Thursday, June 4, 2009

Asleep at the wheel - again.

Today we were rather shocked to have this item come to our attention today.

While incredibly insensitive, offensive and in Germany downright illegal to even look at, this handmade reproduction of a Nazi standard from right before WWII wasn't actually breaking any rules on Etsy. We were shocked to discover Etsy has NOTHING in the TOU about racist, discriminatory (or Nazi propaganda) items being for sale on it's site.

We at EB went on the offense on twitter against this offensive item. Others who saw it on our twitter sent it up in the forums, with predictable results. It took off all across twitter, even to those who DON'T know what Etsy is. Will Etsy notice the major fluff this caused? Of course not.

The saddest part is Ebay has rules against such specific items even being listed. And they aren't messing around with the punishment or doing it. Artfire has a rule against such items. So does 1000Markets. So why doens't Etsy?

Just goes to prove how much they look at the competition, how shallow they think, and how they just don't give a damn as long as they get those dimes!

It took god knows how many flags, tweets, retweets, and posts on he forums still took TWO HOURS after it went public to finally get taken down. I guess you shouldn't post major gaffs of the TOU during naptime.

So our next question for Matt for the next "chatt" is: when will Etsy be adapting the terms of it's competitors when it comes to offensive, racist and discriminatory materials such as this - handmade or not. When will Etsy finally open their eyes?

ADDEMDUM: June 9th, 2009, 6:30pm:
Just received a comment t
hat Etsy has finally added the following to the prohibited section of the TOU: "Items that promote or glorify hatred, racial or religious intolerance"

Thanks, Etsy, for finally doing the right thing.


Diana said...

I just have no words. I am so shocked that honestly, I feel like moving my shop to artfire. Seriously. This proves to me that they really could care less. They can't say that they are as big as Ebay at all, so there are no excuses that they were too busy. They just didn't give a crap. It's blatant to me now.

teawithfrodo said...

I was the one who got in touch with the JDIF.
Not really a group to mess with. They don't take this kind of crap.

The disturbing part was people defending the right of the person to sell this item.

Sick, just sick etsy.

One of the stupid things is now all the etsy spammers on twitter are following me because I posted things with the word etsy. Although I was surprised how many people retweeted my comment to etsy wondering if they were anti-Semitic.

Eveline said...

The discussion on the forums was... well.. interesting, to say the least. Of course I knew there would be the 'freedom of speech' reply, but to be told 'if you don't like it, don't look' was a bit much. Remember 'Wir haben es nicht gewusst' ('we didn't know')? That reply left a very nasty taste in my mouth.

A few hours later I got this reply from Etsy on Twitter:
"Etsy: Racist and hate items are not acceptable on Etsy, please flag any you see and we will review and remove them. "

I wonder if they'll make a specific comment about this in their TOU's. I also told them to make this very clear in the forums, the Storque, Twitter etc. etc...

I am still baffled that they were able to put this item up for sale, and for it to be there as long as it has... Etsy FAIL like never before!

The Righteous One said...

The statement in the description was that it's a collector's item, but how can it be when it's a replica? Vintage is collectible, original designs and art are collectibles, replica hate is just hurtful.

Eveline said...

What I like to know is what the hell was that seller thinking? 'Oh, I found this old thing up in granddad's loft, and as it's handmade and vintage, I figured Etsy was the perfect place to try and sell it'??

Like someone said in the forum thread: an item such as this either belongs at a Holocaust museum or a bonfire. Not Etsy, home of handmade and vintage (yeah yeah, and supplies...)

To the Moon, Alice! said...

The etsy forum users disturb me almost as much as the flag itself.

I wonder if they're the same people who feel it's perfectly fine when people think Hitler is "cute" and make plush dolls of him. (Just check the artisan section of Deviant Art.)

Eveline said...

Matt replied here:

Matthew Stinchcomb said...


This is Matt Stinchcomb, VP of Community at I want to state in no uncertain terms that hateful, racist, or intolerant items of any type are completely unacceptable at Etsy. Insinuating anything otherwise is untrue and unfair. The item was flagged, and we removed it. It should have happened more quickly than it did, you are correct, but there was never any question as to whether a Nazi flag was appropriate or not.

That said, I agree with you that our policies need clarification, and we will make the necessary changes to ensure that they clearly state our position on this and prohibit such goods.

Thank you and Best Regards,

Matt Stinchcomb

kibbles said...

I must admit that I'm not surprised at all by this latest EtZyBoner. Haven't they shown time and time again that the bottom line really *is* the almighty dollar?

I especially take offense as I've lost relatives(as I'm sure many on Etsy have)because of the Nazis.


No, not surprised at all.

I urge all of you to come over to ArtFire where the air is much cleaner.

forum rubbernecker said...

What kind of a freaking moron thought it was a good idea to list that?

Redd said...

Thank you teawithfrodo for letting the JDIF know. I bet if they hadn't have said anything to Etsy, that flag would still be there.
Worst part? At least one of the founders of Etsy was Jewish, so how did something like this slip through the cracks?

Etsy, this is disgusting. Epic fail.

The Righteous One said...

Matt, Thank you for stopping in to clarify.

It's unfortunate that it takes squeaky wheels to get things done sometimes. The TOU are of the utmost importance from the very beginning.

kibbles said...

So EtZy does read this blog. Too bad they can't respond favorably more often.

amc1965 said...

This is the first time I've ever commented here, although I've been a long-time reader.

In truth, I am more horrified and disgusted by some of the responses on that forum thread than Etsy's part in this. To see people yammering on about free speech and how it's a Buddhist/Native American/etc. etc. symbol made me want to puke. That symbol may have meant something else completely dissociated with its current well-known symbolism at one time, but not anymore. And to dismiss that fact is beyond horrifying to me. There is nothing Buddhist etc. about that listing, it is NAZI MEMORABILIA.

How about ACEO photos of the PEOPLE WHO DIED AT THE HANDS OF THE NAZIS? Would people still be defending it if that was listed?

Hope this makes sense, I am still so completely thrown by this that I genuinely have no words.

This is whyI left said...

"In Germany first they came for the communists and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communists. Then they came for the Jews and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists and I didnt speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics and I didn't speak up because I was Protestant. Then they came for me- and by that time no one was left to speak up."
Pastor Martin Niemoller
( victim of Nazis)

Ironic it was so close to Memorial day. I left months ago because of this type of crap. When I saw etsy exploiting other's faith for some witty tag line ad, I knew it was swirling the bowl. One more flush and maybe they will get it.

teawithfrodo said...

While I know Etsy wants to clarify this now there was no excuse for how badly it was handled.
When they closed the thread there should have been something done then and there.
Not waiting hours to do something.
The item was up for 5 days.

I agree with Alice that some of the comments in the thread were the most disturbing things of all.
This was the last straw with me and etsy. Letting someone promote an item that basically screams that it wants me dead for no other reason then I am Jewish really upsets me.

ButtercupSoup said...

Many thanks to all of you who did your part to remove that swastika flag from Etsy. I flagged the item, waited, and kept checking back. I was incredulous that it was still listed.

mookiejones said...

if something is really, really important to remove, like this flag was, always email etsy. flagging does not work. there once was a forum thread ( actually two identical ones started) that were making light of the holocaust and death camps and their practices. i flagged. nothing. i emailed, immediately got the threads removed, and an email back from etsy.

life-during-wartime said...

There is no way that flag was intended as a collector's item. Only an original would have any value to militaria collectors. This is the kind of thing that is made by, and sold to, contemporary believers. Why else would you wanna make one? If you are teaching a history or political science course, a photo in a book is sufficient.

Damn, I wish I had the skills...I would so change that pic to ETSY ERWACHE.

Actually, now that I have gotten past being shocked and offended, I am wondering if this item wasn't just an illo with nothing really for sale...a sicko prank. School's out, and Etsy is big enough now to be a target. And no longer indie enough to be bypassed as one of the cool places the kiddies won't fuck with.

I wonder how far these kids will go once they realize Etsy Admins are stoopid.

The Funny One said...

Matt's comment on EB is indicative of the site's laid-back attitude towards rule enforcement on a site where they rules & policies (and how they are applied) change depending on the direction of the wind. And no one seems to be steering the boat.

The numerous flags should have alerted Etsy to this listing, but were they paying attention?

It does make me wonder about their priorities. Building a branded site with branded products doesn't work so good if you drop the ball when it comes to your PR and public reputation (including the reputation of your sellers, remember them?). One cancels out the other in a New York Minute.

Eveline said...

So nice to see Matt copy-pasting the same message on this blog, too.
I just hope that Etsy comes with a statement on the forums, Storque, on Twitter, Facebook, and in an email to all members that this is not acceptable anymore, and that Etsy will work on a solution to prevent (in other words: make it impossible!) this from ever happening again.

RRobin said...

How typical of Etsy Admin to have shut down the forum threads before they shut down the listing, to worry more about the fora than they do about the "flagged" queue or what is listed for sale on the site.

In their petty minds, "calling out" is a greater crime than hate speech or the Holocaust.

The Kinky One said...

Dear Etsy Admin,

You've been reading Etsy Bitch from the day it started (we get Google stats too). Why don't you drop a comment more often?

Crazy Cat Lady said...

Wow I just saw all of this. I too am shocked more I think from the asshole forum posters defending this piece of shit. To defend a nazi symbol by saying it's buddhist is just - beyond apathy for what the nazis did. It's ignorant. I really wonder how many people who say that are over the age of 35 (sorry to be ageist! But I wonder if, as we get further and further away from the horror of the holocaust if people just don't care as much, unless it has personal meaning).

A couple years ago I sold an item on ebay with swastikas on it - it was an antique Chinese cinnabar coloured box, carved with, oh I forget now, but I do remember the sides had a repeating swastika pattern that I didn't even notice until I looked at it closely. I really felt oooky about it, but knew that they symbol had a totally different meaning, and it was allowed on ebay because it was obviously not Nazi related.

I must say - I also am familiar with modern Buddhist culture; I have friends who are Buddhist, I practice, I read and subscribe to magazines, etc. In all the stuff I see - I NEVER see a swastika in the Buddhist images. EVER. Even modern Buddhists don't have their heads that far up their asses.

K9 said...

ive noticed lots of manufactured goods on etsy too. looks like they dont care - go ahead list anything: nazi standards, gimcracks from china, cowls...........

HEIL ETSY said...

Disgustingly ironic, isn't it, that President Obama, Elie Weisel, and the German Prime Minister are all at Bukenvald (sorry, ca't spell) concentration camp today.
Etsy blows the big one. They can't be bothered to monitor ANYTHING, even the shit they feature.

teawithfrodo said...

The Funny One...
you're right. There is nothing in the Storque or their blog about the incident. It should have been addressed ASAP.
The fact that nothing has been said shows that Etsy has once again done a half assed job. By not denouncing the hate speech they are saying it's ok and leaving the door open for it to continue.

This whole thing showed me not only how little Etsy cares, but how little they truly care about hate speech on their site.

WindysDesigns said...

I';m glad it was removed, but I do not think multiple articles and emails denouncing it are appropriate either. I don't think there is any need to draw more attention to it than it has already gotten.

This is just a symptom of a much larger problem on ETsy, and seller's expectations. Expecting perfection, clarity and common sense when none has ever been displayed, ever.

Either they move too fast and appear unfair or they move too slowly and risk the wrath of the forum goers at every turn.

5 days on the internet is nothing. Etsy did something about it, why is it no one can be satisfied by that? Etsy didn't list the item, and with the thousands of items listed hourly, how do you expect them to stay on top of it all? Yes it was flagged, can you just imagine how many items are flagged on a daily basis? All requiring the same amount of attention?

I honestly don't think it's reason enough to leave Etsy over, I think that's just a bit over dramatic. It's not like they endorsed it or anything similar.

Did Etsy feature it somewhere? Did they endorse it? Did they publicize it as acceptable? If they did any of those things, then yes. But not from where I am sitting, did I see anything of the kind. I'm not sure why the JDIF had to be contacted.

life-during-wartime said...

I don't think anyone is expecting Etsy to work hard to keep something like this from being listed again. But I do think Etsy should be expected to work smart.

Rather than screen every item or every flag immediately as it arrives from cyberspace, there should be some kind of code in place to grab listings with certain words in the item text (description, title, tags, materials, shop category, whatever else might apply) and accumulate them in a database for periodic (at least daily) review by a trained member of the staff.

It's worth the trouble for a site like Etsy to keep tabs on what is being listed. From what I've seen on other sites, sellers of items that would not be acceptable do nothing to disguise what they list -- the stuff is right out in the open, clearly described by the seller.

And a process like this really does require human review. A bit of dumb code to cancel listings with the word 'swastika' for example might grab items that have nothing to do with early 20th Century Germany. Or a search for 'wine' would turn up a list of glassware, charms, and racks -- even if none of the items included free California wine as happened on a well-known art, antiques and jewelry site years ago.

notacupcake said...

I LOL'd when I saw this on Twitter! I mean, how far under a rock do they live that they didn't catch or do anything about THIS one right quick?


former seller said...

okay well, what you don't know is a couple of years back one of the admins actually featured a racist Nazi item in a featured treasury on the storque.

I wrote them quite a nasty email about it to get it taken down. Don't know if anyone else caught it or not.

Featured by admin. Not just a seller getting caught up in the "being seen" thing.

former seller again said...

'plain that Matt.

notacupcake said...

@windysdesigns: I really hate to be contentious, but I have to ask: Are you of Jewish descent? Have you ever lost someone via hate crimes?

I'm just curious. I am not Jewish, and I have not lost anyone in such a horrible way, but it is clear even to ME why this was wrong, and I'm glad that someone contacted JDIF about it, frankly.

Hate culture and the promoting of such is NEVER OK!

The Funny One said...

WindysDesigns makes some very good points, since other mega-sites like eBay have had similar and chronic problems with "illegal" listings.

However, the problem with Etsy is they claim they have a "policy" but does anyone know what that policy actually is (including Etsy)? With their long history of applying their so-called rules haphazardly ----- it's been "anything goes" on Etsy since they set up.

It could just be that there are finally enough sellers, fed up with the way Etsy plays the rules to fit their moods (and personal opinions rather than actual rules), that an event like this sends them through the roof.

It's really about a lot of other issues sellers have with Etsy ---- because Etsy has demonstrated that they simply aren't interested and they aren't listening.

Inconsistency, mixed messages, refusing (until recently) to share relevant information with sellers, and Etsy's complete lack of a coherent PR policy with their very own sellers leads to over-reaction. If you don't spend time building the trust of your customers then this is what you end up with. Etsy set the scene and this is one of the (negative) consequences.

teawithfrodo said...

Actaully the JIDF found my remarks on twitter and then I explained to them what was going on.
I figured the "Jewish Internet Defense Force" would want to know about companies that don't have TOU against hate speech.

And while there are items that go up, with all the flags it took etsy too long to bring it down. They waited several hours after they closed the forum thread before the item was removed. That left a really bad taste.

And yes, Matt is going around apologizing, but this needs a big public apology as well as letting people know that hate speech is not tolerated and they will adjust their TOU.

Etsy needs to stop up to the plate and say "You know, we fucked up big time, and this is how we are fixing it. See, new TOU. We won't tolerate this again because it's unacceptable"
Not just a tail tucked between the legs "oops".

A big part of me says that by Etsy NOT making a big deal over their screw up they are brushing it under the rug and won't fix the issue.

For me it was the last straw, I was unhappy with Etsy...and now they really don't seem too concerned with fixing the hate speech issue (do you really think we would have heard from Matt if this hadn't gotten so big?)

I'm not leaving to be dramatic...but it disturbs me that someone can put up a flag that basically proclaims I should die...and etsy doens't change their TOU...or even acknowledge to their community that they screwed up

teawithfrodo said...

Oh, just got something from Etsy admin and I thought I'd share:


My name is Sarah Feingold and I’m an administrator here at Etsy. I’m also a proud Jewish American. I noticed your shop announcement and wanted to tell you that I regret if Etsy has let you down. As you probably know, Etsy does not pre-screen our content but when items are flagged we review the items as quickly as possible. I regret that we were unaware that such an item was on the site; the item has been removed. I also regret that our policy may not be clear and I hope to remedy this situation.

If you see an item for sale that you think violates our Terms of Use please click on the "Report this item to Etsy" link. All reports are reviewed by the Etsy support team and items that violate our Terms of Use, such as the flag that was posted on the site, are removed. If you feel Etsy is not enforcing its Terms of Use feel free to contact the manager of the customer support team at bernadette [!at] (or feel free to Convo me).



And my reply:
"Sarah, the problem is that is ISN'T against the TOU. While Ebay, Artfire and 1000 Markets all have clauses against hate speech you don't have one.
Items were being flagged for hours. Admin was able to shut down a forum thread about the item, but took several more hours to take the Nazi flag off the site.

I'm ashamed and disgusted that Etsy doesn't have a clause to protect against hate speech. So the scary part is we could have flagged all day and Etsy could have told us it isn't against TOS. Instead of trying to talk to individual people why don't you make a statement on your blog or in the storque admitting that Etsy screwed up and will be adjusting their policies.

The bottom line is that while the item was hatefilled and inceredibly offensive...IT WASN'T AGAINST YOUR TOU! Perhaps you should fix that first before trying to make apologies to only the people who spoke up.

I also think it was tacky for you to bring up the you are a Jewish American. So what? So am I, is that why you were the person from admin to contact me? It shouldn't matter, and in fact because you are Jewish I find it more upsetting that you are so cold about the entire thing. "

notacupcake said...

Sadly, I'm with Teawithfrodo. Now that I've read that thread (that was a DOOZY, let me tell ya!) and along with other things that have come up in my time with Etsy, I think I'm really just ready to move on.

I'm going to spend my afternoon perusing the Bitches' posts on alternatives, and over the weekend, I'm going to make some important decisions. Moving shops is a lot of work, but I don't want to sell on a site run by people with no ETHICS, let alone BUSINESS ethics.

Sad. Etsy has/had a lot of potential, and they are pissing it away. :(

etsian said...

This doesn't surprise me at all.

Sellers have gotten death threats from other sellers, and the ones GETTING the threats are the ones kicked off. WTF is that?

You're right. They just don't care.

woolies said...

What??? What??? I haven't been on Etsy much this week, and I am horrified at this. A Nazi Flag? Are you kidding me? Seriously?

I have no words. Beyond flabergasted. Good for you, teawithfrodo.

My jaw is just hanging open...

EtsyWTF said...

Some of what WindysDesigns says is true.
Although I'm sceptical of the sellers motives behind making such an item, they weren't preaching hate, if nothing else it was just extremely bad taste. Of course inciting racial hatred should be against any site's TOU, and for Etsy not to state it in theirs is a severe oversight, but the seller covered themselves by saying it was a collectable so everything was a bit fuzzy.
Even if Etsy don't refer to this specific item, which I can understand, they still need to review their TOUs and make the community aware of the changes they make (if any). This may take some time and implementing any system that would prevent this happening again will take even longer.

WindysDesigns said...

@notacupcake: No, I'm not jewish, but I'm well aware of the holocaust and the death camps and have read some very moving and disturbing accounts from survivors and their relatives. I find it deplorable and do not endorse anything that would support it. Just so we're clear.

However, a seller listing such an item is far different than Etsy actually having anything to do with it. I would imagine that the people who shut forum threads are not the same people who close shops or delete items, and that after closing the forum thread, they had to notify someone of this listing. It's not an immediate process, I would imagine, and the fact that as has been pointed out, if there is nothing in the TOU preventing it, it had to be carefully considered. Had it been any other kind of listing, and would not have violated the TOU you can bet there would be a hue and cry about it if it had been removed.

It just feels to me like anger is misdirected, rather than put focusing the anger on the person who listed the item, Etsy is the scapegoat and didn't do enough to prevent it, or didn't work fast enough to get rid of it.

Etsy has been talking for months, maybe longer, I forget now, about some sort of screening process for new shops to stem the tide of resellers opening up. How much progress have we seen? If they can't do something that simple, how in the world can you expect them to prevent individual listings to be screened for content? They can't get a handle on rampant tag abuse. Their MO is to mop up afterwards, in every single situation. I get that.

I dont know. I understand the anger people have over the item, I just don't understand the anger directed at Etsy. I wouldn't be half as confused if people had taken the seller to task for the listing, but it seems like Etsy has taken the brunt of it, and I feel it's unfair.

EtsyWTF said...

I could have worded my last comment better. I'll reiterate - inciting racial hatred should be *against* any site's TOU.

The Cranky One said...

EBs stance is that yes the item is despicable and it's not (legally at least in the US) against the law but Etsy didn't have a rule against it but the competitors do. They thought about he implications, the damage to be done. Making Etsy out to be clueless and reckless again.

BUT Etsy is private property, and freedom of speech don't apply there, they have the right to refuse content for any reasons - and they didn't. They fucked up.
THAT'S why it was here. It has nothing to do with the seller, even as horrid as we think it item is.

They didn't have it on their list and a TOU is the cheapest easiest thing to do, so while the item is offensive it's not against etsy's listings. Probably why it's listed there.

The seller probably investigated the TOU when looking to sell it. Ebay disallowed, they found etsy.

ETSY dropped the ball in not foreseeing the need for the exclusion of such items, obviously they didn't read any competitors TOUs for ideas.

They erred by omission.

GETAJOB said...

I have zero respect for the people who are employed by Etsy.
Matt should be embarrassed to be affiliated with them, and if he is the last one with any work ethic he should find another job where he doesn't have to be surrounded by incompetents.

This opinion has very little to do with this particular instance, but with EVERYTHING these assholes do, from promoting crap to featuring mistagged and categtoried junk, to not limiting the first "tag" to the choice of only three- so that people can only categorize intentionally== the list goes on.

I have learned to have complete contempt for the quality of the personnel Etsy pays. They are not worth minimum wage.

To the Moon, Alice! said...

You know..after looking up their location, I'm further disgusted that I share the same city with Etsy.

Kind of ironic their company is located in the second largest Jewish populated city world wide.

justbitchy said...

Always damage control with Etsy. They never are proactive.

Rubylane has a mechanism if you list with a certain keyword in your title or description a message pops up.

Why can't Etsy program something to bring up for review items with certain keywords or tags.

Ebay has banned Ivory and other things like this flag. They proactively manage these bans.

Just another etsy fail.

ButtercupSoup said...

Justbitchy: The thing is, there were no obvious key words with the listing. I found it quite by accident as I was looking through tags for "embroidery." I do wish that Etsy had noticed my note with its key words when I flagged it. Mookiejones has a point about emailng Etsy directly. However, the last time I emailed Etsy directly about something, I didn't get a response.

done with etsy said...

If Etsy wants to have a policy against discrimination and/or porn, they can program an auto-flag to alert them when someone lists an item with certain titles, tags, or keywords - including the word "nazi" among others.

It's a case of not being responsible and proactive in protecting the mission and the TOU (and apparently not being smart enough to have a TOU that covers the basics).

eclipse said...

Ok maybe, just MAYBE, a swastika all on it's own could possibly be perceived as an Indian symbol. But dude, this thing is a Nazi flag. It is labeled as a nazi flag. (NSDAP= the Nazi party) It has freakin german text on it. IT'S NOT HINDU OR BUDDHIST! IT IS NAZI!
WTF is wrong with people's critical thinking, that they would even try to defend this under bullshit P.C. freedom of speech.
Hey you tools who defended this shit, go show it to your grandma and ask her what it is. I guaran-damn-tee she will not say it's a damn Buddhist symbol.

teawithfrodo said...


NDSAP stands for : Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei
COmmonly known here as the Nazi Party. It would be like putting in a filter word for KKK but not for KU Klux Klan.

This shouldn't have had to happen to change the TOU. But since it did happen they aren't really owning up and changing anything.

And Eclipse: in the same thread the person tried to say the Mogen David was not widely used until 1920. That disgusted me as well. Swastikas are used more in Hindu art then Buddhist...but either way it's easy to tell the difference.

I'm not holding my breath for a public statement from them. But I feel like they've taken a giant step backward.

The Dangerous Mezzo said...

Absolutely, eek -- there was no critical thinking going on in that thread at all. The offending item is clearly a replica of a piece of Nazi party propaganda, not an innocent Buddhist symbol.

The fact that someone went to the trouble of making a replica boggles my mind. Who else is going to buy the fricking thing but present day Nazi-loving idiots? The BNP comes to mind ...

The Cranky One said...

Now it's Educational Hour with Cranky:

The swastika has a long, even ancient, history in many cultures. Indian mentioned here, but also in Europe, and in Germany it was considered a "good fortune" symbol.

I have greeting cards made in Germany from the 1910 to 1930 say time range that are "good luck" and "happy birthday" cards with flowers, pressnts - and a nice BIG SWASTIKA on them. They were innocent, even sweet images. To show them to someone now they gasp in shock.

You can find Swastikas in medieval manuscripts, priestly garments, even covering the altar cloths. It was a powerful symbol of promise in Germanic Europe. It was ingrained into their culture. It would rather be like the peace symbol is to us. You just know it, you know what it means. You don't know why, you just do.

The swastikas folk connotation with "fortune" is exactly WHY Hitler picked it.

Hitler was a magpie of culture. He had a thing for the occult and symbolism and outright stole what he could if it served his purposes.

You know in Raider of the Lost Ark the Nazi's were seeking lost treasures of religious importance or that conveyed powers? They actually DID do that.

To demonstrate one instance, Hitler wanted acquire the Spear of Destiny - a relic on display in the Hapsburg's treasury at the Hofmuseum in Vienna.

Quoting a website on the topic:
"The relic was said to have phenomenal talismanic power having once been used at the Crucifixion to wound the side of Christ.

"According to legend, possession of the Spear would bring its owner the power to conquer the world, but losing it would bring immediate death. The relic had been owned by a succession of powerful European rulers down through the centuries and eventually came to be in the possession of the Hapsberg Dynasty.

"Hitler confided that the first time he saw the Spear he had witnessed extraordinary visions of his own destiny unfolding before him.

"On 12th March 1938, the day Hitler annexed Austria, he arrived in Vienna a conquering hero. He first port of call was to the Hofmuseum where he took possession of the Spear which he immediately sent to Nuremberg, the spiritual capital of Nazi Germany."

It wasn't just items, the very words "Deutschland Erwache" comes from a popular 1920's poem, and translates roughly as "German Dawn" or "Germany Awaken" and with the swastika symbol it connotes something like 'wake to your new world full of good fortune'.

Remember, Germany was suffering a depression in the 30's too and such words from speaker many described as "charismatic" and "inspiring" when he talked about re-energizing germany, bring it back to glory, and resetting it as a world power. He didn't really do speeches about killing jews (though he did come out and blame them for the problems as if they were responsible somehow), concentration camps, or racial purity. It was almost a side project. It wasn't something he advertised, though it wasn't exactly a secret.

When a people are down an inspiring speaker can really take over with a cult of personality it they have a message the people want to hear.

It's why many of that time would later say "we didn't know" or "we didn't understand" thy were swept up in the cult of his personality until it was too late.

Being on Etsy, I think we all have been shocked/disgusted/saddened over the weird shit people do over cult of personality. It still works.

life-during-wartime said...

I have an antique china luncheon set with a decoration known as 'Good Luck Swastika' or 'Minerva'. It was made in the USA early in the 20th Century (I think the backstamp says 1916 -- it's in storage so I can't grab it to check). Has clover leaves, the head of the goddess Minerva, and sapphire blue swastikas in a decorative band. It's a completely innocent design with no political overtones.

gahhh said...

This whole issue is ten kinds of depressing.

Tania said...

If a thread goes bad, they're there in a flash, but if something like this appears, it can linger like a foul smell for 5 days?

There was another etsy artist around the time of the elections, who had a shop chock full of "obama/nazi" imagery. I flagged her and flagged and I might have even contacted etsy.

The worst of the images are gone, but I'm still astounded she was allowed to run rampant as much as she did, with little repercussion. Give me all the TMI threads in ETC, but please, remove the hatemongering. It's not remotely appropriate.

Duffy Designs said...

Man! This should be a really black eye for Etsy.

Cat said...

Being German I am just plain speechless and shocked. An excuse isn't enough, there has to be appropriate action.

Eveline said...

What gets me is that if you would take a flag like that out on the street (you know, from your post office to your home, where you will be adding it to your vast collection of Nazi memorabilia) you'd more than likely find yourself arrested..... Why on earth was this allowed to stay on Etsy for as long as it has, even after numerous flagging, addressing Etsy on Twitter, forum posts and the like.

etsy 'roid said...

Eveline, it's not illegal to have this kind of stuff in the US, it's just that 99% of people are so offended and disgusted by it that few sell or own it.

While Etsy dropped the ball on this, they did fix it (it's beyond obvious that the various admins have little power on their own beyond shutting forum threads, and the different departments suffer a serious lack of intercommunication). The seller certainly deserves more ire than they do.

The Funny One said...

One solution may be to highlight flagged items according to the use of specific tags but there are larger issues on the site.

Etsy likes to create its own "solutions" to every change it makes on the site, and rarely applies solutions already in use by most of ecommerce retail sites-- which means it is always behind the curve.

However, sellers have to wonder when there are weekly forum posts about the long-standing issue around "does flagging really work?"

Has Etsy set up a "warning system" that is so full of holes that they stopped paying ANY attention to the flags and pattern of flags? Have the number of flags become so overwhelming that Etsy doesn't have the time (or interest) to manually review them? Is that the reason that flagging is a technique that no longer works on a size with 3, 4, 5 million items?

This incident is just one of many that point to the fact that Etsy hasn't caught up with solutions for managing the site because it's focus is elsewhere --- on branding and promoting the brand. Promoting and maintaining the reputation and credibility of the site has never been a priority.

When Etsy falls behind and makes mistakes, it's not a minor issue, since their lack of interest in protecting the reputation of the site reflects on every store and seller on the site.

The TOU needs to include specific language about hate speech AND Etsy needs to replace flagging with a system that works, and a system that doesn't rely on sellers working for free to notify Etsy of violations on the site.

Texasgirl said...

Totally offensive. I am not for sure that keeping it displayed on this page serves any purpose either. The image itself is offensive.

Racist and hate items are unacceptable items to be sold, then I find them extremely unacceptable to be used an example, especially as a lead photograph.

