Tuesday, April 8, 2014

John Mallamas (AKA Jin Saotome) discovers how to protect your custom action figure auctions from being targeted for removal

 Not too long ago in November several customizers started to get their auctions removed on Ebay (myself included)  due to some Douchebag (s) in the fandom who started targeting the competence in an effort to eliminate them in a dirty way.

I started trying to find out who he was and unfortunately I ended with several names, but no hard evidence due to Ebay's privacy laws in the US they WILL NOT by any means disclose who targeted you. Turns out I was looking at the problem the wrong way.

It takes a better mind to solve things and that mind is undoubtely a friend and mentor (well, through his online tutorials at least) John Mallamas. He concentrated his efforts on using the system "both ways" since the coward (s) who do this, rely on a broken Ebay reporting interface.

Well, John took the system and made it work both ways ... Now is up TO YOU to help us find the harasser. How? John explains:

(Quoted from John's FB page:)

"Hello Masters of the Universe customizers!

This post pertains to those out there who sell their custom Masters of the Universe figures on ebay and have had their auctions removed. I’m going to explain why, how to stop it, and steps to take when it happens. And it probably will happen to you because there’s an individual out there who is reporting custom auctions. They’re filing the report under ‘...MC999 Brand Name Misuse’. Please note it is NOT Mattel doing this or else you would get a Vero notice. Ebay isn’t searching for custom MotU either because even their toys and collectibles specialists have no idea which figures are part of the line. They have no way of telling the difference between your custom Bash-Rok and retail Moss Man. But the individual reporting them can and they’re focusing on two things: your title and your description. That’s all they have at this point and are using nitpicking your title for the most part to get your auctions removed.

He-Man is recognized as a character, not as part of the actual brand. The real brand name is ‘Masters of the Universe Classics’ and ‘motu’. So a title like ‘Custom Mon-Stra Masters of the Universe He Man Classics figure’ is going to be targeted by the reporter because He-Man isn’t actually in the auction (unless your custom is He-Man in armor or something). There are two ways around this other than the easiest, leaving the name He-Man out of your title. *UPDATE* Some report specialists don't understand MotU or MotUC being part of the title. I was told by two specialists that you can have an acronym so long as the full brand is spelled out in the title, but I'm sure the reporter could try and argue whether it was MotUC or MotU as the real brand. May just want to leave that out.

1. Include a button, trading card, sticker, or anything official with He-Man actually in it. I realize there’s 5000 auctions up listing a character that is NOT He-Man using his name in the title but the person who’s reporting auctions isn’t interested in getting those removed, only yours.

2. Include the words ‘made with’ in the title. Then actually elaborate on this in the description so that there can be no misunderstanding. I was told about this by one of Ebay’s Listings Specialist and we really haven’t tried this yet. They explain it further in brand name guidelines: http://pages.ebay.com/help/policies/search-manipulation.html  So your title can say “Custom Mon-Stra made with a He-Man Masters of the Universe Classics figure” and in the description state “As you can see the legs and body came from a He-Man Masters of the Universe Classics figure and repainted to match”. Their report team uses Google for reference so as long as it looks like you’ve used those parts they’ll ignore the report.

In your description make sure not to list any extra brands and limit using the names of other characters. I know some people like myself like to do creative writing but anything you put in your description can be searched by people using the ‘search title and description’ option and that needs to not have any ‘misleading’ words it in either.  Don’t mention Skeletor, He-Man, Ram-Mans, etc unless you’re implying the character is directly related to them as their nemesis or friend. I’d leave that sort of thing out just to be on the safe side.

Well... even though you did everything here your auction was removed. That’s because the report team are NOT specialists and are often outsourced. In the email/ebay message sent to you informing you that your auction was removed is a link that says “If you have more questions, contact our policy experts” click it and call them. You’ll be given a passcode to enter and for the first person explain your situation briefly. Ask to talk to a Listings Specialist and ask them why your auction was removed. Legally they can’t tell you who reported it but they can tell you what was in the notes the reported added. Inquire about those. At this point ask the Listings Specialist to file an appeal in your name asking for any strikes/flags to be removed. Tell them you’d also like a follow-up sent to you concerning the outcome of the appeal.

