Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Feel the Frustration

I was trying to shop on Etsy today...ahem...trying

And I'm not the only one. Despite several years of asking for advanced search, better yet an advanced search that works, and unrolling a number of so-called improvements, we still have...well...frustration

Mistagging is a big culprit, and so search failure is also a flagging failure. Etsy's inability to conduct quality control, even though their members do half the work for them, is a big part of the problem. Sure, you can buy some fancy search algorithm, but that isn't going to wade through the crap.

You would think that with all the time admin spend finding items for gift guides, front pages, finds emails, and Dorque articles they would notice more of the mistagging...ahem


ummmmmno said...

Its frustrating for those of us who sell on there too...and unfortunately Etsy is not the only venue with this problem!

In my opinion said...

Not having clearly defined categories, like on ebay, from the get-go, and relying on tags to sort items, was just a poor choice by design.

I see it more as bad design than mistagging. But I don't spend lots of time trying to shop on the site either.

trusk4u said...

I agree! It is frustrating because I both buy and sell on Etsy, and it can be a real challenge somedays. No wait, EVERYDAY! It gets so irritating to wade through all the mistagged stuff to get to what you really want. Just makes my blood boil!

lost said...

Have we just discovered the real secret behind why the same sellers always end up on the FP? Maybe Admin can't find anyone else to feature because of the crappy search function.

FrustratedwithEtsy said...

With all the re-newing/relisting frenzy. It it very difficult to just browse through categories. Especially if you're not sure what you are looking for.

To just click through the Jewelry cat (for ex) After the first 3 pages, it is a frustrating repeat over and over again of the same items.

Who wants to wade through all of that repeated nonsense!

I am tired of Etsy people bitching about their "right" to re-list/renew. It may get them on the top of the so called heap, but buyers are totally turned off of it!!!

stinky said...

unless I know *exactly * what I'm looking to buy, searching is a real PITA. Searches can't be vague or a only looking for suggestions type deal at all; you get tons of PIF, not for sale listings, and wrongly tagged items

stinky said...

oh, and EW. in the storque post for "manly" items there is something with woody allen on it.

"Here HONEY! Hope you like it. But PLEASE don't run off & have sex with my underage teen daughter behind my back, then leave me for her & get married, mmmmkay?"

Anonymous said...

This is why all the shoppers cling to those f-ing gift guides. It is so much easier to make a decision and find something. They don't even bother looking through the categories, leaving tons of shops in the cold. With Etsy being so cluttered with new shops and listings, I wonder if there is nothing they can do about the growing tagging problem?

Anonymous said...

I just buy from my trieds-and-trues anymore because of all the junk and miss-tagging. the search blows.

handweaver said...

There are at least two active threads in the forum along these lines right now... (I Hate Shopping on Etsy and Why I'm Not Buying Handmade).

WithAllDueRespect said...

With all due respect, admin doesn't search very hard when they make front pages.

Just sayin...

What's the point said...

The admins don't do searches. They have a static list of favorites that they use for the gift guides and FP. For this past weekends promotions, admin promoted same sellers two shops in two different guides, Lucky huh, that's 4 times the exposure. Now if only admins favorite could open up 100 shops then admin would just make one big gift guide with 100 different shop names but with just that one favorite seller ...whohoo.. who needs a search engine.

hinuliv said...

they are spending 0 time looking to find people for the FP , GG or any other entity. The same 25 or so vendors appear on the hour in every bit of their site.what are the staff doing? making cookies,facebooking & tweeting.
its useless to search or be searched for. i have given up relisting & renewing my site ad nauseum and am going to enjoy my holiday.

The Funny One said...

Well said! every comment so far, and there are 72, oh yeah, 72 GG's all picked by the same 2-3 Admins, packed with the same repeats on the FPT, FS, Dorkies, and Finds because they're as bored to death and most shoppers are.

If I find an Etsy seller I like on another site, I buy from them on that other site.

It's come down to the sad fact that I don't want to throw any more money at Etsy because their record on seller support (let alone their big-boxing of "maybe handmade") is beyond resusitation. Etsy is dead in the water, I'm just waiting for it to float away on the Gowanus Canal.

