Thursday, January 28, 2010


Ok, I needed a break, and went through my bookmarks looking for that hilarious lip syncing dude.  Seriously, this guy makes me smile every time I watch him.


This is the second Thursday that Etsy is tweaking the search feature and making 'relevancy' the default, as opposed to the usual search by recently listed.  The first Thursday was pretty eventful and the forums were filled with both opposition and support and pleas to give more information so people could figure out how to get their items in the top of the search.

As I expected, not much information was forthcoming, as I expect Etsy had to use that first test as groundwork to figure out what exactly they were going to do.  I found a few threads that had this quote in it by one of the engineers (?), though I can't seem to find which thread it originated in.

"jasondavis says:

Hi all. Sorry for taking so long to answer some of your questions. We've been working super hard to address some of the concerns everyone has brought up here. On Thursday you should notice several improvements over last week - I'll mention a couple of big ones here:

1) Penalizing extra-long titles: some of you noticed that some of the search results had very long titles. Titles with 5 or 10 words are fine. If your titles are much longer than this, the search will penalize them slightly (or more, if they're much longer than this).

2) More recency weight: We'll be incorporating more emphasis on item listing recency, something which many of you asked for. This will help promote your newer, more recently listed items over older ones."

It's good to see that they noted the excessive titles and are attempting to address them.  People are still claiming to see them in the first pages of their search so I'm not sure how this works.  I suspect that similar to google, while you may have excessively long titles, the search only actually picks up on the first 70 or so characters, so regardless of the title length if the first 70 contain keywords associated with that search they will still show up.  This is just a guess on my part.  I don't think that Etsy search would just automatically kick out excessive titles, but only use a portion of them, which would explain why they still show up.

As for weighting recency more in the search algorithm, I am totally against this.  My personal feeling is that when something is listed has no bearing on what I am looking for, it should not even be a factor used in that search.  A search based on listing dates already exists, if you weigh listing dates in a relevancy search, how are the searches going to differ from each other?  One's a little more recent, ones a little more targeted?  That makes no sense whatsoever.

I really resent the move to cave on this, I really do.  I was really hoping that Etsy was looking to actually improve the search capability of the site, not cater to the ones who are used to renewing and are now crying because relevance eliminates that tactic.

If all you were really going to do was make the current search a little more targeted to what a buyer is searching for then you should have said so in the first place.  Some of us actually thought you cared about what buyers want.

I will say again, recency has no place in a search based on relevancy.  At. All.  The date something was listed on has no bearing on anything I am looking for.  If it was listed 2 minutes ago, a week ago or 3 months ago, if it fits the search criteria, it should show up.

Perhaps if Etsy did take recency completely out of the relevancy search algorithm they could focus on making more folks relevant to the search queries.

Monday, January 25, 2010


"I have 23 items all tagged the same, how come they don't all show up on the same page?"

"Why is someone with 47 items all tagged the same dominating the first few pages?"

"I think Etsy should randomize the results so there is more variety"

"Why are there so many different items showing up in my (general) search?"

"I'm so upset, people who stuff their titles making them 5 lines long are taking over and pushing my stuff back"

"I just changed some of my titles to include more relevant keywords and my items are moving up in the search"

"Please make Etsy's search more like Ebay's, I can always find what I'm looking for there"

"Please don't make Etsy's search like Ebay's, I left there because I was buried and couldn't be found"

"OMG, put the search back the way it was, if it ain't broke, don't fix it"

"Etsy, please for the love of everything that is good and pure, fix the search so people can find what they're looking for"

And on and on it goes.  Here's hoping Etsy can separate the facts and data from the rest of the crap.  While theoretically I support a relevant search and feel that the current 'renewing to be seen' is a recipe for future disaster (as more and more sellers discover this method and adopt it, rendering it useless),  I'm pretty certain that either way they go will result in someone being unhappy about it.  As long as the decision is based on data and facts and not swayed by emotion, I'll be happy, even if I personally don't like the final decision.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Even though the first test day is over, this subject is obviously still on a lot of people's minds since the next two Thursdays are slated to revert to the relevancy default as Etsy continues to test, tweak and listen to feedback.

In continuing where I left off in this thread, I came upon a comment that I couldn't let pass without giving my thoughts on it (yeah, something new, right?)

"Ok, I'm trying to think like a buyer and see if this relevancy searching thing benefits me. Yes, if I'm looking for what I sell (hand stamped necklaces, etc.) the results ARE relevant. They are hand stamped necklaces. But I feel like it shouldn't be "random" (although I know it isn't actually random) where I end up in the search. I liked being able to control where I end up, by paying to get higher in the list (when all items are the same kind of items, and truly relevant). When your category has thousands of options, I feel like people SHOULD be able to pay for premium placement..."

You may feel like you are in control of where you are in the categories right now with the recency search, but I don't believe it is common knowledge for the majority of sellers that this is what is going on.  It is spreading daily as people either come to the forums and see it suggested or someone figures it out on their own, but if only 5% of the sellers on Etsy come to the forums, that's a lot of people who are not yet aware of this and therefore are not doing it.  I don't think the comment above is looking very far into the future, nor are they considering the impact of 200,000 sellers constantly renewing to be seen.

At some point even renewing will become useless, as you would have to renew so frequently that you would likely use up any profit and wind up paying Etsy more than the value of the product and wind up with a loss.  Etsy, and the sellers using renewing to stay visible in categories and search were able to coast along for a time before it hit critical mass, and Etsy had to retract their statements of support for this practice due to some features not being able to support it, such as the recently listed scrollbar at the bottom of the main page and the enlarging of the batches of listings that are uploaded to the inventory database.  Even though you still have a chance at being seen in the recently listed or the top of your category, it is no longer a given and can not be guaranteed.  And I think Etsy would be disingenuous to leave things as is because they had the shortsightedness not to see the potential for this to get out of control.  I know I mentioned this a few times during my forum posting days, but logical, well thought out ideas tend to be like trying to swim against the tide.

If they scrap relevancy as the default, I hope that they let all sellers know that in order to be on top of the search in their category they must renew items frequently or risk being buried and never seen.  I imagine they wouldn't do that though because the onslaught of 200,000 sellers all renewing constantly all day long, every day would render that completely useless.  And then what?

