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eBay Shuts Down Ultima Online Charity Auctions 38

An Anonymous Reader writes "Numerous players in Ultima Online are donating vitual gold to "Crazy" Joe Harden. Harden started some eBay auctions with the best of intentions, giving all the proceeds to the Red Cross for the tsunami disaster relief. Unfortunately, Ebay has decided to shut him down. Here's a quote from the article over on FileFront: "The auctions were for in-game gold in Ultima Online. What Harden did was set up places within Ultima Online where players could come and either buy 'junk,' as he called it, or simply donate gold to be auctioned off on eBay. After setting up 43 auctions, things were running smoothly until eBay pulled every single one of them off of their site." We reported on this effort yesterday.
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eBay Shuts Down Ultima Online Charity Auctions

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  • Fizzog called it in a post yesterday. []

    I wonder what Crazy Joe is going to do with all the gold. I kind of doubt that he gave receipts for refunds.

    • actually he relisted everything.

      Here our aim discussion.

      AIM IM with carnivorousjoe
      8:51 AM
      me: just read the news about the ebay takedown, bummer, I was behind ya. maybe try to sell "peices of paper that describe how much money is going to the red cross"? if people can sell things telling you where to go click links surely you can do that...
      Joe: Im back up though!
      me: you are?
      8:55 AM
      Joe: oh yes, lots of auctions online
      Joe: it was a nervous drive last night to redo them all
      Joe: im mentally beat but stable now
    • When my coworker saw the posting yesterday he mentioned something about CrazyJoe being "one of the most popular thiefs" in UO (I suppose he was referring to "thief" as a role in the game? I don't know). Any chance he *knew* the auction would likely get cancelled? I don't doubt he would give any money he collected to the Red Cross, but shucks, if eBay shuts you down and you didn't keep receipts of who gave you the gold... sounds like a masterpiece in in-game robbery to me: get people to willingly hand over t
  • Seems straightforward enough:

    Ebay doesn't want to set a precedent.

    You let him do it, why can't I?

    The honorable thing here would be to back this guy up and applaud his efforts. UO obviously is cool with it, but E-bay doesn't want people making a habit of it, so they pull the plug.

    I'm sure no one over there is reading this, but listen up...the spirit of your rules were to protect copyright owners against misuse. The letter of your rule states that you can't sell virtual goods.

    I don't think the spirit of your rule is being harmed by a charitable giving of those online. Don't shy away simply because the letter of the law forbids it.

    It sucks SO BADLY that everyone is afraid of being sued. That's precisely why this is being shut down. :(

    I could go on a huge rant on how I would like to trust people around me and not constantly feel like I must protect myself from litigation. *sigh*
    • by numbski ( 515011 ) <(numbski) (at) (> on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @12:08PM (#11264060) Homepage Journal
      Knee-jerk reaction.

      eBay doesn't suck in this case I guess. He can still do the auctions, but has to carefully word how he puts it up.

      I'd just put up

      CrazyJoe UO Ultimae Online Tsunami Gold

      That should say plenty there (I think?).

      He can't mention the Red Cross. :\
    • by GoofyBoy ( 44399 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @12:11PM (#11264090) Journal
      Did you even read the article?

      >The honorable thing here would be to back this guy up and applaud his efforts.

      1. Its a policy not to have regular individuals have an action in the name of a charity (Red Cross). A good one at that, as it prevent fraud, when a buyer expects the money to go somewhere but it might not. Even Joe Harden admits thats its a good policy.
      2. The auctions are/going to be up again ""I purposely left a few tidbits in the very vague "new" auctions that hopefully will perk some eyebrows and buyers can investigate why this Auction mentions my name, the Tsunami, and Stratics," he said."

      >The letter of your rule states that you can't sell virtual goods.

      This has nothing to do with why it was pulled.
  • A. The charity daonations B. The Ultima Online stuff That caused eBay to sut it down. I hopefully hope it was option B, but it really was silly for eBay to do this.
  • by LeninZhiv ( 464864 ) * on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @12:04PM (#11264022)
    Some important points the Slashdot summary didn't mention:

    1) This is because E-bay forbids auctions in the name of a charity as
    there have been people in the past who have used this as a con.