AlexMMR said...

Now I'm totally confused. I decided to let my etsy shop die a natural death and move over to artfire.

I've been promoting my artfire shop like mad. Everywhere! And I've started removing my shop name and information from my etsy shop so it will die out of the google listings when people search for me as ugabugabowls.

And yet, I've had 2 sales in the last 2 days. Both on Etsy! I go months without sales. What the hell just happened? I haven't relisted anything so I should be nice and buried.

Is it because I'm suddenly touting artfire everywhere I go so I somehow got etsy attention and maybe they featured me somewhere to win me back? I have no idea.

lost said...

I was being ironic. :P

With the stupid search and the ongoing problem of lots of shoppers not being able to get to PayPal at checkout, I don't know why anyone is buying on Etsy this season.

Old Hippie Bitch said...

Failure to create categories with true sub-categories is the core problem of Etsy. Using tags as sub-categories is lazy bullshit.

Agreeing with In My Opinion's post: it's bad design. You can't blame sellers for coming up with everything under the sun when given 14 empty tag spaces to fill.

That's only gotten worse since admin started creating FP's from ridiculous tags.

I've had many people ask me why they can't search by title on Etsy. They try to search for a sweater--Why do they get artwork, buttons, patterns, hats, photographs, jewelry and cowls?

My attempts to explain are futile. And they leave the site empty-handed.

Copyright Infringment Wallet with a Cowl said...

The categories have always been a problem. They weren't at all chosen by someone with expertise in each craft, and Etsy completely, absolutely ignored the efforts a couple of years ago by sellers to contribute revisions. They asked for them, then Mrs. Moustache started a project, and it was dropped. Nothing changed significantly, all of the sellers very well intentioned efforts were thrown out the window.

I agree the tagging system itself was deficient. Well, pretty much everything about the system they set up initially (and in 'v2') was inadequate, from search, to tagging, to the listing process, to billing, etc. Well worked for them. Who cares I guess.

Unfortunately it's clear Etsy isn't really changing anything. With Jim Breyer on board and all of their actions, it seems their plan now is to pump it up and try to be acquired, round three.

Sellers tagging correctly would be nice. A little bit of Etsy paying attention to mistagging would help (or A LOT - sites like Deviant Art have no problem enforcing their categories). Etsy has failed to educate their sellers about the importance of tagging.

How about instead of 'Quit your day job! if you can live on $500 a month." we can have 'how to ship', 'how to tag', 'how to write realistic descriptions'?

grumpy said...

I actually have an item currently featured in a gift guide. First time I've ever gotten any sort of Etsy promotion, and you know what? Now I'm REALLY pissed off at how they endless recycle mostly the same people and same items.

Because I had no idea what kind of impact the gift guide feature would have. It's one of the more expensive items in my shop, and since it's been in the gift guide I've been selling one about every other day, and have had several requests for custom versions. And the views? Ten times the views of anything else in my shop. And I've picked up any number of shop hearts, a few of whom have purchased other items. And the item has been picked up and featured on a couple of blogs, who I assume probably saw it on the gift guide.

This sort of on site promotion should be spread around a lot more than it is, because it works, damn it. And that's one gift guide. Imagine being featured in multiple gift guides and the front page and and and like the favoured few get...

life-during-wartime said...

I agree that search cannot be improved much with the tagging problems that exist.

Most of the tagging issues I've seen could be identified by software. Generate lists of common problems, write some form emails to match each problem, and send them off to the shops.

There are so many mistagged items now the flagging system couldn't address them all, even if the staff was super diligent...which they aren't.

Etsy has to work smart, rather than work hard. Back in the pre-internet days, we coded ways to search a few million data records each month for the ones we couldn't process or had errors, and group them for analysis (my task). Tagging isn't a problem that can't be solved, it's a problem that Etsy won't solve. And it is impacting visibility and sales for a lot of shops.

C'mon, Etsy. Pull your faces out of Twitter and do some work already!

marcelly said...

im surprised anyone still gives a damn about that place anymore.
I used to read this blog and care about Etsy, about 'calling out for change', until i came to realize that it isnt going to happen, not in a million fucking years.

