Saturday, July 23, 2011

Rob White on Etsy’s Unique Brand of Forum/Seller Discipline

Rob White (RW) has spoken! With 5 consecutive long-winded announcements.

RW follows with cherry-picked “answers to seller questions” to further justify Etsy's wacky practice of locking, banning, muting and other actions Etsy takes against sellers and admits in the same breath that Admins throw the “rules” out the window to apply their own personal judgement:

RW: Context will always play a significant part in what a member posts and how we and other community members will view it. Sometimes we don't see eye to eye with the person posting, sure. But by the time we've reviewed a thread and have elected to take action beyond posting in or closing a thread, a lot of eyes have looked over that scenario.

As I implied previously, this doesn't mean we're mistake-free, and in a few occasions in which members have written in to discuss the matter with us, we've reviewed the incident again, felt that we were mistaken the first time out and rescinded the action.

Admins DON’T SEE EYE TO EYE WITH THE ISSUE/PERSON POSTING? Does that mean that Admins are taking it personally and responding personally, screw the rules?

If I were you Rob, I’d look at 40-50 of the latest THREAD LOCKS and read what Admins are writing in the Forums. Sure looks like they aren’t following any rules at all!

RW may cry mea culpa when mistakes are made but let’s face it. No other self-proclaimed “community site” has a lexicon like Etsy – ban, mute, perma-mute, lock, red-brick, close — and such a public history of changing the rules when they feel like it to “punish” sellers with 2 eyes, not “a lot of eyes” as you claim.

Sellers who’ve expressed concerns for years over the negative consequences of taking ANY part in the Forums can rest assured that the same negative attitudes towards sellers is alive and kicking at Etsy.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Don't let the door hit you on the ass Kalin!

Rob Kalin, affectionately known as "Bozo Dick" around the EB homesteads, is out. And quite suddenly so it seems. Within a week it looks like.

Chad Dickerson, (whose name is ripe for even more prone to our possible mockery if he's not careful with the arrogant tone in his announcement...) is in as CEO as of yesterday. What is perhaps more interesting is that no where is it mentioned that Kalin is staying on staff, or what position he might have with Etsy in the future, I think... and this might be hopeful dream larking on my part, that he's simply out (but with a nice severance package I'm sure to keep him quiet.)

This I think both shows how essential Dickerson's become at Etsy (possibly as the only actual adult on staff, and also maybe being at least reponsible enough to shove into the corner office for a while to babysit the toddlers in an emergency). I also think it shows that Kalin has perhaps been on thin ice far longer than even we suspected in a year of growing scathing news stories of seller's dissatisfaction?

Sellers have been angrier than ever. Sales keep declining, defections are more common than even evictions as sellers get more and more fed up with being ignored. Etsy keeps on not listening, not responding to criticism or worse replying in nonsequitors that if anything serve as mockery, offering things no one has wanted still ignoring things that sellers have been asking for for going on a decade.

Up until now it's been Kalin's little fiefdom run by himself and his protected inner circle of hipster trolls who seem to not only be untouchable, but unpublishable.Have the investors been actually paying attention and simply couldn't look the away anymore and overlook his aloof bizarreness (like pulling hunting knives on business reporters) anymore? Or did, as I prefer to think, Kalin just stopped showing up for work? God knows his heart hasn't seemed to be in it for 5 years, so why bother having the rest of him show up when you can stay at home and build guitars from IKEA doors and read greek poetry so obscure even Jack Keroauc would roll his eyes.

To me this sudden shift shows the IPO is coming, and initial reports were not as rosy as investors wanted it to be, and Kalin simply had gotten to frustration level with the investors that made him expendable to save their asses.

Will this be enough to save Etsy? Is it enough to make you hold out a little longer?


Kalin is OUT! Chad is IN as CEO!

Composing a post now, but this one is for the PARTAYYYYY!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Etsy Took a Wrong Turn Down the Wrong Road

Etsy in 2011 is a completely different company than it was in 2006. While it still touts “all things handmade” in its logo and mission statement, sellers who have been on Etsy since the first year know that in 2011 it’s not about handmade and for heaven’s sake it isn’t about selling a damn thing.

It’s about a popularity contest to be the next Admin darling amidst gobs of nonsensical, forced “social tools” that have nothing to do with selling and buying handmade online.

What Went Wrong?

All the recent press about Etsy including some precautionary quips about its financial future got me thinking about what went wrong at Etsy.

Despite public acknowledgements that “sellers are not happy with the changes”, don’t go to the restructured Forums for clues about what sellers really think.