It is my opinion that Etsy, for all it does poorly, is actually trying to do something right.  The execution may be lacking, but looking at the bigger picture I believe they are trying to make a stable, reliable search tool.  Of course there are going to be flaws in the beginning, to expect it to work perfectly the first day is not realistic.  And without a group of active sellers to test it out and try to figure out ways to game the system, how are they ever going to refine it and make it useful?

To think that Etsy hasn't taken into consideration that the renewal revenue stream may be impacted by this is foolish.  I am quite certain they are aware that if they make renewing less necessary that there are people who will stop renewing.  I'm pretty certain someone at Etsy figured out that at some point people were going to start complaining that renewing is useless because they are still landing way back in the pages of the category.  Actually, people are already complaining about that, blaming 'batch listing' as the devil.  It would have been so much more practical to have renewing just extend your listing another 4 months and not have it go through the newly listed process because the concept of 'fresh listings' is really not accurate if the majority of those listings are renewals.

Etsy and some sellers rode the crest of the renewing wave, but all waves peak and then drop.  You can't ride a wave forever.  Thank goodness someone at Etsy realized this and decided to do something about it now rather than waiting for another critical mass situation.


Resellers, those shops that try to pass off mass manufactured products as handmade are getting a strong foothold in the Etsy doors.  Allowable reselling are in 2 categories;  vintage
and commercial crafting supplies, nowhere else.  It is even not allowed to buy an item on Etsy and then turn around and resell it, unless it is a commercial crafting supply or vintage.  Any other category is reserved for handmade by the seller.

So, how do you identify who is a reseller, or if a seller has items that are not h andmade by them?  Most of the time, people who are in the a specific craft can pick them out much easier than those that aren't.    And you tend to have at least 2 different kind of resellers, ones who have a shop of handmade stuff who are usually trying to unload stuff they don't want or won't wear anymore.  For example, a gal that sold simple handbeaded jewelry, also had cast rings with stamping in them.  A red flag is when certain items just don't fit the sellers skill set.  Of course, that in and of itself isn't enough proof, so a little detective work is necessary to see if you can find out where else this type of thing can be purchased.  Sure enough, in this case, I found the exact ring sold in Target, so my guess is she bought if for herself at one time and either can't wear it anymore and figured since she already had a shop with handmade jewelry she could slip it in.

I often find the casual sellers are a little more difficult to back with proof of reselling because a lot of stuff is picked up here and there over a few years and might no longer be in the current inventory of the store they bought it from.   They're profiles are usually pretty general and they might elaborate on their love of crafting and creating the perfect thing and yadda, yadda, yadda with no real details about their craft.

However, the career reseller, one who's shop is dedicated completely to items purchased from a wholesaler  is usually easier to spot, but still it is much easier for those in that particular craft to discover them, they are more familiar with the wholesale sites that carry these items.  And of course, some shops just give themselves away by stating that their item is new in the package,  or new with tags or imported from wherever.  They also use names like Gucci, Dooney and |Burke and other famous brand names, and whether they are the real thing or knockoffs they are reselling and not allowed.  Unless, of course, they are vintage, and then the vintage people can spot the ones that aren't vintage.

Resellers often have no location listed, very scant announcement, no policies, their descriptions might give specific details as to size, material content, but there is no connection to the buying public  and they tend to use only 1 or 2 tags only.  The pictures can be another clue, even though we have some artists who take spectacular pictures, there is something about catalog pictures that gives them away.  Oftentimes you can google their shop name and find other places they sell that will describe their items as imported.  That's a nice piece of proof that I have used before when reporting a reseller.  If the same items on that website are the same on Etsy and the website says their imported and Etsy just implies they're handmade by avoiding mentioning it, it's pretty safe to assume they're reselling on Etsy.

I'm sure there are more little things I've omitted, so feel free to add to them.  I don't think anyone who isn't familiar with a craft can spot them like those who are intimate in a particular craft can.  I'm quite sure though, that we have knowledgeable people in every category who could go a long way to weeding these sellers out,                                                                 

Friday, January 22, 2010


I finally ventured out of the same thread I've been in for 2 days straight, to be assaulted by this ignorant post.  Where the hell do I start.

Since when did forking over .20 to renew constitute 'hard work'?  Since when is renewing any measure of how hard anyone works on their business?

All renewing for visibility shows is how people 'game the system', a flawed system, I might add.

You might take a clue from your own words:

"If people here are saying the relevant search is no good, instead of opposing their view, think about why they say that. Are they whining and complaining? No! They are upset that all their hard and honest work is now being pushed aside and lost in a severely flawed system."

If people here are saying the most recently listed search is no good, instead of opposing their view, think about why they say that.  Are they whining and complaining?  No!  They are upset that all their hand and honest work is being pushed aside and lost in a severely flawed system,

See?  It works both ways.

"I really think it's great that many have succeeded here on Etsy, but they did not get there by sitting around waiting for Etsy to hand them the sales. They worked for them and they worked hard! They got out there and did what ever they needed to to get to where they are and where they want to be. And now a search system comes along that makes all their hard work here on Etsy disappear under pages of sellers that break TOUs and stuff titles etc...I really think it's great that many have succeeded here on Etsy, but they did not get there by sitting around waiting for Etsy to hand them the sales. They worked for them and they worked hard! They got out there and did what ever they needed to to get to where they are and where they want to be. And now a search system comes along that makes all their hard work here on Etsy disappear under pages of sellers that break TOUs and stuff titles etc..."

Um...ok, so you are saying because a seller refuses to jump on the renewing bandwagon.and or because they support a relevant search tool they are just sitting around waiting for Etsy to hand them sales?  You didn't really say that did you?  Cause, that's a helluvan assumption to make.  I will add that breaking the rules is not ok for anyone to do, and I am of the opinion that this will be addressed as the relevant search is fleshed out and improved.  As it is, people are breaking the rules in an effort to be seen under the current search, so I really don't see this as a valid reason to scrap relevancy.

"But reality is, if you want to run a business you need to invest in it and work at it yourself without taking shortcuts!"

