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Etsy closes down a legitimate shop for ‘protesting’.

Rose quartz teardrop in bronze colored wire.

Picture and jewelry design, (c) 15 March 2012 Windy Johansen

So, this post isn’t particularly inspiring. And inspiring was what I wanted this site to be about. I wanted this site to showcase the things that make my heart and your heart skip a beat because of their beauty or power.

Oh well. I can’t be the good guy who does nothing. And this did make my heart metaphorically skip a beat. And it is powerful.

Maybe the next few days will reveal an inspiring story in this. Divine providence has a way of doing that.

In the last couple of weeks, there’s been a huge scandal involving Etsy.

It started when Etsy featured Ecologica Malibu as their featured seller. Ecologica Malibu was represented originally as a single person making wood furnishings and decor from reclaimed boat wood.

Fascinating enough, even if I’m not into that sort of thing.

And then, I start to see reports that she isn’t everything she claims to be. Well, hm, that’s not good.

Right here, I’m going to offer some links, because I’m not good at technical explanations, and this is not a good time for word weaving.

This article from the Consumerist tells the story quite well, and links to other resources that tell the story much better than I can.

The story continues in this article, also from the Consumerist.

This is a short, yet informative article about this event on MetaFilter.

This link points specifically to a comment on that MetaFilter article from a woodworker. Very informative. It illustrates how this stuff isn’t well made, and seems to be made by a variety of people, with varying ideas of quality.

Then, on the Regretsy forums, someone links to this blog post. The artist, Hanna, tells the story of how Etsy shut her down for protesting. She posts the message that was supposedly a protest message, and that’s when the metaphorical beat-skipping occurred.

What was the message Nicole posted? What was this inflammatory statement? I’ll quote it here.

” ‘Shop contents are currently unavailable while I work on re-branding and movement of merchandise. I support artisan and hand-crafted goods and, as such, believe a show of solidarity, support and praise is necessary to encourage small business owners in the continuing herculean endeavor to survive in a world of commercial mass production. I urge consumers to support the artisan marketplace and creative community in general and appreciate your interest in my work. Thank you.’ “

Yeah, I can tell she’s unhappy. But to shut her down for protesting? Especially when she isn’t? That’s ridiculous.

Of course, given the inability of Etsy to take any kind of statement that isn’t sucking up…yeah.

I love her reaction to their message (bolding mine).

“Now, tell me if I’m wrong, but I’m fairly certain there was no mention of Etsy, disuptes or Etsy sellers anywhere in my shop vacation announcement. And, though I’ve read through it multiple times, apparently I lack the intelligence to comprehend Etsy’s very concise, comprehendible, and not at all vague terms of use, and in exactly what way my announcement broke with a policy conveniently brandished when protests run rampant in the forums. “

Etsy’s TOS are pretty vague. Vagueness gives wiggle room, and yet….they can’t even keep their own rules, if this whole scandal is any indication. With the closing of Nicole’s Etsy shop, they’ve illustrated just how thin-skinned they are about people discussing their inability. Nicole could have had other things in mind when she posted that message, but they chose to see it as an attack on them.

Etsy, your morals are showing. Trying to hush people up only makes things worse for you. If you’d admitted your mistake, and honestly told us what went wrong, so many of us would be happier with you.

As it is, I’ve started this site to get away from you. I’m approximately $50 poorer for it, but my heart is light as a feather. I know I won’t have to apologize to my customers for your dishonesty.

Be sure to read the comments. So many voices. Does Etsy truly believe no one has any other platform to speak, besides their own?

My comment is as follows:

“My goodness, this is crazy! They really DO think that everyone will ignore their dishonesty if they cover enough mouths.

Luckily, they don’t own the whole internet. I may yet post a protest post on my blog. They cannot shut the world up.

I was gonna sell little things on there, but I honestly am reconsidering that. They can keep their ignorance of how the world works. I won’t help them succeed.

I found out I was driving traffic to their site with my links to my Etsy store. When I took down several links to my Etsy shop, the traffic went way down.

When my own online store is ready (I’ve only got a blog there now), I’ll be able to get my own traffic to my online store, the same as I was before. In fact, I’ll probably do better on my own than I ever could with them.

Nicole, as long as people know you’re here, you’ll rebuild your traffic. In fact, now that this thing with Etsy has happened, you’ll possibly get more.

Your work is beautiful, and I wish mine was as cool.

(Also I’m sorry for the novel I appear to have written.)”

Someone else posted this comment, as an anonymous user:

“I just found this through a friend who sent me a link to the handmade discussion. I have known about the reseller aspect, but really did not understand How Much of an issue it is. I have had my shop for two months and feel quite unhappy about all of this.

There actually was a huge negative response to an article last summer when I was still only a purchasing customer from shops, which made my stomach very upset. I got off Etsy for over 6 months trying to make up my mind what to do.

I am not very vocal about things and am unlikely to challenge Etsy in any way or make comments. I am just very sad right now. My dream of being a professional artist, where I can support myself seem to just be moving further away.

I wish you great success in your endeavors and will follow all that is going on to see how things transpire.

That made me sad for what this could really cause. It’s not only businesses that are being hurt, it’s artists. If someone is so disillusioned by this that they don’t make any more art, what does that mean for everyone? Art is how so many of us communicate. It’s how so many of us remind ourselves of the beauty of the world. It’s how we learn that the world is at once beautiful and ferocious.

Without art our world becomes cold. Math is something that can be appreciated as art, also, so what great minds can we lose as a result of this dishonest pursuit of money at the expense of the people that we are?

I know it’s overdramatic, but I’m saying it anyway. What are the human costs in this?

That scares me. Even if the world stays up to its eyeballs in art of all kinds, we stand to lose a lot if we alienate our artisans.

Once I post this post, the Etsy link will be gone from my first post in this blog. I believe it is the last link (controlled by me, anyway) to go down. I could have sold something, but I cannot support Etsy’s inability to admit when they’ve messed up. Not even in some tiny amount.

That’s my protest.

Have fun, even if things look bleak.