Buying and selling at online auctions is fun, but can be so impersonal. Have you ever asked yourself, "Why is this guy's name MrFishToes? And why is he buying up all those Power Rangers toys?" The answers may be only a click away, thanks to the proliferation of member Web pages offered by auction sites. If you're so inclined, you can make a member page of your own to let other auctiongoers know a little bit about you and your unhealthy obsession with Doogie Howser memorabilia.
eBay calls its member pages "About Me." If a user has created an About Me page, you'll see a colorful "me" icon next to his or her user ID -- click it to see the member's page. eBay gives you full creative control over the look of your About Me page. You can keep it simple or go gung-ho with a complex and creative page -- if your HTML skills are up to snuff. You're free to use just about any HTML tags you want. (Be careful when hacking HTML by hand -- a misplaced tag or two can turn your page into a disaster area.) If you aren't HTML-savvy, just write about yourself without tweaking the HTML stuff within angle brackets.
Plus, the About Me page provides access to special, eBay-only tags. (http://pages.ebay.com/help/myinfo/ebaytags.html) You can use them to display your eBay user ID (which will be automatically updated should you change it), show your feedback or items for sale, even tell the date when you first registered on eBay. (Me? March 5, 1996, thank you very much.) Visit http://members.ebay.com/aw-cgi/eBayISAPI.dll?AboutMeLogin to start working on your About Me Page.
Yahoo! Auctions provides a simpler "About Me" tool, part of the Auction Profile users can create. (http://auctions.yahoo.com/show/prefs?select=aboutme) It too, allows you to express yourself with HTML, or you can stick with good ol' text.
Amazon.com recently jumped on the bandwagon with its Member Pages (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/subst/community/member-pages.html) tool. Members can build a simple Web page without HTML. You can also create a private section, accessible only to folks you invite, to share your most intimate thoughts about your online shopping experiences.
All of these member page tools provide just that -- a single page. If you have a larger Web site elsewhere, be sure to add a link to it from your member page.
Maybe your favorite auction site doesn't offer member Web pages, or maybe you've got more to say than can be shoehorned into a little About Me page. So why not make a Web site of your own? Many sites offer free Web pages: you can create a site that's larger and more versatile than a simple member page. You can build Web site for free with Yahoo! GeoCities, (http://geocities.yahoo.com) Hometown AOL, (http://hometown.aol.com) and Tripod, (http://www.tripod.lycos.com) among others. All of these sites will help you create easy, no-HTML pages or get your hands dirty with HyperText Markup Language, if you desire.