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.
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.
but provided no explanation.
The acknowledgement does not seem to have satisfied these sellers