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Etsy Strike (etsystrike.org)
1135 points by KarlKemp on April 11, 2022 | hide | past | favorite | 554 comments

i will say they are right about one thing, small sellers are getting totally run over by design theft and aliexpress resellers. as a buyer, its a huge pain to have to sift through pages of aliexpress merchandise to uncover interesting and original work. make a cool printed design on a game boy shell? quickly stolen, mass produced on aliexpress, then sold by all the boring resellers on etsy. 90% of rpg dice sellers are selling the exact same stuff they got from the exact same bulk deal.

one of the biggest problems for me is im never even sure if im buying the original design or a knockoff, which totally sucks.

idk if this is just affecting the retro games / dice communities, or if others are also hit. ALSO you can kinda just sell semi-illegal "grey" goods on etsy? TONS of sellers just selling bootleg game boy games and rarely mentioning that in the product description.

Within 45 minutes of where I live lies a little town that is known for hundreds of miles around as a place to go shopping for locally-produced art and hand-crafted items of almost any kind. You know, glass items, wind chimes, paintings, etc. Why does this still work, 30 years into the internet revolution? Curation. The shop owners choose very carefully what to sell, based on extremely limited space. Etsy purports to be the same idea on the internet, but they'll let anyone who wants to sell on their platform. THEY'D BE LEAVING MONEY ON THE TABLE IF THEY DIDN'T. But for the same reason that I buy less on Amazon and more from brick-and-mortar stores, they're finding that the CURATION is the key to VALUE. The problem of course, is that Etsy, or Amazon, or ANYONE who has a PLATFORM -- like Apple -- has to be willing to make sacrifices to their POSSIBLE bottom line to keep the platform useful and valuable to their actual customers. It seems that an easy "gate" to erect on the platform would be to limit how many chochkies you can sell per month. It would seem to be a fix for people who are trying to use volume and SEO to take over someone else's product idea. Someone here could probably blow a hole in that idea, though. But if it's a site for personal hobbyists to sell something on the side, then you have to come up with rules to CURATE the content to produce that outcome.

But... That curation is a VERY expensive task.

Etsy is for artists/creators. If you add curation to the mix one side needs to take a hit - and it ain't going to be your wallet.

Basically the reason for Etsy to exist is "direct to consumer" model, with low intermediary overhead and 0 setup hurdles.

(If you ever tried to get a product on a supermarket shelf, that's how it is to get onto a successful curated store shelf)

That is the cost of doing business. Without the curation they risk losing their customer base. Why should I as a customer go to Etsy if it's filled with knockoff crap rather than handmade things?

> Why should I as a customer go to Etsy if it's filled with knockoff crap rather than handmade things?

You don't go there. They aren't a curated product website, so why do you expect them to be one?

Let them fail. It's baffling to me why so many people are so heavily invested into that brand here...

I've bought handmade things on Etsy that are a) very high quality and b) obscure/weird enough that I wouldn't know where else to go for them.

Enabling this sort of thing is Etsy's pitch. I have no particular loyalty to their brand, but in the past they've done a great job living up to that promise for me, and I have to assume others have had similar experiences. If they get filled up by Chinesium knockoffs and the quality sellers are driven off, Etsy's product will no longer hold any value for us, and they will lose our business.

So yes, "let them fail". But before you accuse us of blind, unearned devotion to a brand, you might consider that there is---or once was---a good reason to prefer Etsy over other options.

> I've bought handmade things on Etsy that are a) very high quality and b) obscure/weird enough that I wouldn't know where else to go for them.

And my experience with Etsy is that it's a crafty people selling low quality handmade stuff.

Etsy is the last place on the internet, where I would got looking for quality stuff.

> Etsy is the last place on the internet, where I would got looking for quality stuff.

Well, that's your loss. But it may be Etsy's loss, too, if they allow chintzy crap from overseas to drive the quality sellers off their platform. Amazon has embraced the race to the bottom, so I don't see anybody else competing effectively with them without (at the very least) being all-in on Chinesium.

Capitalism DOESNT fail! This IS the system. In the presence no rules, people will converge on the lowest common denonomiter. The problem with Estsy happens to any platform that gets popular. Its been happening in the real world since the 1990s where large coperations have moved in on mom and pops. Curated gets undercut.

There is no way around this in the free market. Ad comnpanies are the largest companies in the world, THATS NOT A CONINCIDENCE. Its about making people consume. Making people want sh*t that in reality they could live without. Overloaded by stimulii, people break. People want the dream. They hear about the dream. People want the cheapest thing so they can 100x instead of 2x. People who knock things off want the most popular thing. This is competition working. Its a race to the bottom or we sacrifice infinite growth. There is no other way. You either create new markets, create new consumers, or steal other peoples cut of the pie. "Disruption".

Please stop writing in caps, it makes your comments look more agressive and rant-like than you probably intend, and it makes it hard to read for me and likely others.

It’s not hard to read per se but I just can’t read it in any mind voice other than someone yelling right in my face.

> Ad comnpanies are the largest companies in the world, THATS NOT A CONINCIDENCE

Apple is not an ad company, Tesla is not an ad company, Microsoft mostly isn’t an ad company, Netflix isn’t an ad company.

There are very few of the large companies that are ad companies.

Every human made system and most every non-human system fails in some way at some point depending on the stresses put upon them.

do you want to go back to "mom and pops" shops in lieu of supermarket chains? I don't. I would like supermarket chains to treat their employees better and I'm willing to pay 10% more for it.

Multiple times each year I rent an inexpensive cabin at one of our state parks, and on the way here I always visit a small grocery store in a small town that carries a local Amish bakery’s goods. I absolutely love their bread.

This past weekend I noticed a Dollar General had popped up nearby. They’re like weeds in rural Indiana.

I have no doubt that within a year or two the small grocery store will be gone, and I’ll no longer have a convenient place to buy that bread I like so much.

Yes, I do want to go back to mom and pop shops.

"Mom and pop" shops offer sub-par and high overhead products, almost exclusively.

Dollar General pops up, where people are very, very, price sensitive.

That "mom and pop" shop is either for tourists or is taking an unreasonable rent off the local economy.

I now live in a rural area and I like my local artisanal stores. But they cannot sustain the economy, due to very high overhead.

I don't disagree that 'race to the bottom' is the rule rather than the exception in modern capitalism, but I don't think your response here captures the context. The fact that Etsy's decline into something like Amazon (which has truly embraced the race to the bottom, enabling it to thrive) was more-or-less inevitable doesn't change the reasons I've used it in the past, or the reasons I may be less likely to use it in the future.

I see an opportunity here. A website who wants to curate products could use Etsy to locate sellers and convince them to list on their site. That curation website could develop a "stamp of approval" brand and grow that way. The art seller could include a printed note in the delivery saying "find more products like this on this xyz site". That way you use Etsy to draw in new customers but keep them as repeat customers for other products on this curated site. The main idea being that the curated site would not have to spend nearly as much money on advertising that Etsy does. Might work.

It's kind of how topsites used to work back in the day

> They aren't a curated product website, so why do you expect them to be one?

They used to be that! At least, a site for handmade things. That's what they built their brand on. Yeah, nowadays I avoid them like the plague because they're just a shitty ebay.

Except that is not what the word curated commonly means...

If that were so - then your local supermarket is a curated store. (which would be a preposterous claim to make)

> It's baffling to me why so many people are so heavily invested into that brand here...

Firstly, I never said I am invested in their brand. Nor do I have to be to argue that "cost is very high" is not a good reason to ignore doing something that your business (I would argue) needs to do (keep the knockoff "handmade stuff") in order to the accomplish your stated goals (connect sellers of actual handmade stuff with buyers).

You don't need to say that you're invested into the brand, for me to see it by the terminology you use.

Maybe, but Etsy is part of a long line of businesses that think they can solve adversarial search. The fact that Google can't and is losing the war should tell you everything about your chances. As long as you never use the "discovery" half of their business and find shops elsewhere, IG, TikTok, it's a fantastic experience. Basically Shopify but a little more streamlined.

> The fact that Google can't and is losing the war

Google has zero incentive to actually win that conflict, as frequently the SEO spam serves up ads from which google directly profits.

This assumes every customer has that discernment. No shortage of potential buyers end up on Etsy because they saw something cool, asked the person where they got it, and the only answer they received was "Etsy".

Etsy may be compromised these days but it still IS for artists/creators as you say. We have a stand alone website that gets 2 to 9 visitors a day and our main Etsy site gets hundreds every day. That's why we are on Etsy. We are too small to hire comprehensive SEO/advertising help (I've tried a few) so we let Etsy collect the main slug of customers. We employ 4 people full time.

Therefore it should be clear that the rise in fees is a reasonable tradeoff, for access to more potential customers.

I understand the desire to make sure that goods are authentic, but that is the only reasonable argument in the whole strike manifesto.

What kind of products do you sell?

Bootleg game boy games.

Underrated comment lmao

we make furniture out of old wood

Curation is expensive, and difficult/impossible to automate, but there's value in it, in a world where anyone can post anything anywhere. We all felt better using Amazon ten years ago, when we could trust reviews, and trust products, but now it's flooded with brand names like "UZOOG" or whatever. People generally liked Facebook more before their grandparents and weird uncle got on it.

Look at Reddit as a platform which has many well curated 'subreddits', almost entirely for free.

