The Etsy Blog

Forum Decorum: Be No One’s Puppet

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

You know who gets a tough break on the Internet? Sock puppet makers. While innocently pursuing their age-old craft, the Internet at large steals their identifying term and applies it to a particular kind of mischief. Sock puppets are commonly used around the ‘net to generate fictional support for some belief or cause. Alternate accounts have been similarly used to post on the Etsy Forums in the past, and the term sock puppet has been adopted in our community to cover a range of anonymous posting agendas. This week’s Forum Decorum is about the sock puppet phenomenon: why you might be tempted to make one and what you can do instead.

Using an alternate account to post in the Forums is against Etsy rules, so why would you do it anyway? Why not just post on your original account? Typically, someone who has made a alternate account either can’t use their original name or simply won’t. Let’s look at these two circumstances in a little more detail.

If you were to start a second account to post on the Forums because you can’t do so with your original account, this is a good sign that you need to privately contact support@etsy.com to determine what can be done. Posting with a second account is likely to cause more problems than it will solve, so it’s best to email Etsy and find out what is up.

What circumstances might lead you to say that you won’t post something on the Forums with your original account?

  • Maybe you want to avoid the “no calling out” rule.  If that’s the case, it’s probably still best that you take your concerns to Etsy’s staff privately. If you really want the input of your peers on the Forums, sometimes it’s possible to rework your question into a more general one or give a hypothetical case. See our article about calling out for more tips on dealing with this scenario.
  • Maybe it’s too embarassing or too personal to post under your own name. If it isn’t Etsy-related, you might want to consider a different venue (maybe one that’s more anonymous overall) to share what’s on your mind. If it is Etsy-related, go ahead and email us about it. We won’t tell, we promise!
  • Maybe you’re just having a bit of fun with a practical joke. No harm there, right? Well, not exactly. Since sock puppet accounts are against Etsy’s rules, you would be held responsible for the consequences of breaking a rule. That joke might not be so funny once you realize that you’re putting your primary account at risk.

There are probably reasons beyond the ones we’ve listed here, but in general when a sock puppet is used it’s because there is a need for discretion. A private email to the right Admin team at Etsy offers the maximum level of discretion. If you really want to reach out to the Etsy community for input, we can help advise you on how to word your question/statement/story for the Forums so you can feel comfortable having your username attached to it. However you do it, don’t post on the Forums with a sock puppet. Doing so can put all of your accounts at risk, and we want you right here with us!

(No sellers of sock puppet-related items were harmed in the writing of this article.)

Share your thoughts in this Forum thread: Keep your socks on your feet!

In the Forum Decorum series, Lauren (stellaloella) and RobWhite of the Community team explain some of the finer points of cultural etiquette in Etsy’s community spaces. When something is an official site rule, we’ll be sure to link you up to the DOs and DON’Ts or Terms of Use. Simply consider these as tips for avoiding a forum faux pas.