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The Etsy Strike Movement’s First Victory

During the Etsy Strike, we made so much noise, and we accomplished so much together.

We got international media coverage. We exposed Etsy’s corporate greed, and the extent to which they’ve been profiteering off of the hard work of their sellers.

For a while, Etsy was trying to pull that Wizard of Oz curtain back up. They did not respond when we invited them to talk to us directly. Instead, they issued vague responses to various media representatives, none of which addressed our demands. 

But they’ve just proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that they were listening to us.

The Star Seller program is not at the top of our list, but it is there. We demanded in our petition that Etsy end it, and we explained that the program is badly designed. Its criteria ends up highlighting high volume sellers rather than the small creators and curators of unique goods that Etsy purports to represent.

Again and again, we made statements to journalists to explain why the Star Seller Program made our list of demands.  Now, less than two months from the conclusion of our strike, Etsy has announced drastically-needed changes to the Star Seller Program.  All of these changes align perfectly with our criticisms.

Our biggest criticism of Star Seller was that it was designed to highlight high-volume sellers.  Since it began, the order volume requirement was impossible for a part-time seller of labor-intensive items to meet.  Starting in July, Etsy will now lower the requirement from 10 orders within the last three months down to 5 – “to help lower volume sellers who provide great customer service earn the Star Seller badge.”

We also criticized the “Star Rating” portion of Star Seller for generally poor design. Again and again, our interim President Kristi told the media : “A 1-star review counts the same against your total as a 4-star review!”  As of July, that will no longer be true.  Etsy will calculate the star rating based on rating average – “so that 4 star ratings count more positively toward your eligibility for Star Seller.”

Finally, we criticized the message system requirement, also for its poor design.  On every Etsy listing is a big message button which opens up a brand new message to the seller. It’s common for one customer to open multiple message “threads”, each of which needs to be responded to for Star Seller requirements.  An article in our Creators Rising blog summed it up like this:

Before the Star Seller Program, I would just respond to all 6 questions in a single message thread. After the Star Seller Program, I guess I’m supposed to respond to all of them individually?

“Hi! I’ve responded to your message elsewhere. Thanks!”

“Hi! I’ve responded elsewhere, sorry to spam you. Thanks!”

“Hi! I’ve responded elsewhere, I’m really sorry, Etsy forces me to do this.”

“Hi! I’ve responded elsewhere, and I promise I’m not a robot. Could someone please send that memo to Etsy?”

Sometime this month, Etsy will roll out a “new-and-improved messages experience that will start to combine messages from the same buyer.”

Etsy will deny that they made these changes in response to our strike.  But sellers have been giving them angry feedback about Star Seller for nearly a year now, and they haven’t done a thing to fix it.

This is a victory for the Etsy Strike movement.  Yes, we still have a long way to go.  Even with these recent changes, Star Seller is still poorly designed.  We still need a way to be able to take off weekends and holidays.  Auto-replies are not the answer.  Our customers are turned off by auto-replies, since they go to Etsy to do business with a human, not a machine.

But a partial victory is still a victory.  It gives us a taste of the incredible things we can accomplish when we work together.

We can do this.

Together, we can make Etsy a better place.  We can bring power back to the people. Etsy has shown they are listening, now we will work for sellers to have an actual seat at the table. 

Every day that passes is one day closer to the official launch of the Indie Sellers Guild.  We have so much more in store for you, and we are so excited to share it with you.

Please stay tuned.

Have you signed our petition yet?  If not, please do so now!  Sellers check the “I’m a seller” box, and make sure you’re opted in to receive emails.  We’ll be sending out info on how to join the guild to all “seller” subscribers soon.

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