It's totally possible on an e-commerce platform. Just nobodies quite managed it yet.

The reason it works on reddit is because there is not money to be directly made by tricking the volunteer curators. If those reddit mods were controlling who could sell something, there would be a lot more effort going into corrupting them.

I still think you're right, Reddit has a much higher signal to noise ratio than almost anywhere else on the internet. But there's absolutely money to made by paying off mods of larger subreddits to curate content in such a way that makes their brands look good.

This has in some ways been a roll filled by subscription boxes.

Looks like Etsy made $160M last year. I think they can afford to ramp up their efforts in this area. But, like the Apple App Store, people are only going to get satisfaction if they can make a big enough stink on social media.

A) Why should they?

B) Are investors not allowed to make any return on their investments in form of dividends?

> Why should they?

Because otherwise their brand is asymptotically approaching just being a more expensive Ali Express.

The brand is established and it's not that heavily diluted... Even then - it only needs to keep up with the aesthetics and product types, to keep on top.

So no... They don't need to. And curated storefronts were many - I knew of at least 5 startups in that space - they all folded.

> Why should they?

If they do not, many sellers will stop using them. Many buyers will stop using them. They will have competition.

You're basically arguing for a monopoly now.

Let them fail.

"They should do this thing in order to continue to succeed."


"Because if they don't they'll fail."

"Now you're arguing for a monopoly."

You can't possibly be arguing in good faith at this point.

You have to ignore the "They will have competition." to make your own bad faith argument.

PS: And then miss our further interaction

As a consumer, I don't want to go through the effort of finding the next Etsy. I want to be lazy and have the current Etsy be good.

Whatever comes next will be small. They will lack some of the things I want for many years.

As a lazy person I want sixpack abs, without putting in the effort.

Also - monopolies are never good.

If shouting at the sky had a chance to convince God to endow me with abs, I would make it a daily practice.

Etsy does listen to it's consumers, at least some times. The cost of complaining here is commensurate with the potential benefit.

Is Etsy paying dividends?

Well, yes it is. And it works just fine on the "mom and pop shop" scale. But the whole idea of the post-2008 startups is to "disrupt" the industry by replacing the knowledgeable people with algorithms and minimum wage employees.

So what is the bottom line? Consumers get to enjoy products that are 2x cheaper and 4x worse. Individual makers get priced out and have to join the drone ranks. And the corporate owners of trademarks and algorithms rake in so much cash they don't know where to invest it anymore.

Sadly, this is happening across every sector, and most people seem to be just fine with it.

Etsy is also for curators, though (at least a specific kind). You have always been able to sell vintage items on their platform, and antique sellers are curators and restorers.

Before manufactured goods were on the platform, you were basically browsing items that were either handmade or hand curated. It was a much better experience.

Etsy is really for everyone, but the brand image is that it's really artists sales channel.

Based on my experience, curators add an extra 50%+ to the price of a product. Which is the cost of well curated storefront.

Artists and creators are Etsy’s brand. But those sellers have not been the bread and butter of Etsy’s business for ages.

I still occasionally find small sellers on Etsy whose stuff interests me and I always wonder why they choose to sell via Etsy and I’m sure it’s: because it works and because it’s less hassle than the other options. The traffic to your shop is worth swimming in a sea of knockoffs and doodads. And that’s what you compete with on the internet at large anyway.

I would argue that for artists all their work is already curated if they built it themselves and hence they wouldnt need to curate stuff

But if i am selling someone elses stuff, then i am in the business of curation.

You're right. But we are talking about Etsy taking an active role in what is available on their site, which is curation. Not an easy task as well.

They also decided to be way more lax, than some people want it to be.

This is why I buy music related stuff (e.g. cables) only from Thomann. Amazon more or less relies on vendors to fill out metadata like product type, cable length, plug types and communication standards, and the result is that the Amazon product filter is often just horribly fucking broken. Meanwhile, Thomann does all that curation work on their own, and it's just a breeze to use.

Our biggest electronics chain Conrad however... oh jesus they have gone really downhill some years ago with their website design - the search is broken, metadata for parts are (sometimes completely) wrong, and to make it worse even the in-store staff has to rely on the website instead of a dedicated ERP software which means if you are searching for a part with specific specs (e.g. temperature) even the store staff can't help you any more!

Thomann and the like killed my local music instrument stores. I don’t think Thomann will go away, but it depresses me that it is nearly impossible to find an instrument I want to purchase to test without travelling 5 hours. And I live in a capital city.

A couple of years ago, I went shopping for headphones. I went to a couple of different small electronics/audio stores, and none would let me try the headphones!! They had them in the plastic packaging and said they are not allowed to open them.

What the fuck!

I just left and bought something online.

(I know there are high end hifi shops that will let me try headphones. But I wasn't looking for 500€ headphones, I just wanted something that didn't sound like shit. Thomann is perfect for that.)

HiFi shops won’t let you try anymore either. People come in to try them and then just buy them online.

Record player sales are booming though, according to the shop I went to.

> People come in to try them and then just buy them online.

It still puzzles me how much of a disconnect exists between e-commerce and brick & mortar, almost 25 years from Gates's "Business at the speed of thought".

Those people who come in the store should be converted right there and then, by making it trivial to order in-store a home delivery option that is price-competitive with non-b&m-equipped businesses. Keep razor-thin local inventory that commands a premium for the fact that you get it there and then, and everything else can be ordered. This should allow you to offset a decent amount of showroom costs while still competing with web-only operations.

If the price difference is small enough and the friction low enough, making the order in-store becomes a better option than leaving, sitting down somewhere, searching again for the item on some other store, etc etc.

There are still big opportunities out there for retailers who can figure out that sweet spot.

Yeah, but who's going to buy them in an opened package and at what discount (loss for the store)?

I mean, you could have bought them. Tried them out while in the store, then returned them if they weren't to your liking. But I'll admit that might be more overhead than you were hoping for. But it would also be a great way to communicate to the store that their policies are bad. "I'd like to return these. Nothing really wrong, just don't like them. Oh, and I'd like to try...I mean buy these headphones. ... Actually, I'd like to return these please [etc, etc]

You're assuming the store would accept the return and even if they did, they might not do it for the same price; a (restocking) fee might be charged.

I am assuming that. In most countries it's required that you can return non-consumable items in a sensible time-frame. Restocking fees vary in legality, but typically need to be disclosed before purchase.

I live in the northeast and we seem to still have local music stores offering the usual mix of instrument sales and service, lessons, sheet music and other supplies, etc. If I understand correctly from casual conversations with the owner of our local store many of them make a lot of their revenue renting instruments to local school students.

Thomann started out as a small music/instrument/stage tech store, too - but unlike their competitors, they fully embraced the future instead of showing the typical German skepticism towards change.

I mean, I get your pain. But on the other hand I'm just sick about the Mittelstand complaining that online is eating their lunch... they have all sat on their wealth and glory and thought they had carved out their forever niche guaranteeing themselves profits without having to do anything any more, and every single one that collapses fills my heart with a bit of joy.

> Thomann and the like killed my local music instrument stores.

I think that's a good thing. The business of "holding things in a building" that are occasionally purchased and don't benefit from last-mile caching should go the way of the dinosaur. It will be good to get the space back. The thing that's really needed is a community space but the economics of it are hard unless you're selling stuff. My city tries to promote this stuff with arts council grants.

There is value in being able to check out the thing you want, in person, before you buy it for a lot of things.

But Thomann doesn’t stock what I want, and the stores that carried it died, so now I am no better off.

Most artist markets feel the same as Etsy, the majority of stuff is made in China too.

I'm tempted to say not to mistake local tourist traps for high quality goods.

This is tough, as a lot of artistic items have quality control that is purely subjective. But, often these places are not much more curated than the vendor room of a convention. There will be some nice things; but claims of curation are all too often over sold.

That reminds me of an idea that I sent in to Apple, via their bug reporter (you can submit suggestions).

I'm an Apple One subscriber. I only listen to Apple Music during my morning three-mile walk (45-50 minutes). The rest of the day, I'm working, and I don't listen to music, then.

I use their "Create A Station Based on This Song" feature, like Pandora. It generally works fairly well (I think Pandora works better, but they also limit skips -even for paid subscriptions).

I like to hear obscure, indie, music, from artists off the beaten path. I tend to immediately skip, when I get a song that is in my library, or that I've heard a lot (like the song used to create the station). I also tend to skip a lot, anyway, because a lot of undiscovered music is obscure for a reason.

One time, I was listening to relaxing, wordless, techno/trance, and a freaking Lady Gaga pop song plops in, like an airborne gift from a dyspeptic, incontinent, buzzard. The only possible relation to what I was listening to, was that one of her band members was maybe playing a sampler. She's a talented artist, and all that, but that was not what I wanted to hear. It was quite jarring.

Someone is selling eardrums. That was probably an AI hiccup.

In any case, my suggestion was to create "Undiscovered Music" stations, so you say "Play more songs like this one, but ones I've not heard before, and are definitely not in my library."

I would want to hear indie tracks, and songs from obscure artists. I listen to a lot of different types of music, and most of my tastes are heavily represented in the indie space. I often find it difficult to discover music that I'm not already familiar with.

