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Sun May 28 2017 15:07:57

Etsy Market Pages Plagued by Risque Tags

By: Ina Steiner

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Etsy sellers are furious to learn that risque tags, some characterized as vulgar and even pornographic, are populating "market" pages. Those are the pages that Etsy shows to visitors coming to Google, for example, as discussed on this thread from a few years ago. (You know you're on an Etsy market page when you see the word "market" in the URL, such as etsy.com/market/abalone_jewelry.)

Sellers are familiar with tags - they use them in their listings to help get exposure. But sellers have no control over what tags appear on Etsy market pages.

On this thread, a seller said they thought it was caused by a security breach because there were so many irrelevant tags appearing on the pages, but an Etsy Product Manager said the tags were deliberate, part of an experiment by Etsy. "That being said, we're actively working to refine the tags that appear. For context, this has been live for 2 months and the impact has been positive so far, despite how random some of the tags can be."

The original poster had pointed out that the market page for "mid_century_frames" included the following tags: 

- sporty sl*t
- fake tattoos
- wooden swing
- coffee thermos
- rustic wedding

On this page, a seller pointed out, "OK the "scissors" page includes the tag "anal toys"..... I'm speechless."

In a related discussion, Etsy also admitted it had added tags to sellers' actual listings (in addition to market pages) as part of a Father's Day promotion. A seller explained that there was an irrelevant tag in her listing for jewelry she was unable to edit out, writing, "This listing has a "dad related" tag I cannot remove - "father son sweaters" - When I put the listing in edit mode, to delete it, the tag is not there. When I do a shop search for father son sweaters, it says there are no results. Can you remove it?"

An Etsy moderator said it looked like a "slight miscalculation during the implementation of a Father's Day promotion," and followed up with this explanation he said came from Etsy's marketing team:

"This was part of a larger promotional effort around Father's Day, Etsy is putting Father's Day mentions throughout the site. We have heard your concerns and are making changes to this marketing experiment."

Etsy sellers have been emailing us today, distraught over the incidents.

Update 5/29/17: A reader pointed us to this thread on Etsy where a seller quotes from a book published last year in which former Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson allegedly states that every developer and product manager can "change the site at any time," and allegedly told the author, Dr. Amantha Imber, "The really exciting thing is that there's no central authority that manages the releases." The poster expressed concern about how that approach might lead to bugs that affect buyers and sellers.

Update number two, 5/29/17: Etsy acknowledged the problem and ended the test this morning - but it plans to try this experiment again. An excerpt from one of the two posts: "The intention was to promote popular terms on Etsy generally, not offensive terms. We are continuing work on this experiment to ensure offensive terms are not included in any future iterations." 

There's no explanation of what went wrong and why it took Etsy 4 days from the time the problem was reported here to take action (and as a reader pointed out, the company offered no apology to its users in today's posts).

It's concerning that this effort at SEO was either compromised or unmonitored. And just as concerning in our view is that Etsy added tags to sellers' individual listings with no way for sellers to edit or delete them.

Update 5/31/17: Etsy apologized but provided no explanation.

The acknowledgement does not seem to have satisfied these sellers.




Comments (41) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Etsy Market Pages Plagued by Risque Tags   Etsy Market Pages Plagued by Risque Tags

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Sun May 28 16:25:04 2017

Each day brings us a new level of marketplace management stupidity which explains why both Etsy and ebafia are in the shape they're in.

Stop experimenting with your customers' livelihoods!

NOW!

Etsy Market Pages Plagued by Risque Tags   Etsy Market Pages Plagued by Risque Tags

by: pennyemporium This user has validated their user name.

Sun May 28 16:30:04 2017

Etsy has lost it's mind.  

i am beyond angry.  my social media nickname is linked on the marketplace page with TWO distinctly porn terms.... ''grool'' and ''mlp rule 34''.  both of which i had to look up.... sorry, i'm old, shrugs

it's one thing when it's humorous to find a random tag on your etsy listing, but then the tags are pornographic and linked to your own personal self.... i simply don't have words.

but i'm guessing my lawyer will.....

