Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Sun July 6 2014 21:25:00

Should Etsy Discourage Users from Discussing Scams on Forums?

By: Ina Steiner

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As EcommerceBytes reports in Monday's newsletter, scammers launched an attack on Etsy over the holiday weekend (scammers are wise to the fact that companies may be short-staffed on holidays). Users were busy reporting the scammers to Etsy and warning fellow users through posts on the forums.

But Etsy discouraged the conversations on its forums and warned users not to post anything negative about other users: "Also, just wanted to remind everyone that, while these issues are frustrating, we should still refrain from discussing other specific listings in a negative light here in the Forums," wrote a moderator.

According to Etsy sellers who wrote in emails to EcommerceBytes and on the Etsy boards, scammers were using bots to set up hundreds of shops containing two items each, both of them copied from legitimate sellers' shops. They would price one item at 99 cents, the other at $99, apparently using them as bait for unwitting buyers.

An Etsy moderator posted the following message on one thread about the scams:

Hey there,
I'm very sorry to hear that you are having problems.

For more on Etsy's Copyright and Intellectual Property Policy and how to go about reporting infringements, you can take a look here: www.etsy.com/ie/help/article/482

If you notice a shop that you believe to be in violation of Etsy's policies, please report it to us for review. You'll find details of how to do that here: www.etsy.com/ie/help/article/112

We always appreciate members of our community working with us to keep our marketplace safe and we assure you that all reports are fully investigated.

As we want the Forums to remain a welcoming space for buyers and sellers to interact we ask that you don't link marketplace violations with specific shops or members when posting here.

For more on the Forums Guidelines, you can take a look here: www.etsy.com/ie/help/article/360
Thanks!

>> Experienced sellers can often look at a shop and quickly identify potential problems, but don’t use the Forums to tell someone they’re breaking laws or Etsy’s marketplace policies

>> Don't disparage a specific member, shop, item, or category of product (identified either by name or with detailed hints) with unconstructive, negative posts.


One can understand that Etsy doesn't wish to scare away buyers with talk of fraud and scams in the forums. On the other hand, alerting them to possible issues can protect them from being defrauded, and, after all, once someone has been defrauded on a site, they may never return.

Should Etsy discourage users from reporting incidents of fraud on its discussion boards? (It does encourage users to report the fraud to the company, of course.) And should the company itself be more forthcoming when dealing with an incident such as the one described in order to keep users up to date?




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by: tony bonn This user has validated their user name.
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Sun Jul 6 22:56:38 2014

the only reasonable rationale of which  I can think for censoring discussion is to avoid false accusations.

other than that, George orwell is in charge of etsy. or is john donahoe of ebay?

these tactics are always used to cover up incompetence and to keep people scared and frightened - a tactic I thoroughly despise.

can't warn anyone he is about ready to run off a cliff - someone might panic are stop driving cars.

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by: gadget This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jul 6 23:28:33 2014

Should Etsy discourage users from reporting incidents of fraud on its discussion boards?

No. Etsy is very poor with communication. If it weren't for the forums, and Ecommercebyte's coverage, people wouldn't have any idea something like this was going on.

It's important to know these things so buyers and sellers alike can protect themselves.

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by: Tiffee Jasso This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jul 6 23:45:31 2014

You would think Etsy with its sophisticated software could shut done the new stores from China until the vet them. It sounds to me they are really not interested if buyers lose money as long as they make sales. Hmmm! That sounds familiar.  

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

Mon Jul 7 03:13:55 2014

The whole problem, though, is the nerdy psychological mindset of the Etsy staff. They just don't possess the common sense or cajones to get the job done efficiently.

They seem like nice people, but sorely need a shark or 2 to handle the nuts and bolts of getting the job done.

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by: Cloud This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jul 7 06:00:35 2014

I can see why Etsy is discouraging using specific information about a particular seller or shop. This would be an easy way for a disgruntled buyer or a competitor to destroy another's business. Giving info that describes the scam without naming a shop should be enough to warn others of the scam.  

