Thursday, November 6, 2008

A muting, a booting, and threats of legal action

The Muting: seller MIZombie has been silenced for a month. We didn't see this when it happened, but you can read his rant about it on his blog. From this example we learn yet another unwritten rule of the Etsy forums: Yes, it's okay to say that someone hates America, but no, it's not okay to tell that person to STFU.

The Booting: seller Rivkasmom/Sweet15 has had her account permanently deleted from Etsy. On October 30th she reported to us that she received an email from Emily at support@Etsy informing her that her accounts would be permanently terminated on Nov 7th, and until that time she would have access to her accounts to collect her business history and pay her Etsy bill. No specific reason was given, only a mention of "previous transgressions" and "a history of disruptive behaviour". However, since Rivkasmom had been permanently forum-muted earlier this year, we have to wonder just why Etsy decided to up the penalty 10 months later without explanation. Making vampire cupcakes and ignoring the Bugs forum must have gotten a little boring, we guess.

But as it turned out, she was unable to log into her account as of October 30th, receiving only an error message informing her that her account had been suspended. That's a fucking brilliant way to help someone pay their Etsy bill, admin. We bet you broke a sweat thinking up that piece of genius.

The Legal Threats: Rivkasmom received yet another message later that day in which Etsy informed her they were logging all of her IP information, and saying that this information plus her personal information was being sent to the Etsy legal team, who would take action against her if she chose to use again. She was also told to expect a phone call from their attorneys by the end of the next day.

On November 4th, Rivkasmom received a registered letter from the Etsy legal team, reiterating the TOS and demanding that she shut down all Etsy accounts and cease all further actions and communications. Apparently they forgot they had already shut down her accounts 5 days previously. Admin, might we recommend a day planner or other record-keeping device to help you avoid embarrassing yourself in the communications department once again?

So, dear EB readers, this is the warm, fuzzy, community-minded "human" face of Etsy. Sure is ugly, isn't it? Once again the kangaroo court is in full swing, accusing and trying and convicting all without ever actually stating what the guilty person is supposedly guilty of. And pardon us if we just say that the legal threats seem completely fucking unnecessary. Don't you have bigger fish to fry, like pornographically-minded sockpuppets constantly running amok in the forums, a never-ending barrage of resellers, and new handmade venues popping up all over the internet preparing to give you some real competition? Once again it looks like you've grossly overreacted to one minor issue while a hundred other important ones go completely ignored. If your legal team is that bored - handing out cease-and-desist letters to Etsy teams trying to use the Etsy name at their events can't be all that exciting, we know - then find a better use for them. Icing cupcakes, perhaps.


FartBlossom said...

I know of this seller because I have bought from him numerous times. I was all prepared to get pissed off over what happened to him....until I went to his blog and read the racist rants. Very unfortunate. Rice Rides?? Please. No more incense buying from him.

yarn whore said...

I love you rivkasmom, so sorry to hear about this happening to you. You don't deserve this kind of abusive treatment. You were always kind to me and many others on the forums. I don't know why they targeted you for such a harsh action, considering there are so many other members that totally deserve this instead of you. This is so uncalled for and is very sad news. I know this is probably very upsetting for you. You're in my thoughts. You are loved. ((hugs))

kcroteau said...

Bravo, Etsy. Bravo.

Etsy - Your place to buy and sell any crap that we deem as "hip" and "Brooklyn-esque". If you've got anything legit, we'll throw lawyer speak at you and look like asses in the process.

Oh, that's not what it says on the home page? My mistake.

littleboots said...

There are two sides to every story. Do you know what exactly Rivkasmom has allegedly done to deserve this treatment? I have an inkling, and I'd wait to call Etsy ugly before jumping to defend her because it goes beyond her past bad forum behavior. Just sayin'.

Jen Segrest (verybigjen) said...

I got an email threatening to remove my account because I twittered like a week ago that I was clicking etsy google ads so they'd have to pay for them.

You say shit to say shit on twitter. I only did a few in spite, but I liked the idea of doing it so I said it. But still, I got my email threat complete with a slap on the hand because I work as a designer for the new competition now. I know that's the REAL reaon.

It's all so fucking stupid. And, I don't take well to threats, so I'm posting this here.

Right now, I'm waiting to see if I still have an account this Bloody Friday snd printing out my receipts.

"If I leave you tomorrow, will you still remember me?"

incognito said...

I stand with Little Boots on this one. Unless Rivkasmom is an Etsy Bitch the info is secondhand.
It would be like me telling you that I know exactly why she was booted but that would be secondhand.
She knows exactly why she was booted, don't be so quick to put the blame on Etsy.

Sadly Susan said...

I too would like to know the actual reason for this banning before I condemn. Hearing one side of a story is never enough to conclude if something was right or wrong.

The Kinky One said...


Most of our info is second hand. That's not new. The Malevolent One kept the speculation in the article to a bare minimum. The extremes taken in this case (with the legal threats) were one of the aspects that caught our attention in the matter.

Etsy goes overboard with one seller, yet still does NOTHING when it comes to far more extreme cases that are obvious to see.

Again, an even enforcement of the rules would be wonderful! But we're not holding our collective breath here at EB.

incognito said...

I don't know if they went overboard with Rivkasmom, but that is just my opinion.
My info would suggest that she messed with a powerful person and got the smack down.
I really can only comment on RM specifically as I feel I have extra insight in this situation.

yarn whore said...

I don't care if she called Rob Kalin everything but a white man, Or took a shit on the office floor.

She made the best steampunk stuff ever. She will be missed regardless of what she did.

Don't let Etsy off the hook people! There are far worse people roaming the forums everyday that don't get banned.

Etsy plays favorites and has a blacklist, everyone know that.

yarn whore said...

Okay, I did some research.

Rivkasmom, if you really did do this deplorable thing. I do not feel sorry for you anymore. In fact I feel like an idiot for defending you.

I recant my previous posts, despite how much I liked you.

Andrea Q said...

I am more concerned about the way Etsy handled the shop closing. As always, they said one thing and did another (by closing the account immediately instead of allowing the seller to wrap up her outstanding orders and bills). There is no trust.

justalongfortheride said...

I don't know anything about rivkasmom, but I can't say MIZombie garnered any of my sympathy by using phrases like "fuck stain" and "corn holer." Come on, man...what are you, 12? Of course, this is the same person that ran me out of Etsy chat last time I was there because he was so vile. I guess I'm not really surprised.

It is disconcerting, still, the way Etsy mishandles things like this. If someone's getting a muting or a booting for consistently bad behavior over time, then they deserved warnings. Specific ones. It seems like a lot of folks get muted for one tiny thing when it was really the straw that broke the camel's back. Come on, Etsy...what are you, 12?

Rivkasmom said...

EB has received copies of all of my emails with admin, word for word. No details were held back. I know you're not supposed to share this info, but they had already closed my shops, so what could they do about it?

I'd had one foot out the door already. I had already quit renewing and quit listing new items for some time, and I haven't exactly been quiet on the blogs about how much I promote my own website. I know that both Emily and Erin follow my blog, because they've emailed me in the past with "warnings" because they didn't like things that I've written about my experiences with Etsy.

If anyone has any proof of anything that I've done to have both of my shops closed, I'd love to see it. Admin has refused to give me any solid answers, just vague form letters about their "right to refuse service to anyone". You'd think that if they had any proof of serious violations, that they would have stated them directly in the letters.

In the long run, it doesn't matter if you believe me or not. Just watch what you say both on and OFF Etsy, and if you plan to quit do so as quietly as possible. Just don't say you weren't warned.

MinervaO said...

Simply stating this as a devil's advocate type of thing:

While Etsy's legal action is a bit extreme, Etsy is a privately held company, which can choose what kind of behavior they deem to be appropriate. We as users have to abide by what their terms of use are. We also all need to understand that the constitutional right to free speech can be limited by privately owned companies.

That being said, it is blatantly obvious that the powers that be of Etsy favor some much more than others.

I'm not on either side of this, and have pretty much stopped trying to sell anything through Etsy anymore, simply because I got fed up with all the drama, all the site problems, and chose to just go my own way.

Andy Mathis said...

I thought after the Etsy5 incident, they(Etsy) said they would no longer monitor people's activity off Etsy or off the Etsy forums.

Guess that was incorrect.

How ironic that admin can't reply to their almost 100 page thread asking for suggestions, yet has time to stalk people on Twitter.

Recycled By Hyena said...

Rivkasmon, I am really sorry you got that harrassing treatment from freaking running crazy power hundry etsy admins.

What next, a sniper in the building across your street? A private detective following your every moves? Etsyland Security?

This is really getting ridiculous and I am sometimes wondering if Etsy is not becoming a dangerous place, especially when they are following you outside of etsy (Twitter) to watch you.

MIZombie can be pretty harsh and never hesitate to curse but his heart is in the right place. I am sorry he got the one month, maybe we all deserve a kind of badge no? hahha
I sure don't want to come back to such a forum when racism, intolerance, bigotry and hypocritie are having the upper hand!

Their loss, not ours. All the talented artist and designers are leaving the ship.

incognito said...

"If anyone has any proof of anything that I've done to have both of my shops closed, I'd love to see it."

Do YOU know why you were booted? Or would you like me to tell you?

Rambling on about it and making it sound like you have no clue what is going on and putting the blame on Etsy looks like sour grapes.

And I am no Etsy cheerleader either- it has problems yes but this one sits squarely on your shoulders Grace.

The Malevolent One said...

FYI to all - we're not going to publish overly speculative or inflammatory comments.

As Kinky already stated, our interest is in how Etsy handled the situation, not seller-seller conflicts which appear to be indicated here. Feel free to comment about Etsy, but if you've got a personal problem with either of the sellers mentioned here, take it up with them somewhere else.

dontreadmyconvos said...

In looking at the bigger picture, I am wondering why etsy is spending so much time with witch hunts and off site activities.

I know that thread Any Mathis is refering too. Admin Matt started it and 900 posts isn't enough for him to give the sellers a moment of his time. He's too busy reading personal convos, twitter and blogs.
You've got to wonder if he didn't fuel some of Rokali's paranoia.

What the hell is going on? Isn't Maria a little more professional than that?

Paw and Claw Designs said...

What a bunch of cryptic crap!

"You're Banned!!"


"Because we say so! Now...Bow to us...BOW!"


i hate to say i am surprised, but NOTHING Etsy does as of late shocks me any more, only makes me shake my head in sadness.

your stand alone site is LOVELY, BTW RivkasMom. I look fwd to sending folks looking for steam punk items there.

upsetwithadmin said...

This banning is just another bad case of Etsy's right hand not knowing, perhaps not even caring to know, what its left hand is doing.

If I was one of Etsy's attorneys, I'd be saying "WTF?"

Since Etsy cannot properly communicate within its own ranks, it appears that the sellers may no longer need to continue wondering why Etsy doesn't properly communicate with them.


IMO as to who did what, said what, whatever, this banning should not have been based on only accusations and assumptions but rather on proven facts. If Etsy's legal team had any common sense and fortitude they should have asked Etsy for proof in this matter.

Because of Rivkasmom's earlier muting, she appeared to be the baddy, even though Rivkasmom and the other seller were initially identically in the wrong. What gets me is that, prior to Rivkasmom's banning, the other seller blatently broke Etsy TOUs in her shop announcement by accusing Rivkasmom in public of having done something of which there was no actual proof. Did Etsy even bother to slap the hand of the other seller for breaking TOUs? No. This blatent act of public accusation was done with Etsy's knowledge and approval.

Did Etsy bother to search out who really did what Rivkasmom was accused of doing? No, so Etsy based this banning on unproven accusations and assumptions.


It's really pathetic that Etsy has a tendency to act brashly and hastily without searching for all the facts, the truth. They also do not bother to tell someone exactly why he/she was muted or banned even after that person has asked, oft times repeatedly, for the exact reasons. That person is sent only Etsy's standard canned reasons via email.

Etsy, Thou doest suck big time!

Maybe we should all leave? said...

I have a friend who has a shop on Etsy. She is also a political journalist. She is closing her shop, because she does not want to be associated with Etsy and here is why -
Etsy is known - by national news organizations - as having a blatantly politically racist forum.

Keep your eyes on the news.

eclipse said...

To all these people saying they want to know the real reason Rivkasmom was booted:
I'm sure she agrees! She'd like to hear a damn reason too. But since they won't TELL her any reason, I don't know who you expect to hear the "real" reason from.
Etsy admins won't tell you. They won't even tell the banned person herself. Thus, she cannot tell you the reason.
Any other third party who might be spreading rumors is also an unreliable source, since Etsy would not have told them. (It would violate their own privacy policy to do so and we all know they never violate that! *snort*)

So what does that leave? It leaves the actions and the self-contradicting emails from Etsy. First saying she'll be deleted Nov 7, then deleting her account without warning on Oct 30, then sending a snail mail letter 5 days later demanding she delete her accounts which were ALREADY deleted. WTF? Regardless of whatever you imagine she did, Etsy needs to get their act together. Perhaps having the various employees TALK to eachother and coordinate their actions before making fools of themselves might be a start.

I also think that VeryBigJen's post is disturbing- because Etsy is monitoring her twitters and threatening her on etsy for things she said on Twitter. This should concern every person here with a blog or a twitter. Admins have repeatedly assured us that off-etsy activities will not be punished on etsy (other than posting emails from admins, which Jen did not do)
And yet, they ARE threatening and punishing people for off-Etsy actions, and words.

Re: Mizombie,
I agree that the racist language on his blog is disgusting. However, that is HIS BLOG and not Etsy. He never used that language ON ETSY. So as upsetting as the language may be, I think we need to focus our attention on what he actually did and said ON ETSY and whether that was worth a 30 day muting while all the openly racist posters are never muted or banned. In my opinion, his Etsy posts are not mute-worthy. It doesn't mean I agree with his views as posted in his blog but blogs are supposed to be outside Etsy's jurisdiction. If they start banning people for unpopular opinions posted in blogs, where does it end? Banning people because of who they voted for, who they sleep with, what job they do, what books they read? Are our entire lives open to Etsy's judgment?

This is fucked up and you know it.

TheSneakyOne said...

I wanted to reiterate that personal attacks will not be tolerated. Thanks.

life-during-wartime said...

Okay. Etsy's actions, based on the story here, seem to suck hard. As usual.

But Etsy is a business. All the cupcake eating and unicorn riding aside, it isn't unexpected that they would try to hit back as hard as they feel necessary at anything that in their view damages their business. To expect them to be professional and even-handed to the point of kindness is unrealistic. The more their public profile squeals about love, rainbows, and handmade-with-love, the less professional I would expect them to be. Yeah, I am a cynical bitch.

I am guessing that heavy-handed bannings and bootings are not explained because they have gotten legal advice to put as little as possible in writing (including electronic writing), and let the legal system sort out their mistakes...assuming of course that the shop owner has the means to take them to court.

And as for Maria, dontcha think she might have a depleted uranium fist hidden in that handmade to measure oh-so-traditionally-female glove?

wristeroni said...

Maria -
Please hire and adult or two (or 60). This childish behavior from your staff is off the hook

Lori Anderson Designs said...

I have absolutely no idea how they could totally ditch a muted, talented designer like Rivkasmom. Sounds like some competitor decided to start spreading some junk. It's unconscionable that Etsy gave absolutely NO explaination. For something that serious, one would expect some pretty detailed reasons, and a chance to defend themselves!

What the heck is going ON with Etsy????

MI Zombie said...

If personal attacks at not going to be tolerated I wish you'd either A.) Take down fartblossoms post or B.) allow to me address.

It only seems fair now doesn't it!

MI Zombie said...

Just for the record rice ride has NOTHING to do with Asain people or their race! It has to do with cars made in Asia and shipped here or Asia companies making cars here in the US! HAS NOTHING to do with Asian people at ALL do you get that or no??

The Funny One said...

Let's not lose sight of the real issue here, which is a long history of Etsy exerting control over free speech and other legally questionable tactics in their dealings with sellers who are deemed to be "anti-Etsy" and are harassed in several ways before more drastic actions are taken.

The various flavors of warnings, mutes, and other public spankings is much more telling, and an infantile (if not legally questionable) way of dealing with a community that the site created. Talk about biting the HANDS THAT FEED YOU is a gross understatement. The fact is, lawyers cost a lot of money, and most sellers can't afford to present Etsy with the legal challenges that they should have been doing for the last 3 years. The practice of muting people you have INVITED to your public forum is the key here----Etsy is not for the community that pays their salaries and overhead, Etsy is for 70 people only and they like it that way. I really would like to see a serious legal challenge to Etsy's practice of 1. denying free speech 2. harassment and intimidation and 3. using a system that punishes its own "members" in public in print while declaring themselves above the law and outside the rules of civil participation in the community that THEY CREATED.

WindysDesigns said...

All I have to say is that we are admonished time after time when posts are closed to treat each other with kindness and respect. This is also stated in the Dos and Don'ts along with a reminder that there is a real person behind each account.

How was Rivkasmom's treatment kind or respectful? To banish her from Etsy without giving her a reason? Based on suspicion and innuendo?

If you want people to behave in a certain manner then it is up to you to set the standard. Lead by example, don't be hypocritical and tell us to be kind and respectful while you do the exact opposite.

This is despicable behavior, but it is what we have come to expect from Etsy.

teawithfrodo said...

MIZ may come off a little harsh...he's just passionate about his convictions.
However the people who come into the forums and the chats and say things like "Fuck the Democrats, they should suck my cock and thank me"

After being harassed in a chat room (and posting screen shots in the forum) admin finally killed the sock puppet account.
But they were told by several people who it belonged since they can obviously log IP adresses it would have been easy for them to know the original account.

They refuse to do anything about it...even though multiple people have sent multiple complaints about the account.

We even caught screen shots of said user saying he was violating the TOS and that etsy would never do anything about it.

If rivka did do something wrong then etsy needs the balls to actually TELL HER what she did wrong. But since they can't seem to come up with a reason I think etsy has become like the pigs in Animal Farm.

JustAJewelryDesigner said...

Well then it's a good thing that I didn't tell the cat in the hat to STFU yesterday! =P

But honestly...WTF is etsy thinking by deleting then sendinf RM a letter 5 days later???

As for MIZ...*shrug he has always told it how it is..what he writes on his blog is his BIZ...

ISawRokaliAtWalmart said...

The Legal Threats: Rivkasmom received yet another message later that day in which Etsy informed her they were logging all of her IP information, and saying that this information plus her personal information was being sent to the Etsy legal team, who would take action against her if she chose to use again
Amazing, they state that they have the brains and capability to log an IP address of someone whom wasnt interacting with the community for 10 MONTHS but they cant log the IP addresses to block the same God damned resellers that pop up every weekend.

Oh, and Emily, you're a cunt.

The Malevolent One said...

MIZ, be patient. We are moderating comments so it may take a while for them to show up.

We have no problem with people defending themselves, we just ask that you stick to Etsy issues and not drag he-said-she-said-over-there into it.

TheSneakyOne said...

Well, that and calling other posters in this thread derogatory names. You can call the Admin names, but we insist on you remaining civil to others here.

MI Zombie said...

No problem mods. If anyone really knew me, they'd know I was ANYTHING but a racist. I got muted for a week a while back defending minorities on the Etsy forums from SusanneHolt and I will glady take another muting to speak up against the racist. People should watch calling others racist in a public and I guess the same could be said for the site allowing it. You open yourself up to a libel suit~

MI Zombie said...

Least I have enough balls to not be hiding behind an anonymous account! Maybe some other posters should try it?

I got another good story about legal action that may be taking place real soon!

Kahoonica said...

No one seemed to care when this happened to me.
In Sept. I was deleted without warning, and have sent numerous emails to etsy asking what I've done wrong, and trying to explain to them that whatever it is, they must have mistaken my identity and could check my IP or billing info to verify no wrong doing.
Of course to this day they have not written back.

MI Zombie said...

Kahoonica I am not gonna get into anything about it but I think you got spanked due to quilt by association would be my guess!

Jen Segrest (verybigjen) said...

Okay okay, I know MIZ from the chatrooms. He is in Detroit, Car City USA, and foreign made cars (aka "Rice Rides") are not something he believes in being wrong for the USA in a pathologically patriotic way. Sure, He's abrasive at times, but MIZ isn't so bad a guy, I rather enjoy him and know what to just ignore. But I know may on etsy have no capacity for aggressive opinions and die of shock with only a few minutes under his belt. I say what I think too so we get along well.

Anywya, it has nothing to do with the PEOPLE or the RACE of the people. It's just the cars. For me it's on line with the Chevy Sucks vs Ford is Shit lines of thought.