Etsy Market Pages Plagued by Risque Tags   Etsy Market Pages Plagued by Risque Tags

by: CharlotteS This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Sun May 28 16:31:51 2017

I had 2 shops on etsy that both took a turn last fall, the newest one was a handmade clothing shop and it never recovered. The oldest one a working shop since 2014 although opened in 2009, began a dive in March and continued downward, so I pulled myself off of etsy before things got worse. Before the deadline for Etsy payments and just after they opened studio and lord knows what else.
I am having the hardest time getting etsy grey/black hat ''SEO'' off of my products, which now all lead to market place pages on etsy, in every language, and in every iteration, every item I ever had listed on etsy is now a marketplace page full of other seller's items some relevant and some not, even though they do not exist, and my store does not exist.
They are using my shop name as a keyword to be found in google serps, and it leads to a market page, again my shop doesn't exist. My shop name also leads to a google shopping page with pages of other sellers who sell similar products, but the listings on the shopping results also lead to market place pages.
 
This newest/newly discovered faux pas is even worse. I have stopped asking ''what next'' with etsy because they seem to take it as a challenge  

Etsy Market Pages Plagued by Risque Tags   Etsy Market Pages Plagued by Risque Tags

by: Featherswholesale This user has validated their user name.

Sun May 28 16:48:02 2017

Apparently Etsy thinks I'm also a sporty s*** I'm not impressed.  Sadly this is been going on for at least two weeks. I'm sorry but I don't buy Etsy's answer saying that this was a market experiment for  father's Day. Why would they use tags like sporty slut for Father's Day? I see that other people are getting emails to change their password and security breaches. Nobody's talking about this. Everything is very quiet you've got your largest sellers tanking by 90% and they want us to just sign up with the Etsy payments like nothings wrong.

Fed up. No traffic
No support
No views
No sales!

Something is very wrong with Etsy and I'm not sure what it is but I can definitely feel it with my income cut  in half.
 

Etsy Market Pages Plagued by Risque Tags   Etsy Market Pages Plagued by Risque Tags

by: Flying Childers This user has validated their user name.

Sun May 28 21:41:29 2017

This is no coincidence.  I believe that this can only be a poison pill that was left behind by some of the disgruntled employees who got fired.
#################################

Here is another post that documents what is going on right now:

"However, what I find quite disturbing is to see in public Google searches for Etsy listings - tags like these that were inserted by Etsy:

sporty slut
penis joke
miscarriage quotes
calm your t**s
big butts
anal toy
best fu**ing sister
ass worship

My searches were for items for home decor items, newborn baby gifts, vintage collectible items, handmade jewelry, vintage clothing, handmade clothing & hair accessories - the same type of things that I've purchased over 2,000 times on Etsy in the last nine years.

##################################

This was no accident.  It was deliberate.  Someone is trying to get vengeance at the expense of the sellers.

How is this stuff even legal?

Etsy Market Pages Plagued by Risque Tags   Etsy Market Pages Plagued by Risque Tags

This user has validated their user name. by: Life During Wartime

Sun May 28 22:42:38 2017

This doesn't surprise me.  Etsy's Marketing Team has been using inappropriate images and keywords for years.  Not just ''risqué'' images.  My signed in personalized homepage, or suggested items pages, used to be sprinkled with images of violence, and items with sexist or ethnically demeaning graphics, on a daily basis.  And this was no accident.  I communicated my shock and displeasure to Etsy Support, and my pages cleaned up...for a while.  Then the process would repeat itself.  

I'm no prude, and I support an open marketplace where artists can feel free to list work that pushes boundaries.  But the percentage of edgy items listed on Etsy has always been rather small.  Too small to account for having items involving sexism, racism, violence and sleaze suggested to me on a daily basis.  

This new development is just one example of sellers' fees being squandered on useless, childish, pranks pretending to be marketing strategies.  Ugh.

Etsy Market Pages Plagued by Risque Tags   Etsy Market Pages Plagued by Risque Tags

by: CharlotteS This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Mon May 29 05:47:32 2017

I have little hope anything will change with new management. The new CEO sounds just like the old CEO. In his recent Q&A in etsy forums he did not win any fans, in fact he alienated many who had their hopes up for a new start.
He offered no hope, just platitudes and excuses for bad behavior/management of the site.

From one of the many threads on the subject, an excerpt from an interview with Chad Dickerson on the subject of etsy's tech team circus fun house.
sciencemeetsbusiness.com.au/tag/chad-dickerson/

''At Etsy it’s a completely different story. When I met up with Chad Dickerson, Etsy’s CEO and chairman, in their Brooklyn offices in New York, he told me that anyone in the team can make a change to the Etsy website whenever they see a need. (Etsy.com had over 40 million unique views per month when we spoke; at the time of writing it has around 60 million.)