I suspect that if Apple did it, they would sell out. They'd stuff these "Undiscovered Music" stations with commercial pablum; rendering the entire concept useless. They'd probably kill it, soon afterwards, because "Nobody uses this service."

The current push for "Bigger, Louder, MOAR!" is something that does not favor craftsmanship, Quality, or independence.

> I suspect that if Apple did it, they would sell out. They'd stuff these "Undiscovered Music" stations with commercial pablum; rendering the entire concept useless.

Why would they do that? It would be massively unpopular, per your own comment, so I can't understand why that would be a commercial move.

It's not even like an indie radio station selling out, because a radio station is at least (usually) an independent competing entity. It's more like a record shop inexplicably filling its death metal section with madrigals.

It would simply lose those customers who liked it, and not even gain any others, since pop customers want the opposite thing (and are already amply catered to) so wouldn't even click on it to begin with.

> so I can't understand why that would be a commercial move.

In my experience, "monetization" people Just. Can't. Bear. To. See. Anything. Not. Making. Money.

It seems to be something that causes them physical discomfort, and they regularly destroy so many good things, by trying to make money from them.

Call me a cynic.

It's likely the music platforms' data is showing them that users vastly prefer explore+exploit lists vs just explore. If you're in the small minority who wants to listen just to new music, there are plenty of curated playlists you could select.

Asking for an all-new list is akin to asking for a HIIT workout plan, but without the pauses.

> there are plenty of curated playlists

I've had issues with these. There's so many spammy, garbage playlists, that it's impossible to pick out the good ones (and I have found gems, but it's a lot of work).

It’s ok to leave money on the table. Trying to be all things to all people isn’t tenable.

My pet rant of late is a lament that companies seem incapable of having a conversation about achieving profit versus maximizing profit. In the ideal, companies that achieving profit can treat their employees and customers well; however, companies that maximize profit shit on everyone in their blast radius for that almighty dollar. How sweetly bitter is the teat of capitalism...

Just in case you weren't aware, if you surround a word by asterisks, you can emphasize a word without YELLING


     *hello* there

hello there

Thank you, for responding in a more productive way than I could have.

Honest question though, when is it ever appropriate to yell? Have you seen people ever do it? I think the all caps could be a useful tool for emphasis. Would I do it though? No.

It's never appropriate here.

> Please don't use uppercase for emphasis. If you want to emphasize a word or phrase, put *asterisks* around it and it will get italicized.


Of course, uppercase is appropriate for an acronym or initialism that actually is spelled that way, such as SEO in the comment we're replying to.

I think yelling is appropriate if someone says they're thinking of building an Electron app. That's the only reason I can think of.

So! How's your first day on the internet going?

OK, but how do I surround a word with asterisks as an example to others without emphasizing the word inside?

A backslash before the asterisk makes it appear as an asterisk

\*this\* becomes *this*.

And before you ask, to show the backslash, you add another backslash. \\*this\\* becomes \*this\*

I did not know you could backslash-escape asterisks (TIL! thanks!), so I prepended it with 4 spaces to make a code block.

>has to be willing to make sacrifices to their POSSIBLE bottom line to keep the platform useful and valuable to their actual customers.

This will never happen with Etsy, Amazon, or any other publicly traded company. Publicly traded companies have a fiduciary duty to their share holders to make as much money as possible. If the leadership doesn't act in this manner, they will be replaced with others that will. If you want a platform like you are describing it will have to be privately owned.

>Publicly traded companies have a fiduciary duty to their share holders to make as much money as possible.

There has been this odd trend over the last few years of mischaracterizing what this means/what that duty translates to. People talk about it as if every CEO has to redline the company at all times and never think about longterm consequences for literally any reason. Every single cent that can be extracted right now must be extracted or the investors will rise up in all their anger crying out "FIDUCIARY DUTY!" as they drag the poor CEO off kicking and screaming.

Companies can think longterm. They're allowed to sacrifice short term profits for sustainability/longevity. I don't get where people get this idea that they can't. To me, "fiduciary duty" has become almost memetic - it's some weird hand wave-y line people throw out to excuse businesses being short-sighted, as if they never had a choice.

Whether it's a legal requirement or not, companies definitely act as if it is. Setting a company on fire to acquire short-term profits with a golden parachute guarantee is the pattern for executives of public companies under American capitalism.

Oh let me be perfectly clear here, I know that that is how things often shake out, especially in the US. What I am talking about is the way people defend businesses that behave this way.

They act as if they have no choice, that there is some legal mandate to just wring out a company all day every day and damn all consideration beyond “I can make another dollar this second.”

> Publicly traded companies have a fiduciary duty to their share holders to make as much money as possible.

I feel like this is in semi-myth territory. Yes, there have been cases where shareholders have sued company leadership because they weren't making them as much money as they could. But it's not quite as clear-cut and well-tested in the courts as you make it sound.

In fact, the case law goes firmly in the other direction.

Management has a ton of latitude to run the business as they see fit. The "remedy" for bad business decisions is supposed to be divesting and starting a competitor, not the courts.

Cases like Dodge v. Ford or Caremark are odd because the board was basically not running a business at all: Ford flat-out said he was doing something not for the business, but in support of his philanthropic beliefs. Caremark was so asleep at the helm that they racked up a quarter-billion dollars in silly fines.

Anyone can, of course, sue over anything, but if it's even vaguely legitimate (and the "facts" in Shlensky v. Wrigley are pretty bonkers, IMO), they won't win.

>Dodge v. Ford Motor Company, 204 Mich. 459, 170 N.W. 668 (Mich. 1919) is a case in which the Michigan Supreme Court held that Henry Ford had to operate the Ford Motor Company in the interests of its shareholders, rather than in a charitable manner for the benefit of his employees or customers. It is often taught as affirming the principle of "shareholder primacy" in corporate America, although that teaching has received some criticism. [Wikipedia]

Yup, but the facts of that particular case are tricky. Ford refused to issue a dividend to the Dodge brothers because

   "My ambition is to employ still more men, to spread the  
   benefits of this industrial system to the greatest possible
   number, to help them build up their lives and their homes."
This isn't a business decision; it's an ideological one.

It's been argued that if he said less ("No, just no"), or a bit more ("And this will let us recruit the best workers/expand our customer base/etc"), he would have been fine. This commentary lays that argument out nicely: https://openyls.law.yale.edu/handle/20.500.13051/603

That meme also contrasts with the rise of modern ESG, where a lot of shareholder pressure on management teams has been in the direction of making less money. There is a lot of really interesting stuff out there done in the name of ESG, EXFY being a particularly good example.

As much money as possible over what timeline? Crank profits now at the expense of the long-term business? Lose profits now to improve long-term business?

It isn't a straight-forward call to make. The current status-quo with resellers might be making money now, but there will be long-term brand damage in exchange. Will their business still be viable in 5 years if they develop a reputation for being Aliexpress lite?

If you are publicly traded and don't have leverage (e.g. different share classes with different voting rights for the founders) it's a straighforward call to make. Optimize for short term profits or be replaced by someone who will do.

> Optimize for short term profits or be replaced by someone who will do.

No. Optimize for shareholder value.

Amazon shareholders, for instance, are happy to make little in way of profit because Amazon management has shown an ability to increase the value of the enterprise.

In general though, the market is legitimately skeptical of most managers which is not a bad thing.

“fiduciary duty to their share holders to make as much money as possible” No they don’t. That’s an oft repeated myth. The have a responsibility to manage in the best interests of the business. That’s pretty vague. On purpose.

There's a "however". Actions that reduce the shareholder value without any long term prospects is something that will drive down investment and could trigger lawsuits

A lawsuit does not indicate a breach of law or anything really.

>without any long term prospects

Of course. Because by definition you’ve sacrificed the short term and the long term for nothing. But I don’t think anyone here would debate that so I’m not entirely sure what you’re getting at.

In my experience it's just a repeated line to excuse companies for not thinking longterm or about anyone/anything beyond immediate revenue. It's very silly and not what the term means at all, yet as you pointed out, we see it all the time.

> Publicly traded companies have a fiduciary duty to their share holders to make as much money as possible.

That is not accurate. They are required to operate in a manner that is satisfactory to their owners, who delegate that responsibility to the board of directors, who then set policy for management to execute.

There is no difference between a publicly traded and privately owned company in terms of the responsibilities of the management and board to their shareholders.

There are numerous incentives to maximize shareholder returns (eg taxation incentives, equity value improvement, dividends), but there is nothing in law or otherwise that applies a fiduciary duty to management or the directors of a company to maximize either dividends or capital value.

It's called the Friedman Doctrine. It is true corporations don't have a legal prescribed duty to maximize shareholder value. However, the Friedman Doctrine is, much like Moore's Law, a norm from which any deviations are considered aberrant and for which the reactions range from disappointment to frustration.

Not sure why you're being downvoted.

> If the leadership doesn't act in this manner, they will be replaced with others that will.

This is exactly what happened at Etsy when they fired the previous CEO and installed Josh Silverman.

They are being downvoted because "make as much money as possible" is not a clear cut proposition. Apple ran (runs) an expensive recycling program and investors complained that it wasn't valuable at annual meetings. Steve Jobs said "We disagree" but he wasn't replaced. Lots of companies don't maximize the dollars out of every single thing, in response to a bigger picture / longer term vision, and it's up to leadership to sell it to shareholders.

Etsy could certainly argue their bottom line in the long term will be helped by curating a higher quality marketplace and getting rid of junk sellers, if that's a problem.

Steve Jobs earned the ability to say that.

Most managers are not Steve Jobs.

Sure, but some are so pretending no company can ever push back against a short term cost cutting / revenue focus is false.

I had the same thing happen[0], but the point is that companies don't have to make as much money as possible by sacrificing everything else like brand image and human decency; anything that goes against obvious profit-increasing practices must be properly accounted for by the board giving a reasonable explanation. A hypothetical shareholder meeting: "Q: why did you reduce your cut of sales when still trending upward in user and revenue growth? A: we believe higher user growth numbers is more important in the long term and envision our revenue growth will continue to increase despite this change".

0: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=30893551

> make a cool printed design on a game boy shell? quickly stolen, mass produced on aliexpress

I work in this space and can provide a little correction/illumination:

The folks selling printed phone cases, gameboy cases, etc are generally not shipping these over from aliexpress. They are almost all printed on demand from printers local to the country of the buyer (there's a half dozen big phone case printers just in the US). Nothing is mass produced except the blanks.

The sellers come up with the artwork and titles/tags/descriptions/etc. Software like mine creates the Etsy listings and processes orders, routing to appropriate printers which ship directly to the customer. Etsy provides an API for this.

Print-on-demand sellers are selling pure intellectual property. They jealously guard their high-resolution images, but that doesn't stop the industry from having a big ripoff problem. Low-effort ripoffs copy a public low-res image, which makes a terrible print but potential customers/victims might not be able to tell from an online mockup image. High-effort ripoffs involve hiring an artist to make a new work substantially (or identically) similar to something else. Both cheat the intellectual property of the original artist, but they're using the same print companies.

Whether this stuff is "handcrafted" is somewhat ambiguous - is a book handcrafted? Is a set of patterns for a dress or a piece of furniture handcrafted? Something 3d printed? Certainly someone came up with the artwork "by hand", but printing it on a tshirt or phone case is pretty mechanical.

Another grey area with POD (print-on-demand) is creating designs for POD products e.g. products like t-shirts, tote bags, mugs, wall prints, etc.

There are hundreds of online tutorials promising you how to create designs for sale on Etsy - even if you have not a shred of design talent. How? Go to Canva, find a good-looking template and slap on it on as many POD products as possible. Etsy is simply overstuffed with products like this. Many of these sellers are probably making good sales. Does this count as something being 'designed'? Does it even matter?

The perception that Etsy is a marketplace mostly of artists and "makers" is one that hasn't been true for a while.

That's true but I think this is a relatively small part of the POD market. Some POD marketplaces (not Etsy, but Redbubble and TeePublic) detect stock content and automatically ban accounts.

Etsy tends to attract the more sophisticated POD merchants because it's more complicated (separate printer required) and there's a $0.20 listing fee so there's more upfront cost. Most successful POD merchants have thousands or tens of thousands of designs, so the listing fees really add up.

The most successful POD merchants have small design teams that produce content every day. That may or may not fit your mental image of an Etsy seller. But the low-effort non-artists who took a guru's "make money fast in POD" online course tend to do very poorly, and don't make up the bulk of Etsy.

> Print-on-demand sellers are selling pure intellectual property.

Well they're selling properly licensed products that use their images that are protected by copyright (and potentially trademark).

The supposedly appropriate response would be to have the ability to sue those that rip them off in exactly the same way that Nike or Chanel or any other manufacturer would.

There may be some liability to the print companies (and perhaps the other companies in the pipeline) for producing product that doesn't have a properly validated copyright on the image. Especially if they are producing in bulk/for general sale to the public.

So it should be in Etsy's interest (and yours, and the print companies) to ensure that what a seller is asking you to produce is not ripped off.

There absolutely is a legal risk to print companies and marketplaces for assisting in intellectual property theft. In practice this means we look out for major trademarks, and ripoffs of small players are impossible to police.

There is no such thing as "validated copyright" - you own a copyright on the content you produce and there's no official registrar. Determining ownership is an adversarial process - everyone says "this is mine, the other guy ripped me off". Small players don't have the legal resources to prosecute.

Services like mine which manage whole libraries can pretty easily weed out the bad players because they tend to be full of TM violations. But the marketplaces have it more difficult.

Nobody has come up with a good solution to this yet.

I know someone who was selling an electronic module on Tindie. One day sales went through the floor. Turned out someone had cloned his entire product and was shipping volume on aliexpress. He just closed up shop.

I myself have spent weeks navigating the maze of dodgy NanoVNAs out there. Even one of the official resellers decided to cut costs and ship out poorly functioning clones and try and deny it.

Can’t win so don’t play. Eventually the markets will fall due to crap saturation.

Will the markets actually fail? Or will there always be a sucker ready to try their luck? I remember seeing this happen in the Retro Video Game community with Flash carts.

Independent developer developed a flashcart for the Sega Dreamcast and was subsequently ripped off. After he complained on Twitter, most of the community sided with the cloners. They just want their cheap garbage and they have no idea/care regarding the massive effort it takes to develop a device like this.

Never mind the fact that the original developer will be inundated with support/bugfix requests for the clones while the Chinese cloners disappear into the ether having stolen all the value.

He eventually walked away from the project from what I recall which pissed off his original buyers and now others have stepped up with their own devices(And will probably be cloned).

Luckily the one (temporary) respite you have in software/hardware is DRM. If you can implement a complex enough DRM system you can slow down the cloners from stealing your software for some period of time. It sucks but this is the world we live in.

One tactic that a Flashcart manufacturer is using is some sort of serial coded firmware updates that only operates on a specific date code of flashcart. It requires the user to log into an account and get the specific firmware update that is tied to their flashcart. It has caused some complaints from the community regarding ease of use + resale woes(transferring ownership from one legit user to another) but overall this is an interesting solution. It hasn't fully prevented clones but has slowed them down somewhat.

I wish there was some way this could be applied to the non-software world but you can't defeat the physical layer.

To be fair to the GDEMU situation you touched on for the Dreamcast, the reason the community took the side of the cloners was because it was nearly impossible to get a hold of the original authentic design. He made the ordering process as terrible as possible, seemed to have a shitty attitude to his actual customers, and the demand drastically outpaced his ability to supply the market. The retro community is large, but most of the time people would rather buy from the original source over a clone product, but in the case of the GDEMU he kind of forced people to choose a clone instead.

Yeah I wasn't a customer just a follower as I am fascinated by the efforts used to create these devices. At the same time, PSIO(which I also referenced) has taken as many efforts as possible to provide the product in sufficient quantities and be as supportive as possible but there is a loud portion of the community that still berates them for their anti-clone efforts.

The gaming community just seems to suck as customers. You see this with all the hate a publisher gets when they release something that isn't perfect as well.

There are also people buying the Everdrive clones and then expecting support. I have seen these complaints on Reddit and in various forums. I don't know how rampant this is but its so silly.

PSIO definitely isn't beloved, I'll give you that. I think the main hate of PSIO is because their product always felt like a beta to users who expected something more polished. I'm not going to say either is right or wrong, but it's what it is. PSIO's anti piracy stuff was pretty annoying for the end user vs what other companies are doing like XStation and others can do.

You're right though, that in general the end users are very much entitled assholes in general, and there are still people buying Everdrive clones, even when the real deal was still in stock and available. But Everdrive is still successful for Krikzz, and all of the clones out there are based on a very outdated design that his newer devices are far surpassing in terms of features and support.

It's ironic to me because flashcarts are widely used to pirate console games. Someone making a tool for pirates is complaining about their IP being pirated.

Yes, I know flashcarts are also commonly used for homebrew, and I use mine exclusively for homebrew. I also understand that many of the older games have become collectors items, and wanting to play backups instead of the original is another use case. This doesn't change one of it's most common use cases, which is playing illegal roms.

Yeah I get where you are coming from. That does not change the fact that these products require massive effort to develop. In the case of PSIO(product with the serial encoded firmware) it was started by a high schooler + firmware developer from Belarus in 2012(original concept in 2010) and took years before the product was finally in a state to ship. From what I gather, their custom menu + firmware system is ~50k of C code/MIPS assembly made from scratch.

I watched as this high schooler got harassed for years as people did not believe such a product was even possible. After he released it, everyone forgot about all the harassment that this product was vaporware and impossible to develop and now he continued to get hounded for bug fixes to fix timing issues with specific games(he is emulating the complete CD drive and many games expected exact timings to overcome specific undocumented bugs in the system).

Now you have to throw in the threat of clones. To this day he is continuing to fully support the product despite some clones appearing in the wild. A competing product has recently appeared that takes a simpler approach to emulating the CD drive and likely has not had as extensive of a QA process. It remains a question whether this other approach is better compared to PSIO(new product only supports 3 motherboard versions out of dozens + you lose the CD drive altogether) but because the price is cheaper a large chunk of the community does not care and have moved on. The remaining community are now bashing the PSIO team for temporary slowing down development to rewrite the firmware to stop the latest round of cloners.

You can look at it as theft, but others would see it as preserving and promoting software development on a ~28 year old console. This team also gone into excruciating detail to document the system to help enable new software to be developed.

