Shop Etsy

Retiring the Virtual Labs and the Chat Rooms

Jul 18, 2011

by Vanessa Bertozzi

On Friday at 5 p.m. ET we will be retiring the Virtual Labs and the Chat Rooms. We are customizing our Livestream embed on the Community section so that we will have a new and improved place to bring our community together to discuss topics and learn from guest speakers, Admin and from each other.

Phasing out the in-house Flash applications on the Etsy website is one of our larger engineering goals for 2011. (See this post )The Virtual Labs have long been a gathering place for our community members. Jared's innovative work in building this Flash tool has been so inspiring: it's been an immediate way to foster direct connections between our members and with Admin. While nothing can entirely replace all the amazing things Jared came up with (flinging hearts and paper airplanes?!?), using Livestream will enable us to grow our streaming events and do things like archive the streams, scroll back in the chat, unlimited number of viewers, among other things. Fiona, an engineer working with Ken's Team, has even added a custom Question Queue field to our Livestream embed. We are excited for the future possibilities!

For Etsy Teams that use the Virtual Labs and Chat Rooms as a private meeting place, Etsy will no longer have a place for these activities. We know that many teams have already started seeking out off-Etsy tools like Skype and Tinychat because the Virtual Labs and Chat Rooms were failing your needs. Unfortunately, the Chat Rooms are not something we can technically support as our community continues to grow. (Multi-user spaces like this take an exponentially massive amount of processing power!)

We know you have a lot of affection for these site features. We do too. (Special shout-out here to the Lab Rats Team!) But we need to close this chapter in the Etsy history book. Thank you for being a part of it!

Here's the discussion thread:

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We have made these change to the site. The Virtual Labs page now forwards to the new Online Labs page, where you can tune into live streaming events, and where you can RSVP for upcoming events and watch archived clips if there's nothing streaming at the moment. You can find this Online Labs page via the navigation on the Community section of the site.

As for Chat Rooms, it's been a painful week listening to your stories of friendships forged through this site feature. Bringing together our community in real and meaningful ways is something we feel strongly about. But the Chat Rooms technology on Etsy is not stable and has been removed. Please keep us posted on which off-Etsy tools you like and why. We are listening.

To reflect these changes to the features themselves, we've refreshed the Community section in the DOs & DON'Ts of Etsy. The spirit of the community rules remains the same; we've just made some functional updates. The most notable improvement is that we've compiled into one list the general code of conduct that applies to all of our community spaces. Beyond that are additional rules specific to each community space (like the Forums, Teams, etc.). You can review the Community section of the DOs & DON'Ts here: