I apologize we haven't had the time to get to this topic earlier this week, but surprisingly our lives don't always revolve around Etsy and their nearly continually occurring social atrocities but we've been chewing over what to say for a few days so here we go...
This weekend Etsy posted a Dorque article from a Guest named Temple St. Clair on the apparent immorality of coral. And the sellers went insane with rage over this, decrying you can buy coral and coral items on Etsy, and that no sister article accompanied it to inform about more "ethical" and entirely legal means for coral. It was even accompanied by a link to the sellers own *OFF SITE* website where she boats selling her pieces at Macy's and Barney's other upscale retailers which of course brought on cries that the writer should not have been given space at all, or that her status as a non-etsy seller gaves her somehow more authority and Etsy is promoting someone obviously in need of no promotion. Not to mention the request for readers to sign a pledge to not buy coral... on a site that sells coral.
While Etsy seems to want to be the New York Times and offer up challenging informative articles in the Dorque they can never pull off doing it right. They can't even comprehend how to present these issue articles, some of which can be very important information that should be shared, to a creative community of makers and sellers without it coming off as a slapdown as they currently make no distinction that the articles are in anyway are not "sanctioned" by Etsy but instead of a guest viewpoint. This is where they spin off the tracks of logic.
When media outlets allow non-staff to post articles on, they are called "Guest Editorials" or the like. (Even we make it clear when we post a article written by someone other than us with our "Ladies Auxillary" postings.) Most large outlets usually have a short bio next to a by line picture at the front or end of the piece making clear that the writer is a guest contributor and NOT with the venue, and her view points are her/his own. This is a long established way to do this, you barely have to even pay attention to notice that's how things are done. That's the problem, Etsy doesn't notice anything without a mustache attached to it and had they simply conformed to this one little convention this all might have been avoided. But then convention has always been too conventional for Etsy even though most of the time there is a damned good reason for it.
When an article by a successful off-Etsy jewlery designer is featured such as this you give them a great deal of authority. An authority that may or may not be deserved, that is why sometimes outlets will also offer a countering article with the other side, in this case one about legal and ethical coral, and coral alternatives would have been extremely appropriate and welcomed I think, but then the writer of that might not be some fancy pants designer that someone at Etsy peed their pants over getting an email from.
Of course, since this implosion the forums have been on fire, even the ideas forum is filling up with seller disgust, and moderators are busy shutting down topics as fast as they open, or shoving them into Etc or the like. They are scrambling to cover it all up like a handknitted cozy for a heating duct. The one thing you can consistently say about etsy is they don't take well to criticism in anyway. I'm expecting more mutings and banning this week to remind us all that Etsy is never wrong.
Response from admin in Announcements has been:
I'm Etsy's editorial director and I want you to know that I and all the blog editors have been carefully reading and discussing your feedback on the coral preservation article. Our aim in publishing this blog post was to raise awareness and provoke reflection about an under-recognized issue. It was absolutely not our intention to call out or cast a negative light on any Etsy seller. We come to work every day trying to build a better business for you, truly! So to anyone who felt unwelcome, my apologies. Our policies about what can be sold on Etsy are unchanged.
To clarify regarding questions that have been raised about our editorial policies, there is no "pay for play" on Etsy. No one can purchase editorial coverage.
This has since been further updated under the above:
I’m back to clarify a few things about our editorial policies.
First of all, I want to reiterate that there is no "pay for play" on Etsy’s blog. Some members have been wondering about contracts and terms of agreement between us and outside contributors. Etsy does not accept payment in exchange for editorial coverage, not in this case and not ever.
Your feedback on the coral article has made us recognize the need to clarify our internal guidelines on publishing opinions. We didn’t sufficiently vet the point of view to make sure it complied with Etsy's broader policies. (Coral is not a prohibited item on Etsy. Each seller does need to ensure that his or her use of the site complies with all applicable laws; that includes any regulations or restrictions for the sale of coral. Beyond the legal issues, however, Etsy members are responsible for making important moral or ethical decisions regarding what they buy and sell.) We also should have better anticipated the countervailing view. And if we still wanted to address the subject, we should have sought to introduce more balance and clearly labeled it as opinion, which reflects the point of view of its author and not Etsy as a company. You’ll see the results of our toothier internal guidelines in our future coverage.
Lastly, I’d like to step back from the specific content of this debate to make a general point about contributors to our blog who are new members of Etsy. We have a long history of featuring guests. They bring our community into conversation with the wider world, spark new ideas and by driving their audience to the blog, help raise awareness of Etsy with people who are not yet familiar with us. I understand why many of you were frustrated by this particular instance of a contribution by someone without long standing in the community. But I want to be clear that broadly speaking, a contributor’s history (or lack of) with Etsy is not a factor in whether we collaborate with them. The decision generally lies in whether the ideas they want to share are substantive and relevant to our readers.
We greatly appreciate the constructive feedback, as it will help us do better by you next time.