Just from the outside looking in, I don't know if it is worth the effort to spend years making something like this only to be harassed nonstop for years, getting your IP stolen by the Chinese and in end still be making a product that is a grey market item. I suspect that down the road we will have nothing but low quality Chinese made junk on the market if anything at all.

I'm in this space as a hobbyist, a consumer and occasional producer (I've done some limited runs on simple projects). I'm specifically interested in jp coin-op and 16-bit home console. I see your concern.

There's always going to be the originals, which will almost definitely hold value for the lifetime of millennials at least.

This is always going to be a small market driven by passion. If you can write a PlayStation flash cart you can almost defiantly make something with a higher market value.

There is an active market for extremely high quality products in this space. Look at Analogue (analogue.co) which is building FPGA reference-quality reproductions of classic consoles (NES, SNES, GENSIS, and recently GB/GBC/GBA). These machines play original carts better than original hardware, they are widely critically acclaimed, and the company keeps outputting fantastic machines. Many speed running and other competitive organizations accept plays running on analogue hardware, but not other knock-off consoles.

> Never mind the fact that the original developer will be inundated with support/bugfix requests for the clones while the Chinese cloners disappear into the ether having stolen all the value.

This seems like an opportunity in disguise. Provide paid support, possibly after upselling the crowd to genuine product if required. Then word-of-mouth will be to the original dev's benefit; few will side with the fly-by-night cloners.

DRM makes your product less "hackable" by the customer and less likely to sustain a committed community. It's a very short sighted approach.

Often times users don't even know they have a fraudulent product. Some of these clones are literally just your product (third shifted) and so short of assigning bonded, single use serials (which is easy to say and very hard in practice) there's little you can do to distinguish between a legit and fraudulent product. This wastes your customer service time by supporting customers who didn't even end up paying for your product, which is overall very bad.

The people who are buying Chinese knockoff pirated flash carts, are not the same people pulling out their credit cards for paid support. Also, retro gamers are a notoriously difficult and time-consuming market to support.

Is there an easy way to tell the clones vs the original developer? Legitimately curious in this Dreamcast item

Typically they have their own website. Like I mentioned, I believe this specific developer has thrown in the towel but others are making competing products. Typically their website has a list of authorized resellers or sells them directly.

Found someone who makes NanoVNAs yet? I saw some of the newer OSS model of that, but was weirded out it was some random Chinese company on Amazon.

I've started open-sourcing all the design files for the stuff I sell online, because IP protection is very weak (and frankly, I've come to think it's basically impossible). It's been a more healthy way for me to approach my products: I am a manufacturer of this product, and my competitive advantage is my own familiarity with the product and my own reputation. Whether that's fair or not is besides the point, since it's the nature of online sales these days.

The volume folks also aren't shy about outright lies in the product descriptions. Like pictures of stained glass that clearly show real, leaded-joint stained glass, that turns out to be a painted plastic copy. Where the pictures are probably stolen from a genuine seller.

I largely quit going to Etsy for this reason.

Had a couple run ins with what looked like good quality product only to get what was clearly just bulk garbage.

Etsy was a neat bonus where I could access handmade small makers, but now that it is a hassle/ I don’t know what I’m getting… I just don’t go there.

Back in the early 90's, I visited Santa Fe as a tourist. I enjoyed browsing the local shops looking at the American Indian art for sale. After a while, I noticed the same things over and over in different shops - most (all?) the stuff was imported from other countries.

A few years ago I also toured souvenir shops in Malmo, Sweden. I asked the proprietor of when where the merchandise came from, she said it all came from China.

With a global economy, that's just the way things are.

As a note about the markets in Santa Fe, there are some volume producers of all sorts of goods, but it illegal to market something as made by Native Americans and have it be made overseas. It's the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990:


and they actually do prosecute it:


To be clear, not all art in Santa Fe is Native American, but a large amount of it is. And, yes, there's a large amount of junk being peddled as well that is absolutely imported. As a side note, there's a yearly Santa Fe Indian Market that's pretty fantastic and brings artists in from all over the place. None of that will be mass produced or imported and it is worth a visit.

Thanks for the tip. I really enjoyed my visit to Santa Fe and would like to go again.

Have we as global consumers just accepted that the Chinese don’t have to respect the system of copyright or patent in any capacity at all? It seems like we’re converging on a point where nearly any novel invention or concept will be quickly stolen by the Chinese, repackaged, and sold in the global marketplace for a fraction of the price.

It's hard to have respect for the copyright/patent system we've constructed in the west when it's frequently abused and often favours large industry players over "little guys". There are some advantages to the wild-west remix culture you see happening with Chinese goods. There are also plenty of inventions that are so trivial/obvious that they should not have had patent protection in the first place[1].

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1-Click

Working at Microsoft, I was not allowed to even read patents incase I accidently infringed on one, which would become willful infringement since I had read the patent.

So, that means no learning from what others had done, which is the entire idea of publicly posted patents vs trade secrets.

The patent system is literally causing the opposite of innovation to happen in certain technology spaces.

> Have we as global consumers just accepted that the Chinese don’t have to respect the system of copyright or patent in any capacity at all?

Even if these were prosecuted, would it really help in electronics, for example?

Since everybody has access to the same chips and creating a PCB is cheap and relatively quick, what would you even prosecute? Sure, you could prosecute the exact clones, but, most people are just following the manufacturer reference designs from the datasheet so there's nothing stopping someone else from doing that.

The problem is that once you prove there is a market for a piece of electronics, somebody in China will now pick off that market for cheaper. Is this not capitalism at its most raw?

The problem that this causes in electronics is that this trashes scaling as well as customer support. You can sell a $100 thingit, create a reddit community, and mostly tell people they're on their own with the occasional answer from somebody semi-official. Or you can sell a $10K+ thingit and actually provide excellent customer support.

In both cases, you will get cloned and ripped off--which limits the amount of money you can get from the market.

The current "solution" is to always have a cloud component which can't be cloned. This is, of course, anathema to open source, but I haven't seen anybody in open source have a good answer for this, either.

The "easy" solution seems to be - if it's sold on Amazon, you can't sell it on Etsy.

But I guess that would still harm the original developers of the IP :\

Any time I find anything on Etsy, I double check Amazon. A lot of the time, I find the exact item for sale for less.

Now, I just skip Etsy most of the time, wading through so much junk to find something original is too much work.

And If you go on aliexpress you can trade 50% of the price for 2 weeks of shipping.

> i will say they are right about one thing, small sellers are getting totally run over by design theft and aliexpress resellers. as a buyer, its a huge pain to have to sift through pages of aliexpress merchandise to uncover interesting and original work.

At the end of the day, any increase in sales means more revenue for Etsy. The company is following the same digital flea market model that Amazon does, and it has all of the same perverse incentives.

This is a major problem that put my wife and a couple of her friends out of business. Another major problem right now is that small blogs/instagram accounts/etc are nearly impossible to establish because the "influencers" (the big blogs now) will rip off ideas and shameless repost them within hours! Not only does this mean all google traffic takes people to the "influencers" page instead of the young blog that created it, but it makes the young blog look they are ripping off a big blog. It's quite despicable. My wife has shut down because she got tired of inventing great recipes that are damn hard to come up with (ever tried to make Keto desserts, or vegan scrambled eggs?) that get stolen right away.

I've been trying to think of a way to use blockchain to prove "who posted it first" but it's got a major network problem (nobody uses it because nobody will use it because nobody uses it).

I avoid etsy for this reason. I want original work. Its in etsys interest to stamp this out.

They are not another ebay and shouldn't want to be.

I hear that designers are being steamrolled by Aliexpress or Shein all the time. The landscape has obviously changed. I wonder if a pioneering designer somewhere used this to their advantage to mass manufacture their products while integrating a staple design element by which they end up promoting themselves?

>small sellers are getting totally run over by design theft and aliexpress resellers

Some friends and I were discussing this point recently: Etsy has become Ebay, sans the auction veneer.

Truly frustrating that they can't implement some sort of quality control, but that's a hard problem to crack at scale.

Yea this is hugely annoying now on Etsy - I used to love going there for random gifts for people of handmade stuff. Usually you can tell the real from the aliexprses BS by asking the seller how much they can customize the item. But the marketplace is legit flooded with crap

I used to visit Etsy to buy gifts and that sort if thing but I hardly go there any more because of all of the spam products. I can usually tell what is and isn't an independent seller but I can't be bothered with sifting through them all anymore.

Everything and everybody are hit. Etsy becomes yet-another-aliexpress-but-more-expensive (especially if you are not in USA and shipping from China is cheaper than shipping from USA, as many aliexpress resellers ship from USA).

It is very hard to find real hand craft on Etsy, if you don't have direct link for exact creator.

I’ve decided to protest the issue of counterfeits by simply not buying anything at all. Can’t trust the source, can’t buy.

you're 100% correct. Very similar to Amazon and their 3rd party market. There is very little policing of the products being sold I feel like. Lots of knock offs and even things available for free being sold at a cost. (ie. ETSY USB sticks pre-loaded with freeware like Coin OPS X)

I've come across very niche products that get ripped off, it's affecting everything. if your tiny custom tshirt shop gets enough sales you'll be copied soon enough with apparently no recourse.