‘We do something on the engineering team called continuous deployment’, explains Dickerson. ‘That’s a fancy way of saying that we’ve given every software developer, every product manager the ability to change the site at any time. Back in 2009 when we started this approach, not many companies were doing this. Typically, websites do a release every two weeks. We release or do code deploys about 35 times a day [this has since increased to up to 50 times per day]. The really exciting thing is that there’s no central authority that manages the releases.’

In practice, the developers at Etsy manage the releases with each other. ‘If I’m a developer and I’m making a change to the site, I get into what’s called a push queue. I tell everyone else that I’m about to push code and it’s almost like the whole neighbourhood is watching you’, says Dickerson.

Every single person at Etsy has the ability to do this without explicit approval. It’s very, very decentralised and very, very fast. And if you ever go for a tour around Etsy’s head office in Brooklyn, you will see monitors with all kinds of charts and graphs showing how many code deploys they have done in a day.

Through continuous deployment, the team at Etsy is always experimenting and gathering data. ‘We are able to push things out and test, push things out, test, push things out, test, on a really rapid basis’, says Dickerson. ‘We’re able to learn about products and make changes for the better pretty much constantly. If you have a two-week release cycle, you can only learn new things every two weeks. In our case, you learn something new every 20 minutes, which is really exciting.’''

Etsy Market Pages Plagued by Risque Tags   Etsy Market Pages Plagued by Risque Tags

by: Gatsby Girl This user has validated their user name.

Mon May 29 06:45:15 2017

This latest fiasco has angered a lot of people.  It is totally inappropriate, juvenile and puerile.  Is this the way to run a ''professional'' business?  I can't believe they've sunk so low.

Etsy Market Pages Plagued by Risque Tags   Etsy Market Pages Plagued by Risque Tags

by: Flying Childers This user has validated their user name.

Mon May 29 07:44:42 2017

If you can change code every 20 minutes, I guess you can manage to really f*** up the site!

Etsy Market Pages Plagued by Risque Tags   Etsy Market Pages Plagued by Risque Tags

by: MRV This user has validated their user name.

Mon May 29 13:16:27 2017

In a short span of time, Etsy managed to violate not only its only house rules against sexism, racism and IP infringement, but also several FCC rules put in place to protect our businesses, minorities, and minors.

They became a party to the dissemination of child porn and endangerment via their insertion of pornographic tags beneath images of underage children.

I'm certain that the New York State Attorney General's office would be interested in investigating their actions.

Etsy Market Pages Plagued by Risque Tags   Etsy Market Pages Plagued by Risque Tags

by: Writings on the Wall This user has validated their user name.

Mon May 29 13:26:32 2017

The majority of Etsy sellers are women. Most likely the majority of buyers are too. The inserted tags are misogynistic and offensive, such as "sporty slut,"  "f**k Hillary Clinton." Where is the "change.org" petition against this?--I want to sign and share.  Thanks to Ecommercebytes for publicizing. Otherwise, these problems would never come to light anyplace but the Etsy forums, which is "preaching to the choir" (the sellers) and "falling in deaf ears (Etsy admin and the board of directors.)  

Etsy Market Pages Plagued by Risque Tags   Etsy Market Pages Plagued by Risque Tags

by: MRV This user has validated their user name.

Mon May 29 13:35:14 2017

The top brass is not only indifferent but complicit to the sexual harassment, child endangerment, and racial discrimination and hate speech that was promoted via their ''experiment'' and illegal insertion of lewd and obscene content onto our pages.

Send your complaints to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) and local congressperson.  

Etsy Market Pages Plagued by Risque Tags   Etsy Market Pages Plagued by Risque Tags

This user has validated their user name. by: Ina

Mon May 29 13:41:24 2017

Etsy acknowledged the problem in 2 posts this morning - see the update to this blog post (above).

Etsy Market Pages Plagued by Risque Tags   Etsy Market Pages Plagued by Risque Tags

by: Writings on the Wall This user has validated their user name.

Mon May 29 15:03:34 2017

They should be embarrassed....Problem is, they won't be.

