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Mon Oct 18 2010 00:41:35

Etsy's Anti-Coral Blog Post Provokes Sellers

By: Ina Steiner

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Etsy sellers were upset after the company published a post in its Storque blog advising shoppers not to purchase items containing coral. In a guest post on the Etsy blog titled "Declaring Coral Too Precious to Wear," Temple St. Clair, a jewelry designer whose items are sold by Saks Fifth Avenue and by luxury retailers, advised Etsy shoppers to sign a pledge that they would not buy coral due to St. Clair's concerns over coral conservation.

Sellers posted on the Etsy forums saying they were concerned that the Etsy blog post harmed sellers, including those who work with legally obtained coral beads, and asked if Etsy would return listing fees for coral items. "Why did Etsy call out an entire segment of it's sellers in such a potentially negative way? What could be the impact to the sellers who have no voice to defend their decision to work with legally obtained coral beads?" asked one seller.

Another seller was concerned about the impact of the article on sellers' reputations: "The article is in the Storque and pretty much bashes people for using coral in jewelry. All very professionally said, of course, but still makes coral jewelry sellers seem sort of slimy and illegal."

One Etsy user pointed out that the article asked readers to sign a pledge that they would not buy something that is available on Etsy. Clearly many sellers were blindsided by the blog post since Etsy does not ban sellers from selling coral.

Some users wrote that they felt the post was condescending and were upset that the Storque blog post linked to the designer's own off-Etsy website, where it says her collections are sold by Saks, Barneys and will soon be sold by the Target retail chain.

An Etsy administrator closed a 30-page thread about the issue, writing, "We do realize that this issue has made many of you upset, and we'll bring your concerns up for discussion internally. It's time to bring this thread to a close though, as we must remain respectful of all our members on the Forums. Thank you!"

In another thread that opened up to discuss the issue, a seller wrote, "I think that the main thing for me is that Etsy has a rule against "calling out". Is that only meant for us? It should be meant for them too. If the items follow their own TOS, they shouldn't be called out by anyone."

An AuctionBytes reader who has been selling on Etsy for 2 years wrote, "Thread upon thread is being closed by admin on duty, on the subject, for "calling out." "Calling out" is a huge no-no on Etsy, yet this article does just that."




Comments (84) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Etsy's Anti-Coral Blog Post Provokes Sellers   Etsy's Anti-Coral Blog Post Provokes Sellers

by: Patricia This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 18 02:09:14 2010

Seems like I see signs of "Ebayitis" coming from Etsy...its a power-mad type disease ;-)

Etsy's Anti-Coral Blog Post Provokes Sellers   Etsy's Anti-Coral Blog Post Provokes Sellers

by: Downtown Girl

Mon Oct 18 07:41:57 2010

It looks like etsy dropped the ball on this poorly thought out post (policy?).

At first blush it appears as though they're aware of their mis-step. Perhaps they'll be professional enough to admit the error by withdrawing their comments and apologizing.

Protecting our endangered environment is a very emotional subject for many and I'm thinking that someone just allowed themselves to be ''carried away'' without taking the time to carefully consider a well-planned policy.

Hey, mistakes happen. People make errors all the time. --- But the TRUE TEST of one's worth is whether or not they're willing to ADMIT the mistake and MAKE A CHANGE to CORRECT the mistake.

Etsy's Anti-Coral Blog Post Provokes Sellers   Etsy's Anti-Coral Blog Post Provokes Sellers

by: fat frog

Mon Oct 18 08:11:50 2010

Here comes EBAY.

Etsy's Anti-Coral Blog Post Provokes Sellers   Etsy's Anti-Coral Blog Post Provokes Sellers

by: buck efay

Mon Oct 18 09:54:20 2010

Just another power grab from a fat cat. How are her beads sourced? If Etsy wants to get involved in this then they need to get statements from, every seller, not start something like this which they clearly know nothing about.

Etsy's Anti-Coral Blog Post Provokes Sellers   Etsy's Anti-Coral Blog Post Provokes Sellers

by: Sherry Truitt
Web Site

Mon Oct 18 10:55:32 2010

The blog post by Temple St. Clair was in diametric opposition to etsy policy.

Coral is legally sold on etsy. Much of it is ethically sourced. Etsy allows the sale of many controversial items, including fur, butterfly wings, feathers and leather. Our personal opinion is always superceeded by the TOU of the site.

If you don't like it, don't buy it. You are not allowed to however disparage other artists who use those materials in their work.

Ms. St. Clair not only did that, but encouraged readers to sign a coral banning petition, thereby affecting the livelyhood and reputation of some sellers.

Ms. St. Clair also invited readers to preview her jewelry collection on her own website and provided the url. That is also in direct violation with the TOU of etsy. She does not actually make the jewelry she sells, so she would not be permitted to have a shop.