    2) According to the article, Crazy Joe is in agreement with this
    policy and is not upset that the auctions were pulled.

    3) He's putting the auctions back up without mention of the Red Cross
    or his website so everything should still go smoothly for those who
    have donated.

    Of course if everybody reads TFA there's no problem, but the way the
    write-up puts it makes things seem as though things are a lot more
    outrageous than they are. Besides, on slashdot "if everybody reads
    TFA" is a pretty laughable suggestion...
    • by GoofyBoy ( 44399 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @12:22PM (#11264181) Journal
      > but the way the write-up puts it makes things seem as though things are a lot more outrageous than they are

      How much responsibility do the slashdot editors have when it comes to this?

      If you read the write up, it implies something ("eBay unfair and against charitable works!") yet if you read the link (or do a search on google) its a totally different story ("Charitable works not done properly.") Even once sentence at the end "Ebay has a policy to prevent fraud in a charity name, autions are planned to be reposted at a later date." would have made the story more balanced.

      Considering how many people will not read comments, don't the editors have a responsiblity to be more reflective of the truth and not being so ... tabloid-like?
      • Slashdot is eager to report stories on big media companies engaging in sensationalism while (consciously or unconsciously) falling prey to it as well. So long as hits = impressions = possible click-throughs we will see this sort of tripe. Are there any alternatives out there?
      • How much responsibility do the editors have? Nil. Their responsibility is to get readers to increase ad revenue. While I think they would do better at that by being credible, it doesn't look like its hurting them any.

        Fortunately, for their concerned readership, we have the moderation system and the strength of hundreds of thousands of nerds with too much time on their hands and lots of paranoia who will research this in depth, and provide the truth when it is obscured. I mean, while I take everything on

  • by NexusTw1n ( 580394 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @12:06PM (#11264034) Journal
    "Donlay said there are a few ways that sellers can hold auctions on eBay for charity donations. The first is through a tool called Givingworks, where the money never even reaches the sellers hands; it goes directly to the charity."
    Anyone know why he was collecting the money himself rather than following ebay's procedure which would guarantee to all bidders that the money really would go to charity?
    • Anyone know why he was collecting the money himself rather than following ebay's procedure which would guarantee to all bidders that the money really would go to charity?

      Well, obviously this is because it's a scam. I mean, it's nice that you didn't come right out and say it, but the only reason to bypass the option twice, especially after getting all the press on it, is because he wants to keep the money for himself. Or, I suppose, that he doesn't trust that eBay will send the money to the proper charity
      • While I agree with your assessment, I still think this guy is more trustworthy than the "charity" (when-we-feel-like-it) he was allegedly going to donate to.

        Fuck the Red Cross.
        • You do realize the American Red Cross, and the Internation Red Cross are two totally different organizations that are connected only by name. Most of what you hear about on the news is the International Red Cross. Anyone know which of these he is giving too.
          Note, the American Red Cross is also helping out so giving to them isn't as silly as it seems.
    • I know why. Also I used to play UO, and this guy was well known within the community even back then, and known to be a good (and real) person.

      He's purposefully collecting the money himself because he *already* donated $3000 of his own to charity, and is just reimbursing himself. Given what I know about him, and that people know him in RL, I'm inclined to trust him. He also has a scan of a receipt. On his site, he says:

      "Forth, I put my money where my faith is. I have already donated $3,000, while s
      • 1) He could've made it more clear, though; I'm sure Ebay wouldn't have had a problem with him saying "I've already donated to the Red Cross; this money goes to me to pay for that donation."

        2) At least one of his auctions says that the money goes straight to the Red Cross and never to his pockets. If I'm understanding you and him right, he is refilling his pockets after that (admittedly quite large and applaudable) donation, right?

        3) Why couldn't he have used Ebay's system to send only the profits to char
        • 1) True, though it would probably have been too complicated to put up on the subject line at Ebay. When I first saw the story here, I assumed he would be selling in a normal fasion on Ebay, not flaunting the Red Cross thing.

