Thursday, March 18, 2010

From the Desk of The Savant

From the desk of The Savant

Preamble: if you are ever out with your snotty college educated buddies drinking in a bar, do not ever tell them the story about that time you ran statistical algorithms from data that you derived from the phonebook....


Dear etsy,

Please explain why there are so many items on your site and so few of them seem to make it to the front page.

Please explain why there are so many items on your site and the same items keep appearing on the front page treasury.

Please explain why it is that when your own site users complain about this, completely and fully defining what they are complaining about (e.g. what constitutes a “repeat”, how often is too often, what moderation really means), that you continue to exhibit the behavior they are complaining about.

Please explain how your staff continuing to place the same items by the same sellers on the front page treasury in spite of the collective outcry against the practice by your site users is not an expression of contempt by your staff towards your users.

Please explain why the same treasury curator’s treasuries keep making it to the front page in spite of the fact that at any given time those treasuries by those same curators are literally less than 10% of the treasuries available for use at any given time.

Please explain why your staff cannot choose a broader range of different curators when placing member made treasuries in the front page treasury slot.

Please explain why the same items appear in multiple storque articles simultaneously.

Please explain why your staff cannot seem to broaden their horizons and feature and write about a range of items that they have no personal connection to. In other words, why can’t your staff write a Storque article without personal references or involving items that they personally like. For instance, I used to work in a deli, and while I may not be that fond of Amish potato salad, that never impeded my ability to sell it to customers. Why is it that your staff cannot express this sort of professional behavior?

Please explain how hard it is to be presented with a topic and simply write a few paragraphs about it in a concise and factual manner, and then choose saleable items that are directly relevant to that topic.

Please explain the lack of coupon codes.

Please explain the inability for shop owners to batch edit the prices of their items.

Please explain why you would redesign something as ubiquitous as the search bar without getting a broad range of opinions about your design choices before implementing them without so much as a bit of notification.

Please explain why the lettering on the new header was so small.

Please explain why in spite of the fact that in the thread started by Rokali regarding the design changes that there were an overwhelming number of complaints about the size of the font of the header and why nothing was done to correct this error within 24 hours.

Please explain to me the merchandising qualifications of your staff.

Please explain why 98% of the items featured on your front page treasury appeal only to a female consumer demographic.

Please explain how excluding mens’ items almost entirely from your merchandizing features is in any way, shape, or form proactive for the benefit of your sellers.

Please explain why everyone can’t have a treasury.

Please explain why it’s so hard to get a treasury.

Please explain why it takes sooooooooooooooo long for the treasury to load.

Please explain to your staff members that if they are going to use their etsy staff user names for their twitter accounts, that it is then completely inappropriate and unprofessional for them to twitter such personal information as whether or not they have “PMS” (specifically DanielleXO).


The Savant, etsy shop user


They call me Vanty (which is apparently supposed to either be cutesy or short for The Savant… apparently “TS” just didn’t drip with awesomesauce). I have a college degree, I graduated magna cum-laude, and with honors. I have a full time job. I also have an etsy shop.

Items from my shop do occasionally appear on the front page treasury. And by “occasionally” I mean once every four months when etsy member’s bitching about the staff’s constant featuring of their own personal favorites reaches it’s fever pitch, the damn breaks, and there seems to be some forced altruism, which usually lasts for like 2 weeks before it’s back to the ugliest shit on the face of planet earth from lirola, toybreaker, absolutely shitty horrible mockery-bad photoshopping hell from maclancy, et al.

And you know what I tend to notice when my items make the front page? That your staff seem to have the inate ability to pick the ugliest fucking thing available for sale in my shop. I’m serious. I want to be happy about making the front page, but really, your staff chose that? Fuck.

And I’m not the only one who has noticed this phenomenon: that when your staff selects items from someone’s shop for one of their front page treasury they tend to pick the most disparate item: the item that is least representational of the overall theme, style, pattern, color, size, or general scheme of whatever it is that you sell.

That’s a horrible strategy: to display to potential customers the one item that most marginally represents your inventory.

Conveniently I have an example that is twofold: your staff pick’s the odd item out and front page repetition.

Twice yesterday I saw this photo on the front page:


And the only place I have ever seen this photo is on the front page. I have run many searches generically in the art category, more specifically in the photography category, and yet the only place I have ever seen this photo is on the front page.

Why is that? Probably because I don’t like dogs. So, I would never specifically type “dogs” into the search bar, let alone Chihuahua.

