Friday, August 21, 2009

The Caching "Roll-back"

Have you received the Etsy seller email with information about the "caching roll-back"?

Last week, Etsy's CTO, Chad Dickerson, posted an update about caching on Etsy.
Some sellers, when editing or uploading listings, suddenly faced delays — their updated listings would not immediately reflect those changes on the live site. Chad's post explains what was going on and what he and the Engineering Team have done about it.

We’ll overlook the reference to the yellow-smiley face posters in a well-known big-box store (Roll Back Prices!!!!!) because there’s a bigger issue to be discussed.

According to several forum threads that were duly locked and resurrected by sharp, vigilant sellers who voiced alarm about the fact that ETSY CHANGED A MAJOR FEATURE (all shop edits were delayed by caching) WITHOUT TELLING SELLERS THEY WERE CHANGING IT.

Not only did this cause an uproar about the legal issues surrounding online pricing, sellers were justly outraged that they were suddenly presented with a whole set of NEW PROBLEMS when editing their listings concerning PRICE CHANGES, and other vital information.

Oh yes, Etsy has decided to "roll-back" this secret caching change, and Chad wrote an interesting and very long explanation--but it reveals the thinking behind the scenes when Etsy deals with the myriad issues of scalability on a site that continues to grow without a plan or structure to handle its anyone-can-open-a-store policy. Etsy makes decisions based on Etsy’s priorities, not seller priorities.


Etsy is making major changes all the time, and may or may not be "rolling-back" those secret changes (including the SEO debacle, which continues to be a messy mystery to this day) hidden in the deep recesses of Etsy’s habit of implementing drastic changes THAT DRAMATICALLY AFFECT ETSY SELLERS’ ABILITY TO SELL ON ETSY.


Sharp sellers picked up on the caching problem and let Etsy know — but they had to launch a protest AFTER THE CHANGES WERE ALREADY MADE WITHOUT NOTICE!

While the SEO issues remain, and the "roll-back" of caching needs to be seen to be believed, we have to wonder what else Etsy has in store for sellers in the next few months when the once a year vital holiday shopping season begins.


It’s a sad fact that Etsy often makes major changes for the benefit of Etsy. How these changes affect sellers isn’t part of their plan. Launch it overnight, leave sellers in the dark, and then spend 5 weeks correcting a problem that Etsy created (and sellers never wanted!)!

48 Comments:

lets make some money! said...

Etsy Tech operates as if it were the tech arm of a significant web entity, without the Significant Entity portion, and with direction from middle-school drop-outs.

I would bet that Chad expected to be told what the expectations of his tech team would be when he joined, only to discover that Etsy is not Google (which is a company with a very direct corporate mission that they protect and nurture). Poor Chad discovered that his infrastructure is amateur at best, hacked and irreparable at worst, and the goals given to him are focused on small-minded Admin notions.

Middle-level techies hired to be high-level developers, no managerial experience at any level, and directives from Admins who have multiple shops of their own, which infringe upon their own TOU and common copyrights.

Can you say "Nepotist PR"?

Evermore Organics said...

No snarky comments yet?

Maybe Etsy just causes these problems and "fixes" them so that we think theyre doing something.

Lame.

eclipse said...

"We’ll overlook the reference to the yellow-smiley face posters in a well-known big-box store (Roll Back Prices!!!!!)"

It's not really a walmart reference, that is standard IT lingo for any update that gets un-done and reversed back to a previous version.

Andromache said...

Hi,
I just wanted to say that I have no idea what this article is saying. I don't sell on etsy; I only buy. Could you maybe explain a little more for people not familiar with pricing to start with?
Sorry to be a pain, I'm just really interested in your blog!
thanks,
Andromache

The Righteous One said...

Andromache, sellers can edit their listings, including the prices. They do this often for sales, promotions, or to keep up with the market. The problem with the caching was that sometimes those changes wouldn't show for a few minutes, allowing someone to purchase the item at the old price. Now, this isn't such a big deal if it's simply a sale price adjustment, but what if the seller had accidentally listed a $200 item for $2? Is it fair to the seller that they couldn't change the price immediately? Instead, Etsy instituted the caching to changes which affects sellers' ability to control their listings, and thus their ability to sell on Etsy without any notification. It took sellers complaining about it for them to admit they did it in the first place, and then to reverse it.

