Keeping Our Handmade Marketplace Authentic
So, what’s the deal with the report button? It’s the critical mechanism by which we protect our marketplace and artisans. Instead of bots or call centers, we use the eyes and ears of our community.
We’re relying on an engaged and caring community to report problems when they see them, and we’re relying on our community-run review system to deal with reports in a fair, compassionate, and expeditious way. This allows us to use our people power most effectively, keeping people at the center of our focus and our process instead of using bots or automated systems.
A report is not harsh or tattling – it’s how we keep our marketplace true to our policies. And we protect our artisans by requiring three separate reports before we take action in most cases. This way, a single bad actor cannot trigger a review.
That begins with using our reporting system. In this post, we explain why you should report problems when you find them, explain what happens after you submit your report, and answer your frequently-asked questions to the handmade policy enforcement system.
Our community designed our reporting system to balance the needs and interests of artisans with the needs and interests of the shopping experience and the Coop as a whole.
Removing an artisan’s work from the marketplace is a serious step and not one that we take lightly. Removal or suspension affects an artisan’s ability to make a living, flies in the face of platform cooperativism by removing their control over their own listings, and beyond that can feel upsetting and violating. Stories abound on social media of upset sellers on Big Tech platforms whose listings were unfairly taken down.
Additionally, artisans are often targets of bullying, stalking, harassment, and censorship. We want to protect them from an individual who may target an artisan due to malicious competition, vendetta, or obsession.
However, we also need the ability to expeditiously and wisely remove products and artisans who do not meet our policies or the law. There are many good reasons to submit a report:
- Weed out bad faith shops that never intended to comply with our policies
- Keep the marketplace organized
- Promote actual artisans
- Signal to the community that we are paying attention
- Signal to bad faith shops that they won’t get to sneak through the cracks easily
- Protect the culture / quality of the shopping experience
- Ensure fairness for all artisans
We explained how our process balances those two needs well, but for the system to work at all, it must begin with your reports.
You can submit reports with confidence that they will be handled fairly and expeditiously when there is a problem, but also that if a report is perhaps too harsh or unfair, then it will not create a harmful impact on an artisan’s record or livelihood.
What Happens When You Report
We have one report form, called the Potential Violation Reporting Form. We use one form to track all complaints so we can see the full picture during reviews.
The word “potential” is important. Reports will trigger a review process, but an artisan is not punished for being reported. Review processes differ by the type of report (more on that in a minute).
We do not provide follow-up information to the people who submit reports out of respect and privacy for artisans. (In addition, the logistics would be challenging: every reporter would have to receive regular feedback on their reports and whether they are pending, in review, denied / approved, or more.)
Coop members who submit reports are awarded non-specific points when their report results in an artisan shop or item being taken down, but they are not provided private information or specifics about another artisan.
The form has many options and you can submit one report for more than one potential violation. We’ll go through the process for each one in turn:
- Protected intellectual property rights regulated under the DMCA
- Violations of specific Artisans Cooperative policies
- General complaint / unsure
DMCA Intellectual Property Infringement Reports
The DMCA report is a special and legally-mandated process. It can only be submitted by the holder of the intellectual property rights that are being allegedly infringed (or their official agent). We must deal with DMCA in the legally-mandated manner: immediate suspension of the item(s), followed by an investigation. (Learn more about this process in our blog post, Fan Art, Fair Use, and Intellectual Property on Artisans Cooperative.)
Artisans Cooperative Policy Violation Reports
Artisans Cooperative has policies on various topics, and we expect our marketplace products and artisans to comply with them all. Not only do they protect the marketplace and our artisans, they also ensure a high-quality shopping experience for customers.
This is what happens after three reports:
When you submit a potential policy violation report, it is registered in our potential violations database. There it sits until if/when the item/artisan receives three unique reports.
After the third report, the artisan will undergo a verification review by two peer reviewers in order to stay on the marketplace. This is the same process they would voluntarily undergo to become handmade verified.
If the artisan has already been handmade verified, their products are allowed to stay up on the marketplace during the review. If the artisan has not already been handmade verified, then their shop will be suspended during the review.
Finally, actual people will review whether: the product(s) are allowed to remain on the marketplace, changes have to be made, or the product(s) will be removed.
Knowing our policies will help you determine if there is a potential violation and make your report more impactful. We encourage everyone to get to know our policies and avoid unnecessary reports.
Other / General / Unsure Reports
If you don’t have the time to figure out which policy is being violated, you can submit a general complaint under “Other Artisans Cooperative policy (or unsure).” A Coop member from our team who knows our policies well will help categorize it for you (if warranted) when possible. Check this box if you have objections to a product but can’t determine which policy it violates.
How to Report
We make reporting possible on every product with a small link underneath the information table that says “Report Product”:
The same link is located in the footer of every webpage, “Compliance Report”:
You can also bookmark this URL for quick reference:
Q: Can I report something for having racism, hate speech, or discrimination?
Q: Can I report something for having too many keywords in the title?
A: Yes! Report this as a potential violation of our Listing Policy.
Q: Can I report something for being mis-categorized in the wrong collection?
A: Yes! Report this as a potential violation of our Listing Policy.
Q: Should I report something if I’m not sure the policy it breaks but it feels like it goes against the cooperative nature?
A: Sure. Report this as another / general / unsure report.
Q: Can I just email / text / DM / call a leader or a community member and tell them about my complaint instead?
A: No! Use the report form.
Q: Why are you relying on the community to enforce listings instead of doing it yourself?
A: As a co-op, we rely on people power to own and manage our business, and trust in the wisdom of the crowd to make the best decisions. The reasons for this are both philosophical and logistical. Logistically, the hours that Coop members have to put into re-verification and enforcement are fewer: we are simply consistently acting on the reports that the community submits.
Philosophically, we have seen the pitfalls of Big Tech marketplaces who try to enforce handmade policies by relying on employees, third parties, or bots. It places too much power with a misaligned objective into the hands of a few. By distributing the power of enforcement to the entire community who loves and cares for the marketplace, and who wants it to remain a fair space, we will not only get higher quality reporting but likely much more accurate.
About Artisans Cooperative
We are growing an online handmade marketplace for an inclusive network of creatives: a co-op alternative to Etsy.
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