One would think that after the overwhelming negative reaction to the privacy changes that Etsy made earlier this year, the whimsical hipsters at online craft market Etsy would have learned their lesson by now. Don’t be silly! In a post to the site’s user forums, CEO Rob “Rokali” Kalin let slip that Etsy plans to identify users by their real names throughout the site, including on forums.
It’s important to point out here that providing one’s real name to Etsy is completely optional. For a few months earlier this year, the company collected real names, but did not let users know that these would be made available online or that providing them was optional. (Names associated with shipping addresses are a separate part of the site: you can have something mailed to you without Etsy holding on to your name.) This is now what new users see when signing up for the site:
It wasn’t always, though. What angers the most vocal users, primarily sellers, is that Etsy collected this information for months without letting users know how or where it would be used. Update: An Etsy representative wrote to us with a correction to this information about how signup used to work:
Here is the way it used to be: All registration pages (from invites, or anywhere else) included text next to the first and last name fields. The text appeared when you selected either of those fields. Which is why you don’t see it in that particular screen cap, the focus was probably in the email field. The text read, “Your full name will appear on your public profile. This is optional.”
And here is the way it is now: All registration pages include text next to the first and last name fields. The text is always visible, and it reads, “Your name will be publicly displayed on Etsy. These fields are optional.”
The changes that we made added clarity and overall visibility to the statement. But I would like to stress that we always stated that it was optional to provide names, and that if given, names would be publicly visible.
On the somewhat epic thread about privacy on the site in general, Kalin posted, in part:
We’re working on better ways to communicate that what’s public is public — e.g. your real name. And when data like this is public, we’re going to display it publicly in all areas of the site. For example, we’ll be adding real names to the forums, for people who have their real names on their profile.
What do you think? Would you rather make a purchase from someone called “luvsoatmeal2008” or “Duvel Moneycat Popken”? What if you were purchasing items, or just visiting a forum to discuss business ideas?
Etsy to Post Users’ Real Names in Discussion Forums [Auction Bytes]
An Important Privacy Question for Etsy – Opt-IN VS Opt-OUT [Etsy Ideas forum]