Use the sensitivity you expect from one group and remove the picture as your lead photograph.

a simple headline stating something about the Nazi Flag being allowed to be sold on etsy.. and then continue with your article.

They removed the listing, but your use of the image here and on etsywtf .. continues to put the image out there.

Righteous indignation is a strong investment but the continuous use of the picture gives those who relish in the hate it promotes, a place to go and see just how it is being displayed.

Those who would make this type of item, live for the conversations of "how awful" " how bad" and revel in the fact that it is still alive even by the images. They grow in their spewed hate by the attention they get from even this image.

Stop the perpetuation of the image, be alarmed and dismayed at how it was handled but please remove the image.

notacupcake said...

You know, I've noticed a blatant pattern of Etsy wanting us sellers to work for them for free.

Just one more disgusting thing to push sellers away.

The thing that got me about the defenders of this person's "right to free" speech and "it's an ancient symbol" is how they seemed to completely miss the idea of CONTEXT. I'm kind of glad that thread was closed, because it was a trainwreck, and it made my head hurt, and it really made me worry about the level of intelligence in our society.

The Righteous One said...

Texasgirl, did you not see the arguments about "but its can be a buddhist symbol!" ?? We have the picture to prove what it was, to show that it did indeed happen, because otherwise it is too easy to brush aside and forget. It's also why we kept the whole screenshot, to ensure it is in the original context.

Texasgirl said...

Point respectfully taken Righteous One, just my take on the situation.

I saw the comments, I've read the thread and I have voiced my concern to the front office of Etsy as to how blatantly inappropriate the listing was and my feelings about their inability to get a stop gap in place.

I mean my goodness, in the forums we have to use the word marking because if we use some form of the word that the "word machine" picks up as offensive, it re-directs the post.

It seems that same little gadget could be used to trigger when certain keywords are used in titles or at least put the listing on hold until it is reviewed. If it can take up to 24 hours for a listing to show up in search (yeah right) then those that trigger a review could do so.

Now that would take some planning and forethought, but it would work. It does on other sites and works quite well.

life-during-wartime said...

The flag listed on Etsy is not 'memorabilia'. It is not authentic. It is not vintage. It was not handmade by the seller. It is not a supply.

While this item triggers emotional issues that make it offensive to many in the Etsy community, the item itself is already not acceptable for listing on Etsy because it is not handmade, vintage, or a supply.

While Ebay and other venues do not allow these made for the racialist movement faux Nazi items to be sold, there are sites that are fine with offering this type of merchandise. There are sites that are really nothing but online flea markets. If listing the flag on Etsy was not an outright prank, then the seller opened a shop on Etsy because 1) the fees are cheap 2) there is no approval process to open a shop and 3) because of the percentage of vintage, supplies and reseller stuff now on Etsy, many visitors would not immediately recognize Etsy as a site with an art and handmade focus.

GetRidOfIt said...

You are doing exactly what you accuse Etsy of doing - perpetuating the image for all to see. They took it down, now YOU take it down. I don't care what excuse you come up with, but it needs to go.

The Righteous One said...

Etsy was selling the item getridofit, and they had no terms of use in place to deal with it. we're pointing that out, it's not the same thing.

They haven't changed the terms of use, and so this could happen again. Yes, let's get rid of the proof and pretend it didn't happen.

The Sneaky One said...

GetRidOfIt - NO. We will leave it available for all to see in context with the Etsy logo. Anyone with a brain can read here and see that we don't condone the bullshit.

We're just pointing out the huge SNAFU they made, and we're not going to sweep it under the rug. We're not going to delete the evidence that it existed.

*gives a huge Biiiiiiddddaaaaaaaaa*

The Cranky One said...

Its important to remember that it's ETSY'S logo next to that Nazi flag since they had no safeguards or rules to prevent it. The same logo that is on the same page as all of our names and items.

And how do you feel seeing that as a buyer? Would you look around to other stores? Would you blow it off? Or so would you close the window cursing? Would you go back to that site to shop? I bet many wouldn't.

Etsy's unbelievable lack of foresight allowed this item to be sold by simply not having a rule against it. And that effects every goddamn seller on Etsy.

Us merely saying it was there would lead (cupcake) people to accuse us of lying. (And you KNOW they would.) Sure, we could make it a thumbnail. We could make it a click-to-link, but would you SEE it? Would it have that impact as this does? Would you feel the outrage you need to feel? I bet not.

In this case, a picture is proof of a thousand disappointments in Etsy.

inthenameofpeace said...

You have clearly made your point, etsy dropped the ball. But, I agree with your other commenters, it's time to take it down.

As a grand daughter of a holocaust survivor, and the grand daughter of those who did not, no excuse you give is ethical enough to keep the image on your site.

Your understanding of why it needs to be removed is overshadowed by your need to denegrate etsy repeatedly. Please, it needs to come down.

Oh dear... said...

I'm glad you won't be taking the screencap down. People need to see what hate looks like first hand, and not forget what it looks like either.

Dee said...

can you please do a write up about Etsy's twitter account. It is one thing to tweet about events and such. But to post things like I could buy everything in (insert shopname) is blatant favoritism. Get your own twitter account and stop promoting what you like under the etsy name. Imagine being tweeted by etsy who has over 100,000 follows. Maybe they will sell ad spots there next??? Sign me up, better than being on the FP for up to an hour.

