Wheedle is back on the market

Start “Wheedling” says a bright green button in an email sent to me over the weekend. Its owner and namesake uses the verb to mean buying and selling online, but in the last six months it’s taken on a new meaning in programming circles – software that fails spectacularly.

Wheedle, the online auction site which launched in October last year, came back online after a six months hiatus on the back of several security vulnerabilities on the site. Included amongst these were passwords sent in plain text and the ability to edit other people’s auction prices.

At the time managing director and part-owner Carl Rees said he would shut down the site until these issues were fixed.

“Over the past months we have been busy rebuilding considerable areas considerable areas of our software and fixing the mistakes we made,” says Rees in an email to Wheedle users on Sunday.

Rees says security experts have been hired to scrutinise the site and test its systems. I quickly signed up this morning, the original plain text passwords and price editing kerfuffles seem to be resolved.

Wheedle initially launched on the promise of fairer auction prices and no percentage success fees like the dominant player in the marker, Trade Me. It’s a tough environment to be in, with Trade Me’s scale securing it a virtual monopoly in online auctions. Since Wheedle’s October launch, APN’s Sella left the online auction game – opening up a spot for second place behind Trade Me.

No doubt Rees et al are hoping to change the connotation of the word ‘Wheedling’ into something more positive, such as a legitimate Trade Me competitor.

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