Lesson 6: the P Word

6 Feb

This is the 6th part in a seemingly never-ending series of discussions about hot topics on Etsy. And when I say “discussion” I mean “Sshhhh….why don’t you just shut that pretty mouth of yours and make me some cake?’


We all like to think we offer this to our customers, and there are probably few among us who would say they don’t consider this important. And yet any time this comes up for discussion among Etsy sellers, watch the fur fly. If the vast majority of us think this is important, why is this such a hot topic?

Let me paint a scenario for you. You’re on the Etsy forums, reading some threads, learning some things, having a laugh. And then you come cross a thread about professional behavior among shop owners. It goes something like this:

“I am appalled at some of the tom foolery here in the forums. DO YOU PEOPLE NOT REALISE THAT CUSTOMERS CAN SEE YOU??!! Buyers are everywhere! Beware! Things you post in these forums are searchable under your username and will cling to you like a filthy little barnacle the rest of your professional life!!! Your potty mouth and unprofessional attitude are infuriating me. Please stop this instant or I will continue to frown and glare at your posts here.”

Ha ha, you may say – but there is truth in all of that.

Yes, there is a lot of tom foolery in the forums. And jack assery, and even some cock knockery.

Yes buyers are everywhere. Sellers are buyers and they are in the forums, too. Buyers are buyers and they are sometimes in the forum (though I imagine that the average person coming in to Etsy to shop doesn’t spend much, if any, time in the forums – just as I rarely do much but shop when I am at various e-commerce sites as a buyer).

Yes, things we post in the forums are internet searchable ( but if you have any kind of solid web presence as a shop, those forum posts are so far down the list as to make this a pointless claim. Go on, do the search…see for yourself).

Yes, the potty mouth infuriates you.

So all those points are true, and yet, I would say: so what?

The very nature of Etsy, its raison d’etre is to allow anyone who wants to (and who has a credit card and sells handmade, vintage or supplies) to set up a shop online and peddle their wares. Anyone. What does that tell you? That you are going to get a very wide representation of people selling here – from well established sellers to hobbyists. And within all the levels on that spectrum are even more sub levels. And you expect everyone on all those levels to adhere to the same standards of practice? And these standards are most likely, (based on the repeated discussions we see about this topic) incredibly similar if not exactly like yours?

Look at it this way:

I can go to the local ladies dress shop. A fine establishment with a seating area for the gentlemen, possibly with light refreshments for them. Well coiffed and elegant sales ladies assist me in the dressing room. Everyone speaks in a nice indoor voice and uses proper grammar. Excitability is not encouraged. Then I go to my local tattoo parlor. While it is unlikely I will see the artists standing around shouting “cocking fuck that is a nice bit of ink!!” I am not going to be surprised to hear louder music, a variety of language not heard at the ladies dress shop, and the occasional topic of conversation that I’m guessing would be off-limits at the ladies dress shop.

None of that means that both shops do not have a set of professional standards that they adhere to. And they will share some basic standards, such as good customer service, giving the customer what they want, deal fairly and legally with everyone etc. But there will also be other levels of behavior and standards that are different from shop to shop. And if their level of service is utter crap, expect to see them out of business soon enough.

Now you will say “Yes Wry, but on Etsy the potty mouth and cock knockery drag the tone of the whole place down and I have to be here too!”

Yes, and oh well. Once again, Etsy was set up for everyone, and so long as the offending party is working within the Terms of Use then I’m afraid you are going to have to suck it up. You can be upset about it if you like, but since no rules are being broken, then what is the point of expending energy freaking on something you can’t control? Their business is not your business and vice versa. The idea that one person would be able to tell another what their standards for operation should be is ludicrous. Why don’t they just let you run their business then? Probably because they are doing just fine at it themselves, thanks. And if they are not, well that’s their problem, too. Your customer base may not be their customer base – would you want them telling you how you should behave around your customers? That’s your business.


Now about those threads that are started fairly regularly on the Etsy forums – the ones I mentioned above with the “Don’t you realize??” theme…

The suggestion that a person well versed enough in the use of the internet to set up a shop here, populate it and show up in the forums posting various things that bother you, is a person who is not smart enough to realize that the other people here can read their posts and judge them on it…seriously, stop it. You don’t really believe that they have never realized that customers can see them, do you?

No of course you don’t. It’s just spleen venting and that’s fine – sometimes we all need to vent. We aren’t all the same and we don’t all have to get along all the time. But why not take that energy and just pour it back in to your business. Otherwise, you’re just opening up another thread that gives the operators of potty mouthed shops like mine the opportunity to run in to your thread and shout “you’re not the shitting boss of me!!” and run out again. And no one wants (or really needs) to give me that opportunity, do they?

I thought not.


3 Responses to “Lesson 6: the P Word”

  1. amyambros February 10, 2009 at 7:58 pm #

    you are my personal hero!
    my personal potty-mouthed no nonsense business school hero. thanks for the reality check/pantskick.

  2. RightAsRainCreations February 12, 2009 at 3:39 pm #

    Great article – especially considering a thread I spent waaaay too much time reading last night – after it was closed, so I couldn’t even contribute any of my wit and candor!

  3. Jen February 12, 2009 at 7:04 pm #

    I love you for saying what I’ve been thinking and making me laugh while doing it. You are spot on with every installment and I doubt your source of inspiration will run dry so I’m looking forward to many more. Thank you!

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