Typically I try to respond to most emails we get asking questions. This one came in and I thought I would share:
"Can you explain the trade analysis software you claim to use? Someone said that you manipulate prices on this sheet for your own gain like that silver medigun. I think your prices are fair but your response would be helpful to me.
First off, our software runs 24/7/365. It is still a work in progress and for our site revamp we are going to have it integrated into the site so that we are real-time. It shows prices of trades that occur and the value in keys and/or metal that is exchanged. For now, I go through the output which is a mysql database and examine each trade.
Many of the trades from the software (80-90%) confirm prices already on the spreadsheet. So if you don't see a price change, it often means that is just where a price has 'settled'. If a trade shows a price different from the spreadsheet I try to confirm this with feedback from my pricers as well as publicly listed prices for items (outpost, tp, trade servers). About half the time a trade is not for the price listed, there is no confirmation in the marketplace. In that case, the price stays the same. What causes this? Typically a quicksell, someone just trying to liquidate. The other half of the time, the price has indeed shifted and after the same research as above, we adjust the price on the sheet. And if there are multiple trades in the database showing a real change in price then we look for confirmation but ultimately require less proof since it is already there. Most often in this case the price is adjusted.
Secondly, we do not manipulate prices. I reduce prices of items in both my and my contributors backpacks every day. I have been estimating TF2 item prices for close to 3 years and update the site daily. We don't let anyone just 'vote' on prices. If we get feedback we check it out and respond accordingly but never allow direct changing of prices.
The overzealous reddit witchhunt was based on one reddit user's opinion of one item's price that differed from ours. He had followed us for many months looking for anything and that's all he could conjur. Reddit labeled my account(s) 'scammer' and saved the world for all the cute kittens. However, in response to that issue I stopped trading personally to ensure that there is no appearance of impropriety. A pretty large sacrifice on my part since I enjoyed trading but I get how things looked.
Anyway, I hope that answers some questions. We're moving forward and you will see some big changes soon.