Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The more things change

Just as I suspected, the "Etsy privacy Valdez" is more of a leaky sailboat:
I'm the founder and CEO of Etsy. I'd like to add a bit more explanation here, because we haven't made any recent or unannounced changes. This is a combination of how things have always worked (feedback), with a feature we launched in October of last year (real names).
What happened? Purchases are made visible via our feedback system, which has not been changed in almost six years. As part of building a trust score on Etsy, buyers leave feedback for sellers and vice versa. We've always linked to the item purchased when feedback is left.
Lots of people on Etsy have identifiable usernames. Many include their real name, or are a recognizable public persona. We saw this, and we also wanted to deepen the trust relationship between buyers and sellers, so we gave all members the option to enter their real name. We feel that being who you really are is an important part of trust on the Web.
We created the option for real names in mid-October. Since then, nothing around this issue has changed. If you put your real name in Etsy, bought stuff, and received feedback, it'd link to the item you bought. Google would also index this stuff.
Did we make a mistake here? Yes, and we worked till late in the night yesterday to take a step in the right direction and plan our next steps: http://www.etsy.com/teams/7716/announcements/discuss/6818578/page/1/ [Ed: link fixed.]
We did not suddenly make some changes without telling anyone. Our feedback system has always linked to items. Additionally, most people on Etsy don't use their real names, and haven't filled these fields in.
We're talking today about what we need to do better, and we'll do it better.
Upshot: You were always Googleable if you put your real name on your Etsy profile. Etsy's change made it possible to find you by searching through the Etsy site by real name or email address.

Of course, now your shopping history is veiled because Etsy has eliminated links in feedback to items purchased and disclosure of feedback left for you by others, which prompts one to ask what the purpose of feedback is, anyway.  (They've kept feedback from you given to others, although there's no link to the other you gave it to, if that makes sense.)
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