So i no longer care for change.
i just wish that Etsy would go fuck itself right out of cyberspace.

The only thing that Etsy has achieved in the past 4 years is the mass devaluing of arts and crafts across the internet.

grumpy said...

And geeze, can anyone explain the hard on that someone at Etsy apparently has for that fucking gnome beard? Why does that get to be on the front page constantly??

The Funny One said...

grumpy is right about the importance of being featured in a GG (or any other promotion)but we all know what 99% of the shops promoted are from the list of about 100 Etsy faves, and because of that, they do sell well.

No shopper in their right mind is going to wade through millions of mistagged items so they do use the promo-sections &GG's to shop ---- because that's the only thing that works for shoppers today. Since scalability has never been changed or altered to meet the site's size, it's the only feature that works, but is structed for a site with 5,000 stores, not 350,000 stores.

I've just been to my 5th holiday craft show and heard nothing positive about Etsy. In fact, many shoppers said they were so turned off by the front page and lousy search that they stopped looking and shopping last January. (and more than 25 said they hated the Finds emails so much they unsub'd).

WindysDesigns said...

Nothing on Etsy is monitored like it should be. Alchemy is a mess with so few people actually reading and following the rules that I saw a completed item that was a result of a trade in the pictures. Sure, you can flag, but by the time the item is deleted, it already has dozens of bids so no biggie. They got away with it and got what they wanted out of it. And if they didn't the first time around, they just post it again a day or two later because they know no one from Etsy monitors it. There is no incentive not to. And monitoring it would be so easy, an rss feed to one or two employees to check throughout the day and monitor each new request with quick elimination of the violators would be so nice. It would stop being a game to see how many bids I can get before I get shut down.

Same with the forums. Same with resellers, same with tag abuse. Everything is done half-heartedly, when it's done at all. People are frustrated and will go to outside blogs to complain about it. And the number of blogs that are complaining about Etsy are more than I've ever seen for any other site.

Etsy's saving grace is that any yahoo can set up a shop and start selling there, you don't need to know a goddam thing because even though the rules are there, it's easy to be spoon fed in the forums. Initial investment is negligible, it isn't until you've gotten involved that you realize that if you let your listing sit for 4 months on one 20 cent payment, it'll never see the light of day again.

The newbies will do the same things I did. Invest time, effort and money into Etsy hoping that things improve because it's the logical thing to expect. It will be too late when the realization hits that what you see is what you get and all you're likely to get for a long, long time.

I don't have the energy to fight anymore. I've become, except for the occasional rant, apathetic to all that is Etsy. If I don't expect anything, then I'm not disappointed. I stay because right now it's the path of least resistance for me,and I"m not buying showcases or renewing anything but expired listings. And I haven't listed anything new in over a year.

I guess I've kind of let |Etsy take the wind out of my sails, I'm just drifting along for the time being.

BeyondFrusrated said...

Just read Grumpy's comment about being featured in a gift guide and am feeling a bit queasy over it. I think of all the artists with really cool stuff who are struggling and invisible because the Etsy admins are more interested in promoting fake beards, "vintage" staplers, and toxic melted record bowls and it makes me sick to my stomach with frustration.

And this quote: "The only thing that Etsy has achieved in the past 4 years is the mass devaluing of arts and crafts across the internet" is probably the truest summation of that Etsy that I've ever read.

The sad thing is that they'll read these comments and continue to blow them off as the rantings of a disgruntled few.

The Funny One said...

It could be that a big dip in the millions Etsy rakes in at most sellers' expense in 2010 will be the only incentive for Etsy to realize they and their site haven't matured along with their revenue base.

Since many of the newer sites are offering membership incentives along with dozens of tools for sellers, the time for Etsy sellers to move is now. Spend your valuable time and money elsewhere and take all your customers with you.

Etsy is too busy counting their profits to care. The only sellers they want are those willing to make Etsy-stylized products for $14 or less, without paying for branded products up front. No matter how you slice it, Etsy makes the money and most of their sellers don't. And all sellers suffer the consequences of negative pricing.

