Lesson 9: Raise the Red Flag

13 Feb

This the the ninth part in a series of discussions about topics pertinent to Etsy community members. And when I say “discussion” I mean, “yes, right there…no a bit to the left…to the right…you can be replaced by a back scratcher, you know!”

Raising the Red Flag.

Flagging is the system of user-monitoring employed by Etsy. If you see an item for sale on Etsy that breaks the terms of use (which are available to all and, for most purposes, are quite simple), you can flag it. You click the “report this item to Etsy” and you get a drop down menu to choose a reason for reporting it and a box for comments. Bob’s yer uncle!

It sounds very easy doesn’t it?  Well so did income tax the first time someone explained it to me. Really, it is simple, yet somehow it exposes so many other issues with it.

For example…

“Should I flag it? Should I? Eeeee ooohhh aaaahhh!”

The “should I flag it” forum brigade.  They puzzle me. And most often their threads end with admin showing up to point out that you should just flag something and let them look at it.

“I saw a brand new, unaltered TV set for sale on Etsy! Should I flag it??”

Is that a trick question? Or are you actually trying to say “Often in life I see very obvious paths but I feel paralyzed by some deep seated fear of action! Food is placed in front of me and I think ooohhh should I eat it?”

“Shut up Wry!” you say, “Often it’s not clear cut that an item violates the rules! And I want to know if I should flag it but we can’t be specific or we break the calling out rule! GAH! Behold the vicious Catch-22 that grips us like a vice and forces us in to the forums!!”

All right, let’s say that has happened. You see something that you think deserves a flag. You are not entirely sure, but yes, yes, just maybe it should be flagged.

Well then flag it, for the love of Job and Pete, don’t tell me or anyone else about it in a long, rambling, vague post…flag it! Do it! Go for it!! Stop making me feel like some twattish Tom Cruise caricature and just flag it dammit!

“But what if I am wrong, Wry ??!! That is why I need to post in the forums about this….WHAT IF I AM WRONG?? What will happen to that poor shop owner? What if  my false accusation destroys them and their career!!!”

All right, calm down. In though the nose, out through the mouth.

What do you imagine happens when you flag an item? Surprisingly, no explosive device is detonated in that shop to immediately destroy the item. Etsy cops (most likely wearing comical fake moustaches) do not come rappelling down the side of the offender’s building, smashing through windows and raiding the joint. I’m no expert and I don’t work for Etsy, but I’m going to guess that the offender gets an email that says something to the effect of “your item has been flagged, it clearly violates or terms of use so please remove it” or “this item may violate our terms of use, here are some questions we have” something to that effect.  Even if I weren’t pretty confident that that is what would happen, I am really, really confident that the rappelling and explosions are not what happens. You may be wrong about an item, but I bet most times you aren’t. I think you are probably clever enough to work out what is within the limits and what is not. And sometimes people will be wrong and that happens. But you can’t describe the item in detail in the forums as that is not permitted, so you will just have to make the decision for yourself. Consider it a lesson in independent thinking.

There is only one other reason that I can work out for the “ooh should I flag it?” posts…and this one really roasts my nuts.

You know full well somewhere in your mind that you are going to flag it, and you just want some affirmation. That list of 80 other sellers who will post in your thread saying “Yeah flag it!” “Oh do it!” “I saw something like that and I flagged it!” and the occasional, exasperated “FFS flag it and be done with it.” ( ßpossibly me.)

Come on. Put on the big kid pants and either report the item or let it go. If you think that something breaks the rules here, flag it. If you are sitting on the fence and can’t decide and feel the need to thread to the forums to talk about your desire to flag an item, swallow it. Grow a set and either flag or walk away.

PS –  to those who deliberately post items from resellers etc and call for flagging. Yes, resellers need a good crack to the head with a blunt plushy. No, that method of dealing with them isn’t cool. Rules against calling out protect everyone, even, sadly, the cocks who resell here. But breaking those rules is a slippery slope. A slippery, shit covered slope of which I hope you are never at the bottom.

Double PS – whether or not flagging of offending items really works (meaning does Admin really take action, is the system too secretive etc) was not the intended topic of this post. It’s a whole different topic really, so if you all decided to post on at length about that, that’s cool, but I am probably just going to ignore it. It’s been gagged on about ad nauseum…what’s left to say really?

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