And if I judge him on etsy for what he says on his own blog, I'm no better than Etsy admin. We're all better than that.

life-during-wartime said...

ISawRokaliAtWalmart said...
Amazing, they state that they have the brains and capability to log an IP address of someone whom wasnt interacting with the community for 10 MONTHS but they cant log the IP addresses to block the same God damned resellers that pop up every weekend.

My late father always used to say can't means you don't want to. Used to really piss me off, but in Etsy's case I think that saying is true.

The people running Etsy may not be nice or even ethical, but they ain't stupid. You don't get that many sellers to pay you fees every day by being stupid. Acting stupid, maybe, if that serves their purposes.

Mr.BusinessMan said...

Etsy's comparable to getting shitfaced at the pub and waking up with the ugly chick next you. You're stuck wondering what the hell were you thinking and how am I going to get outta this without making the situation even worse.

FartBlossom said...

Miz, if you in fact got muted for going off on someone because of an anti-American rant, I'm behind you all the way. I can't stand that crap either.

What left me with a sour taste was reading the derogatory posts on your blog....which you are perfectly entitled to voice. Personally, I don't like made in China stuff either...and (if I drove)I would buy an American car. But there is a way to voice these sentiments without using inflammatory words. I am an American, 5th generation, with relatives in Japan AND China.

But as I said, it is absolutely your right to express your opinions however you wish, just as it is my right in choosing not to patronize your shop any longer.

Kahoonica said...

I agree MIZ.
But the fact that they never responded or cared to check into it is a slap in the face.
What kind of customer service is that?

FartBlossom said...

I also wanted to add that my knee-jerk reaction to your blog, Miz, was because I recently came into contact with an aunt (an Asian one) who is such a complete bigot that it is difficult to be around her without wanting to throttle her. I had to endure four days of anti-Obama, anti gay marriage, anti Mexican, and anti just about everything. The venom she spews makes me physically ill. This is why I came away from your blog feeling revulsion. It wasn't WHAT you were saying (much of which I actually AGREE with), it was the unnecessary, derogatory statements. Surely you understand...a little?

MI Zombie said...

Oh I never once said Etsy had any kind of customer service!

MI Zombie said...

Show me where the derogatory comments are? Oh yeah that is right you can't find any~ I really no longer want you to buy from my shop anyways! For one it's obvious you don't know me and two you don't have enough balls to say who are, and third your calling me a racist with nothing to back it up other than I said "rice ride". That is pathetic and very judgmental and per the mods of the Etsy Bitch if you have anything else to say you can say it on my blog as I don't censor anything thing there~

sgt bunny said...

It pisses me off that the worst of the racist, rude, ignorant never get so much as a slap on the wrist, but the rest of us have to toe the line.

There's been some ghastly ignorant trolls lately, and how they had free reign to post as long as they did, is a mystery.

MI Zombie said...

I know that's right~ I don't get it either, I really don't!! I have always have tried to speak against them. You can search the forums(best you can) to see I have spoken up against them numerous times!!

foxaz said...

"Etsy: The Orwellian Venue for Selling Handmade - Where the Constitution Doesn't Necessarily Apply""

(They make the rules, and they administer them at their own discretion - Because They Can)

zander said...


headdesk said...

The first amendment prevents the government from infringing upon your right to free speech.

Private entities, like Etsy, can tell you to STFU all they want.

MI Zombie said...

That is true headdesk and we can take our money to another site or spending our Etsy fees on advertising for our own domains! Your right that is how the free enterprise works! Etsy is so big they don't care if your unhappy or leave because 1 leaves 20 cupcakes sign up!

The Cranky One said...

Okay fuckers. This is it.

This was posted not to defend MIZ's beliefs or Rivkasmom's shenanigans whatever those may or may not be...

It was to slam etsy staffs going overbard AGAIN with deletions, mutings and non transparent reasoning and failure to defend or even provide reasons for their actions.

NO matter what MIZ says offiste, what he said IN THAT THREAD, what they gave as his reason for muting... is bullshit.

The response Rivkasmom got, the legal threats of action, was overkill, yanking an account is one thing, but threatening to sue and IP cockbocking when you resellers run rampant? Nuts.

So thanks for playing, you guys can't behave in this thread anymore, so everyone gets it shut off. Play again next time.