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.