Item Attribute drop-down shouldn't have a "default" value

For the first time in many years, I got an automated eBay bot warning email telling me that I was “using inappropriate keywords” in one of my listings: a book which they said had the keywords “Alice in Wonderland”.

After checking the listing thoroughly and being confused, I finally realized that “Alice in Wonderland” is the first alphabetical item in the Item Attributes dropdown “Character Family” for eBay US’s Books category.

I almost always remove Attributes that aren’t used, or enter correct values manually if they’re not in the list, but this does point out that I mostly get past these issues by operant conditioning: years of using GarageSale has taught me that I need to change those dropdown values or delete the attribute entirely.

But technically, every time a dropdown menu or multi-selector or whatever user interface item shows up with a value already present, which I must edit to change or remove, that’s the software acting in a way I do not expect. And therefore a bug. I can imagine that a newcomer might not understand this, and could encounter problems if they failed to do so.

So to be clear, I’m talking here about dropdown menus which arrive with “some” assignments from eBay already populating the menu, but which GarageSale allows me to edit to be a new value. And also those cute little multiple item entry box things (do they have a name?) like this one, which I’ve picked at random, where I can add multiple items which can either by from a dropdown or have my own string values in each row:

Screenshot 2023-07-20 at 10.51.06 AM

Technically, whenever GarageSale shows me a value (usually first alphabetically) in one of these fields, it’s not correct. I can remember the one time I actually sold an Alice in Wonderland book, and I was delighted that for the first time in 30000 books listed I didn’t need to change or delete it!

That said, I’m not sure what the correct behavior should be. If you leave these blank until clicked, somebody might misunderstand how they work. If you present the downloaded “suggestions” (from eBay, I guess?) as autocompletion suggestions, that would be nice, but it also might lead to a different kind of error where somebody misses and gets the wrong value after all.

Maybe something like an initial value of “«NOT ASSIGNED»”, or some bullets like "••••"? It’s tricky to design right, and it definitely also depends on whether the value is optional or not. For example, I assume some categories will have Item Attributes that are from a dropdown list, but do not permit leaving them blank.

I should note that this would also help folks with validation scripting, if they use it. As things are now, I would have to check that a book either (1) does not have “Character Family” at all, or (2) is not “Alice in Wonderland” (in case I forgot to change it).

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