Ok, now that I have finished laughing at this sentence, I might point out the rather obvious fact that renewing to be seen is a shortcut in itself.  It's an easy loophole that has been exploited and made to appear legitimate because it was easy for Etsy for a time, and also generated revenue for them.  The fact is that Etsy let it go on for so long, to the point where it is only beneficial to a handful of sellers who are able to renew on a constant basis, and now those who have benefitted from it are scared of losing that edge.  Maybe when it gets to the point where 160,000 sellers start renewing their hundreds of thousands of items daily (in addition to the newly listed and relisted products) and sellers are consistently finding themselves on page 10 or more immediately after renewing they'll realize what a leaky boat they've set sail on.


I'd be banging my head against the wall.  Rather than everyone waiting patiently to see if what is currently being done (tags, titles, descriptions) can be worked into a useful relevant search, sellers are desperately trying anything they can to be 'on top'.  How any reliable data can be parsed from this is beyond me.  I sure hope it's possible.

If your whole business and/or livelihood is dependent on one day's views and sales, then I would say you don't have much of a business.

The ignorance of how even a basic search works is just astounding.  The utter lack of patience and the demands for Etsy to tell them the recipe for relevance is unbelievable.  I'll give you a clue here, because I am the generous type.  If everyone titled, tagged and described their items accurately and somewhat uniformly, it would go a long, long way to understanding relevancy.  But, rather than do that, people spend their precious time trying to game the system, stuffing titles, adding to titles, subtracting from titles, stuffing tags, changing the order of tags, stuffing the materials section with non applicable text.  And then, come screaming into the forums wondering why their item isn't on page one of a general search, or they can't find what they're looking for, or the search is a mess.  Of course it's a mess, you people are making it that way, worse than it was before.  I certainly hope the engineers were supplied with a pillow for their desk yesterday, they are going to need it.

I don't know yet if a relevancy search will work on Etsy.  There are too many variables that affect the outcome of any search that need to be fixed first, such as tag and category abuse.  But I am willing to at least give them a shot at trying to make it a useful and beneficial to both sellers and buyers.  And that's a lot more than I'm seeing currently in the forums.

Nearly every single thread I have read in all my 3 1/2 years on Etsy about complaints, or suggestions for Etsy has included 'fixing' the search.  'Search is a mess', 'I can't find what I'm looking for', 'buyers are turned off because Etsy's search is worthless' and on and on.  Now that Etsy is trying to 'fix' the search people are screaming for them to put it back the way it was.  Suddenly now, the current search isn't 'broken'.  What?  Since when?  I'd laugh if I wasn't crying.

Suddenly renewing for visibility isn't such a bad idea.  Never mind that it should have never been a tool for visibility in the first place.  I'll be honest, I wish they'd disallow renewing until an item has expired.  I'm sure that opinion won't win me any friends, but there it is anyway.  But don't worry folks, I don't see Etsy changing that to suit me because even if they went to a completely relevant search, people are so conditioned to renew to be seen, they'd continue to do it anyway.

I've seen a few people mention that relevancy search will hurt sellers who put out new and innovative designs because buyers won't know to look for them.  They are conveniently forgetting that Etsy has tools to see what is newly listed, not only in the category pages, but in the Time Machine 2.  It would be nice if search wasn't just a duplication of those, but another way to explore and discover and find what one might be looking for.  Why even bother having a feature to show the most recently listed items if the search is just going to be the same results?

Yes, for certain, if I were anyone at Etsy right now I'd be one frustrated individual.  Probably more so than I am right now.  Heh.

Relevancy Search.....continued

There is just so much fodder in the forums lately regarding this experimentation of the relevancy search it's hard to keep up.  I'm only on page 50 o f this thread and it's all I can do not to come back and post on my blog every few minutes.  I think it's running about 50-50 of those opposed and those in favor.  Some of the opposed make some very good points, especially about the title stuffing that is apparently happening, and the alleged stagnation of certain seller's items in certain categories.  I say alleged, because I haven't researched this myself.

Etsy definitely has some housekeeping to do in terms of fixing these and a few other things, such as tag and category abuse, and as much as people complain about experimenting in a live setting, I really, really think this was the only way to go to find potential pitfalls, especially in such a short amount of time.  You have to admit, testing in a controlled beta setting is probably not going to be as useful.  Etsy's past performance on rolling out features that have supposedly been beta tested first didn't have a whole lot of success either.

Which brings me to the latest post that has gotten under my skin.  Now, I will start off by first conceding that I do not make my living on Etsy.  While I certainly treat this as a business, it is not a means of dependable income, so this may color my views to a point, but because I do treat this as a business, there are certain things that being in business would require of me, or of anyone who's intention is to establish and maintain a business as an artist or crafter.  Preparation and planning being among the top 2 items.  Ok, so here is the quote:

"This might be a good thing to test for maybe two hours a day for a week. But as a seller with two children who has found a way to make this a viable income producer for her family by getting between 10-30 sales a day, let me just say that having zero sales today is like showing up at work and being told, "We're doing an experiment with payroll today. Work your butt off and mayyyybe you'll get paid!" Completely changing what has been working well for 24 hours: not cool.

I would like to reiterate that even if this helps buyers find what they are looking for today. The quality of high volume shop products will go down if their incomes get slashed. (I can't come out with new designs if I don't have the income to support the back stock.)"

Ok, I am not unsympathetic to a sudden loss of sales and income due to the search change.  Even for one day.  But there are a lot of things that could also cause this one day loss that don't have the potential for positive change.  Etsy could just plain take the site down for a day, or two or longer, believe me, it's happened before.  You could be in a car accident and be incapacitated for an extended period of time, one of your family members could become ill and you might have to tend to them rather than your shop.  These sorts of things should be taken into consideration when planning for your business.

As for 'the quality of high volume shop products going down if their incomes get slashed', well, I don't really believe this statement to be even a tiny bit truthful.  Quantity?  maybe.  Obviously if you are not selling a lot you won't continue to produce at quite the same rate as you would if you were selling multiple items daily, but it should never affect the quality of the items.  Especially if you are relying on the income of those sales directly to fund the creation of new ones.  I would imagine most of us do this, to a certain degree.  I know I do, but I also have reserves set aside so that I can buy supplies if I want to try a new idea or if I want to just continue to produce inventory for my shop.  Naturally, a portion of my sales go back to those reserves to help replenish it, but I felt it was a necessary business decision because not all business take off immediately, and the potential is always there for something to happen that might slow down or cut off one of my income streams.