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

Mon Jul 7 07:30:59 2014

Since the Etsy CEO and Admin are such cheapskates, they refuse to provide even the most basic customer service. Unlike Amazon, they just don't give a damn about their sellers or their buyers for that matter. The motto they have embroidered on their pillow cushions is "no reward for success, no penalty for failure." As one writer pointed out, the forum moderators, if they are even human which I'm coming to doubt, are truly Orwellian- they will allow the most scatalogical discussions to take place regarding certain bodily functions, yet instantly remove any post that is in any way critical of a buyer or seller. And that includes the freakin' scammers in the article! Can you imagine- in this case Etsy is essentially protecting criminals by advising sellers to be careful about calling out the hackers. Given the never ending problems with Etsy including the complete lack of customer service, the never ending tests, the resellers, the broken search engine, is it any wonder that everyone is praying for another viable venue to open up?

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

Mon Jul 7 09:06:56 2014

Also, many thanks to E-Commerce Bytes for providing coverage of the Etsy saga as well as a place for open discussion of the trouble in Paradise.

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by: starz This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jul 7 09:44:58 2014

I'm an Etsy seller and the last straw for me may be the intentional blurring of seller photos. This is unethical and shows a lack of integrity.

And this is the response from Etsy admin:
''This is a test to improve the performance of search pages. It affects a very small number of members. Thanks!''

https://www.etsy.com/teams/7720/bugs/discuss/14664470
/page/1

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This user has validated their user name. by: The End

Mon Jul 7 11:11:12 2014

Just saw an incident of this on Ebay. ZERO feedback user :  us_koh5 (0) Listed a vase for $5.00 in one auction, Sold It for $5.00. Then used the SAME exact photo for a second listing at $100 Buy It Now. It's still up :
eBay item number: 321454201039
Both listings were running at the same time. I was suspicious when I saw duplicate photos (2 listings)of this unique one of a kind antique.
When I Googled "us_koh5" it comes back to some Chinese article.
 

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by: Gina This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jul 7 11:31:11 2014

no Etsy should SHUT DOWN!  They don't really care about anything but money money money!  They are now as bad as eBay!  They only care about scam discussions on their forums if it effects their bottom line!    

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This user has validated their user name. by: Puck

Mon Jul 7 12:09:34 2014

''''The reports you make play a really important part in keeping the Etsy community safe for all buyers and sellers and we always appreciate you taking the time to flag these issues,'' she wrote.''

A reply lifted nearly verbatim from the eBay playbook,

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by: Noneya This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jul 7 12:34:44 2014

Typical of Etsy to shut down any post that discusses or portrays Etsy in a negative light. Though many of these attacks come from Asia, as soon as a post includes the word ''China'' the entire post is shut down. Sellers cannot warn each other of scams, ask for help or get advice from each other if the problem pertains to any Etsy transaction. It is a good idea to prevent sellers or buyers from bashing specific shops in the forums but the heavy handedness of silencing sellers who are having problems is pretty obnoxious.

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by: VintageLady This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jul 7 13:08:35 2014

It is imperative for a marketplace which publicly claims to want to ''protect the Sellers and Buyers'' to disclose threats in an open manner.
Etsy however, does not promote, show or encourage transparency and that will be its downfall. Here are some common practices: closing of threads that remotely hint of criticism, REMOVING within seconds any posting that does not sound like a diatribe to the ''wonderful world of Etsy'', instituting a climate of fear of expressing lack of support for the many aberant Etsy practices (see the obsession with tests that lead no where but disrupt and irritate everyone), lack of responsibility for creating a one sided review system...and more.
It all comes down to the lack of experience and professionalism of the too young and ''groovy'' Etsy administration.
At the closing of my present post, there is NO acknowledgment from Etsy in the Announcements area of any threat, security measures or comment on how this matter is going to be solved....that says it all.

