Thursday, May 20, 2010

How "Mature" is Etsy?

What kind of site is Etsy? What kind of site does it want to be?

It was built by artists, artisans, crafters, creatives, innovators, entrepreneurs, oddballs, and every loose end of society.

When Etsy was small, the melting pot of weird was run with a free but friendly hand. Some people complained the Admins were unprofessional and didn't do enough. Some thought the Admins were drunk with power, closing shops without cause and taking sellers' money.

Etsy got big. That's the point, right? Grow the business, find more customers, up! up! up!
They brought in business people and started running Etsy as a business because, after all, it is a business. Things grew and things changed. You may love your two bedroom apartment in the city and hate everything suburbia stands for, but once you start having kids, a second bathroom and a yard may be worth losing the produce market on the corner.

The United States was built by religious extremists who left England because they wanted to practice a stricter form of Christianity, creatives, innovators, entrepreneurs, oddballs, and every loose end of the rest of the world (plus the bit of humanity native to the continent that managed to survive all of that "creative innovation" and "entrepreneurship"). Hundreds of years later, we still see the ties to our puritanical roots. I don't know if the United States will ever shake that fundamental fundamentalist core. Is that a good thing? Bad thing? I don't like it, but it's hard to pass judgment.

Etsy used to allow "artistic nudes" to go without the mature tag. It stood by the stance that uncovered body parts legitimately can be used in art. Copyright law used to be a very touchy subject, too. Etsy was a place for free expression and avoided concrete rules limiting freedom.

Having a mature tag at all concedes that there are people who shouldn't or don't want to see certain images and that their needs are not only valid but outweigh the importance of a censorship-free environment.

Changing the entire site so that you have to "opt-in" to see "mature" tagged images says that acceptance and growth into fundamentalist America is more important than Etsy's fundamental foundation.

Admin Michelle (HeyMichelle) really hits on it in one of her forum posts.
what if I was looking at the site with my mother or grandmother or 11 year old niece? What if I were someone who avoids racy material and finds it inappropriate (a good number of buyers). Would I want to click on a link on the site and suddenly see a bunch of adult material and have to scramble around for a button? If it's a new user- might they leave and never come back?

But it's a choice between them and Etsy's pilgrims.
Reaching out to a wider audience can alienate your base. I hope the admins calculate carefully. I don't sell anything "mature," but I like Etsy as a niche market and I hope it knows how to stay that way, no matter how much it grows.


Cream City Crafts said...

This is really well said. I just stumbled on your blog through the etsygreetings blog, and I'm already sure I'll be coming back a lot.

Thanks for the food for thought.

Natalia Designs said...

This is all true! Thank you!

niftyknits said...

I will never be a fan of the (to me, OTT) adult treasuries, but as you rightly say in your newest t, there is a great deal out there that is even more offensive.

Matthew Nix said...

The hotdog necklace is not of adult nature. Odd maybe... but not mature content.

niftyknits said...

You know, it's people like you JillHannah whe have helped me develop my opinion on this topic. Seems to me that as the puritans got their way and have hidden mature items behind closed doors, they could keep their religious agenda to themselves too.

thanks for reminding me of this blog!