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Social forum Reddit has begun blocking links from craft website Etsy after various complaints were made that "overeager sellers" were violating Reddit rules to promote their work.
The "soft ban," as Reddit called it, began last week; any links posted onto Reddit from Etsy are automatically submitted to a spam queue where Reddit moderators must approve the links. "[The ban is] a temporary step to limit spam from some sellers," a representative from Reddit told Racked.
Launched in 2005, Reddit allows users to post links about news, politics, and pop cultures, where they also have the option to comment or vote a post up or down.
Reddit boasts freedom of speech, but does come with some basic rules: no voting manipulation, no child pornography or sexual content involving minors, no posting of personal information, no interfering with the actual site, and no spam. Reddit loosely translates spam as self-promoting personal blogs or items; the site explains that if users are submitting links they benefit from without actually participating in discussions, they will be considered spammers.
Reddit user CourtneyJ announced the new changes late last week, explaining that "shameless plugs" have "hindered valid discussion."
"I just wanted to give you guys a heads up because all your etsy.com links will be spammed from now on. They will not be approved unless they are relevant to the thread," CourtneyJ wrote. "What this means is that if you submit a link to Etsy anywhere on Reddit it will go into the spam queue and not be publicly posted until a mod has approved it."
Etsy would not comment on the move, telling Racked they do not have a statement to release since the ban came solely from Reddit.
Until now, the website had a subcategory called r/etsy, where Etsy users could post links and speak about products. But Reddit moderators said their site is not "to become a useless bot-approved link dump that no one looks at."
Etsy sellers have often taken to their own message boards in the past, discussing how posting to Reddit is a beneficial source for marketing and exposure. Users in Etsy forums shared tips and lessons on how exactly to post in order to increase traffic without looking like a spammer. But of course, Reddit users aren't too keen of the self-promotion on their site. Reddit users are predominantly male and community topics are centered on news, politics and viral memes. The community is notorious for playing the civilian patrol, where they've helped solved crimes, and even reunited lost dogs with owners. Of course, plans haven't always worked out in the community: back in 2013, Reddit wrongly accused a civilian of the Boston Marathon bombing.
Many Reddit users have openly supported the Etsy ban so far, explaining that moderators simply don't have the time to go through links and users to determine if they are spam. Etsy users, on the other hand, are not too thrilled.
"So...I'm new here and all, but gosh, give us a chance reddit! If it hadn't been for my Etsy shop, I wouldn't have found reddit at all. Nor would I have thought to spend the time to check it out, read the posts, search the content, and figure this maze out. I think they're overlooking the fact that some of us come here because we are looking to see what other Etsy crafters and makers are up to! I have my teams, both local and virtual for asking questions and getting informed about Etsy policy and procedure. I'm here to see what y'all make and have gotten some incredible feedback on my site in the last few days BECAUSE I was allowed to be here and post about Etsy and my shop. Point blank," wrote one Etsy/Reddit user. "I am disappointed that Etsy post are discouraged on Reddit, it is a huge part of who I am and who I want to become as a small business owner. And a gracious Thank You Courtney for making a place where we are still encouraged to share our wares and connect with each other to make purchases from small sustainable businesses. I am hoping that Reddit can help find a happy medium for all of us."
Reddit has not said if they will make further efforts to appease Etsy users. In the past, Etsy sellers on their forums have admitted that Reddit can be a hostile place when it comes to selling products.
"Every time someone posts some of my items over there, the response is a lot of rude people who I honestly wouldn't want as customers because it's too much drama and negativity for me," an Etsy user, Britney, wrote on a recent forum. "Not saying that there aren't some great people I wouldn't mind working with. But from what I've seen it's not the audience I want."