To the Moon, Alice! said...

inthenameofpeace, it's people like you who cause people in the younger generations to treat historical horrors like this like it's nothing. Hiding what happened is unacceptable. This article is a reminder that what Etsy did happened and not just hearsay. More so especially it should remain after how many people on Etsy's forums tried to justify the swastika and deny it being Nazi related. This article may have done its business by informing regular viewers of the blog but what about people who have no clue until they stumble upon the site? They should know as well.

I am a granddaughter of a Jewish WW2 veteran and I am all for leaving this article where it is. The point of Etsy Bitch is to let people know the truth behind Etsy because if you haven't noticed, Etsy is treating this situation as if it never happened. I am glad Etsy Bitch posted this article because it helped me make a firm decision to NEVER sell through Etsy in the future.

teawithfrodo said...

Oh yeah, take it down
and don't show any pictures of the horrors of the holocaust...people already know about it. Don't perpetuate the image.


And people can continue to wonder why they haven't put measures in place to keep it from happening again.
This way people can't defend Etsy saying "it's not a Nazi symbol"

The symbol is shown in the Holocaust museum, should they take it down? Should we take down all reminders because they are offensive?
We shouldn't have anything up to remind us that things were wrong, and we certainly shouldn't have it up to show that the system has yet to be fixed.

I'm a Jew...not sure why everyone has to pull out how many of their family was survived or killed.
Of course the symbol bothers me, but I think people need to see what's been done to fix the issue.

Crazy Cat Lady said...

I'm also glad you won't be taking it down. As soon as you do, nitwits will be here telling you you're ignorant for not knowing the swastika is an ancient Buddhist symbol.

Although, you could write another article (or two) and the image will not be the first thing people see ;)

The Righteous One said...

lol CrazyCatlady, we're working on it. Got a few Aux posts and another alternative we're coordinating

RRobin said...

DO NOT take it down. As with the Holocaust itself, people need to know exactly what happened.

Everywhere, victims of war and genocide and torture and other atrocities beg their rescuers and journalists to show and tell the world exactly what happened.

Thank you, Etsy Bitches, for having the courage to bear witness to this particular atrocity.

Jen said...

I'm glad you won't be taking it down. Like others have said, having a record of the listing *proves* that it's nothing but a "replica" of a Nazi flag produced to appeal to supremacists, not an historical item or (for fuck's sake) a Buddhist chakra.

I don't really want to beat up Etsy for this, but I think there should be a record showing that this can happen, *this* is what you could be profiting from--get a rule and some safeguards in place right now.

An Ominous said...

You bitches made a difference. They added a line to their prohibited items

"Items that promote or glorify hatred, racial or religious intolerance"

The Funny One said...

Let us remember, too, that an open discussion of this nasty PR debacle (for which there DOES need to be a record)is never allowed on Etsy because Etsy wields a big red pen on their "public" forum and the Dorque in order to eliminate the mere whif of discontent or criticism because they like everything to come up smelling like roses. (They win more awards that way.)

The issue is the same - flagging ain't workin' and Etsy isn't paying attention. Flagging makes sellers ASSUME that flagging leads to action and quality assurance on the site------and it clearly does not. What the hell is the purpose of a "flagging system" (done by sellers for free, btw) if Etsy isn't even reviewing the damn flags???

Izabela said...

I am shocked! I wouldn`t believe it if I saw it first...

Oops said...

What a "nice" reminder we had today that there are still very violent people rallying under this same flag.

The forum thread is more shameful than any screenshot.

RRobin said...

Yesterday a self proclaimed "white supremacist" killed a guard at the Holocaust Museum in our nation's capitol. That is the very sort of person who would buy a Nazi flag replica -- or make and sell one. If those are the sort of people who are welcome on Etsy, well, it is not the sort of place I want to be associated with.

Shame on you, Matt and the rest of Etsy Admin, for leaving the horrid thing up for five days despite flagging, for caring more about people "calling out" in the Forum than about what awful things are being sold on Etsy, and for monitoring the Forum more closely you do the listings and the flags, and for finally posting a half-hearted "apology" that in essence said nothing more than "we took it down so shut up already."

And for shame, all of you who hide your hatred behind the First Amendment and claim the Nazi swastika is just a "buddhist symbol" independent of context. For shame, those of you who would have Etsybitch sweep the disgrace under the rug by removing the screenshot.

Intolerance and hatred are still among us, as the day's news proves. The U.S. Holocaust Museum was built to remind us that 6 million Jews died under that flag, and that we must never forget it happened, so that something like that can never happen again.

Racial hatred knows no bounds. The guard who was killed was African-American.

Etsy, some of his blood is on YOUR hands for being asleep at the wheel. Every little thing matters.

Shame on you, Etsy, shame on you.

My Magic Me Studios said...

wow I actually had to go and see this myself. But no surprise, the seller is now "on VACATION mode" until late July hmmm how interesting lol. I have one word... disgusted!

DJ said...

It's sad but true...there are actually people collect that stuff and if your idea is to make money for it, fine. It's legal.

But eBay is a better place for that. And Etsy needs to update it's rules ASAP to avoid it happening again.