Sunday, November 8, 2009

Artfire forums mess

There's a whole lot of hullabaloo going on in the Artfire forums right now.  I've read as much of the history as I can get my hands on and here's my understanding of the mess.

Some sellers were becoming inflammatory towards Artfire in the forums.  As always happens in any internet forum, those who are in the mood to fight got all up in arms and started bullying those few who dared to speak up and say "cool your jets".  The silent majority simply ignores inflammatory and bullying behavior and the few who enjoy a good fight just go on congratulating each other for being so brave to "stick up for themselves" when really all they're doing is fanning the flames.  So the flames get bigger and bigger.  Artfire admins decided that this was bad for business and shut down the few instigators and then deleted the fiery threads. 

When the admins explained why this was necessary and gave a hypothetical to help illustrate why this was necessary, everyone continued to flame because they would take the words out of context and react by gut instinct (which is easy to do when you're already pissed) rather than read the entirety of the reasons.  Thus, wrong conclusions were jumped to and again, everyone congratulated each other for being quick on the flaming bandwagon.  It grew out of control, even the Etsy forums exploded with misinformation about what was happening at Artfire.  So again, the admins said "enough" and deleted the thread.

Today, various threads are popping up with people complaining about how the admins have handled things.  They claim that they are just asking questions.  And how dare Artfire shut down their questions just because they disagree with Artfire admins!

I call Bullshit.  If you want to ask a simple question of the admins and get a simple answer, you email them.  Privately.  The only reason to ask an inflammatory question on a public forum is because you want the admins to shut you down so you can point a finger at them and scream "Seee?  Seeeee!?  It's so unfair!!!!  Who agrees with me???". 

The reasonable people are emailing the admins with their opinions privately.  They want to be heard and they are being heard.  The unreasonable want to scream in public and get an army of angry people to back them up.  It's a big ego boost to have an angry mob supporting you.

The forums are now being moderated.  They attempted to allow the artisans to moderate themselves via decorum and good common sense.  When given freedom, someone will always take advantage of it and ruin it for everyone else.  They scream the loudest and believe they are in the majority because they are screaming louder than those of us who are quietly discussing the issue with reason. 

We in the USA have the right to free speech.  All that means is that if we say something the government doesn't like, they aren't going to come to our door with rifles and shove us in a box until we shut up.  It does not mean that we have the right to use someone elses resources to be jerks, especially to those people providing the resources.  Just because you have the right to speak, that does not mean that Artfire is required to provide you with the megaphone and audience.

If you want to talk without moderation, start a blog.  It's free.  You have every right to say whatever the hell you want to say when you provide yourself with the resources to speak.

Artfire forum moderation is the correct business decision.  They have every right to allow the discussions that they believe will boost business and to erase those discussions that they believe will harm business. 

If you don't like it, start a blog, speak all you want, and blast them from the rooftops if you so desire.

If you want to ask questions regarding the changes and express your disagreement in how it was handled, go to the source - email the admins directly.  They will eventually answer you.

But don't go into the public forums that they are providing and talk shit about them and then get all up in arms when they don't kiss your ass for doing so.  They are doing what they believe is best for business.  That's it.  If you disagree, you are free to leave and you are free to setup a new shop however you damn well please.  But if you're going to use their services, you're going to have to play by their rules. 

I agree that forums should be moderated.  I'm glad Artfire is doing it.  I really don't want my potential customers watching a bunch of bullies bitch and moan about how the service they are taking advantage of sucks.  That's bad for my business.

Thanks Artfire.  You're going through some major heat right now and it's probably going to have a short-term effect on the bottom line as the bitchers and moaners shut down their shops.  But it's going to improve business in the long run.

11 comments:

pinkcloudsandangels.artfire.com said...

I agree 100%. Well said!

Kay Sommers said...

i also agree with you Uga! I expressed my opinion just a few comments down from your link to this blog.

I think moderation is a good way to go. It gives a little sense of authority there.

It's good that most got a strong ownership towards AF but some obviously has had some misconception about it.

The only reason to ask an inflammatory question on a public forum is because you want the admins to shut you down so you can point a finger at them and scream "Seee? Seeeee!? It's so unfair!!!! Who agrees with me???"
my thought exactly. i almost believe now they think it's hip to get banned in AF.

sotocapmania said...

I love Artfire and I love the artisan that believe in Artfire also...You are 100% correct...All that is being done is for all of our best interest like you said use other ways to get your point across, especially if you truly want answers and not a bully fight with a bunch of on lookers reaching out and taking jabs..

Creatively Jeweled said...

I agree AND disagree with what you have said.

I will be the first one to agree that things often get out of control in the forums and there are some people who like to bully others and I don't like it. It seems to have gotten a lot worse since the whole thing with unlimited listings for basic accounts. I haven't decided if it has more to do with people still being upset or with the actual people who are coming from etsy.