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by: tmooreseller This user has validated their user name.
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Mon Jul 7 13:23:34 2014

Last year I tried Etsy out for several months, then shut down my shop and closed my account when I discovered: 1) the warning about "negative" commentary (read: we're scared that warning the others may lead to buyers leaving); 2) the presence of thousands of listings posted by both Chinese and other "artisans" with mass produced items, when Etsy's focus was supposed to be on "Handmade" items; and 3) the way Etsy handled complaints from both buyers and sellers, using lack of a response or a canned response to deal with issues. I sold a grand total of 5 items in the six months I was there. I don't think Etsy gets the right to say it is the best place to shop, and after a while the word "handmade" disappeared fron its banner, as the site switched to hosting cheap goods which represented direct competition to artisans making one of a kind or limited editions of things, or things made to order. Etsy's discouragement of "negative" commentary constitutes censorship. I did not miss it when I left.

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by: RealHandmadeGal This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jul 7 13:36:46 2014

How’s this for irony? The scam was discovered by someone on an Etsy team whose membership includes a large number of permanently muted sellers. What if they had decided to be “mute” and not share this information with Etsy or not post a thread about the problem? The pirated shops might be in the thousands today instead of the hundreds that were closed on Sunday.

Comments are routinely removed from Etsy’s forums (entire threads have disappeared also). The people posting are often warned about their comments or have been muted and banned from posting forever. Some Admins are more thin-skinned than others and take complaints about the site too personally. If you write the word “China” your post will usually be removed - unless you’re singing the country’s praises. It’s a sad state of affairs at Etsy and I don’t think it’s going to get any better.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Mon Jul 7 14:01:31 2014

At first blush, the Etsy policy gives the appearance that the company wants to avoid negative publicity regarding scam shops which have been set up by unscrupulous sellers.

While one can see the corporate mindset taking this road, it is hard to understand their actions.

Common sense would dictate that Etsy would WANT these discussions taking place within the confines of their system in order to address and manage the issues.

By telling users not to discuss specifics, the reality is that Etsy is defeating their own purpose by prohibiting discussions within their environment. If Etsy is going to prohibit discussions including details, they are encouraging buyers to take their issues to other more public forums such as ecommercebytes, facebook etc..

When these discussions take place outside of Etsy, they are visible to more people than if they were permitted to take place within the walls of Etsy discussion forums, and would potentially have a greater negative impact on the marketplace due to wider exposure and minimal company control.

If I were setting policy, I would set up a specific thread for reporting scams, request users to post their issues on that thread and not on other discussion threads. I would also set policy that reports would be promptly investigated, and once the investigation is completed the threads would be deleted from the board. Setting the expectation up front that  posts would be deleted once mitigated would assure unwarranted complaints do not unduly impact legitimate sellers while providing users with confidence that legitimate issues would be addressed and resolved.

Hard to understand sometimes how the 1% mindset fails to come up with simple solutions that benefit all parties concerned.




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by: tawhite This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jul 7 14:04:03 2014

and here's a second forum thread re Etsy deliberately blurring item images to improve performance  ::cough cough::

https://www.etsy.com/teams/7718/questions/discuss/14665
592/page/1

This
has 22 pages of angry Etsy shop owner comments.

I'm no lawyer... but this seems a breach of contract and actionable.

The scamming and the blurred images may be why I am finding so very many Etsy shops ''On Vacation.''

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by: Dreadsy This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jul 7 19:42:25 2014

Etsy has become a repressive regime. If you question their policies or even hint at anything negative occuring you will be "silenced." Take it from one of the "permamutes..."

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by: Dreadsy This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jul 7 22:48:30 2014

In an amazing ironic twist-those responsible for outing the scam shops running rampant on Etsy from June 21 through the July 4th weekend, were composed of many sellers who have been BANNED from the Forums!
As of 11 pm Monday night, Etsy has yet to acknowledge that this even occured. No announcement whatsoever. In typical Etsy-fashion (just like they do with "pesky" sellers who question them), they are trying to silence this & divert attention as they try to simply sweep this MAJOR hack/breach/scam under the rug. So many major problems over there! It has become a sad shell of what it initially was.

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by: felyne This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jul 9 05:57:31 2014

Etsy does not want anything negative as it's intention is to go public. We don't matter in the large picture, especially if you're a small store.

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