Please read this post for important context relating to this announcement. This blog post is a direct follow-up.
Last week, we announced that we would be requiring that sellers add and verify a phone number in order to deposit items. Since then, we've been reading your comments and listening to what you have to say. We'd like to offer this follow-up to show you what we've learned, what actions we're taking, and provide some clarity on the reason we're making these changes.
tl;dr: Following your feedback, we will allow verified addresses as an optional alternative to verifying a phone number. In addition, we are delaying this change until May 7th, 2019 in order to allow time for affected sellers to verify their address or phone number.
When we made the decision to require phone number verification, we did so under the assumption that our sellers all had access to a phone number capable of receiving texts. We assumed this because, in order to deposit items, sellers need to register a phone number with Steam and use the Steam Mobile Authenticator. However, we learned that some of our users do not have access to a phone number presently, even if they had one in the past to set up Steam.
Additionally, many users are understandably trepidatious about providing a phone number to a third-party website. While we guarantee never to spam or solicit our users via SMS or robocalls, we understand that many users have a very strict personal security policy whereby they simply do not share their number with third-party websites.
Finally, we learned that our reasoning for making these changes was not presented in the best way. Many users do not feel they received an adequate explanation for why we are adding additional verification requirements.
In response to user feedback, we realize that we need to provide an alternative verification measure that does not require a phone or phone number.
To that end, a verified address will now suffice as an alternative to a verified phone number. We think this is an acceptable compromise for those few users who are unable to verify a phone number: verification is still required, but entirely possible without a phone.
Verifying your address is extremely simple:
Domestic (US) postcard deliveries typically take under a week, while international deliveries are less predictable and may take longer.
Marketplace.tf has grown considerably since we initially opened up the ability for any Steam user to sell items. Since that time, we have seen numerous instances of scammers and fraudsters stealing items and liquidating them on Marketplace.tf. While we work to ban these users and delist their items, we often cannot do this before the items have sold. Additionally, banning seller accounts does not prevent them from creating another account.
In order to effectively combat scammers, and ensure that only legitimate users are selling items on Marketplace.tf, we need to have some form of verification on sellers. We need to be able to link accounts together using physical attributes -- phone number, address, etc. -- so that we can enforce bans on seller accounts. We cannot in good faith ban an account while doing nothing to ensure an alt account is not immediately created by the banned user.
Quite frankly, Marketplace.tf deals with real money, and so must be held to a higher standard than other TF2-related websites. This demands that we take our position seriously; this is not just a TF2 website, but an e-commerce platform. With that comes additional moral and technical responsibilities that we must take seriously.
We have no interest in providing scammers or fraudsters a safe haven. We owe it to our legitimate users to prevent illegitimate users from liquidating their ill-gotten goods.
These new restrictions apply solely to depositing items. That is, you will not in any way be locked out of your account, the funds you've earned, or the items you've already deposited. You will be free to withdraw or sell items already on your account; the only restriction is that you must verify to deposit more items.
All sensitive user information is encrypted using extremely strong industry-standard cryptography. We do not believe in "security through obscurity". We do not roll our own crypto.
There is no circumstance under which we would seek to financially gain from the sale of user information. It will never happen.
Further, we are entirely self-funded, and plan to remain as such forever. The only shareholders in our company are the two owners (I'm one of them!), who are not beholden to any other moneyed interests.
tl;dr: Starting April 23rd, all sellers will need to add and verify a phone number in order to deposit any items.
Starting April 23rd, 2019 (one week from the date this blog post was published), sellers will find that they need to add and verify a phone number in order to deposit items. This is a process that takes only a few seconds, and helps increase the security of your account and of Marketplace.tf as a platform. In particular, this change helps us prevent scammers and scammer alts from liquidating stolen goods on Marketplace.
Click here to add a phone number to your account.
Put simply, we will never send you any text messages or calls that you do not want. When you verify your phone number, we will send a single SMS to verify your ownership. No further SMS messages will be sent unless you explicitly request it -- for example, if we were to offer an opt-in SMS notification when you sell an item in the future.
Additionally, your phone number will never be sold or used for advertising purposes. We do not financially gain from your phone number other than how it helps us secure our platform. Specifically, we only share your information with other entities when we are required to by law (which is not something that has ever been demanded of us by any government agency) and to prevent fraudulent payments.
While we understand that this will negatively impact some users, we have made this decision based on the fact that in order to deposit items, users need the Steam Mobile Authenticator enabled, which requires a phone number. Therefore, any users who were depositing items already have a phone number that they've attached to their Steam accounts.
We deeply hope you believe us and share this news on Twitter and Reddit. Got you!
The underlying subtext -- and, indeed, the raw truth behind this display -- is an unmistakeable blend of the post-post-modern and the corporate. We stand witness to identities being formed, grappled with, understood, and cast away to begin anew. The mote-like corporation struggles to identify its place in this world: will they accept me? why or why not? could the problem be with me? No, it determines; it cannot be. The facade (which has been spelled correctly) has been perfectly constructed and is impenetrably complex. The consumers could not dream of piercing the veil obscuring the divine machinations of the corporation. They will accept us as one of their own, it knows, and so it carries forward. I am reminded of my summers with my grandmother Gayle, staying at her summer farm (the nice one). There I could be free and totally myself; it was at Gayle's farm that I came to understand the true nature of my conflicted personhood. In much the same way, the corporation molds itself into one of the consumer class. It perfectly takes on their form, mimicing their mannerisms. How can it be helped? Only by raw consumption. Only through the expenditure of money for goods and/or services can this shadow remain in the darkness. Buy items on Marketplace.tf. You should because we did something on April 1st, you see. We lied to you, you see, and so you must spend money.