Etsy has scoured the Forums to be a mere ghost of Etsy-past with even more aggressive censorship. Any and all posts are subject to immediate lock down and commenters are swiftly punished at a faster clip. In the past, Etsy showed how nervous it was about public criticism and reacted poorly - now they just cut it off at the knees and go on with their own agenda, damn the sellers’ questions and opinions.

Etsy has been known to blatantly ignore any and all sellers’ request for changes and improvements for years, so it’s not new that Etsy continues to take the site in a direction that is divorced from the real seller experience. Arguments that it meets the needs of its most successful sellers is not the real picture either since these sellers (few and far between) are treated to free editorial promotion on the site that all other sellers are not.

The Social Experiment That’s Failing

Before sellers were silenced even more than usual, they did make several issues crystal clear – they don’t understand, need, like, or use the new social tools, including Circles, making personal info public, joining Teams, Suggested Shops, Taste Tests, and Shopping Local. They aren’t happy with the weekly changes in Search that have made Search worse than ever before, if that was even possible ---- Etsy made sure that it was!

Sellers are also clear when they complain that all these social tools just click customers right out of their shops to shop elsewhere or completely off the site, so fed up are they with the convoluted, nonsensical, totally crappy navigation. Search for an item, are you kidding?

Etsy’s facebookization of the site has been one big dismal experiment, and you know why?

Etsy had its own social structure built up over years by sellers who had both a personal and business interest in the site, including an intense interest in the handmade product.

Instead of adapting those strengths, Etsy decided to IMPOSE ANOTHER SOCIAL STRUCTURE on the site that doesn’t fit its users or its users’ goals - which is to sell handmade products with the side benefit of a social structure that developed along with the needs of a growing seller membership.

The ecommerce mission of the site became subservient to the new mission to click, connect, and pick favorites for a popularity contest within the site that hasn’t improved traffic or real sales but has worked to send sellers and shoppers chasing their tails with a lot of forced navigation that never ends up in a shopping cart.

Etsy picked a bunch of tools they saw popularized on other social sites, gave them a zippy title and funny icon and foisted them week after week on sellers without working through one damn consequence which may well turn out to be less traffic and less real sales.

People don’t join Etsy, set up a store on Etsy, and shop on Etsy to run around socializing — they go there to SELL and SHOP.

Forcing the wrong social tools on Etsy has consistently pushed eyeballs away from selling and shopping to doing everything but ecommerce.

We need to only look at the growing pains of social networking sites that are adding ecommerce components to their sites. They were social first, so the ecommerce part makes little sense; it may catch on, it may not. But it is not their core strength.

Etsy was originally an ecommerce site that dumped that whole concept to jump on the social networking bandwagon without realizing what a bad fit it is.

Social and ecommerce is not an easy fit. Instead of building on the strengths of the social-Etsy that already existed before Etsy started throwing out the baby with the bathwater, Etsy dropped ecommerce for social.

No wonder sellers and shoppers are shocked and dismayed and going elsewhere fast.

Etsy got it wrong and gets it wrong with every new trick they force on the site. While outside critics and watchers may predict “slower revenue growth” for Etsy, how about no growth at all? Etsy is strangling the very foundation of their business which is to sell and buy handmade.

I’d take a much more critical look at the statements Etsy makes about its sales profits because it’s not the real story.

I’d take an even closer look at a business that forces new tools on its users without giving them a Scorecard (both internally and externally) about the results of those new tools. The least Etsy can do it to take a quantitative look at each change it makes — and if it doesn’t improve traffic and real sales, Etsy needs to admit it’s on the wrong path and drop the social tricks pronto.

I don’t think sellers who voice their concerns are on the wrong track – they suspect that the new social Etsy has stifled both traffic and real sales because that’s what their store stats tell them. Just because Etsy doesn’t admit its mistakes doesn’t mean they didn’t make them.

When the numbers start running in the negative direction, Etsy may pay attention. I’m with other sellers who have voiced their concerns over the last 3 years on Etsy and off — Etsy may admit its mistakes so late in the game that Etsy is no more.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

New site for the Muted and Booted


Just wanted to give you a heads up about this new blog
It's simply a way to index all those who have been muted. Etsy seems to have been on a muting bender lately and I feel like it's happening to so many we need a freaking directory.

It would be great if you could post it in some way- either on the blog or on your twitter or whatever. Just so folks know to contact us if they want to be listed.

The email address is Folks can just write to that address and let us know what they want us to post on the blog.

In other news, No we're not dead. Summer's are typically busy for us, and there hasnt been too much to bitch aboutor find the time to bitch about. Also, still more than a bit hurting over the loss of Sneaky, who was our backbone.

So being we've been busy and out of the loop - tell us what is new in your fight with etsy. What has got you ticked off? Comments are open, let'em fly!