Saturday, May 31, 2008

Manifesto to Maria

Dear Maria,

Welcome to Etsy and by default, EtsyBitch. As the new COO of Etsy, I am sure you realize that Etsy, while a great idea, is being poorly executed from an operations standpoint. You obviously have the resume to have already recognized most if not all of what we are going to say next, but we're going to say it anyway.

We’ve got our concerns about how Etsy is run; from the very top, down to the newest employee. As someone who has a fresh palate, we hope you are clearly able to see where Etsy needs to go, improve and excel.

Site – It needs to work. We don’t need all the fancy toys. We need a site that stores important information seamlessly and doesn’t constantly reset itself. We need a search function that works like Google. Something that doesn’t require NOT this and NOT that in order to prevent category bleed through. No category bleed through is a good thing. We need better categories and an understanding of what Etsy’s users NEED, not what Admin thinks is hip and trendy. The childish error and “brick wall” pages should be replaced with something more professional like, “Oops! This seller is no longer with us. We have many other talented artisans here. Please click *here* to look at some new sellers.”

Engineers – We need Engineers that know what they are doing and have a modicum of respect for the users. RevolvingDork is a liability. He treats others badly and automatically assumes that it’s the users fault, not that Etsy is having an issue, instead of the other way around. That is BAD Customer Service and a horrible attitude to have. Essentially Engineers should not have contact with the public, and there should be a technical person buffering the contact. Preferably one with customer service experience. There are many posts in the Ideas forum that have mentions of essentials needed to run a successful business, some of these features your competitors already offer. It should not be hard, if the site was built properly, to add in these needed elements. If the site crumbles when new features are added, there are problems with the base code.

Customer Support – Customer Support should be the most important position in the company. There should be phone support available, and the e-mail support is lacking. It should not take days for a first contact. EVERY e-mail should be responded to in some way, personally, to let the user know he/she has been heard. All customer support agents should have a customer support background. This does a few things. One, it makes sure that those who are the front face of Etsy are not a liability. Two, it ensures the best customer service possible. And three, people with a Customer Service background are better at controlling the flow of a conversation without being reactive.

Employee interactions – Employees who have been a liability in the past should be removed from the front line of any customer interaction. There are a few who should’ve been terminated after the havoc they’ve caused. Any research into the issues should point out who has been unfairly stalker-ish and who have caused absolute blow-outs that would not be tolerated in any other workplace of that size.

Community – Should have “sticky” notes for important site issues, etc. The Forums should really be cut back to Site Help (where only Admin can post), Bugs, Ideas, Teams and Events. Business and Marketing should have it’s own static page as a part of the help section. Etc is just embarrassing fodder for potential investors to find and Promotions, is quite crudely put, a clusterfuck. Teams should be the community focus that you promote. The chat rooms should be cut back just to the virtual labs. You have to decide where your focus will be. Right now, Etsy’s focus is on community and maybe you can sell some things on the side instead of where Etsy’s vision is located – to make a living selling handmade items and living a handmade life.

Forum Police – The forums should only be policed by those who work for Etsy. The constant rudeness from a few forum sheriffs is embarrassing to say the least. It causes more blow-ups than problems it solves.

The Storque – While a great idea, it is poorly executed. It is cluttered, filled with nepotism and fluff. There’s a complete lack and disregard for actual news, especially when it comes to site issues. Many times, people are relegated to reading news on the Forums, where its quickly buried or dismissed by RevolvingDork, or reading it at the UEN. The UEN would not be nearly as popular if Etsy took reporting the site news seriously. The news should also be available on a different server webpage, so when the site does go down, it is replaced by the blog, like it used to be. This deflects a lot of problems.

Advertising – It should be done, regardless of grass roots advertising ideas, it needs to be done. Traditional advertising in any marketing plan is a bonus, rather than a hindrance.

Etsy e-mails – It is NOT spam to send ALL users updates on policy changes, site changes and anything else important. Contrary to popular thought in the office, the forums and the Storque does not reach the entire customer base. It should not be opt-in. It should be defaulted as mandatory with the option of opt-out.