> as a buyer, its a huge pain to have to sift through pages of aliexpress merchandise to uncover interesting and original work. make a cool printed design on a game boy shell? quickly stolen, mass produced on aliexpress, then sold by all the boring resellers on etsy

As a buyer it is a massive joy to see the price of some item go down when there’s diversity of sellers instead of a monopoly.

Just to make sure I understand your position... are you saying that it's OK for someone to copy someone else's original design, mass produce it at lower cost, and give no credit or royalties to the original designer?

It absolutely is. Most of what people are calling "original" designs aren't even original. Etsy is rampant with copyright or trademark infringement, or just rehashes of the same designs someone else made. The only difference between Etsy and the spooky Chinese is that China has mastered manufacturing and distribution and that's what puts a lot of independent vendors out of business.

Plenty of industries deal with this in various ways and manage to survive and the consumer ends up winning in the end. Restaurants, fashion, heck even app stores all deal with this and the end result is better products for the consumer at cheaper prices.

No one has a monopoly on designing yet another cute bracelet or rainbow lanyard or generic pillow cover.

Yes. It's better for the buyer, and I'm the buyer.

That is a very short term an narrow view that leads to a race to the bottom in terms of quality and innovation. It leads to cheap mass produced generic fair. In the long run it’s terrible for buyers.

Not if that is what the buyers want. Evidence suggests they buy low quality low durability items, also in the face of better choices.

> Not if that is what the buyers want. Evidence suggests they buy low quality low durability items

Low quality/durability items are not what most people want most of the time. It's sometimes all they can afford, or they think they found a good deal and feel ripped off when the item arrives and they discover that it's low quality/durability, but either way they aren't happy about it. What people want is high quality goods at prices they can afford.

You're suggesting that people do not willingly buy low quality crap, but they most definitely do. Even when knowing it is crap, and even when having the budget to buy higher quality goods. They'll still buy the low quality crap, at massive scale.

I'm from the Netherlands. One of the most successful retail stores here is "Action", which in the category of low quality garbage sinks to the absolute bottom.

Everybody knows it's garbage. One may buy a pair of scissors there and have it break down in 2 months of usage. So then people just buy another one. It's not strictly a budget issue, most shoppers can afford a good pair of scissors, one that lasts 10 years, but they prefer the cheap one anyway.

"Alibaba shopping" is mainstream here. Everybody buys their small items there. One of my colleagues, whom is upper middle class, was proudly telling me how he buys a "value" pack of 10 phone chargers every year. They're all terrible and soon break down, so then he'll just move to the next one. He could just buy a single decent one, but no.

I wish you were right, but you're not. People just want the absolute cheapest thing, and they want it now.

I haven't seen the inside of an Action, but most of the stores here in the US that sell garbage at the lowest possible prices target the poor. The people I know who would never have to enter one, only do when it's convenient and the item is disposable. (We have "dollar stores" that can be a pretty good deal for party supplies/decorations) I hope people who really have a "I don't care if I have to throw this away and buy a new one all the time" mentality are a minority.

Having that kind of an attitude with device chargers is a great way to damage your devices! Does that guy feel the same about his phone as he does his chargers?

There are times when the cheapest option is a smart way to go, and times when it's so convenient that it's worth picking up the cheap item even knowing it'll cost you later. Most of the time though I think people like having nice things. I'll confess I do know people who have money but always buy the cheapest toilet paper. There's no understanding some people.

I do not share your hope of it being a minority. I understand your remark regarding a possible "social shame" of not wanting to be seen in "stores for the poor", but this effect is gone. At least it is over here. Value shopping is acceptable across the classes.

I don't know if this extends to the US, but over here there has been a massive shift in retail. The middle is gone. There's value shopping and there's luxury shopping. Very low-end and very high-end.

Stores in the mid segment, which used to dominate retail, are falling apart. Some of these chains existed for over a century, had stores in every dutch city. They're all going bankrupt or already are.

They have no reason to exist. Their products may be of a slightly better quality, but barely so, as they too go for cheap Chinese garbage. They don't really offer better service because they can't afford to. Their staff are clueless teenagers for being cheap.

>“Not if that is what the buyer wants [in the immediate term]”

That’s generally how a race to the bottom happens. Short term narrow minded outlooks that barely consider how one action effects another. It’s terrible long run for buyers, employees, and the planet.

Exactly right, but it happens regardless. It seems we're wired this way.

Which means we need to stop kidding around and call it what it is. You can't offer people a cheap unsustainable choice and a more expensive better choice and then hope and pray that this magically works out well.

There should not be an unsustainable choice. At the very least we should start pricing in externalities into unnaturally cheap products.

It isn't really possible to produce a 5$ radio, ship it across the world and still run a profit. It's possible at the cost of a livable wage, basic human rights, reasonable work conditions, proper waste management, underpricing fossil fuel usage, special tax agreements, and so much more.

The radio costs 50$, not 5$.

You just accidentally summarized humanity.

Obviously you're not a creator otherwise you'd possess at least some minimal amount of scruples in what is blatant plagiarism.

That arguably goes against the purpose of a craft marketplace. If you want competition over cheap imported products, there’s already Amazon and eBay.

I have a few designed items that I have oft been told to sell n etsy - I have literally no interest in setting up an etsy shop -- however, I DO have interest in finding out how to get things I design made via AliExpress for my own desires - and dont care if other items crop up so much...

How does one go about getting a product made through aliexpress?

AliExpress is for consumers, for bulk orders you can use Alibaba. You can also get in contact with the manufacturers to make things to your own liking, they'll quote you a price.

Yep. You can literally get anything on Alibaba.

I bought bulk washing machine motors for millions of dollars and audio amplifier modules for a few thousands and N95 masks for a few hundred.

Why would you have purchased millions in washing machine motors?

Also, take a look at ImportYeti.com

Because my friend has a washing machine factory...

What kind of items?

Redbubble lets you upload designs for t-shirts, phone cases, etc, and make them available in their web storefront. You only get a small slice of the sale price, but it's very easy to get your designs "out into the world."

Physical Objects, not art prints.

I come up with mechanical designs as well as "artsy" things - which could be mass produced... but never like a logo-shirt or something as mentally ephemeral..


Right now I am modeling an 'thing' as a 3d printable (or injection molded at scale) attachment to a common house hold power tool, but can come in various grades (home|pro|industrial)...

I messed up and had a bunch of money in 2020 that I should have bought a printer with, but spent on stupid stuff like food and living expenses instead...

Other items are home-goods improvements/desires...

Think of me as the SamCo (Like RonCo) of my personal universe... but I am hoping some of that bleeds put into other universes such as xsmasherCo :-)

Does uploading the model to shapeways' marketplace or to thingiverse, or having it printed by a 3d printing service not suffice for your needs?

"one of the biggest problems for me is im never even sure if im buying the original design or a knockoff, which totally sucks."

Potential use-case for NFTs? :thinking:

How would an NFT help? I’m not opposed to the concept of NFTs, I’m just baffled as to how they in any way provide benefit in this situation.

They don't there are smaller NFT platforms that offer NFTs of art by smaller artists and there is a ton of fraud occuring on those as well. People misrepresenting themselves as the artist etc.

I'm sure I'm just being naive, but why wouldn't it help? Aren't NFTs used to securely show unique ownership of some item?

The knockoff seller also has unique ownership of the knockoff. It doesn't fix anything.

You don’t really need a block chain, you can just register serial numbers on a legitimate website. This was solved early on with cd keys.

NFTs don't show ownership of anything, at least not in any legal sense of the word.

Not an NFT, but blockchain approaches have been suggested for proof-of-invention problems.

What is the point of a blockchain where this could be achieved with simply a public/private keypair.

From the petition:

AI-powered bots shut down legitimate seller accounts seemingly at random, while Etsy looks the other way on resellers who undercut authentic makers by peddling sweatshop-produced junk in clear violation of the spirit of the Etsy community.

AI lockouts are a huge problem on Amazon, too, not to mention many of the sites and services used by HNers. I've said it before and I will say it again:

How many more pleas like this will we see on HN? Or, hear from friends, colleagues, and relatives who have been locked out or denied access to an important service, either through no fault of their own or by an innocent action?

No warning.

No explanation other than "suspicious activity" or "violation of [vaguely worded] policy."

No human to call who can help troubleshoot, other than a tech-savvy friend or relative.

No recourse.

There needs to be a technology bill of rights, not just for people dealing with Google, Amazon, Apple, and Facebook, but also the myriad other technology operators which can disrupt our lives in an instant with some poorly programmed process or unanticipated edge case.

Seriously. I got shot down on the last Google related thread about this issue because "what about the scammers". I get it, you need a process for stopping the scammers/psammers, but any system you create will make mistakes and so it must have a genuine system of appeal and recourse.

At some point on of these companies is going to hit someone with enough power to force them to do a better job.

>>At some point on of these companies is going to hit someone with enough power to force them to do a better job.

And then they fix that one situation and go on about their normal business. At least that is what it seems to me. I would wish for something more long term to happen but I am becoming less hopeful.

The scammers seem to do just fine despite all these systems, yet legitimate sellers can get completely hosed by them. Hm.

