I have to agree with Peter. I sometimes scan through photos of interesting components simply to add to my familiarity with different pieces which I often could never afford. It is not often that one sees a new-old-stock Juy 543 derailleur (even in a bike museum) and certain sellers really do try to take very beautifully detailed photos to reveal every angle of a piece. I often will even archive the photos on my PC, only to add to my own ever increasing personal databank of what may be very rarely seen items.
As a learning tool, eBay can often provoke useful discussion (either on the CR List or elsewhere) regarding what may be flaws or variances on a bike or an item which is presented as allegedly correct and entirely original. Many descriptions are simply laughable and completely wrong. So, it can also become an amusing game of "how many mistakes can I find here" - which I think helps to sharpen ones abilities for quickly evaluating a future bike close at hand whenever one may cross our paths. It has also given me a sense of how to better present an object to share it with others, how to best disclose the essentials which I would wish to see. And I am not meaning this as an eBay seller, but as a bike enthusiast always wanting to improve my own photos to enhance the viewing pleasure of others. Too often someone will share their bike photo with me and it is difficult to even identify an object as a bicycle amidst the lawn mowers and general clutter of their garage... (sorry, just a pet peeve).
I also buy from eBay occasionally, and I find most sellers to be courteous, quick to respond to any inquiries and even quite appreciative of any interest. This tends to be the case more when a seller is really a "niche marketer" specializing in bike related items. However, others simply selling the odd bike or component pulled out of their attics generally appreciate any information as to what they are actually selling and will often appreciatively modify their descriptions to reflect any corrections or added info for the benefit of any potential buyers.
On the whole, it is simply the worlds largest Flea Market or Swap Meet. And for those (like me) who like to pass the time strolling through this private venue, it is because we enjoy perhaps making the odd purchase or perhaps we may be in the mood to simply poke through the random collections and even visually "handle" some of the rare pieces.
To me, it's just a bit of fun and also an opportunity to pick up the occasional object which would be very difficult to locate otherwise. And I do refuse to take it too seriously.
BOB HANSON, ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO, USA
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