If this was the first time your auction was removed let it slide. But if this has happened in the past while you’re on the phone with ebay ask who you can talk to concerning a harassment case by another member. I believe it’s the Account Protection team but they’ll transfer you to whoever it is. Remember EBAY CANNOT HANG UP ON YOU. They can’t say “We’re done here” or “I can’t help you any further”. You can be transferred indefinitely and talk to anyone you want, ask for supervisors if the Specialist isn’t being helpful, or just want to get more information. They’re stuck with you. Be nice and truthful because you’re being recorded. Explain that you have reason to believe someone is reporting your auctions unnecessarily, especially it’s happened multiple times in the past, and you’d like them to look into the reports. Ask that they look for a pattern and see if they’ll tell you how many times your auctions were reported. If they can’t ask to put that in the notes and make sure they understand you want a case opened for harassment that you’re reporting the reporting going on.

You’ll end up with a survey sent to you that day or a day later asking you about your experience. It wasn’t satisfying, trust me. Selecting a 5 or lower will open an option for you to explain why. You have 1000 letters to explain that someone is targeting your auctions, reporting them to eliminate the competition, and that you expect Ebay to protect their sellers against this. At the end it will ask if you want a follow up, select yes and send away.

I’m betting it will take a lot of us to get the individual reporting our auctions stopped or at least protect ourselves from them. They are a coward and a detriment to the Masters of the Universe community and customizers in general. Maybe they think they’re protecting Mattel, or the sanctity of the toy line. What they don’t understand is that we have to buy figures to take apart to make these customs. And that the funds we receive go right back to Mattel when we use them to buy more figures for our collection. I won’t get into the semantics of that here. Customizing is a grey area but in the end it helps, not hurts the fandom. That’s why you don’t see C&D letters flying unless something is being mass produced.

Good luck customizers!"
As you can see, it will take help from us all to file a harassment case, but if enough of us do it, Ebay will see it and very likely will suspend or even worse, Terminate the coward's accounts. I have been out of Ebay since November, working on commissions only, which has-to my surprise- kept me uber busy, for which I have to thank the Motu, Marvel, Dc, Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat and Star Wars community in general, but I plan to go back sometime this year.

 As you remember I listed more than 5 to 7 figures a week, and I will file harassment reports on all of them should they be targeted, until they connect the dots and realize we are being targeted by a malicious bastard(s) (Oh and it doesn't matter that you switch account names when you report us, you scumbag...Ebay records your IP address, LSO's and Flash objects on your computer/browser every time you log in.  And using proxies doesn't help either. Cleaning them now won't help you since at the moment you filed the report, Ebay downloaded everything from you, even the brand of the pc/laptop/tablet you used)

So there you have it guys! Let's help each other and let's hope the community goes back to being the cool, contributive place it once was.

Special thanks to the maestro John Mallamas for this report.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Captain America The Winter Soldier quick and honest review (Spoiler free)

 Last night I was treated to an Imax 3D advance screening of Captain America the Winter Soldier an it was THE BEST of the Marvel phase 2 movies so far. I felt like I was back to watching a thrilling Marvel movie much like the first Iron Man, or heck even the Avengers.

After 2 lackluster movies like the Iron man 3 bomb (extremis...Mandarin...can't get over that crap) or the boring Thor 2 (I fell asleep) this movie actually feels like the Marvel movies we all love, packed with action, laughs, but adds a new element: The spy thriller where you have no idea who to trust.

And this plays on how flexible Marvel movies have become, they grasp different kinds of genres but they still feel part of the same universe. This movie will grab everything you know and turn it inside out. The revealing by Arnim Zola is the core of everything (even Hugo Chavez makes a cameo in the picture flashbacks) and is the tipping point of the entire thing...as he said it in the first movie "A masterpiece".

The Winter soldier (whose identity we all know) makes for a great Marvel  villain and the only one who can hand the cap his ass in beautifully choreographed knife to hand battles, however he is only one of many villains, since in this movie there are many threats the cap has to face.

Anthony Mackie's falcon performance is flawless, the guy is a welcome addition to the Marvel Universe although your wish those wings could carry some sort of weapon...he is SERIOUSLY outgunned in the last act.

From the cameos to cap's to-do list (which varies from continent to continent) Captain America the Winter Soldier pits the classic soldier conundrum of doing what your conscience says it's right, not what your orders say, and does it great, the movie is full of surprising twists and plots, what a superhero movie should be. And of course...stay tuned until the VERY end..there are 2 after credits scenes. one in the middle featuring THREE characters you will recognize and a last one.

"To fight a war, you need a uniform"
                                       -Steve Rogers-

Captain America is on theatres now!