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Mon Apr 8 2013 14:45:04

Will Etsy Forums Redesign Increase Participation?

By: Julia Wilkinson

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I was glad to read the news that Etsy is working on redoing its Discussion Forums, currently slated to roll out at the end of April. And I I like that there is a "Prototype" Etsy users can join to discuss and give input to what features the new forums should have (or not). One of the stated reason Etsy gave for the rejiggering is its relatively low forum usage: less than 1% of its members use the Etsy Forums, and only 5% of people who view them post on the forums. Those seem to me very low stats.

This redesign may in fact be something of a "correction" from a previous time Etsy made changes to the forums, in Jan. 2011. One reader wrote to EcommerceBytes about the latest changes:  "Do you happen to know how this compares to forum usage prior to Etsy turning most of the forums into teams and making us go to a dozen different places to chat about what we used to be able to skim and read and post and chat about all in a single location? I'm thinking forum usage has gone down dramatically since the redesign. Also, as Etsy grows, I'm sure the forum usage % is less and less as well, and no doubt Etsy will eventually use these incredibly low numbers to delete what's left of the forums so sellers (and buyers perhaps) won't be able to easily communicate with admins at all!"

Well, let's hope that does not happen! I joined the prototype team, and from what I can tell, all the feedback and suggestions are being read and taken into consideration. I'm not sure why Etsy's forum participation would be so low, but I think making one of the new main categories the very general "Discussions" is an improvement over the former more specific "Ideas" and "Business Topics."

From my experience with message boards (I used to work with them back in the day at AOL), letting them grow organically from a community is a good tack to take. The users will likely set the tone of what they want to talk about most.

And although terms must be set to prevent abusive language and clearly inappropriate postings, my sense is being as lighthanded as possible with censorship is good. People are criticizing? Let them criticize. Maybe something constructive will come of it. (Again, if it devolves into hate speech, invective, or spam, someone needs to step in).

But with a community of such creative and inventive people who sell (and buy) on Etsy, it seems its forums ought to reflect some of that free-wheeling nature as well.

Those are my two cents. How do you feel about the forum changes at Etsy? In general, what are the features of online discussion boards that incentivize you to post? Post a comment here!




Comments (12) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Will Etsy Forums Redesign Increase Participation?   Will Etsy Forums Redesign Increase Participation?

This user has validated their user name. by: Nolle

Mon Apr 8 19:09:32 2013

Actual useful information relevant to my business. Period.

Rants, arguments, ''site suggestions'', tattle-tailing, complaining, whining, personal attacks, and spam are the reasons I stop participating in a message board.

you also need lots of knowledgeable people willing to contribute.  you don't want to be the guy who answers all the questions all the time.  even a know-it-all wants to learn something new.

and it can't be all cheerleaders or all naysayers.  both of these types of message hogs become redundant and very boring in short order.  these types aren't there to help or discuss at all - they are there to make themselves feel better.

i think the best thing a forum moderator can do is keep threads topical.  ppl that regularly hijack threads for their own spew is what kills boards if not keep under control.

Will Etsy Forums Redesign Increase Participation?   Will Etsy Forums Redesign Increase Participation?

by: marcello This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 9 05:21:57 2013

Etsy forums are not a friendly place. Constant tattle tailing, the handmade vs vintage war, sellers policing and reporting other sellers, it's just plain mean spirited in the forums. Most people are tired of all this petty bs and stay away.

Will Etsy Forums Redesign Increase Participation?   Will Etsy Forums Redesign Increase Participation?

by: truehandmade This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 9 07:28:51 2013

Perhaps Etsy has so many employees that they have to find work for them including a forum revamp after Etsy has completely ignored them and sellers' opinions for 7+ yrs.  Etsy doesn't care about their ''seller community'' because they use a very heavy hand to select and promote only a tiny fraction of personal faves yr after yr; it has been that way since day 1.  Sellers don't use the forums because of a long a vivid history of censorship, entrenched bad attitudes expressed by Etsy employees towards most sellers, and the long-entrenched belief by sellers that Etsy uses forum criticism to bash and punish sellers who speak out.  Mutings and bans from the forums has a long ugly history and often precedes more seller punishment.  What other site does this and uses ''public'' boards to punish their members.  Oh yes, forums should grow organically which is just what Etsy STOPPED from happening the minute sellers started asking the hard questions.  Etsy isn't about the sellers or a ''community'' and never has been.  Etsy should be spending employee time on mktg and advertising not on ''forcing'' a forum that they truly never liked.  That's why none of the social tools work on Etsy - they don't like their sellers and seller know this from years of negative interaction in all shapes and forms.  Etsy's attitude towards sellers stink.  The only reason Etsy survives is because its sellers do ALL their own marketing and advertising with no help from Etsy.  Etsy has a 7+ yr old identity crisis and are so self-enamored that they can't see the forest from the trees.  

