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?)
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.