Claiming (in whatever "official" existence this website is for the sellers) anything made in China, or any other non-western country, is "sweatshop-produced junk" is definitely not the way to fix this

Manufacturing has moved to these places in some cases because many customers just can't tell the difference or couldn't care less about the difference

Are the people organized under that website all wearing leather shoes hand sewn in Maine cottages? Or are they wearing more sweatshop produced junk

> Manufacturing has moved to these places in some cases because many customers just can't tell the difference or couldn't care less about the difference

Your argument does not hold in this case, because Etsy was established and sustained as a marketplace for handmade goods. This is true also for customers, who visited Etsy to support independent artists and artisans and to purchase unique and limited items.

Many of the sellers of cheap knock-offs are engaged in blatant theft of IP and misrepresentation as independent artists.

> Are the people organized under that website all wearing leather shoes hand sewn in Maine cottages? Or are they wearing more sweatshop produced junk

I don’t see what this has to do with anything. But, yes, many sellers try hard to support other artisans. Etsy is but one part of a culture and economy of handmade goods that includes in-person shows and other off-Etsy venues.

Hand-made is kind of a meaningless term these days because it has been abused over and over again. I've seen things that were clearly designed with the help of a computer graphics program, and then cut with a laser cutter described as "handmade". It is supposed to mean something that is made without the use of any machines, yet Etsy sellers seem to think it means "something produced in small batches".

As the previous poster said though, why would I care about the distinction? Are handmade goods supposed to be better? Seems like a ludicrous proposition. Machines are more precise and faster, and so they make things cheaper. The quality depends on the processes used, and materials, not on whether machines are used.

Since I had my first kid I've seen lots of targeted ads for educational toys on social media. Sometimes it goes to Etsy, sometimes it goes to an individual website. The thing is though, at least half of the ads are for products that you can find on AliExpress for half the price or even less.

I've noticed kitchen goods are usually the same. And it's not just Etsy... I've even seen Kickstarters that haven't finished, yet the product can already be purchased on AliExpress :D

Here are a few quick examples I found on Etsy. I just searched for "toys" and these were in the top results. Some of these even use the same photo as AliExpress:

1) https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/1173294523/baby-bath-toys-di...


2) https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/1082197084/silicone-stacking...


3) https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/1036245657/rainbow-stacking-...


As far as I am concerned Etsy is not a place for home made goods, it's a place to learn how marketing and drop shipping works.

Rhetoric aside, the point is that mass-manufactured products do not belong on Etsy.

Those poor companies can't be expected to be responsible with their power, they only make several billion dollars off their users every year and putting conditions on their ability to remove content they find suspicious is comparable to me dealing with a thief in my house.

Etsy seems generally to have some tech issues.

I bought a couple of things on their site a while ago, but have never been a seller.

Somehow I keep getting emails intended for sellers in France and other places, trying to coordinate shipments or orders, or complaining about issues with orders. This has been going on for at least 4 years and I've reported it to Etsy multiple times with no follow-up at all on their side.

> End the Star Seller Program

I did not know exactly what the star seller program was. It requires that in the last three months of shop data [1]:

> 95%+ of first messages in a thread are responded to within 24 hours.

> 95%+ of orders ship on time with tracking

> 95%+ of orders receive 5 star reviews

> minimum of 10 orders and $300 in sales

In the petition [2] they explain the Star Seller Program as:

>Passive aggressive efforts to influence seller behavior are counter-productive and result in a worse customer experience. Rather than making us mad at buyers who leave glowing 4-Star reviews, or making us feel that we can no longer offer letter class shipping on items like cards and stickers, Etsy should leave us to individually do the best we can for each and every customer in each and every situation.

[1] https://www.etsy.com/starseller

[2] https://www.coworker.org/petitions/cancel-the-fee-increase-w...

The first two bullets are fairly reasonable (especially shipping on time...24 hours response isn't great but whatever), but expecting that high of a 5 star rate is almost unheard of. I see shops that do it, but we get 4 stars quite often for things like "Oh it was smaller than I expected" even though the listing says the exact measurements like 4 times.

Also note that it says "95% of orders" not "95% of ratings." We get feedback, maybe, like 40% of the time if we're lucky. If you're not begging for ratings, you won't hit that number.

They aren't overtly doing much with the Star Seller program yet, but I can almost guarantee that they will in the future. I'm 99% sure it's already influencing search rankings (since they influence them in other ways already, such as prioritizing listings with free shipping). I understand some of that is to promote sales which benefits the seller and Etsy, but if they are or start using Star Seller to tweak results, that's not really benefiting anyone that I can see.

95% only seems reasonable for thumbs up / thumbs down style rating systems. Too many people treat 5 and 10 star rating systems differently to require 95% 5 star ratings. Etsy and others should disclose the downsides to leaving a 4 star review at the time the customer is leaving the review. For me, 3 is OK, 4 is good, and 5 is PERFECT and is rarely ever given out on any system.

> 95% only seems reasonable for thumbs up / thumbs down style rating systems.

Maybe for average of ratings, not for average of all things that could be rated, whether rated or not. Those are very different things.

Exactly. Even more so when having anything other than the top 5% or 10% is functionally as bad as having a 45% rating.

> we get 4 stars quite often for things like "Oh it was smaller than I expected" even though the listing says the exact measurements like 4 times.

It's hard to really gauge the size of something from just measurements. One thing that often annoys me about product pages is that have a bazillion images of the thingymabob, but don't actually have a bunch of images where it shows the thingymabob in perspective; e.g. somehow actually holding it, a wider-angle picture of it in regular context (e.g. a painting actually framed on a wall in a regular living room or whatnot), and that kind of stuff.

Anyway, just an aside.

I also see a 4-star review as "excellent", but many of these platforms seem to see anything less than 5 stars as "bad".

I agree, but we've really tried everything to be honest! We put comparative photos on there, mention comparative sizing (e.g., "This is about the size of a normal business card"), and so on. Still, people get it and think it's going to be bigger/smaller and somehow that's a defect? It's just part of working with retail customers of a physical product, but unfortunately minor things like that have an outsized impact in a sales ecosystem like this that expects perfection in these interactions.

As a customer, it's really hard to write these kind of reviews; people may still end up expecting something slightly larger, because even with the best of efforts it's just hard to judge these things from a picture or video. This is not anyone's "fault", it's just that humans aren't really good at judging these sort of things.

So what review do you leave? 5-star because the product is "as advertised" and otherwise good? Or 4-star because it's not quite what you were looking for? I think both options are reasonable.

The Real Problem™ here is thinking you can automate these sort of things without any human judgement and expect to somehow end up with a reasonable response. There will always be outliers that any human would judge as "yeah, that's just silly" but computers don't care.

A 5-star review should be left. If you are given measurements and the product matches those measurements, the only one at fault is you. A measurement is literally a definitive answer to the size of something. Get a ruler or measuring tape out and visualize it for yourself. Humans aren't good at judging things precisely, that's why we have tools!

My ex was a clothing Seller on Etsy. A 4-star review because something didn't fit right was super stressful for her, because it meant her average rating went down and her seller status might be demoted.

I think a better option is to contact the seller directly if you are dissatisfied with the product. That way you aren't transferring your problem to them.

So it’d be super stressful if you run into people who are like “yeah they did a pretty good job I’m satisfied. Not the most amazing clothes ever but I’ll wear them. 3 stars”?

That’s exactly the type of person I was before I became a dev and learned about these insane algorithms. As someone else on this post said 3 star - good 4 star - great 5 star - absolutely amazing perfect service! went above and beyond

It seems pretty simply. If you get whats advertised, you rate it good. If it isn't, you rate it worse. If it was what was advertised, but you figured out that wasn't actually what you were looking for, the rating for the product should still be good, even though you made the mistake of buying it. That's not the sellers fault in any way.

But isn't a review at least partly subjective, based on how much you like the product? Or at least, it seems to me that's how it should work.

Yes, that is true. But I think it has to be compared to how much you liked this product VS others who do the same thing. Not "I thought this product did X" (but it was never specified for example) and then leave a 4 star review after returning it, or similar cases. Maybe I ordered this thing and thought I would like it, but because of something not-the-fault-of-the-product-itself I ended up not liking it, I don't think the seller should suffer from it.

Ideally there should be two reviews:

- The product is as advertised, built well, shipped on time and with appropriate packaging, and all these other objective things.

- My personal opinion of the product.

AirBnB kind of does that, although it still aggregates in a single score at the end.

Tongue in cheek: at what point is it cheaper to send three sizes (exact and +1/-1)?

> It's hard to really gauge the size of something from just measurements.

I know some folks already hinted at this in the comments, but it's beyond bizarre to me to read this quote on HN. The size of something is literally the measurements. If the measurements are wrong, that's one thing... I'll sometimes cut out cardboard or mask things off in painters tape if I want to know how they fit in a space. Accurately reported measurements should never be hard to "really gauge."

It effectively means that a 4 star review has the same impact as a 1 star review.

I ordered a bunch of stickers from AvE, my one and only purchase on Etsy. It seems ridiculous that he should have to package my stickers with tracking to get them to me, and I live on the other side of the world in the midst of a shipping crisis so I don't care one jot if it takes him a few days to pop my stickers in the mail. Consumer expectations these days are so ridiculous. They're stickers.

Programs like this also encourage bots to come review or even buying reviews to game the system and if there is not a good way to combat this misuse, it can get out of hand pretty quick. Most reviews I look at on Amazon are pretty useless to me nowadays because I can't tell what's real and what's not.

