Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Etsy changed its policy - is that a good thing?

The change in etsys policy has launched a big debate on the blogpost it was released with. It seams to be a "I don't want to be offended" vs. "Artistic Freedom" discussion - and since I love to add my five cent to pretty much everything, I thought I might as well do it here on my blog :-)

I love the internet. I am a complete sucker for freedom of expression and speach and I have a fairly accepting sense of humor, so please keep this in mind while reading. I am not here to offend anyone, I just cant keep my mouth from running away with me :-)
Let's all be friends!

So, after a lot of bad publicity etsy got for having someone sell "hateful and demeaning" cards, it was decided that the policy needed to be changed - especially the section with the prohibited items. To me, it is fairly clear that etsy had to do something to keep a lot of people from leaving or boykoting etsy, and they have every right to do so. Its a privately owned company, if they only want to allow art made by lefthanded people, they can change their policy so everything has to be made with the left hand - it has nothing to do with constitutional rights AT ALL.
They didn't do that. Here is a quote from the original article:

For those of you who don't want to read the full text of the policies, I'll summarize the big changes. We no longer allow items or listings that promote, support or glorify hatred toward or otherwise demean people based upon race, ethnicity, religion, gender, gender identity, disability, or sexual orientation; including items or content that promote organizations with such views.

We also looked at our policies around violence and illegal activity and we have revised those, too. The revised policy now prohibits items or listings that promote or support illegal activity or instruct others to engage in illegal activity and items or listings that promote, support or glorify acts of violence or harm towards self or others.
Sounds good, right? I mean, nobody wants to be bombarded with hateful craft when they open up their browser. And Kids could see that stuff, too! So lets just remove everything that is demeaning and we're all set, aren't we awesome? Etsy should be a place where people feel welcome, a place to sell nice handmade things...


I picked a non-etsy seller on purpose
it's not that easy. It never is. The wording of this section is so vague that it can mean pretty much anything. And the slope they are getting on here is oh so slippery!
I looked at the shop that apparently started it all. You can buy weird greeting cards there that congratulate people to all kind of awkward situations - rape, death, AIDS, Down Syndrom and yes, they are pretty bad taste in my opinion. I have to admit that I actually laughed at some of them - A card that has two white guys shaking hands that reads "Congratulations, you're white" is hillarious. Its social criticism at its best and in no way racist - unless you plan to be offended anyway.

 My main problem is that I have no clue where this ends. Can bacon be labled as offensive and demeaning to muslims? There is a website (not an etsy shop - I didn't want to use something that could be tagged as offensive...) that sells absolutely hillarious "Feet for Jesus-fish" - you can stick them to other peoples cars. This is absolutely offensive to creationists - no question about it! But it's still funny...

I have no idea how this will play out - the TOU as they were weren't enforced much. Will it be any different now? I don't think so. I think this is a way for etsy to be able to ban any listings that give them bad press - and even if I don't like that, it simply had to be done. So, I don't like the changes that where made, but etsy had every right to do it and it was probably a necessary business-wise

Wow - I forgot how long winded I get if you let me! Thanks for sticking with me to the end of this rather long post!



  1. I am wondering where it will end. I agree the wording on the policy is vague.I think this is one change that will lead the way to many changes on privately own sites such as Etsy. Great post Vee!

  2. The rape cards had to go, but I do agree that the new policy is rather vague.