SK said...

Oddly, I never actually truly experienced the delay phenomenon, but read the many many thread titles complaining about it in bugs.

I make art, I don't design websites — but I can't imagine how someone looked at the totality of the feature instituted vs. the problems it could cause (otherwise known as pros and cons) — and decided to f'ing do it anyway!

The lack of critical thinking that goes into absolutely everything that was / is done or implemented on that site is astounding.

(on a side note: I'd love to see an article about this...
http://www.mmart.com/oneofakindshow/etsyapplication/
specifically the less than 3 years of professional experience part)

This site drives me crazy with all their silly sh*t...

And did they ever actually undo the SEO mess? Or did they just stop talking about it and figure it would go away?

The Funny One said...

Wherever "roll-back" came from in the IT world or in a Walmart aisle, the issue is that Etsy made a change that directly affected many sellers without notice. The change was made at the convenience of IT, to handle traffic issues, as readily admitted by the CTO.

If Etsy has to make changes that make the site more efficient, that's good for everyone. But if they make changes that fundamentally changes the way a seller maintains their store, then those sellers should be given fair warning.

The point is that Etsy doesn't extend their thinking to include sellers. No one even considered that a long (in some cases up to 24 hours)delays in editing essential info like PRICES might have an immediate (possibly negative) effect on Etsy sellers.

Etsy thinks about Etsy, not about sellers.

wiseplants said...

Etsy is quickly losing any integrity it may have once had. It is full of resellers which they flat out refuse to do anything about, they are completely out of touch with the market, they're obvious favoritism is completely unprofessional and they seem to be more concerned with fixing things that aren't broken than actually making improvements to the site.
Meanwhile, artfire is getting better and better.

Jennifer said...

Yeah, but they're featuring Halloween... before Oct 27th...

You can't have everything :-P

Wolf said...

Nope, never got the email and I've been a seller on Etsy for over 3 yrs now.

Mango the Peach said...

Yes, this was really fucked up. I agree it shows that the tech team has NO IDEA what the needs of the sellers are, and they have no idea how to reason about what effect their changes will have, apparently.

Also, there is a major disconnect between the tech team and the management - don't you think management would be advised of this change, or notice and be like 'HEY! Everyone needs to see edits right away'.

The patch they put on it, 'sellers will see edits right away' was just totally, incredibly stupid as well - so, the seller is seeing a different page than everyone else?? To anyone with half a smidgen of logic it's clear that would only cause more problems and compound the issue.

Etsy has moved on a little bit from when people barely qualified to be a Junior Developer were hired as Project Managers, but I'm still baffled by exactly what all these techies are doing in there...

Jumping ship said...

Why do I get the feeling that etsy is being run by a bunch of chickens with their heads cut off? Their lack of foresight and inability to anticipate problems blows me away. And the trying to get away with changes without telling users is getting really, really old. Not to mention that it is totally unethical.

Imagine.... a site that is responsive and respectful to the people paying them for a service. Wait, I don't have to imagine one. Artfire IS responsive and respectful.

Artfire will be rolling out coupon codes very shortly. How long have we been asking Etsy for that feature?

Old Hippie Bitch said...

You're right, Jennifer. And I got a huge laugh out of "Halloween Trends." Trends?!? WTF?

Regarding this debacle, I don't know much. But wouldn't a really simple solution be to just delete the 4 year old expired/sold listings and photos? That must be huge, and ebay deletes after 90 days.

So bizarre...and I think the first comment from let's make some money! has it right on.

mizdarlin said...

While Etsy is laughably screwing up and cleaning up, sorry, but Artfire is too expensive for no results for some of us-gonna shut down my $12 a month (for no sales in 3 months) shop there as soon as the current month is expired...say what you will about Etsy-and we gleefully do-it gets three times the views and costs alot less in the long run-at least for me. And I've actually made some sales there... Soapsellers and supply shops may feel differently...

spin cycle said...

when they did the seo i lost views and sales. this blog put a fire under my butt and i am working on my shop on my own website. i wont promote etsy. i looked at the front page again recently. yep. fingerless gloves once again. the apocalypse will be a plague of fingerless gloves and fake felt mustaches. i hate etsy.

and,,,,i kind of hate 1000 markets too. cause its weirdly difficult with the tagging. ive never made a sale there. has anybody here had success there? cause their forum is strangely absent of sales discussions.

justbitchy said...

