Ensuring fairness for our users in the wake of the AWS outage

As most of you are no doubt aware by now, Amazon Web Services experienced “increased error rates” earlier today, impacting a large number of internet sites and services.

Flippa was among those affected, with our website being offline for more than four hours as a result of the AWS issues.

We take any period of site non-availability extremely seriously. Due to the nature of our platform, any outage can have a huge impact on our users, especially those participating in auctions. If the site is down, potential buyers are unable to submit bids, sellers are unable to approve new bidders, and users are unable to communicate with each other. The impact is multiplied during the closing stages of an auction, when these activities are often extremely time-sensitive.

During the AWS outage, approximately 130 Flippa auctions were in the “closing stages” – either due to finish during the outage or within a couple of hours afterwards.

Each of those 130 auctions has been extended by 24 hours.

This is a much longer period than the outage itself. However, as our our audience is global and a delay of a few hours across many timezones can change the nature of the auction entirely, we believe that a 24 hour extension – so that those auctions finish at the same time of day, just a day later – is most appropriate in the circumstances.

For bidders, this will enable them to submit any further bids that they may have been unable to submit while the site was down.

For sellers, this will enable them to receive a price fairly dictated by the market, by allowing the auction to proceed to its natural conclusion.

We were able to extend most of the affected auctions before they closed, but not all – some technically did close during the outage. Although they appear to have been already “won”, we have still gone ahead and re-opened them, and extended them by 24 hours.

Some of the “winning” bidders may be unhappy with this decision, however, we believe it is the right one in the circumstances. Allowing an auction to end when the site is not available unfairly disadvantages the seller, who doesn’t receive the full benefit of the auction process. It also unfairly disadvantages any unsuccessful bidders, who were unable to submit any late bids. And it unfairly advantages the “winning” bidder, who pays a potentially lower price than otherwise due to the bidding process ending earlier than advertised.  It is our responsibility at Flippa to ensure that the process is as fair as possible for all parties, and we believe that the best way to do that in these circumstances is to re-open and extend these auctions, allowing them to proceed to a natural conclusion.

Please note that we have extended all 130 auctions, not started them over again, meaning that all bids that have already been submitted are still valid. If no further bids are received then the highest bid previously submitted will be the winning bid.

Where possible, the people associated with the affected auctions – all sellers, bidders and watchers – have been directly notified by email.

All other open auctions (those not in the “closing stages”) have been extended by four hours – the approximate duration of the outage – to ensure that they still receive the full period of exposure on our platform that the seller has paid for. We recognise that for various reasons some sellers may still want their auction to finish at the originally selected time; those sellers should contact us directly at [email protected]

We are still assessing the overall impact of the outage across our infrastructure, and will keep our users notified of any further impacts.

Thanks again to all our customers for your understanding.

Any further questions or concerns about this, please contact us at [email protected]

  • Yes, I think the extension is the right decision. But why are your services dependent on only one Amazon S3 region?

    • Libert Schmidt

      same question

  • Christian Edwin

    Mr. Tony, Many thanks for the update! I was online when the AWS outage started. I just discovered I couldn’t access my Flippa account as I was getting error message. I’m glad the issue has been result by AWS.

  • Lance Groom

    Yes, you did a great job. I was able to sell my website this morning after it closed up with a offer to one of my bidders. I would not have had that bid if you did not extend that for me.I was one of the ones affected. Flippa is so awesome! Well done Flippa, Cheers, aka SeasonedMktr on Flippa

  • Godson Nwokolo

    Fllippa, you guys are too big to throw your eggs in One basket. Unrecoverable hacks can cause final damage to your business. Amazon are so smart not to rely on their S3 alone but on other networks. why is Amazon site not down? Flippa better learn now…

  • Cook Marvin

    Nice information. Thanks!