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Sellers Protest Etsy’s Move Away from Curation

Etsy sellers says crowdsourcing is what makes the site special and have launched a petition protesting the decision to reduce curation in favor of algorithms on the homepage. 700 sellers “signed” the online petition on Change.org, where Etsy has also published a response.

Etsy announced the changes to the homepage on September 10th, explaining it would begin personalizing the homepage to each visitor. Citing tests it had conducted, Etsy said the response to the personalized homepage had been excellent – “more buyers browsing the marketplace and more shoppers favoriting items and shops.”

Previously Etsy would feature on its homepage “treasuries,” which are collections of items that users put together. The selected treasuries would appear the same for all visitors.

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Etsy’s September 10th announcement explained that when treasuries were the anchor of the Etsy homepage, a few hundred sellers’ items were featured each day, compared to the new homepage that now enables thousands of sellers’ work to be highlighted to new and existing customers.

“Each Etsy user will see their own customized version of the Etsy homepage. We’ll be using favorites and purchases to populate each homepage with relevant content, as well as sharing trending items and seasonal favorites.”

The petition against the new homepage argues that crowdsourcing set Etsy.com apart in the competitive online retail field and created a dynamic landing for new users and members alike. “The use of member-curated collections (aka “treasuries”) on the home page to highlight all the wonderful handmade work, vintage items, and craft supplies that could be found in the shops of Etsy.com was inherently thoughtful, hands-on, and purposeful.”

Crowdsourcing created an enormous network of teams, curators, and favorites, “quickly became the beating heart at the center of Etsy.com.”

In its response to the petition, Etsy said its primary goal was to make the homepage more democratic. “The new homepage will allow buyers to have very personalized shopping experiences, and to see more of the wonderful shops and items that they already love. We’ve seen very positive results so far with the personalized homepage.”

You can see the full petition and Etsy’s response on the petition on Change.org.

Update 9/26/14: An Etsy spokesperson responded to our inquiry by referring us to this discussion thread and to its response on Change.org. “Treasuries that have been created or favorited by members will appear for those members and their followers on the new personalized home pages,” she said.

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Ina Steiner

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. Send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.


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