Official Press – Recently, Etsy had an unfavorable report in The Consumerist about how it treated its users. An Etsy employee took it upon himself to reply to the furor and called anyone who wasn’t in line with thinking that Etsy was perfect “grumpy haters.” This is unacceptable. Official statements should only come from 3 sources: Rob Kalin, You and Matt Stinchcomb.

Confidentiality – Spouses of employees should not be privy to confidential information regarding features, account suspensions, and other decisions and plans from the main office. This gives them a leg up on information when everyone else is left in the dark. It also gives the impression that these employees are speaking badly about other users and spilling other confidential information that might affect their ability to participate within the Etsy community. Other businesses have similar rules, to protect its customers from such retaliation.

Favoritism – It has to stop. The only users that should get any special treatment are the top sellers (in the way of having a personal account rep to handle their unique needs). Even if it is denied, there is no doubt that some sellers are treated differently because of who they are friends with.

Professionalism – Yes, the staff is quirky, but that should be relegated to in house antics. It should no way, shape or form, bleed out into personal interactions with sellers and buyers. It is currently set up where only 1 or 2 employees who have regular interaction with sellers and buyers are fair and impartial.

Contrary to popular thought, we do care about Etsy very, very much. We do believe in professionalism from the people we are paying money to. Many of our postings are dripping in sarcasm and frustration, but only because we’ve been pushed that far. There are those of us who are fed up and have no where else to go, and then there are those of us who have great ideas and wish we had a platform to express our thoughts. EtsyBitch is our platform.

You may wonder why we are anonymous. Well, we’ve seen many people punished on Etsy for things done off Etsy. It makes us wary, and unless there’s a personal guarantee, signed by Rob Kalin himself, notarized and copied in triplicate, we’re not going to reveal ourselves.

Maria, if you wish to discuss our Manifesto, you can reach us at etsybiatch@gmail.com. We might be anonymous, but we’re actually quite personable.

31 Comments:

~B.Z. said...

*Standing ovation*

Very well put !!! :D

impetuous said...

sounds reasonable, very reasonable.

organidog said...

Amen!!

Anonymous said...

Hear hear! Ninety percent of the problems could be solved with better engineering and strategic communications planning. I also think chaos in the forums could be cleaned up if Etsy sellers weren't so fucking confused all the time. A professionally run organization with a clear direction is a lot less likely to breed anarchy.

Anonymous said...

Wow, who ever wrote this should be in charge... Very well written and thought out... Great ideas!

jodie nicholson said...

You had me at 'hello'

TheSneakyOne said...

Aww, thanks guys. I appreciate the kind words.

You guys are pretty fab.

Simone said...

Good post!

In terms of technical stuff (being the geeky type that I am), just employing someone who actually genuinely understands HTML and CSS and knows how to write it properly would be a really great start.

If the fundamentals could be done right there would be a lot more confidence about the rest of it.

Plus sellers, buyers and Etsy itself would all benefit by making the site more search engine friendly and genuinely more accessible.

j. hart photography said...

i agree with EVERYTHING said. all of it is logical business sense.

Elizabeth said...

You go, girls/guys! Love it. LOVE it.

The Kinky One said...

Bravo!

27 said...

you forgot the part where every smoking dog gets a free cookie!

Closed Threads said...

*standing O*

WildDogStudio said...

Very well put! Agree 100%!

Anonymous said...

Excellent post. I agree with almost everything except..

If they do close ETC, where will the women who are staying with men who beat them, sleep with their best friends and kick their cats going to go for attention and (the wrong kind of) support?

Ideally they should seek offline support but my guess is they will just migrate to the other forums and soon those will be just as cluttered with their personal crap. Etsy will have to hire twice as many admins just to monitor and close the trainwreck threads.