All in all, I guess what I am trying to say is I really resent the emotionally charged reasoning rather than the factual reasoning.  If Etsy is going to scrap the relevant search, I'd much prefer that decision be based on the hard data that tells them it isn't going to work rather than a bunch of sellers crying that they have lower views, fewer sales and they are ultimately going to have to go elsewhere if this continues.  If the hard data shows that sales are still up, then it probably means that the sales are being spread out a bit more and as much as that might hurt your business, it is probably helping someone else's.

Here's a piece of unsolicited advice.....spread out your eggs into other baskets.  Start advertising your shop and bring in your customers and stop relying on Etsy foot traffic.  That foot traffic is a bonus and not a given and, for one, am glad that Etsy is trying to spread out that foot traffic more equitably. 

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Relevancy Search and Random Questions

A discussion was opened for comments regarding the relevancy search.  I would like to point out a few of the comments made really illustrate just how seller-centric people are refuse to see the benefits to a potential buyer.

"But if there are 1866 amethyst rings and I am searching for an "amethyst ring", how is ring number 1866 ever going to get to the top? If my ring was number 1866, I would cry not being able to renew to get to the top. I don't like the relevancy search idea. When I renew and I am seen, I get sales. Otherwise I'm stuck in the middle of the 1866 amethyst rings. It's not all about the buyers. Without sellers, you can't have buyers."

First of all, while someone may be looking for an amethyst ring, I'm fairly sure there are other qualifiers they have in mind which will alter the results and potentially give anyone the chance of being in the top of that search.  Do they want gold? silver? faceted or cabochon stone?  Do they want a single stone ring or multi stone ring? these are things that will narrow down their search results, and based on what criteria they use will determine who appears at the top of that search.  Using broad search terms is a act of frustration because logically, broad search terms will give broad results and is meant to so the buyer can narrow down what they are looking for.  I don't understand why people don't understand this.  Not everyone can be on the first page of a general search, it's impossible, but the more relevant your items are to what a buyer is searching for, the more likely you are to appear in the first pages of that search.

"Didn't we just go through this last year? It didn't work then, and it looks like it isn't going to work now."

The difference, as I understand it, is that back then, they didn't really follow through and tweak it or change it based on user feedback or data.  People complained and they finally took it down.  I honestly think if they are interested in making it work, they need to put it out there and make it work.

"I think a Random search would be so much easier to put together and fairer as well."

Not quite sure what you mean by random.  It seems to me right now any search term you type in will give you random results, results pulled from every category with those words used in the item in some way.  That's pretty random to me.  Theoretically, relevancy is the fairest search both for the customer and the seller, provided the buyer is looking for what the seller is selling.  Now, so far, I have to agree that we're not quite all on the same page as far as efficiency is concerned, there are a lot of factors such as mistagging, miscategorizing and lack of suitable categories for all items, BUT, the potential is there to make this work.  It's just going to take a lot of time and patience and rather than trying to fight Etsy every step of the way, to try and work with them and help them.  It ultimately helps you.

"it really stinks that people have spent so much time researching the best time, day of the week, types of items, etc. to renew. People have built a marketing and business strategy around this and now it means nothing."

What is really kind of 'sad' is that this was ever promoted by anyone in the first place.  I remember the day it was announced by a seller that they used this tactic and found it successful in generating more sales.  It took awhile, but eventually Etsy itself jumped on the bandwagon and suggested it as well, made reference to it in their FAQs and blog articles  and then subsequently, when everyone started doing it and the site grew larger and larger it became impossible for certain site features to continue to support it.  Eventually Etsy had to retract their support of this as a way of getting seen, but the damage had already been done.

This is also why I fear Etsy giving out too much information on how to become 'relevant'.  If they give too many precise details, people will jump to conform and then 'everyone' will fight and claw to become tops in the search and find ways to circumvent the system to get on top.  General guidelines and some parameters to force people to comply (such as limited characters in titles) might be useful, but then, I imagine there will be an outcry that this is too restrictive.  Rock and a hard place, if you ask me.

"If I search for "caramels" I get an entire first page that includes art, clothing, jewelry, housewares, handbags, quilts -- all in caramel colors -- but not a single edible. Yet the odds are that a buyer searching for "caramels" is looking for the candy, not the color."

Again, expecting specific results out of a general search query is asking it to read your mind.  I did this exact search, and yes, the very first results are everything and anything 'caramel'.  But if you are wanting something edible, you look to the left and there is the category called 'plants and edibles' and if you click on that, the results show yummy and delicious looking confections that will get your salivary glands  pumping.  If you go to Amazon and put books in the search box, will you get books relating to astronomy in the top results?  Probably not.  You have to be more specific either in your intial request or drill down using categories.  It's not rocket science!

"Really, I'm just pretty flabbergasted that you guys think it's a good idea to "experiment" with the entire site like this."

While I understand this comment, I have to wonder how it would have played out had Etsy beta tested it privately and then released it as a done deal and we had to accept it 'as is'?  People complain all the time that they don't get a say in new features and that Etsy should have asked the general populace what they thought and that they should get more input from users.  We're actually getting what has been asked for.  How are you going to have any affect once it's beta tested and then rolled out?  Sure, some changes might come after that, but not nearly as many as might take place now with them testing it out for everyone to give their opinions and suggestions.  Etsy is giving users what they've asked for and even that doesn't make them happy.  I guess it's a 'no win' situation, but at least this time they erred on the side of giving too much than not enough.

"im not liking this change, because it seems no one will know how to get relevant, then someone who is relevant, they will try to copy those who are relevant and everyone will have the same thing... then who is relevant? I know im not too relevant and I have things set up correctly.

 This post made me giggle.  I can just see the crossed arms and pouty lip.  I wonder how anyone knows whether or not they are relevant.  What are you comparing yourself to?  Ok, kidding aside, what I'm getting from this based on the category this seller is in, is that for high volume sellers who dominate the category at any given time by relisting sold items, that they will no longer dominate in a relevancy based search.  I get that.  It's got to be tough when it's something you've gotten used to and come to depend on, just like those at the opposite end of the spectrum have gotten used to low views and sales because they don't have the volume to relist or the funds to continually renew.  The difference is, the change finally levels the playing field for all sellers.  And in reality, it's only the search that is being affected, because if you go to the category you are still going to see the most recently listed items, so you haven't completely lost your 'edge'.