My experiences with 1000markets admin was frighteningly similar to my experiences with etsy admin.

They are equally f-ed up as far as I'm concerned.

I haven't tried Artfire yet because I don't have the time to list products on another site. I wish they had bulk upload.

not a hipster wannabe said...

"the apocalypse will be a plague of fingerless gloves and fake felt mustaches"

I laughed for about five minutes solid. No word of a lie. I would only add "giant knitted neckpieces" to that.

Pissed said...

Hey "just bitchy" I agree with ya. 1KM has really disappointed me. They really need to watch what and how they are managing the site, because the 1KM admin are pissing people off left and right, and geez if you post anything in the forum that is not glowing or "in line" with what admin considers "appropriate" then they will delete the post or thread lickity split!

Anyone up for a 1000 Market Bitch Fest?

Damn, I mad!

-Sign me pissed, and not using my real name cause I already have gotten into it with them at 1KM enough, and I know there are some there who hold grudges.

RRobin said...

I have no experience with 1KM (love the acronym, BTW), but my experience with Artfire admin and cupcakes has been less than positive.

Some of you may recall the lament I posted here about the proliferation of cheap Harry Potter keychains and similar things on Artfire, for which I was immediately branded an Etsy cupcake on the Artfire fora, by an Artfire admin.* There, those most sympathetic to my lament misconstrued me as a copyright watchdog, when my main concern is that I don't want my art to be associated with any site that purports to be a venue for handmade, but considers $3 Harry Potter keychains made from movie stills to be "art." If the site DOES NOT consider these things to be art, why are its admins allowing them to be tagged as "art," or even sold on the site in the first place?

The Artfire cupcakes are as vocal and vicious as any of Etsy's, and a lot of them are here and will probably unsheathe their claws when they read this.

Not drinking anyone's Kool-Aid, am I.

And after five weeks on Artfire, I've had no sales, and the average number of total views per item is about 20.

Admittedly, I do no marketing -- blogging, twittering, etc. -- because I hate it and feel that it is not my job. That's what my listing fees are for. As bad as eBay is, and it is pretty darn bad, at least they understand that much over there.

*Here's the link:
https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=286747608538901945&postID=2256107689017580396

Blurb said...

What is it with the holding grudges thing? It makes no professional sense. What's the deal, anyway? Is it personality or age that makes people get all personal with sellers? I know Etsy does it; I've felt it, but why elsewhere too?
It's BIZ not personal!

Oh dear... said...

Mizdarlin...I guess the saying "Your mileage may vary" is very true. I have had only one sale on Etsy this year compared to 8 on ArtFire, so I'm sticking with AF for now. I get more hits as opposed to Etsy. I don't even promote my AF shop that much either.

One thing I realized that is nice about AF is that if you have 5 of something, you can just list the quantity as 5, you don't have to pay for each additional listing. It's good because when something sells, I don't have to rush to relist it. Good luck with whatever you do anyhow!

Rtisan said...

I totally get you, RRobin, I don't like being associated with cheap trinkets either.
One of the reasons I check this blog periodically-- to find an alternative to be associated with....

Arty said...

What people fail to understand is that Etsy is merely just a shopping cart for crafters. You pay you .20and they list you work. They are also juried even though they say they aren't. The difference with Etsy however is that they give false hopes and promises to the naive. If they didn't sell people the dream of being "discovered" or promoted then they would never get they amount of signups and renewers that they do now.

Let them get rid of the QYDJ
the FP, Treasuries-all of the little "distractions" that keep people "drinking the Kool-aid" and I would bet that more than half of Etsy would be gone in a heartbeat.

Rtisan said...

RRobin: I totally feel you re: cheap trinkets on both sites. One reason I check in here is to see what other sites are turned up -- some place where a real artisan can keep company with more of the same.