My idea would be an ETC forum that is available only to those who are signed in to the forums and have also clicked on an "I agree that this forum is for adults only and I promise not to whine if I read something unpleasant" button. They do this on Craigslist in the R&R section. It seems to work well there.

impetuous said...

thats interesting anonymous.
my idea is that they open a private sellers only forum that is completely unmonitored, where we can give people the lashings they deserve.
I am pissed that recovery babe has been muted but people like regal beads and BeaG are allowed to abuse the little newbies.
I want justice bitches!

Anonymous said...

Why limit it to just sellers? Buyers have posting trainwrecks too.

BeaG does seem to be a bit of a self-elected board nanny.

ebbandflo said...

bravo!

if etsy was run properly there would be way less frustration and a lot more meaningful interactions (and selling)

happiness all round!

The Angsty One said...

Anonymous said...
Why limit it to just sellers? Buyers have posting trainwrecks too.

BeaG does seem to be a bit of a self-elected board nanny.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
This made me shoot milk out of my nose.. thanks a lot.

impetuous said...

I am quite please with the term, board nanny, anonymous. She even has the sweet little teddies to comfort you after your whipping.

Elizabeth said...

Sounds like a sex work business. I don't think Etsy allows selling of services.

Anonymous said...

But, she always says "have a nice day" after she's ripped a newbie to shreds. That makes it OK, right?

TheSneakyOne said...

Okay dudes and dudettes, let's lay off a little on the personal attacks. We still love ya, but it might set a precedent we don't want to travel into. Know whatta I mean?

impetuous said...

...well, there goes a whole series forum character dolls.

OK, I will no longer call out.

Scott Bulger Photography said...

Nice manifesto. Well done.

Fish On The Wall said...

Very well written--

Liza said...

well written and thought out. Although I've only been part of etsy for a (very) short while, I love the feeling of community as well as the ability to connect with other artists.

I have very high hopes for lots of positive changes, and as a "community manager" for a website I understand all the hard work, patience and dedication (and the slip-ups) that can happen.

I appreciate both the people at etsy working to make it a fabulous place to be, and the people critiquing etsy, in hopes that it will hold itself to a higher standard.

brava.

hannahfaerie said...

Fab letter!
I agree completely. One thing I would like to draw attention to is the categories and the NEED for category bleed. I make ceramic beads and string them in to jewellery and I have found since the category bleed has gone it is very hard for my work to be seen. I get an equal amount of attention from the Jewelry and Ceramics and Pottery sections but an item will no longer automatically come up in both.
Don't get me wrong, the category bleed was a pain in the butt and I'm glad its gone. But that said, so are the categories. They are all over the place, and until they are cleaned up and links are put in where necessary the category bleed is useful.
Using a dirty mop to clean up a mess doesn't really make the place tidier, but at least the floors dry.

palleikodesigns said...

I couldn't have put it better myself.

anda's baby said...

wow! well done.

eva said...

these are some amazing ideas...

category bleed is a pet peeve of mine as an etsy customer... especially when children's clothing comes up on a search for adult clothing, etc.

i wish they would put "include description" back on the main search bar, too. it can be very difficult to find an item in a specific size or just a slightly specific type of an item without that feature. i don't use the etsy forums, but i've noticed favoritism in the items picked for the main page... i've seen the same item or the same seller several times, and extremely expensive items always seem to get precedence over more affordably priced items, regardless of quality or originality.

also, it is incredibly annoying when a listing has expired and you know that the number of the etsy shop was included in the url somewhere, and you want to go to their shop to see similar items but can't because you just get the error screen. (that screen seems less unprofessional to me than it does to you guys, but i can see your point.) it wouldn't be so hard to link all expired listings to the shop number in the url instead of to the error screen, and it would be a really good site feature.

personally, i would kill to see some sort of category added to the search feature to allow a person to search for their size. i realize this would be hard to implement at first, but it would make searching easier (especially since many sellers do not list a size in their product title.) and is probably less work than the silly crayon box color search they've already coded into the site. seriously, does anyone use that? how much of a pain must it have been for just a "see how cool we are?" effect?