We here at Etsy Bitch recieved multiple tip-offs to this little gem of a locked thread. I'll simply let the opening post speak for itself:
This is a blog post from Caterpillar Cowboy.
He started this thread some time ago asking if we would prefer improved search or improved view counters.
How much listening is too much?May 28, 2008 at 8:31 pm · Filed under business, etsy
Customer forums are always interesting, particularly for e-commerce sites. There is something about staying at home and being bored that ultimately leads people to “window shop” online, which leads them to socializing with other people who are doing the exact same thing. The range of personalities is wild and wildly interesting.
Four hundred and twenty eight posts ago, I started a thread on the Etsy forums. The thread was intended to have two purposes. One was to simply get a sense of the community and introduce myself to them. Second, I wanted to get some better intuition as to how sophisticated Etsy sellers (the majority of forum posters) are about running their business and the e-commerce business generally. So I asked a basic prioritization question - would you rather us make search better or fix a bug that would occasionally reset the page views counter on your item listing pages? (For those curious, the views system is stored entirely in a cache, and when the cache gets full and a record gets evicted, the page view number resets to 0. Clearly, the system was not engineered to be used in this manner.) My follow up was, if fixing the view system is not a priority, would you rather we get rid of it entirely or keep it broken.
The danger is to get lulled into an urgency to please. When hundreds of users are demanding a feature, you may feel compelled to acquiesce and build the requested feature. Before you do that, stop and consider Henry Ford: “If I did what people said they wanted, I would have built a faster horse.” (or something like that.) Customers are excellent gauges as when something is wrong, but can be extremely misleading about both what exactly is wrong and how it should be fixed. Furthermore, customers do not (or should not) have better visibility than you do into strategic goals, key business metrics, engineering resources, etc. They don’t have your long-term vision nor your understanding of complex dependencies. So don’t jump the gun. Listen, follow the comments to the source, and solve the root of the problem.
I don't take issue with the third paragraph. However, if the purpose of his thread was some sort of social experiment, I rather resent it. That thread strongly implied that Etsy would be doing something about either views or search. But apparently it was nothing of the sort. People are running businesses here, for some of them it is their livelihood. They participate in threads like that in the hopes that their feedback will help Etsy to improve the site and therefore help them sell. It's not cool to jerk people around like that, IMO.
Lab rat vs Guinea Pig