DJ said...

wiseplants - totally agree with you. Add to your rant the fact that there are copyright violations all over the place that get ignored by Etsy. It's insanity.

Artfire is improving their site left & right - for the SELLERS. The only thing they haven't improved is their monthly price (too high) and their marketing (no buyers)

If we could get Artfire's tech team together with Etsy's marketing group, they may just have something there that works.

RRobin said...

DJ said...
...If we could get Artfire's tech team together with Etsy's marketing group, they may just have something there that works.

**

DJ, Etsy's marketing is done by the sellers. There is no in-house "marketing group" promoting the site, only a group of little girls choosing their BFFs to be featured on the front page, etc. The sellers are expected to do all of the promotion for the Etsy brand, and so many of them so cheerfully do, especially those who are not in the BFF clique, in hopes of gaining entre to the inner sanctum, the front page, etc.

RRobin said...

And Artfire still -- as of 30 seconds ago -- has hundreds, if not thousands, of cheap, mass-produced trinkets for sale, including the aforementioned Harry Potter keychains.

That's the sort of stuff which, if I saw upon entering a live craft show, would cause me to turn around and go home.

Seeing that stuff, and that much of it, on a purported venue for quality handmade art, does not inspire buyer confidence or seller pride.

Do I want to sell my totally handcrafted precious metal jewelry next to a $3 keychain featuring a picture of Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort that somebody downloaded from the internet and then used a button-maker to turn into a cheap keychain?

Would I feel confident about BUYING an expensive piece of wearable art if it is featured next to said keychain? Not at all, because I would consequently doubt its quality and authenticity.

When people can't see your work for themselves, they judge you by the pictures you provide and the company you keep.

If everything is art, then nothing is.

DJ said...

RRobin-

I'm afraid you are mistaken about that. While yes, as sellers, we market our own shops. However Etsy most certainly markets their website. They are all over, in magazines, search engines & even on Amazon. I guarantee you, that doesn't happen on it's own.

So like I said before, if Artfire could do that in conjunction with their technical abilities, that would be a big improvement in general.

beadznthingz said...

Rrobin - Thanks so much for this:

"Etsy's marketing is done by the sellers. There is no in-house "marketing group" promoting the site, only a group of little girls choosing their BFFs to be featured on the front page, etc."

So true, but they have been known to occasionally market for more sellers. Hope these new sellers know that the search is broken, SEO is messed up, and the only way to be seen is to renew, renew, renew...unless of course, the little girls choose you as their new BFF.

Indigo said...

Why would I want to associate myself with a site (Etsy) that doesn't give a tinker's damn about me.

Now with the Artfire Kiosk on Facebook. Your own friends, fans and family can shop with you, no account needed, easy peasy check-out and you have your own built in customers, that never have to leave Facebook.

Etsy can't even fix the SEO problem. Or fix/improve anything else that matters. They will never reach this level, because they don't give a crap about it's sellers!

Say what you want about Artfire, but they are technologically superior. If I am selling on the internet, my money is vested with the company that understands how the internet actually works.

Rtisan said...

I know this is off topic, and you can dump it if you want:
I just figured out Etsy's design & marketting plan: I picked up a copy of "Real Simple" magazine in the free box at the library. It took me 5 minutes to "read" but the whole look is so Etsy. ... there's "no there, there", just simple clear uncluttered photos.

welcome to rob-mart said...

beadznthingz said...
"So true, but they have been known to occasionally market for more sellers. "

ALL their marketing is to attract new sellers. That's it. Ever.

They make a big deal about 'Duurr, we're on GMA! Look, someone said 'Etsy'!!!! They remember Etsy! We're makin' it big for YOUUUU

However, all they say in their media opportunities are what a great place Etsy is to SELL your crap.

It's sickening. There is such a huge amount of wonderful art and crafts on Etsy, and I have NEVER ONCE seen it promoted as a place to SHOP. They NEVER market it like that... it's always more sellers, more sellers, more sellers.. it's so short sighted and it's insulting and it WILL be the Death of Etsy if they don't get more shoppers and less new sellers.

RRobin said...

INdigo said:

Now with the Artfire Kiosk on Facebook. Your own friends, fans and family can shop with you, no account needed, easy peasy check-out and you have your own built in customers, that never have to leave Facebook.