Painted Bull said...

marcelly said... The only thing that Etsy has achieved in the past 4 years is the mass devaluing of arts and crafts across the internet.


Exactly, this is really a true statement. And I also agree with your sentiments regarding Etsy getting a big cyber "fuck you"...
But there seems to be an endless supply of "crafters" that open shops on Etsy, so it will continue to grow...Etsy will never change.

-Painted Bull

broke said...

Well, my sales are 1/4 of what they were on Etsy last year. So something is definitely different. And not a good different. Or, maybe it is the same, just more bogged down with more sellers flooding the place. Either way, this year''s holiday sales have been a big, gigantic bust.

The Funny One said...

So many of us are in the same situation broke said....and many with zero sales on Etsy in all of 2009. The changes are so dramatic that it's not the sellers - it's how Etsy promotes the sellers it likes to promote.

There's no other explanation. From thousands of sales to zero? It's the host site, not the seller.

My no views, no sales on Etsy is high traffic and decent sales on other sites since November 1. I'm also selling more offline than online, but that's because I stopped wasting time on Etsy and spent the hours working for myself.

Every handmade seller has different needs, but most of us are never going to get any traffic or sales on Etsy. In fact, most of us have been PREVENTED from selling on Etsy in 2009.

When you set up on another site, it might make a difference. Just be sure to take all your customers with you!

Many are still offering free storefront listings, and even eBay has a free listings for new sellers.

It's worth a try since ANY efforts (or spending money) on Etsy are a complete waste.

bleste said...

i'm not a top seller on etsy but i could count on a definite 1000 or so a month for my shop since it opened 3 years ago. last christmas wasnt as busy as i hoped but i made my sales goals by heavy relisting and FP spots.this year has been so up and down- but my sales leveled out and going into this fall i thought the holiday would be okay. i had a great august and september and then it all fell apart. the big difference has been- i havent been on the front page at all. most of my items get a few paltry views. and since october, my monthly hearts look like what used to be a daily total.add that to the constant barrage of copycats undercutting me in price, blah blah blah and well its just a shame. so many of my fellow etsians have been lamenting the sales situation privately, meanwhile people seem to be buying recycled vintage luggage like its going out of style.who knew?

DoneBeenDisgusted said...

When someone buys from me, it's because they have looked at the rest and realized that I have the best.
Of course, I don't get the trendy types, I get the classy ones.
Unfortunately, there aren't as many classy Etsy customers, because the site looks like a shitpile and is search-ridiculous.
Who with more $ and taste than time bother using Etsy search? And if they have taste, they aren't going to be all that impressed with the front page chosen by the kids at Etsy.
I guess that's what they want: more sellers who think that you can sell without any talent or ability. there are a lot of those, and that's where EtsyCorp's $$ comes from: junky crap made by kids who sell cheap and relist. Customers? The more sellers the more customers Etsy has regardless if they are resellers or crapmakers. It's all the same to The Hand.

Morgan said...

Interesting. EB, bless their hearts, put me in a EBGG (love that acronym). Less than a day later, I have the same item and one similar in ETSYGG. I have been persona non grata to Etsy since they permanently muted me last May for calling them out for not vetting their featured items more carefully. Boy, did my sales suffer.
This morning, both neckties sold.
Proof that the GGs are important for consistent sales? I should say so. Along with Grumpy, it makes me even more annoyed with their flippant attitude about what they feature.
It does prove to me, however, that staff members look at EB......

JimsChairs said...

Mistagging isn't Etsy-specific:


If you think that a company is 100% in charge of fixing arbitrary tagging on millions of items, I think you're in for a rude awakening.

IMHO, it's not Etsy's responsibility to police tagging unless it's in the category of fraud. No other crowd-sourcing or web2.0 site polices 'mistagging' like you're mentioning.

1,659,220 new items listed in October, they report.

Manual review of the tags on those items, if it could be done in 10 seconds each, would take 192 days.

IMHO, Etsy should be spending time on more important things. The only way EB can bring change to Etsy is to focus on things that matter. IMHO, this doesn't.