"If etsy wants to switch to a default relevancy search, fine. But give us some warning and guidance about how we should be listing to be relevant. And don't allow abuse of titles.

What I have a problem with right now, that I don't like being part of an experiment for 3 days out of the next 3 weeks. We all try hard to run our shops well and to change the rules on us as an experiment doesn't seem right to me.{If etsy wants to switch to a default relevancy search, fine. But give us some warning and guidance about how we should be listing to be relevant. And don't allow abuse of titles."

This kind of goes with the comment earlier, but  my thought is that not giving us guidelines ahead of time is part of the tweaking process.  To find out what is currently working and what is not.  I'm of the feeling that everyone running around changing tags and titles in an effort to be seen as relevant is probably doing more damage than good to the data results.  Everyone should have been tagging for relevancy in the first place, I mean, if you're selling red widgets, wouldn't you tag, title and describe those red widgets so people could find them?  In my estimation, any buyer confusion is most likely a result of sellers changing things around trying to guess what the winning combination will be rather than a relevant search.

"From the FP--> (ignoring the annoying drop down suggestions,) type in Clutch in the handmade search.

THE FIRST ITEM THAT COMES UP IS A BALL! The last item on the first page is a pair of EARRINGS!

Seriously, are you kidding me?"

Again, we have a perfect example of how people just do not understand the mechanics of a search tool.  A general search for anything is going to give you general results of anything containing that word.  What have you given the search tool to understand that you are looking for a purse and not a pair of earrings with a clutch back?   The search tool cannot read your mind, you have to help it along, so to help you help the search, along the left side of that page result are some categories for you to narrow your search.  And   I just did that very search ) ) and found satisfactory results, the first page, with the exception of a pair of earrings actually did show all clutches of the purse variety.  But to eliminate any other items other than purses, you can choose from the following categories:
All Items
Once you select your category, you can further refine you search using any other qualifiers that relate to what you are looking for.
"My confusion is this... when I search for 'finger puppet' I am on the third page, fine. Most of the items on the first two pages DO NOT HAVE FINGER PUPPET or PUPPET as a tag. The term is mentioned once in the title, once in the description. The item isn't really even a finger puppet. So I'm confused. Will any of my items ever be in the first few pages of a search? Or am I lost near the middle forever?"
Ok, I did this search,  and got 1197 items on that list.  The first page was dominated by a seller selling ipod covers that doubled as a finger puppet.  While I understand your frustration with not being more relevant than that seller, if I were looking for a finger puppet for a child I would probably scan that first page or two and then look at the categories listed on the left and select the toy category.  In which case, one of your items appears on the first page.  Once again, I will reiterate, a general search term will yield general results.  You must be more specific both in listing items and searching items to find what you are looking for.
"A lot of stores are paying alot of money in relisting and renewing items to find were are now at the back of the listings and old listings (2-3 mos old) are at the front, we will loose alot of customers to this system and Etsy will loose alot of revenue why should we pay to renew or relist if were not getting any exposure."
This is getting redundant.  There is no evidence that Etsy will lose any revenue, as a matter of fact, their revenue could remain the same or increase if buyers are able to find and purchase what they are looking for.   And I have to ask, if your customers are complaining to you that they can't find you, then how are you receiving these complaints?  lol.    The fact that older listings are appearing in the search is actually proof that the search is working.  That is what it is supposed to do, return results that are relevancy based rather than listing (or renewing or relisting) date.  Once again, sellers who are successful under the current system are going to resist any changes that might impact that.  I understand that.  But with the number of sellers and items listed and that continue to be listed there has to be a better, more equitable system to find whatever it is that someone can be searching for. Ok, that's enough for now.  this is getting too long and I'm getting increasingly irritated with people who do not know how to tag for relevance to their own items.  If you are listing a dog bracelet, then for goodness' sake, tag it dog bracelet and look up the breeds of the dogs for the correct spelling.  It's Lhasa apso not asa apso.  Cripes.


THE SKY IS FALLING!! and the New Relevancy Search on Etsy

As usual, an announcement is made and the forums go wild with complaints and speculation.  Rob (Rokali) announced yesterday that for the next few Thursdays the default search would be based on relevance rather than the current default which is by listing date, most recently listed.

The fact that they are only doing this one day a week, to test and tweak, and to gather information from both the forums and the data collected behind the scenes is actually kind of refreshing, for a change.  Of course, this is no guarantee that should this roll out eventually that it won't be fraught with problems, but at least it appears they are trying to do this the right way.

As per usual though, the moment something like this is announced people are quick to rush in and gush their thanks or lodge their complaints without even giving it a chance.  And I know, this is the norm for the Etsy forums, it just becomes a bit  comical after observing it for so long.

I read with interest a number of discussions of people decrying this change and I honestly hope those that make the final decision as to whether or not relevancy becomes the default search takes into consideration that the majority of the complainers are not using logic.  A few of the example searches they gave are clearly not based on knowledge of how a search engine would work.  One example that was given was an artist would now did not appear in the first results of a relevant search for "Bird Art".  And she's right.  A cursory search using the handmade pull down and those words put into the search bar brings up thousands of mixed results.  Everything from every category possible with a bird or art in their title, tags or description comes up, and for good reason.  For the casual browser who is simply looking for something (but nothing specific) can of course, wade through hundreds of thousands of items one by one, or they can narrow it down by the categories to the left. 

So, now I know that this person sells original mixed media bird art, so after narrowing my choices to the art category, I select the original mixed media category and voila, right on page 1 is this person's Bird Art.  Had I wanted a photograph, or something else, I would have clicked on that category and chose (or not) from there.  For the purposes of finding this person's particular items though, I went with the sub category they chose.