**

I don't understand why you need any electronic intermediary to sell things to your friends and family. Why wouldn't you interact with them directly?

RRobin said...

Actually, if eBay were to start a handmade division and hire some seasoned artisans to advise and/or manage it -- and they could do some pretty efficient recruiting right here -- it would blow Etsy, Artfire, et al out of the water.

Meanwhile, if they would just lower their seller fees...

crazy cat lady said...

Anonymous RRobin said...

I don't understand why you need any electronic intermediary to sell things to your friends and family. Why wouldn't you interact with them directly?

August 29, 2009 2:43 PM
_____________

Erm...because we SELL on an electronic device? Because our lives are busy and everyone shops via internet now? Because some of our friends are across the country or in other parts of the world? Because some of our friends we only know through the internet? Many of my friends who have bought from me are just "internet friends".

Rtisan said...

I have a FB for personal friends and family, and need to make a "biz" FB that links to my sites that is completely separate. That I can see, but:

I can't imagine why anyone would subject their friends and family to FB crap about biz in their mailbox all the time. It would annoy the shit out of me, and they would know about it right away (because, after all, they are FRIENDS AND FAMILY. I mean, REAL friends and family).

RRobin said...

crazy cat lady said...
Anonymous RRobin said...

I don't understand why you need any electronic intermediary to sell things to your friends and family. Why wouldn't you interact with them directly?

August 29, 2009 2:43 PM
_____________

Erm...because we SELL on an electronic device? Because our lives are busy and everyone shops via internet now? Because some of our friends are across the country or in other parts of the world? Because some of our friends we only know through the internet? Many of my friends who have bought from me are just "internet friends".

**

Crazy cat lady and I obviously have very different definitions of the term "friends," then.

I don't call everyone I have a passing acquaintance with, a single interest in common with, or a business history -- however pleasant -- with, my "friend."

And crazy cat lady, are you trying to somehow discredit me by putting "Anonymous" in front of my name where you quote me there? Just curious...

life-during-wartime said...

RRobin said...
Actually, if eBay were to start a handmade division and hire some seasoned artisans to advise and/or manage it -- and they could do some pretty efficient recruiting right here -- it would blow Etsy, Artfire, et al out of the water.

Meanwhile, if they would just lower their seller fees...
------------------------------
Ebay did lower my listing fees for antiques and collectibles, which helped somewhat. Suggests they might be willing to set up a handmade marketplace with a separate fee structure.

Etsy did them a huge favor by recruiting a lot of their yardsale 'vintage' sellers, and I think it's time Ebay returned the favor by recruiting some of Etsy's fed-up artisans.

I'd open a handmade Store on Ebay if they seriously attempted a no-resellers handmade market. There's no way Ebay could 100% keep them out...

Crazy Cat Lady said...

rrobin...

I don't think my old college roommate who lives across the country and I can't see every weekend as a "passing acquaintance"; but if your definition of "friend" is someone you must have physical contact with on a regular basis then we live VERY different lives.

I don't get the personal digs - I don't consider everyone I've had a business history with a friend either - but I have made some REAL friends via the internet. Sorry you haven't.

Do you have a facebook acc't? Do you see everyone there on a regular basis?

IRT the anonymous - sorry - that was there when I c&p your post, I guess because you weren't signed in (I bet it's on my name there too because I wasn't signed in). No offense meant by it at all!

just bitchy said...

I sell handmade on eBay (have for years) and do much better there than I ever did on Etsy.

An ebay store is a good way to keep your listing fees down. I don't mind paying commission for sales.

My prices on eBay are the same or a bit higher than on my website to cover the FVF.

Yardsale vintage seller said...

"Etsy did them a huge favor by recruiting a lot of their yardsale 'vintage' sellers, and I think it's time Ebay returned the favor by recruiting some of Etsy's fed-up artisans."........

I am a "Yardsale Vintage Seller", and to whoever said the above, I take offense. I decided to subscribe so I could hear what everyone had to say, not deal with elitist attitudes. Sorry if I don't qualify as an artisan. And by the way, since I am on etsy, I think I should have just as much to say...

