(Charles)>> Sniping makes ebay into a REAL auction site.
If by "real" you mean a "real sealed bid auction," you are correct. If you mean a real traditional auction with an auctioneer and bidders who shout or raise their hands, then what would make eBay into a REAL auction site would be a system used by Audiogon and others who extend the close for two to five minutes after a bid is entered. This is the equivalent of the auctioneer yelling "Going, going, gone..." to give everyone in the house a final chance to up their bids.
As eBay's system stands, it's a crapshoot as to which sniper wins. Someone who bids in the last 30 seconds MIGHT have a chance to outsnipe a higher sniper with second snipe, while someone who bids in the last ten seconds is probably out of luck. And folks who are still on dialup are totally screwed all around, they get one snipe only (unless the first one is a minute or so out, in which case you can't really call it a snipe).
(Peter)>> But there is a non-naive, STRATEGIC reason for bidding early. By bidding early and high for an item you dearly want you greatly decrease the likelihood that the seller will sell the item out from under you in a non-ebay transaction
This is true and since I always snipe it's happend to me more than once.
Another reason to bid early is to get your name out there. A few kind folks (many of them CR list members) will actually back off if they see someone they know has already bid. I try to behave in a similarly courteous manner myself whenever possible... unless it's something I really really want.
Columbus, GA USA