Another example given is someone who is concerned because their photograph title (the name she gave the photograph) lowers her relevancy.  A number of artists concur that the title the artist gives to their work is relevant and meaningful to themselves and their customers.  I don't doubt that, but when searching (at least for myself and others I have seen post) it's rarely a search term.  I tend to look for subject matter first.  One of my often used browsing searches is 'lighthouses'.  So, using the dropdown menu under handmade, I type lighthouses into the search bar.  Of course, my first result is everything on Etsy related to lighthouses, so from there I select Art from the categories on the left hand side of the page.  Now, I can peruse everything in Art pertaining to lighthouses, or I can select further from the choices on the left.  If I want a painting or a photograph or mixed media or a drawing I can select even further.  If I don't know for sure and want to just browse, I can stay where I am and go through the 73 pages one by one.  At this point, whatever the artist has named their work is really not of importance to me, but if I see something that catches my eye and click on it and read that it is titled "The Watcher" (and I don't know if this exists or not, just pulled that out of thin air) and that title resonates with me, I may purchase it, or put it in my favorites for now and keep looking.  If I am looking for a painting, no, I am not going to see your collage or your illustration so you will not be found.  But for my purposes, as a buyer, I am finding exactly what I want and it's irrelevant when it was listed because the search is returning results that are most relevant to my query.

I find it odd that there is so much controversy and energy and time expended trying to categorize the Art section so that everyone has a 'place' to list their art, and at the same time complain that they are not first in a search for whatever it is they do in a more general search.

Another seller of digital images used in collages and jewelry (and whatever else) is concerned that up until now she was always in the top of her category and now with the new search she is relegated to the back pages and 'can't be found'.  As someone who has searched for digital collage sheets in the past, I can tell you that I usually will search by subject.  Just searching digital collage sheets brings back 1165 pages of results.  No way would I slog through all of that.  I *might* click on the first few shops if their thumbnail or title was descriptive or enticing enough, but it's not likely.  It is more likely that I would narrow it down by subject matter since the category choices on the left hand side really only reflect where someone thought they should list since I"m not sure there is an actual category for these.  I could be wrong, though, but that's how it appears.  So, anyway, if I want gothic images, or images of fish or birds or cupcakes, I type that in the search bar and then I get more specific results and right off the bat, for one of those subjects, this seller is on the first page with several items.

Now will this work for every item?  I don't know.  Theoretically, it should.  If you have google analytics you can see the keywords people use to find your items, that is a big clue as to how you should title and tag your items.  Categories and sub cats should also be utilized, after all, that is where you are placing your items.

I really hope that relevant search will become the default, it has so much more potential for buyers to find what they want in a logical fashion.

In closing, I just want to give an analogy to illustrate the way I look at this.  Imagine your perfect handbag.  It has individual compartments so that you can find your cell phone or your keys or your checkbook.  Your wallet further separates your money, your credit cards, your change and receipts.  If you keep it free of clutter and clean it out regularly, you should continue to find the things you are looking for readily and easily.  You can tell someone else where to find something and because of the organization, they can find it easily too.  Much easier than a bag with no pockets and everything is just thrown in.  Sure, you can rummage around and dig out your wallet, or your keys, but if you don't find them right away, don't you often go looking around the house only to come back and rummage some more and then actually find them in there?  I know I've done that. 

I look at Etsy as trying to get the handbag organized, by giving sellers the pockets to put their items in, rather than the current haphazard way things are now, with the last thing you threw in that handbag being on top.

Believe me, I'll be one of the first ones to call Bullshit on Etsy, and I have.  Etsy is a very easy target for the disgruntled to shoot at.  They do a lot of things wrong, but at some point, maybe they have to do some things right.  I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt for now and see how this plays out.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Admitting 'you can't'.

I was reading a thread in the Etsy forums this morning, about a young girl who was asking for advice on how to fit Etsy into her full time school and work schedule.  Being frustrated with not having enough 'Etsy time', she asked for advice on how to balance it all.

Having read similar stories about people trying to 'Etsy' with already overflowing schedules made me consider this phenomena a little more deeply.  Sure, some people are trying to make an income, whether supplemental or more.  But others, for some reason, are trying to fit Etsy into a tiny little slot in their schedule, as if it's a requirement and not something extra.

Granted, many people balance work, kids, home and Etsy, or any other combination of circumstances.  But the reality is, that there are only so many hours in a day, days in a week, and so on.  There comes a time when you have to admit that you just can't fit anything else in without sacrificing something else.

Maybe it's an age thing, or a generational thing, but young adults today seem to want to do it all now.  When my kids were younger I worked part time, kept house and was a volunteer fireman.  I did do crafting when I had time, but I couldn't imagine trying to fit in a serious committment to selling those crafts during that period, no matter how much I might have wanted to, or how much it might have supplemented our income.  Something would have suffered.

So here I am, 20 years later, still crafting, and having successfully sold those crafts for many of those years.  Now I have the time to devote to making this a full time business if I so desired, without sacrificing something else.

Don't be afraid to admit that you can't do it all.  Nobody can, no matter how it may appear to you, I know these things, I'm old and wise.  Well, ok, I"m old.  Wise, not so much, but my years of living have taught me a few things.  It's ok to say no, and it's ok to admit that you can't do it all.  It took me a long time to learn that.  You are much better off the earlier in life you learn and accept this fact.

If you really want to do something, fit something in, then you find a way to balance all the things in your life.  Only you know where you can cut back, or find the time.  The reality is, if it's bringing you stress, then consider the possibility that now is just not the right time for it.  Life is stressful enough without inventing things to add even more stress to it.

While crafting and selling those crafts can be a pleasant outlet, in most cases it's not a requirement or something that must be done right now, so it's ok to wait until you have the time make the committment, even if it requires a bit of a balancing act.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Unmuting the Muted

In Rob Kalin's most recent installment of answers to questions upon his return to the CEO position at Etsy (which is done interview style) Answering your questions, #4 , he stated "Any Etsy member who is currently forum muted will have this restriction removed.".  This is one of several points made that has caused a lot of reaction in the forums.  Being one of the permanently muted, I did find his comment rather interesting as well as the opposition to it voiced in the forums.

I will admit that I only know of 3 (including myself) who were perma-muted, the other two being 1. an associate of a competitive selling venue and 2. an outspoken buyer who likes cats.  Oh wait, there is one more, another vocal buyer turned seller (on another venue).  Ok, so 4 I know of, including myself.  There must be a faction of others that I am not aware of, that did unspeakably evil acts for the opposition expressed in this thread.  You'd think that Rob announced that resellers were going to be welcomed back complete with a ticker-tape parade and guaranteed front page exposure for all the animosity expressed in that thread.

I'm guessing that those who are allowed back into the forums will not be given a free pass to wreak havoc and their return will be conditional in some way.  But maybe that's just my common sense talking.  As it stands, no one really knows the how/what/when/ and as usual speculation runs rampant and the usual suspects stir up the forums.