Rain Likely said...

Now with the Artfire Kiosk on Facebook. Your own friends, fans and family can shop with you, no account needed, easy peasy check-out and you have your own built in customers, that never have to leave Facebook.

*******

I don't understand why you need any electronic intermediary to sell things to your friends and family. Why wouldn't you interact with them directly?

----------------

I consider Facebook IS interacting "directly." I don't have time to drive to everybody's house to show them my items, especially since most of my family lives 3,000 miles away.

The Artfire Kiosk is great - it's like having a branch of your store right on Facebook, for free.

life-during-wartime said...

I am a "Yardsale Vintage Seller", and to whoever said the above, I take offense. I decided to subscribe so I could hear what everyone had to say, not deal with elitist attitudes. Sorry if I don't qualify as an artisan. And by the way, since I am on etsy, I think I should have just as much to say...
-----------------------------
Actually, I've never had an Etsy shop, and at the moment I sell only vintage. I'm considering opening a handmade shop or store online; Etsy has been off my list for quite a while. My comment was not part of the vintage-is-inferior-to-handmade dialog on Etsy.

Not all vintage shops on Etsy are online yard sales, just like not all handmade shops are resellers or shoddy work. My comment was not directed at all vintage on Etsy, and if you feel I meant your shop...well, what can I say? My impression of vintage on Etsy is that an ever larger percentage of vintage items listed on the site date from the 1970s and later. At the same time, the percentage of my Ebay customers who are male has been rising (men buy more expensive items, usually without making an offer of a lower price). Since Etsy vintage took off (about 18 months ago), annoying offers from female buyers for like 10% of the listed price of the item have ceased. Either all these gals stopped buying vintage, or they went elsewhere. Dunno.

The fact is that Etsy has been attracting vintage buyers and sellers from other sites. And observing what kind of vintage Etsy promotes, and what is being listed in the shops, is relevant to my business.

RealDeal said...

life-during-wartime:
You said what was in my head. The vintage stuff that Etsy promotes is the kind of thing I would never keep for my own collection, and my experience with Ebay has been like yours. Good stuff sells there because the collectors know what they want and what it's worth.
Vintage on Etsy is bush league-- not everything obviously, but what Etsy thinks is vintage.
I sell both places, but keep the good stuff for Ebay where it is appreciated.

The Funny One said...

I think that any criticism of what Etsy picks as vintage, faves, decor, and most other categories is for nought, since Etsy has no quality control and doesn't pre-screen shops or provide any security to prevent resellers and other stores that open, sell, and clearly violate Etsy's rules--------meaning, what real rules are there on Etsy?

What concerns me is what they have done to the reputation of handmade. On Etsy, quality it not the objective, but promoting their faves and helping their faves (some have been on their faves list for 4+ years) who make Etsy the most money.

A multi-million co. with no customer service? Enough security holes in the shopping cart that make non paying buyers a given for every seller on the site? Really, what's their goal? More faves in 30 promo spots at the same time on the site? Repeated faves day after day after day?

Are customers getting bored by the constant promo of only a few shops on a huge and unwieldy site where categories blur and handmade is defined by who sells the cheapest stuff (quality not required)? A site that barks trends but fails to make quick and necessary changes in a drastically different online retail encironment? A site that treats the holiday retail weeks as an afterthought? if at all?

LWProfile said...

Answer: Nope. Not anybody with real taste; it's embarrassing.
I do not promote Etsy, and hope that customers who find me there thru my website don't look around too much because I don't relish the neighbors. Too much garbage, too "trendy", too youth market (aka: no $), too discount, too Twilight, too pretend vintage.

BadCat said...

I didn't know where to post this, but I pulled my shop from Etsy, for so many of the reasons this blog has pointed out. I've had it.

Naomi said...

I know you guys talk a lot about alternatives for sellers. Now I'm not a seller on etsy, but I am a BUYER. A regular buyer no less. I've clicked over to artfire on a couple of occasions and have never bought anything. The quality is just too variable,the design of the website is not visually appealing and it makes me hesitant about buying at all. I get that Etsy has its problems for sellers, but when it comes down to it, I'm much more likely to buy from Etsy, than Artfire.