Now, aside from the fact that the title is in all caps, which is just obnoxious, as someone who simply doesn’t like dogs, this particular item has absolutely no appeal to me. So, seeing something that is actually an enormous turn-off twice in one day really isn’t spurring my ability to pull my credit card out of my pocket…

Which is funny, because I’ve clicked through Lucy Snow’s etsy shop before. And with the exception of that fucking Chihuahua, I actually enjoy most of her photography immensely. Unless she shuts down her shop or floods it with 400 repeats of that Chihuahua photo or cards, then the vast majority of the items in her shop could be classified as nature photography. You know, because the subtitle of her shop (as I type this) is “Urban Art for Nature Lovers”.

So, I went to her shop, which had 80 items at the time, and counted them; subdividing them into generic basic categories: outside, animals, inside / still life, frame.

outside: 56 items | outside = trees, landscapes, sky, landscape + animals

animals: 13 items | animals = animal is primary focus of photo

inside / still life: 9 items | inside / still life = Chihuahua/chair or flowers in a vase

frames: 2 items | self explanatory

Why did I separate the Chihuahua out of animals? Because the Chihuahua is sitting in a chair, all the other animals are outside.

So, 97.5% of the 80 items in stock are either prints or cards.

86.25% of the 80 items in stock are either prints or cards depicting elements of nature that were photographed outside.

Why is there any significance to those numbers? Because they are above 8%. If that raises a question, then I suggest you google a tutorial about statistics.

The reason that those numbers matter is because they are ridiculously high percentages. The vast majority of the items in Ms. Snow’s shop aren’t “like” that Chihuahua picture. The Chihuahua is a domestic animal, photographed as a portrait dressed up in clothes (which is not “natural”) in an indoor setting. Where as the vast majority of the images for sale in the shop are actually objects of nature photographed in the environment they exist in as they exist.

The Chihuahua, statistically, is the aberration. It’s categorically different than most of the inventory in that shop. Categorically, given my general dislike of dogs, I actually enjoy most of the rest of the photography in that shop… but no one on the etsy staff ever spends a second focusing on the items that constitute the majority of Ms. Snow’s catalog of work for sale on etsy. All they ever show me is that fucking Chihuahua.

Now if I hate dogs, or more specifically, I hate Chihuahuas, then I would have utterly no reason to click on the image and see real breadth, depth, or variety, or realistically the actual theme of Ms Snow’s work. And she has some wonderful photos. But I don’t like dogs, and all you ever show me is the one thing I don’t like. Which, in all actuality is not an average representation of the artist’s work.

Having a staff with marketing degrees or professional merchandizing experience would never create this scenario, let alone replicate it repeatedly. It’s completely antithetical. You should show me items from sellers that are not the exception or aberration to the bulk of their inventory, but items that are shining examples of the kind of work they’re actually trying to present.

I imagine Ms. Snow spent some time conceiving her photos, editing her photos, formatting them for printing, listing them, considering what theme / color scheme / style to use for her banner, inventing a subtitle / tagline for her work, etc. And yet, your staff can’t show me what by virtue of the bulk of her inventory, her tagline, and her banner — what she is actually intending to sell me.

You show me the fucking Chihuahua.

Why? Probably because some nitwit on your staff loves dogs or wants to buy a puppy. Because that seems to be the kind of reasoning that goes into the decisions that are made by your staff: they base their decisions on their own personal taste. That’s shallow. That is so shallow.

An actual professional would put the intentions of their sellers before their personal preferences. That is not what is done by your staff. Your staff’s philosophy seems to be staff first, sellers – meh.

That is simply contemptuous and ignorant.

Instead of sitting around the office drinking pretentious coffee and tweeting your favorites while trying to invent “trends”. How about looking at what is actually available for sale on your site, and find a way to make the most people successful at selling what they actually seem to intend to want to sell?

Don’t go to someone’s shop and pick your favorite, actually go to their shop and pick something that seems representational of the vast majority of their inventory.

Your staff needs to act like they’re staff. They need to act like professionals. They are not the average etsy user. They are employees. They are paid on the basis of our listing fees. They ought to be qualified to earn those checks. And they ought to act responsibly and professionally and in the best interests of their sellers.


Now, since I did all the reading and the counting, as I frequently supplied “The List” while some have suggested this is an inappropriate venue… I am too fucking lazy to start a blog and run around the internet randomly commenting on people’s blogs in a vain effort to get them to come to mine.

Since I can’t make a treasury because the feature isn’t amenable to the fact that I have a full time job:

Thursday Treasury