Will Etsy Forums Redesign Increase Participation?   Will Etsy Forums Redesign Increase Participation?

by: WhoKnewIt This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 9 08:25:55 2013

I would love to see them bring back the Promotions thread.  As a Team member that use to have 1 event a month to raise money for different charities when they took that away and shoved us all in a closet our ability to raise those funds ended.  Now in "Teams" we're pretty much preaching to the choir.  Our Team raised thousands of dollars for charities from women's shelters to animal shelters and everything in between.  It ended that, it ended us being able to use our stores for a good purpose....and ultimately ENDED OUR TEAM.  Etsy has never listened to it's Sellers, it's much to busy trying to "bling and bedazzle" itself up.  I don't bother with the community forum any longer....it's useless.

Will Etsy Forums Redesign Increase Participation?   Will Etsy Forums Redesign Increase Participation?

This user has validated their user name. by: permacrisis

Tue Apr 9 09:53:46 2013

They should use code name: 'Pajama'.

Will Etsy Forums Redesign Increase Participation?   Will Etsy Forums Redesign Increase Participation?

by: Dustyrose This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 9 10:26:19 2013

Esty forums seem to contradict everything that Etsy is suppose to be about.

Handmade = artistic = freedom of expression

Yet when it comes to the forums Etsy seems to be very liberal in censoring its contributors. It's a very unfriendly place where I have seen many threads closed because the OP asked a simple question on the critiqueing of there shop or needing help with a technique, etc..

Sure you need rules, but if a forum is to succeed, you must allow the contributors freedom to speak, to get get to know one another, to go off topic in general discussion, to build relationships.

It's suppose to be a gathering of like minded people. And when you place such extreme limits on what can be said, the people will go elsewhere.  

Will Etsy Forums Redesign Increase Participation?   Will Etsy Forums Redesign Increase Participation?

by: vman This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 9 10:44:14 2013

Etsy is a piece of garbage.  I listed on Etsy last year and got 4 sales in as many months.  All the items were vintage.  The last thing I sold was to an extreme nut who gave me the only feedback I got which was negative.  I tried to reason with them and offered them a full refund but they insisted that I confess to being a crook and nothing else.  I emailed Etsy and they told me about some inane ''kiss and make up'' option.  Basically I cave in to the buyers threats and they remove the feedback.  I informed them that that is nothing more than feedback extortion.  Of course they did not respond.  Another thing that happened is that my daughter was selling on Etsy and doing very well.  Suddenly Etsy took down her site without so much as an email.  They said she was selling items that were not ''vintage''.  She finally got a response from them and they removed the so called offending items and said everything else was fine and reinstated here account.  Just last night they took her site down again stating the same offense as before.  The problem is is that she had not added any new items but just had the items that Etsy said were OK.  They are complete idiots.  I don't see what the difference between someone that has a cottage industry manufacturing I Phone covers and something made by a factory 5 years ago is.  There are thousands of items on Etsy that are mass produced crap but because someone makes it in their home it suddenly becomes a craft?  What a load of BS.

Will Etsy Forums Redesign Increase Participation?   Will Etsy Forums Redesign Increase Participation?

This user has validated their user name. by: Sandymenu

Tue Apr 9 12:03:55 2013

They need a buyer BLOCK List which they refuse to do and continue to say that the ''kiss and make up'' feature works best.

I have never posted a comment in their forum.

Etsy has Customer Service reps that will ask you dumb questions just to see what your reply will be and also the timing it took to reply back. And they have: no feedback, have been on their site for more than a year and will ask really dumb stuff. I got one recently concerning my dinner pieces. I had 10 available and inquiry asked if I had 180 to sell. My reply? Darn, I just had 170 but they're all now gone with only 10 available.

HEY JULIA, with your two cents + my 3 cents = a wooden nickle comment!

Will Etsy Forums Redesign Increase Participation?   Will Etsy Forums Redesign Increase Participation?