I guess what I am getting at is while some of you may have very valid reasons for fearing the return of some of the muted, and I mean fear, not dislike or irritation or disdain, don't paint all the mutees with the same brush.  Just as you don't want a 'blanket unmuting', I don't want to see a blanket campaign to try and get Rob to retract his statement.  Some people do deserve another chance.

And some of you, try and rise above the behavior you so despise, because you look rather silly denigrating others when you are trying to prevent those who you accuse of doing just that, from returning to the forums.

Just sayin'.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Pioneer Woman

Nowadays blogging is where 'it's at'.  Everyone and their gerbil has a blog and cover every subject from A to Z.  Some people are really into it, and others, like me, are new to blogging and haven't found their rhythm yet and are kind of all over the place with their topics.  I was never a blog reader either, except for things pertaining to Etsy, but although the blogs are entertaining and informative, they tend to get a little boring and can be a bit of a downer since most of them bring up and belabor the negative points of said site.

So, completely by accident I discovered The Pioneer Woman.  Advertising on blogs is quite common, either by purchasing advertising space or being reviewed by the blogger.  I decided to google top blogs and in skimming the list, happened upon one that sounded interesting, so I clicked and started reading.  I haven't stopped!

I started with her true life story "Black Heels to Tractor Wheels"  where she tells the story of meeting the love of her life "the Marlboro Man".  It's romantic and the kind of story you'd read in a Harlequin Romance Novel.  I was thankful that I was reading it as she was just finishing up the last few chapters, I don't think I could have survived breathlessly waiting for each installment as they were written.

The funny thing about Ree Drummond is that she comes across as a real person.  I feel like I know her.  Reading her blog always makes me smile, and if I lived closer I'd kidnap that adorable Charlie because I just know they don't love him enough!

I've followed her as she published her first cook book and did her book tour. Her blog is filled with recipes, homeschooling, gardening, photography, animals, kids and an eye-opening look at ranch life.

I'm not much of a blog reviewer, so if Ree ever catches wind of my post, I hope she's in a forgiving mood.  I just know what I like, and I absolutely love her blog and wanted to share.

Just make sure you have a pot of coffee and a comfy chair because I can guarantee you will spend hours being entertained on her blog.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Be Careful What You Wish For

I've come to use that phrase when referring to Etsy, a lot.  Several years ago, Rob Kalin decided to get rid of vintage and supplies.  After the hue and cry in the forums he changed his mind and allowed them to stay.  I often wonder A.  what were the reasons he felt they didn't belong, and B.  What convinced him otherwise?

I was never comfortable with them being there.  Believe it or not, I was more worried about supplies than I was vintage.  Vintage doesn't compete with handmade.  Supplies don't really either, at least not in the same way.  But, the problem is something I see happening more and more in the forums; copying.  Sellers looking for the next hot item on the front page, in the storque finds, gift guides, wherever.  Suppliers looking there and hunting down the supplies and then selling them so that we can have scads of scrabble tile jewelry, octopus necklaces, tulip flower jewelry, acorns, deer, mustaches, get the picture.

You see something you like on Etsy?  you can almost lay odds that someone on Etsy sells the supplies for it.  Along with it comes the expectation that everyone is going to share their designs, techniques and resources.  And finished item shops mixing supplies in is just asking for trouble.  People are constantly offended when they are asked to share how they made something.  Really? 

Every single person I know that has a shop mixing finished items and supplies sees the supplies selling faster and with more regularity than the finished items.  The smart ones know this will happen and use these items as window dressing to show what can be made with their supplies.  They might even be selling tutorials and tools as well.  Good business for them, and potentially for every other supply seller because some people are not out to copy but make their own designs so they may look around for something not quite the same.  But what about your fellow finished item sellers?  What are you doing for them by providing the supplies and directions to make what is also their craft?  I ust think there needs to be a few more degrees of separation between supplies and finished items, personally.

Not only that, supplies opened up the floodgates to anything and everything that could potentially be used as supply.  I remember asking in a forum thread one time that if I could get a good deal on fish bowls, could I sell them as a crafting supply?  after all, they can be used for other things; terrariums, candle holders, lamp bases, etc.  I never did get a straight answer from admin.  Fast forward to a few months ago when they came out with some changes to the Dos and Don'ts which clarified some points and just muddied the waters even further on others.  Here is the section on commercial supplies:
  • A commercial crafting supply is not a commercial item that, although it may be used in crafting, is ready to use as is (for example: mass-produced clothing, dollhouse furniture and clothing).
  • Commercial tools, elements and accessories that are used in conjunction with handmade items, but are not used to create a new item may not be sold on Etsy as a commercial crafting supply (for example: make-up brushes, wax tart burners).
The first bullet is pretty clear, although I think they could have  given a few more examples from some of the different types of crafts sold here.

The second bullet is very muddy.  Maybe they should have said anything not a part of the finished construction cannot be sold as a commercial supply.

I learned a long time ago in my early days of jewelry making that a supply was something that was 'used up' in the construction of a given craft, wire, beads, clasps, yarn, fabric, thread, but things like pliers, jewelry polish, polishing cloths, sandpaper, saw blades, sewing machines, rolling mills, sergers, cameras, printers are tools, used in the construction of a particular craft, but not part of the finished product.

But it's a double edged sword.  Get rid of a lot of the stuff that doesn't belong and lose the potential revenue?  Or try to steer Etsy back toward it's course.   Not that it really clears up the copying issue I outllined earlier, for that they would have to remove commercial supplies altogether, and unfortuntely, I don't see that happening.  And for those of you screaming about commercial chains now being disallowed, how about instead you scream for options in listings so you can list a pendant with a chain and without, with 2 different prices and let the customer chose.  I'd much rather see that then Etsy start making exceptions to the rules they put in place and just re-opening up the same problems as before.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Etsy and an In-House Payment System

Every day the forums are filled with complaints about non-paying buyers.  Those potential customers who click all the way through the buying process only to not pay in the end.  This takes the item out of the seller's shop, and then they have to pursue the customer via email to have them complete the purchase.  In many cases, it's just a matter of the customer not quite understanding the payment process, some don't understand that they can use a credit card through Paypal and they don't need an account.  I imagine they click through to the paypal page and get scared and back out.  Others change their mind, some respond to the emails, others you never hear from again.