The Funny One said...

It's interesting to hear from a best seller and what those free FPT promos really mean. Since we all know how the faves are picked, with hundreds of thousands of sellers, Etsy can weed out according to their mood of the hour, so even their faves are always at risk for sudden bannishment from the Esty Clique of Faves.

Of course, you could sneeze and Etsy would take offense so.......a biz built solely on personalities shows all its warts, and Etsy wins the vanity contest hands down.

Copying, of course, is actively, aggressively, and openly encouraged by Etsy. I've had everything ripped off but my store name, and now it's just expected behavior.

Let's hope there are legal challenges piling up offstage that'll throw a monkeywrench into a business that lowered the standards of handmade to $14 a pop.

Lets Stab Ourselves said...

JimsChairs said...
(blah blah)
1,659,220 new items listed in October, they report.

Manual review of the tags on those items, if it could be done in 10 seconds each, would take 192 days.

What, for one person? You must work for Etsy with that type of thinking.

Okay, so seven people could do it in 25 days then. Great, get to work. Or maybe people could add an 'this item is blatantly mistagged' to the Report menu and perhaps someone could actually DO SOMETHING ABOUT FLAGGED ITEMS?

Anonymous said...

The tagging is the least of the problems requiring flagging.
If someone would take an hour and change the first category so that a person would HAVE to pick one of the three main ones, tagging flagging would go way down.
The sellers who mass produce, lie about their "handmades" are the ones that hurt the site's integrity.
But integrity seems to have gone out of style.

art-and-ghosts said...

etsy is a weird motherfucker.

RRobin said...

Ever list anything on eBay?

You have to select from specific categories, and narrow down your description as you go along.

Then buyers can come along and search in those specific categories, as narrowed-down as they choose, by title or within the full description, their choice. If you've ever shopped on eBay you know what I mean.

Sure, sometimes searching on eBay is frustrating, but it is a hell of a lot easier and more intuitive than trying to find something on Etsy.

Of course, it would mean that Etsy sellers could no longer title their items something as artsy and meaningless as "Sunday Morning" (which could refer to anything from a vintage hat to a set of coasters made from recycled newspaper to everything in between), but at this point, would anyone REALLY lament the passing of that era?

The Sneaky One said...


Really none of your posts will make it through. Try your nitpicking elsewhere. You're a bit late to the game, old chap.

If you have a problem with what we post, you are welcome to e-mail us.

Mariarose said...

Yes, I have reported a few listers that have been mistagging items (12-20 of their listings). Not one has been corrected. I've reported these listers every month for the past four months. I feel these are serious mistaggings. Why won't E help me? aaaaahhhhh frustration.

SoooFrustrated said...

It drives me crazy to see mis-tagged or reseller items in etsy-curated areas. And I don't see why they couldn't have more clearly-designed categories.

I convoed Maria about this, and this is what she told me:
"Regarding your statement about instances of resellers and mis-taggers featured in the Gift Guides and on admin-curated Front Pages, Etsy uses its best efforts, investing significant time and effort to review thousands of items and shops, to avoid featuring any such sellers in curated areas of the site.

Etsy does not jury sellers, and we enable sellers to tag their own items. As a result of both of these democratic approaches, unqualified sellers and/or improperly tagged items may periodically and inadvertently be featured. As you may know, we rely on Etsy users to help police the site, and we take great care to review all flagged items and shops. We make every effort to quickly remove any such items if they are indeed inappropriate. On balance, we believe that an open site policed by the community is more favorable for sellers than a juried site with strictly imposed categorization."

So... Maria doesn't see a problem. They're working as hard as they can - and the fact that they're failing to do a good job is irrelevant. Hmph.


maria's words:
"... we enable sellers to tag their own items. ENABLE?

"...democratic approaches" Toss a few terms around, signifying NOTHING but sounds message-y

"...we take great care to review all flagged items and shops" Who is WE and what does GREAT CARE mean, random? It could mean anything.

Obviously, her standards are very LOW and that is a canned response. I find that sort of thing insulting to my intelligence-- why bother answering at all if you are going to give a non-response?