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Forum Decorum: I’m calling you out!

Nov 1, 2007

by Lauren Engelhardt

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

No calling out – it’s the cardinal rule of the Forums. Seems like a simple rule; it’s just three words. But, uh… what exactly is calling out and why is it so bad, really?

In essence, calling out is the act of pointing to a specific person and saying something bad about that individual. It’s like standing in the schoolyard, taunting them to put up their dukes and defend themselves. It’s spreading information that can tarnish the reputation of another community member. It’s not nice, and it’s very much not in the spirit of Etsy.

The key components of a call-out are: 1) negativity or an insult, and 2) an identifiable person as the target. Let’s examine a few scenarios: 

  • The classic example of calling out is to mention another user by name (or link) in a negative statement. “WhateverfaceCoInc sells mass-produced junk. Whatshisname took my money and never shipped my item!” This is the most obvious method of calling out, but not the only one.
  • Posting to complain about negative or neutral feedback you gave or received is – yep, calling out. With just a few quick clicks, crafty amateur detectives can figure out exactly who you’re complaining about.
  • Ranting about what someone posted elsewhere on the Forums may be deemed calling out, if it’s easily determined who is the target of the complaint.

So why is calling out such a bad thing? One reason is because reputation is really important on Etsy for both buyers and sellers. Everyone wants to maintain a good rep to show they are trustworthy in the marketplace. (Feedback is a more appropriate space to comment on another member’s transaction rep than the Forums.) Another reason calling out is not-so-hot is that it can quickly escalate into fighting. We want to keep the Forums a positive and helpful place.

Sometimes it’s tricky not to call out another member when you’re trying to get advice about a situation. In these cases, if you really want the input of your fellow Etsians on the Forums, figure out how to phrase your question in a very general way that gives no identifiable clues. Or you might try to contact one of the sellers who has has volunteered to be an unofficial mentor and get advice via private Convo. And remember, you can always contact Support by email. Etsy’s staff is here to help!

One last scenario – what about writing in the Forums to share how much you love someone’s shop or think another person is really helpful? Is it okay to say nice things about other people, even by name? Yes, totally – and in fact, please do! We fully encourage bragging about the awesomeness of your fellow Etsians. If Etsy-love is wrong, we don’t wanna be right!

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.

Telephone Girl Print
Telephone Girl Print
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Gossip Sticker Set
Gossip Sticker Set
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Armadillo Gossip set of 3 Cards
Armadillo Gossip set of 3 Cards
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55 comments

  • CreativeSundries

    CreativeSundries said 8 years ago

    Thanks for the article. Great choices for related items!!

  • daniellexo

    daniellexo said 8 years ago

    great article!

  • georgiesgems

    georgiesgems said 8 years ago

    Thank you for this. My sister had a question about something she deemed as unsuitable for Etsy and people jumped all over her. I was very upset when I read the locked thread the next day. She loves the forum, but she is embarrassed to join in again because of so many people ridiculing her question last time. I hope this helps

  • tortillagirl

    tortillagirl said 8 years ago

    This is an excellent article!

  • debproductions

    debproductions said 8 years ago

    Thanks for this article. I have never heard of the expression "calling out". Is it an American saying? I would term such behaviour as "gossip" or "rumour mongering" or "bullying". Or "flaming"? Not to be done IRL or online or anywhere. It is a shame that negativity or insults appear at all, regardless of whether the target is identifiable. We call it "whingeing" over here in Australia. So, no whingeing. Got it.

  • FourSeasonsFragrance

    FourSeasonsFragrance said 8 years ago

    Thanks for the great article!

  • judysnow

    judysnow said 8 years ago

    Very good article, thanks no one wants to be bashed it is so un-fair. This is what I love about etsy "Etsy Cares" thanks again for another great article.

  • AliV

    AliV said 8 years ago

    Great article! It's sad though a lot of are scared any more to post in fear of bein bashed. Hopefully that can pass over soon.

  • ROBINDALMIRASJEWELRY

    ROBINDALMIRASJEWELRY said 8 years ago

    Great article!!

  • DreamsOfMay

    DreamsOfMay said 8 years ago

    Wonderful article! Hope lots of people read it.

  • busterandboo

    busterandboo said 8 years ago

    yep! I flagged a post last night where somebody vividly and repeatedly insulted the OP. Post is still going strong.