Should Ms. St. Clair visit your site, I would be interested in the silver, gold and gemstone mines she sources from around the world as well as the labor pool she employes to craft her pieces.

As jewelers we try to ethically source our materials, but unless we are digging them out of the ground ourselves we really don't know where they come from, nor how the workers are treated. Jewelry is NOT a green business.

I am hopeful etsy management will make a statement this morning.

Etsy's Anti-Coral Blog Post Provokes Sellers   Etsy's Anti-Coral Blog Post Provokes Sellers

by: Rick1313

Mon Oct 18 11:01:19 2010

Well, as I have been posting on other AB Blogs/Letters, online sellers must take pro-active measures against selling venues who do not immediately correct the wrong (whether immediately realized or may be down the line) they have committed against their account.

As for censoring discussion board posts, some of the ''rules'' in place are not for the protection/privacy of the user community. There are there for the liability protection of the selling venue.

As an example......

on eBay, you are not allowed to mention listing violations on any items from any seller.

If you do, it will be pulled (id reported or noticed by their policing staff) and a posting strike will be recorded against your account.

They say it is done for privacy issues. The problem with that reasoning is that sellers' listing are in the public domain. You do not even have to be a registered eBay user to see what's available on their site (and thus see all the listing violations).

So what user privacy issues are we talking about?

The answer is...none.

The only one protected is eBay, as they do not apply their policies to all accounts.

eBay cannot have a posting showing that they are allowing a seller to get away with listing violations as this means other sellers can use it to make eBay liable for imposing sanctions/restrictions on their account.

eBay even goes further and says that you cannot even mention posts that are pulled or they will be pulled in turn. Again, this is aimed at protecting their liability.

It will be interesting to see if Etsy will come out with an official statement on the matter, or continuously do what eBay does, try and hide their liability in the matter.

Affected Etsy sellers should press for an immediate response/action from the selling venue as pertaining to the potential harm of the article.

Let's not forget, if I read one of the posts above correctly, that the author (also a commercial seller) also used the article to advertise their business.

Etsy's Anti-Coral Blog Post Provokes Sellers   Etsy's Anti-Coral Blog Post Provokes Sellers

by: craftycathy

Mon Oct 18 11:39:17 2010

One very ironic pointy stab in the back is that Ms.
Claire, herself, is not a jewelry maker.  She is a designer and outsources the labor to make her pieces.  No one knows whether or not her jewelry is made in sweat shops, under what conditions.

However, on etsy, all jewelry is made by hand, by the seller.

Ms. St. Claire uses gold and diamonds in her work.  Are these conflict free diamonds?

And why is she dropping her offsite link in her etsy profile, which she joined just to post her article?  Etsy sellers are not allowed to post their off site links.

The majority of us are aware and concerned about the extinction of a certain species. Much of the coral found on etsy has been obtained legally and is not the same species of the endangered coral.

But her article proposes to boycott ALL coral on etsy.  So even if we are doing the right thing, we still get screwed.

Etsy's Anti-Coral Blog Post Provokes Sellers   Etsy's Anti-Coral Blog Post Provokes Sellers

by: GKBM This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 18 11:40:20 2010

The LEAST that Etsy should do is to remove the blog. It has remained all weekend as they have continued to shut down threads that discuss it! It is so sad that the "rules"" only apply to the sellers aka the people they make money off of!

Etsy's Anti-Coral Blog Post Provokes Sellers   Etsy's Anti-Coral Blog Post Provokes Sellers

by: Et tu, Brute!

Mon Oct 18 11:41:22 2010

The forums at Etsy are now calling this ''Storquegate'' and ''Coralgate''!

Gotta love the creative collective over there!

Thank you so much, Ina, for this article!  This is in the nature of Etsy having a major ''stupid attack''!

The above informed comment left by Sherry Truitt  has outlined the basic reasons clearly and concisely as to why!

I am actually wondering who signed off on this particular Storque article?!  It has long been bemoaned that Etsy needs some ''real'' editors that have been to, you know, journalism school with the actual degrees backing their knowledge and training of same.

That, too, is food for thought.

Etsy's Anti-Coral Blog Post Provokes Sellers   Etsy's Anti-Coral Blog Post Provokes Sellers

by: Noneya

Mon Oct 18 12:35:12 2010

Ms St Clair halfassedly explaining why protecting coral matters so much to her was somewhat ham fisted. The article went on to announce that she will be using resin and plastic replicas of red coral in her Spring 2011 line of jewelry.

She failed to point out that red coral is LEGALLY available and used by many quality bench jewelers but is very expensive to acquire and requires a hands on approach to work with. A mass manufacturer could not afford to buy the quantities of red coal needed to supply department stores, nor to mass produce jewelry with natural coral as each piece is uniquely shaped.
What better way to generate demand for cheap and easy to use replicas than to create a grassroots movement against an item you your company cannot afford ably use?

Etsy is made up of small independent bench jewelers who DO use coral, designers who do use legally sourced coral, and crafters who use legally sourced coral. Ms St Clair is a member of Etsy in name only, her shop links directly to another website selling her products - an option not allowed to actual Etsy sellers, she does not produce her own items, and is in no way, shape or form within the TOUs to be considered an Etsy seller anyways.

Is Etsy now selling custom created 'grassroots trends' to larger companies?

Etsy's Anti-Coral Blog Post Provokes Sellers   Etsy's Anti-Coral Blog Post Provokes Sellers

by: Melody
Web Site

Mon Oct 18 13:08:50 2010

I don't sell jewelry and at first I didn't understand what all the fuss was about. Except the outside seller being featured - that was an obvious misstep from the get-go.

Thanks for your article making it clear - I was unable to find out on the etsy forums because all the threads were closed before I ever even saw the article!

Etsy's Anti-Coral Blog Post Provokes Sellers   Etsy's Anti-Coral Blog Post Provokes Sellers

by: Memories for Life Scrapbooks
Web Site

Mon Oct 18 13:14:40 2010

Great article! I sure hope this situation gets taken care of and in the future Etsy thinks their guest posts through more carefully! This could have serious negative effects for so many sellers!

Etsy's Anti-Coral Blog Post Provokes Sellers   Etsy's Anti-Coral Blog Post Provokes Sellers

by: Pam

Mon Oct 18 13:40:24 2010

Thank you for posting this, Ina! I am in the outraged category. I have promoted Etsy and paid my fees for my jewelry store. I don't know what's worse, the fact that the article appeared in the first place, or how it's being handled now. They simply cannot compensate me for the damage that's been done. I just hope they know that.

Etsy's Anti-Coral Blog Post Provokes Sellers   Etsy's Anti-Coral Blog Post Provokes Sellers

by: ricky

Mon Oct 18 13:52:13 2010

This sounds like an obvious lawsuit-in-the making unless Etsy immediately goes into immediate serious refund mode regarding those who sell coral jewelry onsite. I'm glad I never got involved with Etsy.....seems they are criminal and slimy and big business loving/small business hating just like Greedbay.

Etsy's Anti-Coral Blog Post Provokes Sellers   Etsy's Anti-Coral Blog Post Provokes Sellers

by: James

Mon Oct 18 14:04:00 2010

I'm glad I never got involved with Etsy - owners seemed kind of scammy/untrustworthy to me from day 1. Too bad the Etsy sellers of handmade stuff don't meet the disgruntled current and former Ebay sellers of everything at one convenient centralized site that says "yes" to small businesses getting stuff sold and no to big business fascism.

Etsy's Anti-Coral Blog Post Provokes Sellers   Etsy's Anti-Coral Blog Post Provokes Sellers

by: Horton

Mon Oct 18 14:09:40 2010

Makes as much sense as Donatella Versace giving a lecture to the workers at American Apparel.

Etsy's Anti-Coral Blog Post Provokes Sellers   Etsy's Anti-Coral Blog Post Provokes Sellers

by: AeridesDesign
Web Site

Mon Oct 18 14:37:30 2010

Even if Etsy wanted to make a point about Coral, why not feature one of the jewelry designers on site? Posting links to an offsite shop, and offsite ''petition'' against ONsite items...the decision to post this article was, at best, thoughtless, or at worst, a sign of the new direction for Etsy.

Etsy's Anti-Coral Blog Post Provokes Sellers   Etsy's Anti-Coral Blog Post Provokes Sellers

by: Coraline

Mon Oct 18 16:02:03 2010

First Etsy published a petition to boycott all coral jewelry, which they allow to be sold on the site.

Many coral-themed treasuries were created on Etsy yesterday to protest this article. Etsy has now blocked any of them from being searchable. The word "coral" is now blacklisted in treasuries, even if it just refers to the color of a fabric item.
(a treasury is a user-curated collection to feature other artists work)

Meanwhile, Etsy continues to accept listing fees from coral items that are listed, and continues to collect 3.5% of every coral item sold on Etsy.

Etsy's Anti-Coral Blog Post Provokes Sellers   Etsy's Anti-Coral Blog Post Provokes Sellers

by: Et tu, Brute!

Mon Oct 18 16:30:21 2010

The firestorm continues at Etsy as threads are closed, new ones are opened, sellers become increasingly enraged, treasury searches specific to this topic subsequent to the article issue are manipulated, and new information surfaces...

Etsy's Anti-Coral Blog Post Provokes Sellers   Etsy's Anti-Coral Blog Post Provokes Sellers

by: maia

Mon Oct 18 16:40:45 2010

It appears etsy asked Temple St. Clair to write for their blog. They are so interested in back links from famous people they are willing to completely sell out the artists on the site.

Rob Kalin has time and time again disrespected those that sell on etsy. This is no different.

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