Etsians would like to see the site come up with a way for items not to be removed from a shop's available inventory until payment has been made.  From what I've discerned from the forums and some admin responses, this could be accomplished from having an 'in-house' payment system, meaning Etsy would process the the payments from the customers.  In this way they can program the system to not remove items from inventory until a payment has been made.  Theoretically, it sounds like the perfect solution.  Right?

Some of us, myself included, are a little low on customer confidence in Etsy to handle this task.  Past performance has shown us that clarity, consistency and communication are not their strong suits.  But have you thought about it beyond that point?  to what it actually means for Etsy to handle payments?  I have.

It most likely means that you won't get paid at the time of purchase, but at a designated time, such as once a month.  It also means that most likely they will take out all their fees prior to paying you.  You will likely lose the ability to cancel sales/transactions and Etsy will make the rules on whether or not you must refund the customer.  And, depending on their specific rules, they could actually refund the customer themselves before paying you if you have money in your account.  I'm fairly certain they would do everything in their power to avoid eating any costs, so conceivably they could institute some sort of percentage 'hold' on monies in each account in the case of refunds, chargebacks or sellers not delivering.

Right now, despite the non paying buyers, I think we have it pretty easy.  They really don't get involved with issues between sellers and buyers, although they do tell you to email them if you have a problem, they really can't do much about non deliveries, refunds or non payers.  Sure, they can shut the shop down, but often that just complicates matters and leaves customers hanging in the wind.  And deleting a buyer's account is pretty fruitless, because they can just make a new account and repeat the behavior.  I suppose each of us has to weigh the pros and cons and decide which is more acceptable for us.

Of course, this might give buyers a little more protection, and that's a good thing.  However, if they handle our customer's issues the way they handle our issues I don't hold out much hope for it's success.  Not that I think this feature is imminent, I don't.  I think it's way off in the future, because  basically it's beyond the scope of the current staff's capabilities to not only integrate it, but maintain it as well.  At least I hope it's way off in the future.  Please.

So what made me think about this issue if I don 't think it's something we need to worry about for quite some time?  Mostly because when I read the forums I see a lot of people with no experience piping up about things they think are so great, or bitch about things they want or don't want.  They rarely think things through, they throw out ideas and suggestions without taking into consideration the ramifications down the road, or how their idea might affect their fellow seller or their customer.  People who think they know everything, or the right way to do a certain thing when the only experience they have is a few months selling stuff on Etsy.

When you think you want something, take a minute and think it through.  Are you willing to accept all the other things that might come along with that want?  Because from my years on Etsy, you need to be careful what you wish for because you just might get it.  See my next post.

Friday, January 01, 2010

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I know I'm not much of a writer, as evidenced by this poor excuse for a blog, but then, my readership isn't such that I feel like I have anything to live up to, ya know?  I can't talk about my jewelry all the time, I don't have any funny stories or pictures to share about family because my son's live far away, my daughter, who lives at home,  spends all of her time going to college classes, working or with her boyfriend.  When she is home she's holed up in her room studying or just chilling out.  She can be a hermit just like her old lady. 

My husband, although he is around fairly often when he isn't working or off in the woods hunting furry creatures (which manage to elude him for the most part) isn't particularly funny or photo worthy unless you catch my daughter grabbing that little clump of hair under his bottom lip (we call it the grabby thing) and makes him lip synch to South Park's ''Kyle's Mom is a Bitch''.  It's hysterically funny, even after the eleventy thousandth time.

So mostly, it's just me, Lily the dog and Loki and Razzy the cats.  Somehow, I can't seem to make the dog curled up in her chair or the cats looking out the window a newsworthy event.  And besides, even when they do something funny or cute, I don't have a camera nearby.  The last time I tried, by the time I got the camera, discovered the batteries were dead and I had replaced them, got back to the scene of the cuteness.....well, let's just say the moment had passed.

My life isn't that interesting and there aren't very many ways to dress up the mundane.  For example, we had New Years dinner with my sis in law Bonnie and her BF Joe.  We had steak and lobster.  It was delicious.  We did have to play musical chairs before sitting down to actually eat because Bonnie's house is quite small, and some of us aren't so small and we like to be able to breath when we eat.  Just makes the meal more pleasant.   So, once we all had sufficient 'tummy room' around the table, we ate a delicious dinner, drank homemade wine and homemade christmas cookies for dessert.  We sat around the table discussing various family members and Bonnie received a text message from our nephew Jimmy, which said something to the effect that he wanted to wish all the ugly people a happy new year early, because he had to text the beautiful people later.  Or something like that.  That's our Jimmy!

I suppose I could tell you about Christmas Eve at Freddy and Sandy's house.  It's tradition that the family gather's there every year.  We all bring food, sit around and chat, drink, talk about 'the old days', which usually always includes the story about Bonnie falling back in a chair at the funeral home and not wearing any underwear.

The last few years have seen the annual family gathering grow smaller and smaller.  We lost Billy just a few weeks before Christmas.  He was the second youngest (my husband is the baby).  He had been ill for quite some time, so this wasn't unexpected.  He was never the same after his wife Donna passed a few years ago.  Anyway, Freddy (the oldest) and Bonnie went over to the funeral home and brought Billy over to the house to celebrate Christmas with us.  Did I forget to mention that his remains had been cremated?  So, Billy sat in a place of honor and we all toasted to him, reminisced,  and Bonnie put his teeth (dentures) in the box with him.  Just in case the afterlife doesn't come equipped with a full set of pearly whites.

So, did I make any New Years Resolutions?  well, I resolved not to eat any cooked green vegetables like broccoli, peas and lima beans, the same things I give up for lent and so far I've stuck to it.  It seems a little foolish to change things now since I have the fortitude not to be swayed from my resolve.  I resolve not to torture my family with home cooked meals and order take out more often, and I resolve not to be such a neat freak and let our home assume a more relaxed, lived in atmosphere.

I suppose I could make a resolution to be a more responsible blogger......or not.  Tell you what, I will resolve to blog as often as I feel like it, how's that?

Well, Happy New Year everyone, I hope 2010 is everything you hope for and more.  Of course, I say that EVERY year and then at the end of THAT year, I hope the next year  isn't as crappy as the one before.  Hope springs eternal, I guess.