eBay and save us all the headache.  Facebook is not optimized for auctioning, but it's what we've got.  I'd really appreciated it if you stopped being assholes.  "If you can't beat them, join them."  Fuck that.  I have integrity. /endRant

 

The Misconceptions of Determining Value

"It's not worth anything if you're not selling it."

"In order to determine the value you need to auction it."

"This type of misprint is worth 1.5 times the normal value of the card"

I'm going to do my best to not make this a rant, but statements like this are a huge pet peeve of mine.  They are not true and they are continually offered as advice to people who are looking for estimates and information about their misprints.

It turns out that people have been thinking and talking about the concept of value for a very long time.  I'm not an economist, but there's some pretty intriguing Wikipedia entries which you can check out here and here.  To avoid getting into a theoretical or philosophical debate on the concept of value, I'll just use the dictionary.com definition:

From dictionary.com.&nbsp; Edited to remove non-relevant definition #1 from image.

From dictionary.com.  Edited to remove non-relevant definition #1 from image.

Statements that suggest that a misprint has no value unless it is being sold are entirely contradictory to the very definition of the word.  Value is a representation of potential.  It's equally dependent on the willingness of the buyer to pay a specific price as it is for a seller to sell for a specific price.  A lot of times an auction is actually a really poor way to determine the value of an object.  Sometimes an auction goes unnoticed and an item goes for less than it would had it proper visibility.  Other times there can be a bidding war which can escalate way past the historical market price for an item due to stubborn competitiveness.  Black and white representations of market value and supply vs demand are sound theories, but the reality we live in is covered in greys.  I really like the following paragraph from the wikipedia article:


Note that economic value is not the same as market price, nor is economic value the same thing as market value. If a consumer is willing to buy a good, it implies that the customer places a higher value on the good than the market price. The difference between the value to the consumer and the market price is called "consumer surplus"[1]. It is easy to see situations where the actual value is considerably larger than the market price: purchase of drinking water is one example.


If you've read my article about determining the value of misprints you already know that there are several factors to consider when appraising a misprint.  The ability to accurately appraise misprints is something that requires experience, skill, and dedicated and continual observation of the market.  Applying standard multipliers to types of misprints is an exercise in futility for all of the reasons and definitions of value mentioned above.

Misprint economics aside, using one of the three quotes mentioned at the beginning of this blog post, or any variation is simply a dick move.  People are requesting information.  A lot of the time their intent is to sell and they're looking to be informed about the product in which they're trying to sell so they can feel that they're making good decisions.  Throwing flawed and generic responses at them is not only unhelpful, but can also pressure people into making bad decisions.  It's bad...just don't do it.  No, really.  Please stop.  If you don't agree, feel free to leave a comment here explaining why or send me an email!