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I am currently working on a small Auction site. On this Auction are items and on the item's "Details" page displays a list of bids on the item descending from the amount, so the "active bid" will be at the top of the list. The bidder clicks a link to a form which in they can put their max bid.

The problem I am facing is that the customer I am creating this site for would not like the bid list to show a user bidding twice in a row which would happen in specific use cases if you showed every bid increment.

Let's say I have an item with a starting price of $100 and the bid increment is $10. And Person A places a bid with a max of $150, so Person A has the current bid at $100.

A second bidder Person B bids on the auction and has a max of $200. So normally I would imagine the bids would look like:

5/23/18 8:30am __________Person B___________$160
5/23/18 8:30am __________Person A___________$150
5/23/18 8:30am __________Person A___________$140

5/23/18 8:30am __________Person B___________$130
5/23/18 8:30am __________Person A___________$120
5/23/18 8:30am __________Person B___________$110
5/22/18 4:00Pm __________Person A___________$100

So in these specific cases where it would be an odd number of increments away either person would have to bid twice in a row, however my customer doesn't want any confusion.

The code I have below I try to address this issue by creating special incremental bids. The output of my code in the same case would be:

5/23/18 8:30am __________Person B___________$160
5/23/18 8:30am __________Person A___________$150

5/23/18 8:30am __________Person B___________$110
5/22/18 4:00Pm __________Person A___________$100

However, I also believe this sparks confusion as the bidders may ask why the price of the bids jumped. Also with the code I have now I believe that I would have to further split my if cases to account for if a bidder were to place a max bid that is one increment higher than the current max bid.

How should I present these situations to the bidder in the least confusing way?

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    In your first example, wouldn't Person B feel like they should have won the item for $150? Wasn't it their turn to bid? Why does Person A get priority just because their maximum bid was $150? Hmm.. thinking through this does get a little tricky.. – maxathousand May 23 '18 at 15:52
  • See there aren't really "turns to bid". in reality there are just two bids. Person A says "my max is $150" and Person B says "my max is $160". The rest is all auto bids that just fill in the gaps so users can kind of see the process. I choose to show Person A's last bid at their max at $150 so they know that their bid went all the way to their maximum bid amount. After that Person B should be the current "winner" because they have a higher maximum bid and so their bid goes to (Person A's max) + increment amount which in this case equals $160. It is tricky, and can get confusing for the users. – C.Math May 23 '18 at 16:07
  • Anyone could bid at anytime as well it is just a live auction site. I believe the way I have set it up is better and less confusing for the user but there is still always confusion. – C.Math May 23 '18 at 16:08
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    What happens in the case that there are two people with the same maximum? – maxathousand May 23 '18 at 16:08
  • See that is another use case that gets complicated. As of now, I have it setup so that the bid will go in and so it will display that Person A and Person B would have the same amount let's say $150. But then I also sort my query in the database by the BidStatusId, which means that the person who bid the max first will still be displayed at the top of the list. So it would appear that they are "winning" and at the current state I have it at the end it would have to display "tie winner" or something to that effect. – C.Math May 23 '18 at 16:28
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I believe that showing all the incremental bids will lead to confusion. Instead of showing all the increments I would only display the current and previous leaders.

In your example the output would display like this:

5/23/18 8:30am __________Person B___________$160

5/23/18 8:30am __________Person A___________$150

5/22/18 4:00Pm __________Person A___________$100

This format clearly shows the current leader, and the previous points where the leader changed.

Keeping with this format, if person A has the lead but has their bid increased due to another bid, I would only show that jump. Something like this:

5/23/18 8:30am __________Person B___________$160

5/23/18 8:30am __________Person A___________$150

5/23/18 6:30am __________Person A___________$115

5/22/18 4:00Pm __________Person A___________$100

This shows that a competing bid was made at 6:30am, it was not however, enough to outbid Person A. Person A is still in the lead with a bid of $115 at 6:30am.

This is also the same or very similar to how Ebay does it, and they seem to be doing something correct.

To avoid the confusion in your second scenario, you must make it very clear that when placing a bid, the bid will automatically increment to the maximum bid value if the user will be outbid. I do not have stats to back it up, but I believe that most users familiar with online auctions will be familiar with this process.

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    Thank you Roger, I appreciate your help with this whole process. I do like the way you posted of doing it. I will just have to talk to my customer and see if they are fine with the same user showing multiple bids in a row. I will explain this is similar to how Ebay does it and I'll have to add that explanation to the bidding page or FAQ. Thank you again for your help. – C.Math May 23 '18 at 18:32
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    @C.Math Perhaps to add to rogerdeuce's nice answer, you could consider adding an additional column to list "reasons" for the entries (e.g. "Initial bid", "Auto-bid", "Bidding limit reached", etc.). – maxathousand May 23 '18 at 19:35
  • @maxathousand That is a good idea! Thank you for your help as well Max my output will look much cleaner. – C.Math May 23 '18 at 19:38

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