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Monday, January 31, 2011

This Week On Etsy - More Bull$hit!

In only the last week, a string of actions taken by Etsy have shocked and dismayed the crafting, vintage, and supplies world.  As many of us already know, Etsy's business dealings and treatment of its sellers is beyond reproach, yet this recent news is simply horrifying.

A brief synopsis of the latest "changes" to Etsy and Etsy's policies:

1)  Etsy is closing its forums, and herding the livestock sellers (and buyers?) into "Teams".  These forums will not be viewable by non-Etsy members (such as myself), and are highly exclusive even to members.  They are sweeping all the tiny voices of outcry forever under the rug with this move, stifling the flow of information, and fragmenting their "community".

2)  Alchemy is "taking a rest"??  Etsy is shutting down Alchemy, a way for sellers and buyers to arrange for and bid on custom work.  This takes the bread and butter of many a seller's table.  They have not stated when, or if, Alchemy will return in a new form, and what that form will be.

3)  Etsy just rolled out a bizarre new "feature" that threatens the privacy and security of its users.  Worse, yet, it is "opt-out" only, and many users do not even know what is happening with their information.  AuctionBytes has more on this story HERE.

4)  What will Etsy do with the email addresses and personal information it obtains through this maneuver?  Well all signs point to SELLING IT to third parties!  Yes, and it is quite transparent as well!  It states in their policies that they may do this with your information, and if that isn't enough for you, well, alert readers discovered the following job posting this morning!  Note that it states they are in the "information Collection and Delivery" business.  As all of us know, millions of active email addresses and other personal information constitute a huge "asset" financially for any company to sell or amass.  Job postings also indicate that they are looking for MORE ways to become a social networking site, rather than a place of business for crafters and micro-businesses.

Now, it doesn't take a great detective like Hercule Poirot to see where this is leading.  All the facts fit together seamlessly to create the following picture, a snapshot at the future of Etsy in it's cold-blooded and greedy pursuit of profit, no matter who they trample on, or what effect it will have on its users!  Just use those "little gray cells" and you will see a disturbing trend.

in 2009 Etsy received a massive cash investment from a venture capital firm.  Ever since, Etsy has been grooming itself to be sold, like a prize-winning sheep.  Only, its USERS (you) are the ones getting fleeced!

-Doing away with the forums conveniently hides what little public protest and messiness there is within the community from prying eyes.  

-Alchemy isn't profitable enough for Etsy - they get the bulk of their profits ten cents at a time from sellers desperately listing and renewing, trying to stay on top of the search results.

-Data mining constitutes an "asset" to intenet-based companies.  It is one of those booming markets.

-Etsy has designed and redesigned the site to trap traffic, not necessarily resulting in US selling anything, but to keep the back-links and traffic on Etsy itself, artificially boosting its numbers, and making itself look good to investors and potential new owners.  And just like livestock, you and I, and all the other individual users of Etsy, constitute an "asset" as well.  That's where the data mining comes in.  

Basically, Etsy is just morphing into Facebook.  Why?  To impress potential buyers/investors and their idiotic ideas that Facebook is the biggest, baddest thing on the internet, and the most profitable to boot.  So if you're looking for a really great place to buy and sell, with a lively community and lots of DIY spirit... ETSY IS NOT IT.  At least not anymore.  And of course, this says nothing of the affronts to the dignity of its users, its rudeness, its unfair treatment of its sellers, etc.  If you want to have your hopes and dreams cynically used and manipulated for the profit of a big corporate interest - Etsy is your place.  Otherwise, there are greener pastures out there for the serious seller and businessperson. 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

An Example Of Etsy Favoritism

 The Following was submitted by A.A.H. and it is a tale too often told by Etsy sellers, current and former.  If you speak up about something, and Etsy doesn't like what you have to say, they WILL go after you and try to drum up some BS way to penalize you for having the audacity to A) ask questions that make Etsy admin uncomfortable.  B)  Criticize Etsy in any way.

 Mine is kind of long, sorry, and small beans comparied to most muted or slapped Etsy sellers/buyers, but it proves to me that Etsy plays favorites.

A little background to help you understand the irony of this....
I spoke out in the forums.
I emailed Etsy quite a bit with questions, twice they replied (weeks later), and all the rest of my emails to them? Etsy never bothered replying to those. Ever.
I also emailed them on several occasions pointing out resellers.

Then it got interesting....
I began to notice that when I flagged a small or new reseller, Etsy would close their shop within days. But when I flagged big resellers, nothing was ever done about them.
I thought it was weird, but still wanting to give Etsy the benefit of the doubt (I had read about Etsy’s favoritism) I thought maybe they were backlogged with reports.