          2) If he said in an auction that the money went straight to Red Cross (would have to check his wording carefully,) yeah, that *is* deceptive, despite his being a nice guy.

          3) The money had to go to him because of the (clever) way in which he collected the game gold. The game gold
          • True, though it would probably have been too complicated to put up on the subject line at Ebay.
            "5000 gold UO server -- helping victims of tsunami"
            It doesn't say that the site is a charity (in fact, it sounds quite like it isn't), yet it gives him an opportunity to explain twice - in the body, and on the site. Pity that he didn't get it right the first time, and can't reference the site.

            He sells that game gold (for cash...unless Ebay's system lets you sell things with the money goi
      • This way he probably gets a nice tax break too.
  • There are a lot of auctions out there exactly like this, with the profits going to less altruistic causes. Perhaps he should try re-auctioning them, instead of auctioning the gold, auction used pencils or paperclips or something simple and stupid but physical and tangible. Then, throw in XXXX amount of gold with each pencil or paperclip. I mean if a woman can auction her father's ghost via a walker (or cane, I forget which) then sure this can work. If all else fails, there are always those online gold e
  • Now he has to keep the UO gold...

    What rat bastard turned him in?

    Renember when you were a kid and your house party got out of hand so you called the cops on yourself? Ok ok, it was an episode of growing pains, but still.
  • Why don't more games take advantage of player's desire to buy virtual goods for real money. They should all be cooperating on creating their own auction sites and making the transactions safe/secure. Of course they could then take a nice cut from the sales.

    Personally I don't care if some guy bought instead of earned his +1 sword. If anything it would balance the game between those with lots of time on their hands and those willing to spend some money to avoid the leveling grind.
    • There's a very good legal reason for this: liability if the game goes down.

      Suppose a game says they'll give you a hard exchange rate of $1 for 1 gold piece. You have a stockpile of 1000 gold pieces, plus a Sword of Ultimate Stabbing +4 worth 1500 gold pieces.

      Then the unfortunate happens: the game shuts down. Suddenly your $2500 ingame property is worthless. It's well within the realm of probability, then, that you could sue the game maker for the loss of your $2500, and win.

      Oh, but it gets better. Yo
      • I don't see the problem. You can just include in the EULA that they are not liable for the cost of virtual goods.

        As you mentioned there are already some games doing this such as Project Entropia, and I'd add Second Life, There and Magic Online to that list and they don't seem to be worried about liability.

        Here's an alternate solution when they want to end-of-life a game. The company could transform it to a co-op owned by the players and where players pay the full maintenace costs to keep it going.
      • There's a very good legal reason for this: liability if the game goes down.

        That is not a very good legal reason. Devaluation of any currency is an economic issue, not a legal one. Whether it's a bar of metal, a piece of paper, or a bunch of bits, it could all be essentially worthless tomorrow for any number of reasons. The only legal issue is if the people involved were inappropriately manipulating the system for their own gain.

        It's well within the realm of probability, then, that you could sue

  • He could always sell it to, they pay out $6 for 1M gold (I don't know the eBay price for 1M gold but usually its significantly higher than
    Then he could at least donate something, considering he probably did not keep a record of who donated

    link []
  • As mentioned above Crazy Joe is in complete agreement with the eBay policy and is currently listing the available gold auctions without overt reference to the charities. However, he is actively working to gain Red Cross's consent so he can scan it in and be able to relist the auctions to mention the charity drive. As someone who'se donated to the cause I can tell you I trust CJ and am proud of the UO community at large for responding so generously to the Tsunami relief effort. Math facts: - Current commo
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 05, 2005 @01:17PM (#11264691)
    If you read his site, he's already donated $3000 from his credit card for the fund. What these auctions will be doing is simply refunding him the money already spent, if he goes over $3000 on the auctions he'll make another donation. If he gets less then $3000 he'll just consider the extra a personal donation on his part.

    I've known this guy for a few years now, he's good on his word and won't be keeping the gold to himself, it will all be sold on ebay (auctions are re-listed with different wording) and the donation to the red cross has already been made. He's one of the few people left on the internet you can actually trust their word on.

    --J. R. Cook

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo.