In 1995, after spending Labor Day weekend at home writing code on his personal computer, eBay founder Pierre Omidyar launched AuctionWeb, a site "dedicated to bringing together buyers and sellers in an honest and open marketplace."
Realizing the importance of having a simple and powerful way for members to exchange experiences, he launched the Feedback Forum six months later. Here's the letter he posted on the site.
February 26, 1996
To: eBay Community
I launched eBay's AuctionWeb on Labor Day, 1995. Since then, the site has become more popular than I ever expected, and I began to realize that this was indeed a grand experiment in Internet commerce. By creating an open market that encourages honest dealings, I hope to make it easier to conduct business with strangers over the net.
Most people are honest. And they mean well. Some people go out of their way to make things right. I've heard great stories about the honesty of people here. But some people are dishonest. Or deceptive. This is true here, in the newsgroups, in the classifieds, and right next door. It's a fact of life. But here, those people can't hide. We'll drive them away. Protect others from them. This grand hope depends on your active participation. Become a registered user. Use our feedback forum. Give praise where it is due; make complaints where appropriate. For the past six months, I've been developing this system single-handedly, in my spare time. Along the way, I've dealt with complaints among participants. But those complaints have amounted to only a handful. We've had close to 10,000 auctions since opening. And only a few dozen complaints.
Now, we have an open forum. Use it. Make your complaints in the open. Better yet, give your praise in the open. Let everyone know what a joy it was to deal with someone. Above all, conduct yourself in a professional manner. Deal with others the way you would have them deal with you. Remember that you are usually dealing with individuals, just like yourself. Subject to making mistakes. Well-meaning, but wrong on occasion. That's just human. We can live with that. We can deal with that. We can still make deals with that. Thanks for participating. Good luck, and good business!