So I was searching for vintage picture frames on Etsy one day. I happen to see some listed that said ‘vintage’ but they sure looked new to me. So I clicked on the listing to see what was up with that. Low and behold, the seller of these “vintage” frames is an Etsy favorite. I read through the listings for these frames:
Listed as:
* vintage “looking” (so not vintage).
* made by a local framing company (so brand new and not made by seller)
* frame only (frames are not a supply according to Etsy and can be used on it’s own so it’s against TOU to sell new, not-handcrafted frames).

So everyone says that if you question an items legality, flag it and see what Etsy does about it. So I followed their suggestion and flagged the frames. Waited a week or so. Nothing. So I flagged the shop. Waited. Nothing.

So I email Etsy, and I ask in my round about way (here is a c&p):
“If I sell art prints, but want to offer frames on their own with NO prints included, I would like to know if it is okay to sell the empty picture frames, the frames are made by some other small local company, and are apparently handmade. I see that this quite popular Etsy seller does this, so I thought it must be okay for me to do too.
Listing # XXXXXXXX


I didn’t expect Etsy to ever reply, after all, they never reply to me. I was surprised that they replied within the hour! (c&p):
This would not meet Etsy's selling criteria.”

My reply to their reply:
“Okay, thanks. I had heard though, through other Etsy members, that such popular sellers such as XXXXXXXXX, are allowed to skirt or outright break Etsy TOU's and are also 'coached' on how to make their TOU violations more acceptable. But I am sure that is just hearsay or nonsense. Those frames are beautiful even though she doesn't make them ;)  Thanks again!"

Shocker! Etsy replied yet again within an half hour! (c&p):
“We never 'coach' anybody about how to violate our policies, but we do tell people what needs to be done in order to comply.”

Exactly 10 minutes after this reply, I received another email from Etsy, telling me that my Alchemy requests that I had open were now closed by Etsy because my Alchemy requests were in violation, and I was also told that I was henceforth not allowed to post in Alchemy, that if I posted any more requests asking for custom items, my account would be closed immediately.
The TOU violations? Requesting copies or knockoffs.
What were my alchemy requests? One was for a wool coat of my own design (victorian style), no name brand mentioned or implied, with the only picture example being a black & white sketch I did of a coat on the cheesy ‘Paint’ program on my computer. The other? Black & white photograph of which the only example I gave was a portion of a decades old photograph, I also stated that I did NOT want a copy, which is why the example shown was only a portion, and I was only using this bit as an example of the tone and subject matter.

Amazing that over the years, Etsy never replies to my emails. But as soon as I question one of their favorites, they reply within the hour, even within minutes. Also amazing that at the same time, the only thing I had listed on the site were Alchemy requests, requests that were NOT breaking any TOU, but they were subsequently closed and a threatening email sent on trumped up TOU violations.
I suspect that if there was anything listed for sale in my shop, they would have muted my shop. You see, I am not a seller. I am a buyer only. You cannot tell me that they didn’t peruse my account looking for SOMETHING, anything to slap me with.

My reply to the TOU violations (c&p):
“Interesting, as I stated in that Alchemy request that I DID NOT want a copy, that I was not looking for a knockoff, that the partial photo provided was for example for general idea of what I was looking for: black and white, which I could have shown any picture to convey the style. That is not asking for a copy, especially since I said that I didn't want a copy. My alchemy request said: "I do not wish for a copy of this example". Please tell me what part of that was asking for an exact copy or a knockoff?
As an example, you mean to tell me that when a bride wants a wedding dress, she is not allowed to show a photo of a dress to give a general idea of what she is looking for? How would the dressmaker on Etsy know what the bride is looking for if not for the picture? Also, I would venture to say that the dressmaker would most likely sew an exact copy of a last seasons dress design better than a photographer would be able to exactly copy a partial photo taken 3 decades ago! Honestly, you're going to sit there and tell me that is not allowed on Alchemy? Because I see it all the time, as well as it happens a thousand times over on the Etsy site whenever a buyer convos a seller asking for a custom item and they send along a picture of what they are looking for. I cannot help but think that you singled me out for some other reason, and I already know why too."

Interestingly after their quick replies about the frame seller and my Alchemy Requests, Etsy went silent.
I did email the seller of those frames. I came right out and asked if they made them, or if someone they share their shop with made them, part of a collective. Their reply was that no, the new frames were made by a local framing store. I then told them that Etsy said I could not sell these as they were against Etsy policy. The seller replied stating that they now understand why I was originally asking about the frames. That’s it. That’s all they said. And they still sell those frames; Etsy still will not reply to me about the Alchemy requests; And I still have not posted anything in Alchemy since.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tell Your Story

Hello my dear Refugees,

I think it might be helpful and healing for us all to read other tales of Etsy-woe, so I am making a call for submissions!

Write up your Etsy horror story and email it to

Go ahead, get it off your chest, and add your E cautionary tale to the growing list!