  • SewnForU

    SewnForU said 8 years ago

    Thank you for these guidelines.... Hopefully everyone will understand that if you point one finger, there are three more pointing back. :)

  • willo

    willo said 8 years ago

    Great article. And I like the bit about saying something positive too. I've had some invaluable help from fellow Etsians.

  • LaraJordanJewelry

    LaraJordanJewelry said 8 years ago

    Thanks for the article! Love the "Related Items"

  • blueshedcrafts

    blueshedcrafts said 8 years ago

    I hope the naughty people who break the rules read this article because us goodie too shoes didn't NEED too!

  • earthdream

    earthdream said 8 years ago

    THAT ROB WHITE sure does start a lot of helpful threads! He's the coolest for sure.

  • sandcookies

    sandcookies said 8 years ago

    Robs on it like white on rice:)

  • sandcookies

    sandcookies said 8 years ago

    Sorry that was one of my student's favorite sayings when I was a high school teacher - couldn't help it:)

  • BrushItOn

    BrushItOn said 8 years ago

    Most excellent reminder to everyone... Sometimes its just too easy to get carried away when something upsetting has happened. Thanks for the helpful descriptions!!!

  • moonstr

    moonstr said 8 years ago

    super article!

  • ShopRedLeaf

    ShopRedLeaf said 8 years ago

    The related items are hilarious. Thanks for the article Rob!

  • CrotchStitch

    CrotchStitch said 8 years ago

    Having been the victim of a 'calling out' episode or two it's nice to have a reminder to others. Luckily for me I have had the backing of my lovely fellow Etsians and the 'caller out' has been made to feel ashamed.

  • AMomentAMemory28

    AMomentAMemory28 said 8 years ago

    Very informative and gotta appreciate the humor-- laughter is essential to happiness =)

  • lilVinylTreasures

    lilVinylTreasures said 8 years ago

    thanks! I love the "crafty ametuer" part :)

  • boygirlboygirldesign

    boygirlboygirldesign said 8 years ago

    Great article!!

  • beckababe

    beckababe said 8 years ago

    fabulous article!

  • uniquelynancy

    uniquelynancy said 8 years ago

    Thanks for the reminder that were are a big team and need to Support each other not fight amoungst ourselves. Getting bashed in public is very hurtful.

  • MamaLovePerfume

    MamaLovePerfume said 8 years ago

    I LOVE this policy! If you've ever spent time on just about any other Forum on the web, the nasty stuff becomes so destructive and such a waste of time.

  • springcartdesigns

    springcartdesigns said 8 years ago

    Great advice...

  • PhospheneDream

    PhospheneDream said 8 years ago

    Gasp! I did not realize how easy one can participate in this "calling out". Being new to Etsy I know better now that I have read this article. Thanks for posting it!

  • WhimsicalMom

    WhimsicalMom said 8 years ago

    Great article! Thank you so much:)

  • thebeadingtree

    thebeadingtree said 8 years ago

    Super article and I love the artwork by headexplodie that preceded the information. They both went very well together. Anyway, I hope this will help keep the forums a little calmer than it has been for a few weeks now. Great job RobWhite and stellaloella!! Y'all are the bomb!! :)

  • Cathysjewels

    Cathysjewels said 8 years ago

    Got it!

  • undertheroot

    undertheroot said 8 years ago

    yes, love the psychological breakdown/breakup of character. we need what we read! xo

  • MindyG

    MindyG said 8 years ago

    Thanks!

  • tinatarnoff

    tinatarnoff said 8 years ago

    Great article, valuable advice, but most importantly, written in such a delightful witty way! :D

  • Hannypanny

    Hannypanny said 8 years ago

    Very informative, thanks Rob!

  • byAMOR

    byAMOR said 7 years ago

    Perfectly put. thanks.

  • expressyourself

    expressyourself said 7 years ago

    Super article!

  • carolforsyth

    carolforsyth said 7 years ago

    Thank you for informative thought provoking info. Appreciate the help.

  • Mindielee

    Mindielee said 7 years ago

    This was very clarifying, thanks! However, recently someone told me when I was bragging about another shop that that was calling out! Glad to hear from the 'horses' mouth' that it's not only ok to do that, but welcomed!

  • InkPixie

    InkPixie said 7 years ago

    So we're not allowed to talk about a bad experience on a board because it is 'calling someone out?' But we can talk up the good experiences all we like and it is not considered 'calling someone out?' Why the double standard?

  • jmkraige

    jmkraige said 7 years ago

    Way to go etsy admin!

  • folkheirloomsbypaige

    folkheirloomsbypaige said 7 years ago

    Thanks for the advise I will use this to work on my shop!I'm trying to find advise about getting noticed,I'm sure it will come in due time.I thank everyone that is out there to help us newbies.

  • JustBeccuz

    JustBeccuz said 7 years ago

    Thank you for the wonderful article!!

  • cheriebeadle

    cheriebeadle said 7 years ago

    Great read! Thanks for letting me know. I had "called someone out" but thought I should delete it from my profile because it just felt negative to have and that was before I read this. Phew...glad I did the right thing. Thanks for clarifying what calling out is!

  • LondonParticulars

    LondonParticulars said 6 years ago

    Yeah, negative comments can really put me off a shop!

  • LulusCrystals

    LulusCrystals said 6 years ago

    The gist is READ FEEDBACK. I know I don't want to deal w someone who doesn't mail their sold items, I don't want to buy from someone who has sold garbage dressed up with lipstick. And please, do not buy from ppl who COPY or make sickeningly 'similar' artwork to another. Sighhh...

  • SerebaDesigns

    SerebaDesigns said 6 years ago

    Thanks for the links to this about forum chats. There is so much to read and to learn about procedure as a newbie. The How to's are always welcomed even if they are read after a posssible faux pas.

  • shakra

    shakra said 5 years ago

    Why is it that Etsy has plenty of resources, time and energy when it comes to closing threads of those that "Call Out" others... even when they are "calling them out" because these sellers are listing stuff that a) does not fit within the Etsy guidelines (i.e NOT handmade, vintage or supplies).. listing cheap chinese made items made a week ago as vintage etc.. Why is calling these types of sellers out such a bad thing? Do we want those kinds of stores ruining what was once a really good place to sell stuff?? Whats the point in having Etsy dedicated to artisans, DIY'ers and crafters when you spend more time shutting down those that alert the community to those who clearly could not give a toss about what we are really about???? I havent bothered to list anything here in a while because of this.

  • aaronandersen

    aaronandersen said 5 years ago

    I get that Etsy wants to avoid the nastiness that is rather common on the internet, but... When every dispute is kept a very hush-hush, private matter, there is no positive effect from transparency. Resellers can apparently resell with impunity, until April Winchell highlights them on Regretsy. Does Etsy really want Regretsy to be the forum that is keeping them honest? Frankly, the more resellers and mass-producers that show up here, the less integrity Etsy has. If Etsy loses its integrity, it loses its business plan. Sunlight is the best disinfectant, and sunlight does not have to equal bullying or manipulation, which everybody seems afraid of. It's definitely possible to handle disputes publicly in an adult fashion that doesn't bully, ridicule, tease, or be mean to anybody. Etsy already moderates forums to prevent calling out, which means it is within their capabilities to moderate a dedicated call-out forum to make sure the tone and manner of call-outs is reasonable and non-frivolous. They love rules, so they could make a rule that you can only call-out a violation of the terms of use, and that you have to simply state facts about how a shop is violating TOU, not use adjectives, whatever. It's not that hard. Or would we really all prefer to be sheltered children here?

  • nadinecross78

    nadinecross78 said 5 years ago

    I can't help but agree with the two posts directly above mine. While I appreciate that the forums are not a place for harassment, Etsy does need to think about its policies for policing and identifying re-sellers. Identifying a reseller *as* a reseller isn't "calling out"; it's responsible. Ultimately, it will help make Etsy what it is supposed to be -- a place where artists and legitimate sellers of vintage wares can connect directly to buyers. Frankly, I'd find Etsy purchasing a more positive experience if I could be sure that I'm not being duped into purchasing mass-produced wares cleverly disguised as handmade.

  • longbeach

    longbeach said 5 years ago

    The fact that etsy administrators do not want the handmade community "calling out" resellers makes me realize that I have to really do my research to determine if 1) I am getting something truly handmade and 2) that it is worth the price. Its very unfortunate. I think real crafters and artists are getting the short end of the stick here.

  • AntiquesDjour

    AntiquesDjour said 5 years ago

    longbeach, you are dead right. discouraging conversation and curbing the ability for etsy sellers to hold eachother accountable is very disapointing.

  • julietgo Admin

    julietgo said 5 years ago

    I'm closing comments here at this time. The purpose of this post was to explain our policy on "calling out;" if you have other concerns about policy on Etsy, please contact our Support staff at support@etsy.com. Thank you.

  • This discussion has wrapped up!