Introduction. The Everyday Life Information Seeking approach suggests that much information behaviour takes place in non-work settings, for example in the pursuit of leisure activities such as hobbies. This study focuses on a community of collectors to examine how they gather information to decide whether to purchase an item for their collection when the target item has an ambiguous or deficient description.

Method. Manual scanning of eBay and other online discussion board for coin buyers led to 187 postings indicating an attempt to reach a purchase decision, or to authenticate a purchased coin, through solicitation or posting of advice.

Analysis. Postings were coded as to whether they dealt with 1. Ambiguous images in a listing, 2. Ambiguous statements in a listing, 3. Information missing from a listing, or 4. Sharing of other information (not restricted to a coin listing) that might possibly be used to make a purchase decision or authentication.

Results. Using the example postings and the investigator's earlier experiences, a model of coin buyer decision making was created, outlining the different paths and strategies that collectors may take when faced with uncertainties.

Conclusion. The Internet facilitates access to both documentary reference material, as well as human information sources. The formation of virtual communities is made possibly, alongside existing face-to-face communities of hobbyists. Further studies of collectors could benefit from comparisons of information behaviour in both virtual and actual worlds.

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Published in Information Research, v. 15, no. 4, paper 448.

© the author, 2010.

This article is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0) License.