As far as what people say to Artfire admin or about Artfire in general is concerned, I am of the opinion that Artfire brought a lot of that on themselves and at times have even encouraged it.

AlexMMR said...

I would agree that they encouraged people to speak up. They thought that people would censor themselves and speak up with constructive criticism to help them find and work out how things could be improved.

Unfortunately, that went too far. There has been a lot of talk about how some horrible things have happened in the past and that the admins let it go so it's not fair to censor now. Well, I'm sure those horrible things from the past helped make the decision to start censoring now.

They've seen it get bad in the past, they're seeing it head that direction again and don't want it to go there so things need to change.

So yes, they brought it on themselves. They trusted the public at large to keep it civil and the public failed.

CTStudios said...

Bravo, Bravo, well said. I hope you can hear my thundering applause !

Bunga Brand said...

Well said!! I 100% agree with your blog post. I have noticed the ONLY ones who have a problem with forum moderation and the request to remain pleasant in the forums, as these said bullies. The problem is, some of them got such big heads, feeling like they were SO much better then new members that they got to push them around. And enough is enough, especially when these people feel they have some right to talk to Artfire, their staff and the CEO in the manner they have just because they have "free speech"..well clearly they have no filter between their brain to their typing hands. I applaud Artfire for what they are doing, they are creating a more professional selling venue and are are making it a fair and fun place to sell now. I was t the point where I was going to leave at one point, the way certain people were treating me and others was disgusting. NOW, I am doing everything I can to become verified here and am promoting Artfire MORE THEN EVER!
Bravo Artfire and Bravo to this blog owner for feeling as passionately as you do to make this post!! I am going to begin following you now :)

blueberryjunkie said...

I agree with you.

While I am all for freedom of speech, in a business setting such freedom should be moderated, especially when there are a handful of individuals who think nothing of abusing said freedom. There is a big difference between expressing a different point of view (in a rational, matter-of-facto, and polite way) and trying to push your own agenda by being snappy, rude and belittling the staff (and your fellow artists/artisans) when things do not go your way.

The staff were certainly pushed to their limits trying to abide by their intentions to provide a forum environment where uncensored member interaction could take place. Things got out of had...drastically out of had, and something had to be done. I think AF's mistake was to patiently wait this long to take action.

Many sellers are enraged, claiming is not the moderation of the forums that is ticking them off, but he abrupt manner in which it has taken place (with no warnings). If you take the time to read staff announcements, there have been plenty of announcement and warnings.

People forget Artfire is a business, it should be treated as such

Morrigan said...

Tony's original threatening statement is what set me off. http://goatmountainarts.blogspot.com/2009/11/way-to-go-af-supporters.html (for screencap)

Forums unmoderated of that size inevitably fail. I absolutely agree that moderation is needed. I also feel that Tony needs moderation. Threatening to change shop banners, posting private emails (in a now deleted thread) are huge, huge unprofessional no-nos. You are right in that Artfire is a business. Tony should treat it as such.

I never became involved in the forum brawls, it's how Artfire Admin acted, going from one extreme to another that made me decide to put my energy elsewhere.

People were muted without emailed warnings/examples. For some, it's easy to figure out why the muting happened. For others, it's not so easy - where is the line? At least Etsy will tell you what you did wrong.

Alisuns said...

I once had a repeat problem customer in a retail pharmacy job. Always moaning, always late, always wanted his 7 refills he'd just brought in within ten minutes or so and would come back repeatedly and ask, are they done yet?

In a conversation, this customer misinterpreted something I said and started to moan and groan and, for the first time, threatened to leave us.

I offered to get him his prescription bottles. The fill-in pharmacist defused the situation, gave him special treatment, and kept him as a customer.

When the Pharmacy Manager and I next worked together, I told her about it. She said, "D**m! I've been trying to get rid of him for years!"

Now, I consider some of the people who left dear friends. I hope to be able to keep in touch. I missed the forum explosion, so I don't have an opinion on it. ArtFire staff has never renegged on a promise to me, and have always followed through for me. I'm sticking with ArtFire. But I'm sticking with my friends, too.

AlexMMR said...

Morrigan - In both of your screenshots, it shows him stating that he's NOT going to do that. Both in the original and in the edited one. He wasn't threatening to do that. He was stating a "what if" scenerio to make people think about how they have been presenting themselves.

It was a risky and abrupt tactic, I totally understand that. I also read the dozens of posts prior to that one attempting to reason with everyone calmly and no one paid attention to those posts. So yes, his temper was lost and he switched to a more dramatic tactic to get people to listen to what he was already saying.

Unfortunately, tempers were already flared by the time he did that and so that tactic fanned the flames rather than stopping everyone in their tracks.

Now, he's like a firefighter trying to stop a building from burning. At the moment, every little smoking ember is going to get doused with water so it doesn't become an inferno again. They are a little quick on the trigger finger which at the moment, they have to be. It's temporary.