First off, this lovely image came from this great website, Old People Talking about the Internet.
Second off, I read an online article about the Etsy forums this morning, not a very complimentary article. I would provide the about.com link, but the author gets paid according to how many times the article gets clicked, so I'm not going to do that.
In the article, the writer talkes about the negativity in both the Etsy and Artfire forums, and how these negative posts are driving away buyers. Now, there are some things you should know:
1. I spend some time in the Forums. I have gone there with questions, and had them immediately answered by wonderful people who have been dealing with Etsy a lot longer than I have. I've goofed off, been extraordinarily silly, seriously connected with others, and met some incredibly lovely people on the forums. That community is part of what I love about Etsy.
2. I can't speak for Artfire, because I've never even been to Artfire's site.
3. People do occasionally act unprofessionally on the forums. They talk about other sellers, say bad things about buyers, criticize etsy relentlessly, and so on.
4. What is in the forums is visible to the outside world through Google search. It's also visible to etsy buyers who wander through the forums.
5. I have gotten sales from hanging out in the forums. I don't do the promotions section, because I didn't find it effective. However, I've talked with people in a thread who then bought from me. I used it more for socialization and education. I interact with other buyers, and I learn stuff.
6. Allegedly, the person who wrote the internet article has been in etsy's forums, digging up dirt, and getting people riled up. At the close of the article, she suggests that sellers leave etsy and go to other markets to buy and sell. The writer may have ulterior motives for her essay.
I guess what it all comes down to is this: Etsy is your business office. Maybe it's more like your retail store, where buyers can see and hear you. However you choose to behave there, remember that it's visible to everyone. Yes, I act like a goofball there sometimes, but that's because I am a goofball, and I don't mind my buyers seeing that side of me.
I am not a negative person or a mean person. That may sound silly, but negativity and meanness sometimes comes out so quickly in the forums. Just because I'm fairly invisible, behind this screen and keyboard, doesn't give me a license to run amok with evil, or to be a snarkwit, or to get out all of my frustrations on strangers because I can.
Fighting with people in the forums is akin to fighting with ghosts.
It's just as easy to be kind as it is to be cruel.
The way you act in the forums represents you, your shop, your art and actually etsy as a whole.
That concludes my preaching post for 2010.