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

Tue Apr 9 12:20:30 2013

I've been selling full time on Etsy for just over a year now. They have been very helpful in providing a venue that has allowed me to have my own business with minimal start up expense. They have supported me in making improvements like Direct Checkout, providing a Sellers Handbook, in discussion forums and with Lab features. I'm sorry that the responses about Etsy have been so negative on this forum. I have joined a few of the Teams and have found them to be welcoming and extremely helpful. I believe in staying as positive as possible and the more you put into something, the more you will get in return. I am surprised at the low estimates of peoples participation in the Forums, for me they have been an invaluable source of support and information. There is two things that would make my participation experience easier; spell-check and a like button. And that's just my 2 cents worth! Bless your hearts, I hope all of you have a beautiful day!        

Will Etsy Forums Redesign Increase Participation?   Will Etsy Forums Redesign Increase Participation?

by: rebecca7 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 9 19:49:59 2013

These comments terrify me. I'm ending my 14 years with eBay and had planned to shift to Etsy ... but will I just be trading one awful atmosphere for another?

I'm older and don't want to work 80 hours a week to create a massive, complicated, multi-pronged mega-business at this time in my life. I don't want to juggle and sell items on several sites. I don't need to get rich.

I just want a simple one-outlet business selling and buying things I love. Maybe 30-40 hours a week.

But I also need to feel SAFE from being secretly used or cheated by the hosting site, and to know I can get essential and accurate advice if any system problem arises.

I don't want the stress I've gone through with eBay. I don't want all the work of setting up shop at Etsy only to find that they're as cold, unreachable and heartless as eBay is. Will every interaction with management and other sellers be unhappy and sour, as it is at eBay?

And will Etsy suddenly abandon their vintage and handmade focus, and decide they prefer to host big name, high profit stores like Target, as eBay has?

What horrible thoughts!

I'm really anxious about this.

Will Etsy Forums Redesign Increase Participation?   Will Etsy Forums Redesign Increase Participation?

by: Sierra This user has validated their user name.

Tue Apr 9 20:16:07 2013

I've had an Etsy shop for 6.5 years. Considering I sold less than $50 each year for the first two years, and less than $200 per year for the next couple of years, I'm surprised that I'm still there!

But I'm glad that I am. Last year I sold more than $1000 on Etsy for the first time, and already this year I have sold almost 50% more than that!

I still do better at a good one or two day craft fair than I do in a year on Etsy, but I'm so glad that things are looking up!

Will Etsy Forums Redesign Increase Participation?   Will Etsy Forums Redesign Increase Participation?

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

Wed Apr 10 06:59:09 2013

No.

The forum redesign will function to cut back use even further. I'm sure that this aspect is one of the key reasons for the redesign. The site preaches transparency and does everything in their power to curtail real communication.

Once upon a time, you could go to their ABOUT US pages, click on an employees picture and get brought to ''their'' membership page, and in turn see contact info for said employee. This function has been removed

The Perma-Mutes have NO access to the OFFICIAL Q&A threads that are posted in SITE HELP, or to Marc's weekly spin thread that has been in Friday's IDEAS.

The Mutees have also had their ability to report forum threads removed.

There are no user names attached to the avatars, or other identifying features that would help potential forum participants ID threads of interest.

The Etsy staff have mediocre at best leadership skills and the new design will also work to keep the pampered employees from EVER having to work nights and weekends.

Members have learned that nights and weekends are PRIME for starting CALL OUT, TRAIN WRECKS, and LET'S MESS WITH ETSY threads because staff will not be around.

Members are also continually admonished about ''TONE'', and for the need to keep criticism CONSTRUCTIVE, or to forget about receiving an answer. I have NEVER seen such a overly sensitive, insecurity based, set of criteria, for determining the merit of a given inquiry, in my life.

CRITISISM, by its very nature occurs when people are unhappy. It is then an employees job to acknowledge the emotional aspects, BEFORE it is possible to address the factual aspects of said complaint. The Etsy employees lack this very critical skill. They, collectively, remind me of ''grown up'', bully victims, who are now using their positions to fight back.

The staff picks and chooses which questions they will respond to, based upon TONE. <---- THAT is ridiculousness! They REFUSE to entertain the possibility that THEY just might bear a certain level of responsibility in creating the TONE.

@rebecca7, If you have sold on Ebay, you'll be able to function within Etsy. Etsy's site is much simpler, as far as function. Use YOUR common sense, and stay away from the forums, other than to read enough to help you figure out a given site change. The odds are you know more about business than the staff does.

Lastly, I have a request of Auction Bytes. Have you ever considered doing any articles from the other side of the fence and interviewing the actual sellers, or possibly doing some investigative reporting? A lot of what I see posted by you guys strikes me as being essentially press releases from Etsy.

I DO appreciate the blog opportunities that allow commentary from site users. I do feel that an occasional article based upon information received from site users would carry, potentially more weight.



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