How to Get Kicked off Etsy

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In some of my other writing gigs, I cross paths with many people who sell video game-inspired handmade goods on Etsy, the e-commerce website for handmade or vintage arts and crafts.

The rule at the publication Nintendo Power, for example, is that it doesn't want to cover anyone selling things that are mass-produced or factory-made. That's because they're less special.

And guess what: Etsy agrees, which is why it recently shut down the store run by Tracy Robertson, Houston's "long-running queen of goth and Victorian fashion" mogul. The Houston Press' blog has a great writeup of why this went down.

Essentially, Etsy's user agreement mandates that its merchants sell "handmade" items only, but how it defines "handmade" isn't exactly clear. What is clear, thanks to a Wall Street Journal piece from mid-April, is that Etsy has doubled its detective-staff size to 16 members.

Those detectives do nothing but enforce Etsy's rules, as loosey-goosey as they might seem to merchants. Even though Robertson got the boot in January, Etsy's rules are always changing -- not in a devious way, but I have to think people must know Etsy is meant for handmade goods.

There's a lively debate about this all on Etsy's forums, though there's still considerable confusion there too. As user SevenOlives writes, "Although I appreciate the attempt to 'clear things up'… I don't see how this actually clears things up."

As of press time, there are 104,863 local items being sold on Etsy, so this might hit closer to home than some might think.

David Wolinsky is a freelance writer and a lifelong Chicagoan. In addition to currently serving as an interviewer-writer for Adult Swim, he's also a columnist for EGM. He was the Chicago city editor for The Onion A.V. Club where he provided in-depth daily coverage of this city's bustling arts/entertainment scene for half a decade. When not playing video games for work he's thinking of dashing out to Chicago Diner, Pizano's, or Yummy Yummy. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.

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