I really don't understand these systems where it's "5-stars or bust". Why even have stars if the only thing that matters is 5 or not-5. If you only care about a binary signal like that, then just make it a binary question. "Were you satisfied with this purchase? Yes / No." You'll probably get a much higher response rate, and it will be truer to the actual intent. A bunch of people that would hand out 4 or even 3 stars may still answer yes to that question.

As a buyer, there are so many ways to get screwed on eBay/Etsy, I am 100% with these requirements.

eBay has had super sellers for 20 years now. Not as stringent but it is beneficial to customers.

Meanwhile, Amazon continues to dilute their store with no control over review authenticity. Not saying Etsy isn’t prone to that but Amazon’s entire business model is to let these things slide. Etsy is at least doing something.

I really don’t care about sellers. I want a place for high quality products. Period.

I'm definitely skeptical of dinging people for 4-star reviews, but each of these bullet points are encouraged by Etsy because they improve customer satisfaction and sales.

The petition does make a good point that some products may be better just shipped dirt-cheap without paying for tracking, but overall Etsy is pushing sellers to provide better service and do things that bring in more revenue, both for them and the seller.

My wife is a star seller on Etsy and it hasn’t been hard for her to maintain at all (and she’s never asked for ratings). But she’s also never had even a negative comment made about her product after thousands of sales. I wonder if some product types are more open to criticism than others.

My guess is that price (relative to the competition) is a good signal for this. If someone is buying an $80 mug for example, they probably really like that mug even before they get it, and so they're more likely to leave a good review. A $10 mug might be more of an impulse buy

Perhaps it’s all ratings then because we’ve shipped 100% on time, pay someone to respond to customer messages within 8 hours, and we still somehow don’t meet the criteria.

Seems to me they should offer at least 2 tiers of this rating system. Star sellers for organizations that can give out free product in exchange for 5 star reviews, and ~Premium sellers for those who can't.

> 95%+ of orders ship on time with tracking

They actually hide some stuff in there. Tracking is expensive, if you add tracking to all your orders than someone else will offer a lower price and out-compete you.

Buuut, if you buy your shipping labels directly from etsy that counts as having tracking, even when there isn't any tracking.

So the actual effect of this is just to force people to buy their shipping labels through etsy directly. I presume etsy gets a bulk discount and keeps the difference.

> So the actual effect of this is just to force people to buy their shipping labels through etsy directly. I presume etsy gets a bulk discount and keeps the difference.

Yes. A lot of ecommerce companies (Etsy, Amazon, eBay, Shopify, etc) have a labels side-business that works in this way. Volume-based discounts from carriers.

I don't think so actually. The prices of the labels on Etsy match the USPS prices for volume labels exactly.

That is how retail works. You go and buy a hundred thousand of something from a company (in this case USPS) and then sell it to consumers. Your profit is the discount you were able to negotiate by making a bulk order.

I presume they get the best volume rate, and then whatever the difference is between that and your volume rate is they keep.

Correct. The USPS has what are called "published" rates, which is the set of prices that can be shown to consumers. Labels marketplaces (like Etsy) get an unpublished discount on top of those base rates and that's where the profit comes from. Those contract rates are not disclosed.

That 24-hour response time seems easily gamed by just replying with just "we'll get back to you ASAP".

Indeed, Etsy even helps you with that; from their FAQ:

> What happens if I can’t respond to messages on weekends and bank holidays?

> If you’re having a difficult time responding to messages during certain time periods, consider setting up an auto-reply, which counts as a response.

> 95%+ of orders receive 5 star reviews

This is going to be subject to Goodhart's law[1]. As soon as buyers are aware their favourite sellers on Etsy are evaluated like this many of them will always leave 5 star reviews, while others will try to use the threat of a < 5 star review to get special consideration from the vendor.

This is the same reason many people leave automatic 5 star reviews for gig workers unless something goes grotesquely wrong.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goodhart%27s_law

This was my first thought. Now that I know that's how it works, I'm unlikely to give below 5 star ratings unless my experience is really bad

95% of the ratings I leave aren't 5 stars, so that number triggers my fake-reviews alarm. I'm generally far more suspicious of a 4.9 rating than a 4.2.

This is all because Amazon has created unrealistic expectations. Customers think that everything should work like Amazon, even if you’re an artisan selling your passion online.

Seems like there's an opportunity here for a smaller scale marketplace to move in and provide artisan makers what they actually want. One could build a business around "white glove" onboarding of sellers; meaning, you actually have a conversation with the seller and confirm they're producing authentic goods, build a profile for each seller letting folks know who they are, and base the entire marketplace around authenticity. Is this a crazy idea? The argument against it is likely, "it won't scale", but I think and argument could be made that it could.

The main thing Etsy offers sellers is buyers' attention. My wife and I have sold on Etsy for almost 15 years (!!!), and she started selling from the first day she opened a shop selling bow ties. Over the years, it's very rare we'll open a shop offering something and not sell in the first day (and have never had a concept not have at least one sale in a week). It's hard to beat that kind of visibility with little to no investment honestly.

Even as our businesses have grown, the ease of use and convenience are hard to beat if you want to keep them to something casual. Sure, we could pop up a Shopify, ramp up advertising, really grind to get it "out there," but then we're spending more time and money to end up at the same spot.

A smaller marketplace won't have that sort of network effect. The only way I'd see it succeeding is if they really blitz on marketing and making themselves a real outlet for makers (and make sure they're perceived that way over Etsy). Their brand recognition and entrenchment would be super hard to overcome.

Have you written about your experience launching shops on Etsy? A friend and I have a few craft-style products we're itching to make as a side hustle and it sounds like you've figured out some of the tricks of the trade :)

You're right. That's why they know the value they bring and are increasing fees - which is reasonable.

They aren't adding any more value by increasing the fees. And from the perspective of the seller, it got worse because now they have to compete with factories in China.

I didn't say that they are bringing "more value".

They know they provide value and that their fees can be higher.

If you think that the value of their service is too low - then you will leave. If you leave. - then they'll have to address it. Original Etsy sellers have the leverage.

They were just undercutting themselves previously in the pursuit of user numbers, aka the strategy of every b2c startup these days. Few companies will stick with this model for eternity, usually they either raise prices or start to rely on Ads (YouTube).

Do you have a link to your wife's store on Etsy?

It's the circle of life for a startup chasing more fees. Older startups must die to fertilize the soil of younger sapling businesses:

small, handcrafted goods -> larger scale production -> mass-market aliexpress/ebay

There's no reason to do this as a startup. Someone could spin up an ecommerce site over a weekend and then put in the work to white glove onboard sellers without ever taking investment and turn this into a very nice business all without outside capital. As we're now seeing, outside capital which will want a large return doesn't jive with managing a business for artisanal/homemade sellers.

I had to read this three times before I realized that by "startup", you implied "taking on investment".

Fair for me and I think a lot of people a startup is a new business that attempts (and hopefully succeeds) to take on outside investment to grow rapidly -- otherwise you're just a new small business.

Any founder will explain that the ideal startup would take no investors at all.

I think people use the terms "startup" and "new small business" interchangeably these days, regardless of investment. It's a buzzword

I think the argument against it is that customers actually only care about price, despite the virtues they vomit all over the place about "supporting small business".

98/100 will support the idea. 2/100 will pay 2x for something because it isn't a Chinese knockoff.

They are not the same customers. The ones that pay 2x for something are eventually replaced by people who want cheap junk.

They aren't compatible markets, but a company who values profit above all else will start to cater to the lowest common denominator and push out people who care about quality, locally sourced, handcrafted etc. and become another generic retailer.

Juicero has proved to me that no idea is too stupid to win millions of usd in investment capital.

https://www.tellmemoregifts.com/ does this for the artists that make gifts for their customers.

That looks really odd. $155 (minimum) and they don't tell you what you will get.

"The artist and gift will be a surprise"

Hey, if it works for them, great. I just can't see using it.

> Seems like there's an opportunity here for a smaller scale marketplace to move in and provide artisan makers what they actually want.

There are two sites in the UK that do this, with slightly different emphasis on each:



> it won't scale

I think that is sort of the point, if someone were to niche down to actual makers of things. One could make it an exclusive club and spend money to get exclusive items for launch, for example get specially made pieces from well known makers and they can number them if they want, like 1/100 special thing-a-mabob.

Have actual interviews with artisans/makers, slowly ramping up sellers. Take customer complaints seriously. Like if its reported that artisan_maker_27 started shipping cheapo shit from where-ever then they are kicked off the platform.

I think the idea is to do as much as you can without scaling. No AI. No ads on the platform (certainly advertise for it).

If the argument could be made that it could scale, why don't you make it? We've already got eBay and etsy as counterexamples showing that "smaller scale" marketplaces don't stay true to their initial visions, and I don't see this "white glove" onboarding being enough of a value proposition vs just setting up an eBay store, for instance.

> smaller scale marketplace

There were a bunch of them. Most failed...

> The argument against it is likely, "it won't scale", but I think and argument could be made that it could.

A curated and authenticated store is a very expensive endeavour. They're complaining about hike in fees now, imagine how many would be able to accept hundreds of dollars in standing fees and cut from sales on top of that.

>The argument against it is likely, "it won't scale", but I think and argument could be made that it could.


Market will just adapt. Resellers will just hire an actor to pretend to be a small 'maker'.

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