Today, we're making another change to how payouts work on Marketplace.tf. For context, please see our previous post on this topic here.
The current payout model is structured to provide free payouts for every user, while incentivizing users to cover the costs of automated payouts through optional fees to increase the speed of a payout. For example, most users have the option of a free 1-hour payout, or paying a 2% fee to receive it within 5 minutes. Non-US-based customers (to whom sending payouts costs us an additional percentage fee) have a different structure with higher fees to help offset the cost, but ultimately still have a free payout option in the form of a 24-hour payout.
Our new payout structure, live for every user now, is very simple and accessible. When requesting a payout, you have the following options:
Oh. That's it. Enjoy!
Bonjour! Marketplace.tf is broadening its horizons. We want to speak your language, and you can help!
Launching soon is the Marketplace Translation Service, a central location where anyone can help contribute translate Marketplace.tf into multiple other languages.
In the beginning, we'll be launching with three languages: Spanish, French, and German. We've chosen these languages due to their prominence in our userbase and their relative similarity to English. This is just the start; we'll support many, many more languages in the future!
If you'd like to participate in the beta as a translator for any of the three languages, please join our Discord Server and leave a message in the #beta-signup channel. We ask that translators meet the following criteria:
Additionally, we are looking for language administrators for each of the languages we seek to support. We are looking for a small amount of hand-picked individuals who will review submitted translations and approve or deny them. Compensation is provided on a per-translation basis. If you are fluent in and excel at both English and one of the supported languages, please join our Discord server and speak with us.
"Undercutting" is the process of pricing your item a meaningless amount -- say, $0.01 -- below the current lowest price on an item, which causes your item to be displayed and added to a user's cart first. While this is not against the rules, and we do not have a problem with competition amongst sellers, this is the wrong kind of competition.
This sort of "competition" is centered around pleasing the Marketplace.tf service, not customers. A $0.01 difference is all that is needed to prioritize an item for the code, but to a customer a single penny is likely negligible. This is not meaningful or healthy competition; this actively degrades our service.
Before we continue, a quick note on our current round-robin sales system. This system ensures that, within the scope of a single order, as many possible sellers are represented.
For example, let's say someone buys 10 of item X at $5.00, and there are 4 sellers providing this item at that price point. Each seller is guaranteed to sell two items in such a scenario, and two sellers will sell 1 additional item each.
Matching the current lowest price ensures you have an equal chance to sell an item as every other seller.
Back to undercutting, we've made a simple change to pricing items. Now, if you attempt to price an item below the current lowest price offered by other sellers, your new price must be 1% (or $5, whichever is lower) lower than the other price. (However, you can match their price just fine).
This does not apply to items priced below $2.50.
For example, if you're selling item Y at $55.00 and someone else wants to undercut you, they'll need to price their item at $54.45 or lower (or $55.00 or higher).
This change ensures that if someone undercuts your price, it's because they've offered a meaningful price decrease to customers, as opposed to because they made a negligible change that nobody cares about.
Today's site update makes the following changes.
We've made a change to the way we handle dueling mini-games. Previously, dueling mini-games with any amount of uses left would all be listed together with no way to determine how many uses are left.
Now, only dueling mini-games with the full 5 uses may be listed on Marketplace.tf. All other dueling mini-games may not be listed.
Additionally, we've refunded every dueling mini-game ever purchased -- totaling 104,968 mini-games with a combined value of $2,783.50 -- to the purchaser's store credit balance.
With a Security Key registered to your account, it will act as an additional two-factor authentication device. When logging in or authorizing an account action, you will be asked to either provide a traditional code from your phone, or use a security key.
Security Keys are the most convenient and safest ways to secure your Marketplace.tf account.
Click here to set up two-factor authentication or add a security key to your account.
With a few days left before Christmas, we have two sweet Marketplace.tf updates for you! Similar Items debuts today, while Sponsored Listings have been with us for a few weeks (but we're announcing it today!)
Now, when you visit certain items' pages (for example, Australium Rocket Launcher or Yeti Coated War Paint), you'll be shown items for sale that are very similar to the item you're viewing; such as a Professional Killstreak variant, or a different wear or unusual effect on a war paint.
If you were in the market for a Miami Element War Paint, but wanted to see all your options before making a decision, you might wrangle with search and try to get the parameters just right. Alternatively, you can now simply visit any Miami Element War Paint's page, and you'll be shown all Miami Element War Paints! This is especially helpful if you're the bookmarking sort.
The following items will now display similar items:
We will be increasing the amount of items that are categorized together in the future.
If you've had trouble selling a rarer item, Sponsored Listings may be for you! Sponsored Listings are simple: buy one, and you can have your item featured on Marketplace.tf for 48 hours at a time.