Etsy Market Pages Plagued by Risque Tags   Etsy Market Pages Plagued by Risque Tags

by: Russ This user has validated their user name.

Mon May 29 16:31:34 2017

As for four days to address the ''problem,'' it was the beginning of a long, holiday weekend...after, of course, bring your dog to work day, catered luncheon and nap time.

Seriously, talk about cliche...the Etsy entity fits the bill.

Hopefully, the offensive material practice may somehow end up biting them in the ... end.

Etsy, like eBay, is becoming swiftly irrelevant.  Sad but the corporate world and all the omnipotent MBA's know best...LOL!

Etsy Market Pages Plagued by Risque Tags   Etsy Market Pages Plagued by Risque Tags

by: Flying Childers This user has validated their user name.

Mon May 29 17:01:14 2017

The most appalling thing is the absolute arrogance of these dweeby technocrats who seem to forget that Etsy itself does not own any of the products on its site.

Etsy has no inventory of its own and depends entirely on the sellers whom they constantly abuse, day in and day out.

Today's little adventure perfectly illustrates the contempt that they must have for the lowly sellers who pay the bills for their 40% salary boost, their yoga room and other snowflake perks.

I would like to remind these twerps that pride goeth before a fall and Karma can be a bitch.  Not to mention- what goes around comes around.

Someday sooner than later, I imagine, the guys and gals of Etsy who have been making our lives a living hell, are going to find out what it's like in the real world when they go back to live in their parents' basements.  

Etsy Market Pages Plagued by Risque Tags   Etsy Market Pages Plagued by Risque Tags

by: barky2 This user has validated their user name.

Mon May 29 19:12:29 2017

The potential damage this can do to so many people is mind-boggling.

Even if it all happened innocently (yeah, sure), there is written evidence on the Etsy forums that Etsy was first notified (and acknowledged the situation) on Thursday morning 5/25. The situation wasn't really addressed or rectified (assuming it really is) until today - Monday 5/29.

That's a minimum of 4 days of looking the other way!

I am SO very, very glad that I don't sell infant or children's items. The reputation damage done there might well be irreparable.

Etsy Market Pages Plagued by Risque Tags   Etsy Market Pages Plagued by Risque Tags

by: Transferware Odds and Ends This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Mon May 29 21:36:09 2017

ETSY HAS COMPLETELY GONE OVER THE EDGE......THEY ARE A JOKE TO THE PUBLIC, I HAVE HEARD SO MANY PEOPLE SAY THEY ONT SHOP AT ETSY ANYMORE BECAUSE ITS NOT FUN ANYMORE.They have screwed around enough with the shops, this TESTIMG has got ot stop, its not helping anyone, they are driving this business into hole, I am begining to think thats there plan, seriously, any other "high Standard" venue would not take the approach Etsy is taking...So sad, been selling for over 5 years and my shop continues to drop in sales and followers, I have no idea what there plan is, but it SUCKS!!!! and they NEED TO STOP IT NOW and get back to BASICS!!!!!  

Etsy Market Pages Plagued by Risque Tags   Etsy Market Pages Plagued by Risque Tags

by: Watching the Wheels This user has validated their user name.

Tue May 30 08:50:09 2017

The ONLY reason why this latest FAUX PAS was removed is because YET AGAIN ETSY'S PIG BEHAVIORS were being reported to CREDIBLE sites.

Wilson has been on board since the early days, and is now THE ELDER STATESMAN of sorts.

Has anyone thought to hold him accountable/ Ya' know, a return to Truman's policy of THE BUCK STOPS HERE.

HOW LONG IS EVERYONE GOING TO KEPP ALLOWING ETSY TO TROT OUT YET ANOTHER EXCUSE FOR ILL BRED INCOMPETANCE AND LACK OF ANY SEMBLANCE OF ETHICAL COMPREHENSION?

These stunts have been occurring ever since I LEARNED ABOU THE SITE.

I still don't understand how Wilson got chosen as CEO. Why wasn't he keeping things in check since day one? WHAT? He has FINALLY BECOME A CREDIBLE STEWARD FOR THESE FOOLS?  

Etsy Market Pages Plagued by Risque Tags   Etsy Market Pages Plagued by Risque Tags

by: bookish This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Tue May 30 10:09:06 2017

I thought this wasn't real.  Guess I was wrong.  It sounds like disgruntled workers to me.

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