Etsy Sellers Panic As Tech Glitch Takes Down Visibility Of Items In Error During "Routine Sweep"

Liz Morton
Liz Morton


Etsy sellers were sent scrambling today when many of their best selling items suddenly went missing from search in what is now being called a "technical issue during a routine sweep."

Etsy seller and ecommerce consultant Cindy Baldassi posted about the issue on LinkedIn, suggesting it could possibly be linked to changes related to handmade policy enforcement that were announced in September.

Cindy Baldassi on LinkedIn: #etsysellernews #etsy #etsyseller #ecommerce
There are numerous reports on Etsy today of best selling items being deindexed from search. I suspect Etsy FINALLY started their new system for dealing with…

There are numerous reports on Etsy today of best selling items being deindexed from search. I suspect Etsy FINALLY started their new system for dealing with flagged handmade violations, where they deindex listings for up to 48 hours instead of deactivating items outright. The new approach was announced in September, but I haven't seen it happening before today...

...▶ "Now, when a listing is flagged by our automated controls for potentially violating our Handmade Policy, it will remain active but not appear in search results and recommendations in order to give our specialists time to review the listing. Our team will determine if it should be removed, or if it can be sold on Etsy and be made visible again. The review process typically takes less than 24 hours.** ...

The vast majority of reviews will be completed in less than 24 hours, but may take up to a maximum of 48 hours. Any listings not reviewed within 48 hours will automatically be made visible in search and recommendations."...

...Etsy Support is being vague with many people, but from a few Support responses (see screenshot), this does look like the new handmade review process. We know that Etsy's bots have been targeting a lot of bestsellers as not handmade for many months now, frequently because the photos have been stolen and used on other sites such as Shein or Aliexpress.

Hundreds of posts filled the Etsy community today as sellers panicked about the sudden loss of visibility and lack of information from support.

To everyone that is dealing with this issue today and have virtually no sales, has anyone gotten any useful information from Etsy chat or phone calls about what’s going on?

Same problem here- 8 of my bestsellers are de-indexed. I just got off chat with Etsy support who are just gaslighting me to no end. They insisted this is part of a temporary test to optimize search results that may impact my search placement, and to rest assured all of my listings are still indexed and searchable.

I told them repeatedly these items are fully deindexed and not searchable and they just kept repeating everything is fine and I'm mistaken. I'm going to try again with a different agent and see what they say- I'm sure they'll give me a completely different but equally useless answer...

We are missing 5 of our best sellers. Missing from our shop from search and no ads. Contacted support they said they would email us....that was hours ago.

Same here, have been stressing for hours! All my listings except a new one I made today are de-indexed. No sales, Cant find in search, no add spend. Etsy chat told me to wait for an email!

Re: Items not showing in search and best sellers too!
“I was told in chat that they have “systems in place to limit visibility for listings that they believe may violate Etsy policies while they conduct a review”.” This sounds like they are finally moving to deindexing instead of removing items entirely. They promised in September that items should be…

I had my bestseller de-indexed so I contacted chat to ask what is going on. It's a lanyard I sew / handmake btw.

I was told in chat that they have "systems in place to limit visibility for listings that they believe may violate Etsy policies while they conduct a review". They then proceeded to give me links to the handmade policy, seller handbook and how search works.

My query has been forwarded to the Trust & Safety team and they will "let me know if this is reinstated or removed". So now I wait. There must be a system setting triggering best sellers and that they are reviewing them site wide.

My shop is still there, all listings visible from my shop but I'm not anywhere in the search for any of my listings!

Got on to chat and etsy used the reasons listed above about changing search visability etc but then said they are aware of the problem and working on it. I asked when I would be re-indexed in their search but they said they don't have a time frame.

I've had no orders or favourites all day and I'm really worried this is going to take a while to sort out and I'll have no income!

Etsy Search all incorrect
My views have been down massively the last few days. Upon searching for my bestsellers i have found these are absolutely nowhere to be found in search. I ranked top for several items in my etsy shop under several different searches for each item. Now for example when i type in ’football water bottle…

They said "At this moment I can't share with you an exact reason, however I will send a request to resolve it as soon as possible"

I got this problem yesterday, after contact their online service for help, Here is what i got from etsy help:

Please know that we take protecting our marketplace very seriously and work hard to balance the enforcement of our policies with the unique variety of handmade items our sellers contribute to the marketplace. We have systems in place to limit visibility for listings that we believe may violate our policies while we conduct a review.

While we can't disclose the details of our internal processes, we can share that we periodically revisit our policies and make updates to our enforcement in accordance with industry standards, laws, and regulations. Please see our Seller Policy and Handmade Policy for more information.

A community manager finally posted to confirm Etsy had discovered a "technical glitch" that incorrectly limited the visibility of supposedly a "very small" subset of items during "routine sweeps" to keep the marketplace safe.

Hi everyone - thanks so much for bringing this issue to our attention so that our team could look into it.

While rankings in search are based on many factors, we have discovered a technical glitch that limited the visibility of a very small subset of items in search. This occurred during our routine sweeps to keep our marketplace safe and identify prohibited items.

We are in the process of implementing a solution, and impacted listings should be restored to search within the next several hours. We apologize for any confusion or frustration this may have caused.

Sellers have bemoaned increasingly automated enforcement and lack of support on the platform for years but layoffs announced in December raised even more concern that AI bots will be allowed to run amok and create havoc on the platform.

Infamous activist investor Elliott Management revealed they had taken a 13% stake in the company and a board seat for partner Marc Steinberg last week.

Etsy Gets New Board Member As Elliott Management Takes 13% Stake In The Company
Etsy is getting a new board member this month as Elliott Management partner, Marc Steinberg, is set to join on February 5, 2024.

If the name Elliott Management sounds familiar, you may remember the Enhancing eBay letter they published to then CEO Devin Wenig in 2019 calling for substantial changes at the company.

Elliott Management Sends Letter to Board of Directors of eBay
Elliott Management Sends Letter to Board of Directors of eBay, Outlines Unique Value-Creation Opportunity, Path to $55-$63 per Share
Today eBay suffers from an inefficient organizational structure, wasteful spend and a misallocation of resources. By increasing operational efficiency, eBay can free up capital to invest in capability- and revenue-enhancing activities.
...As an online marketplace that provides a critical forum for millions of buyers and sellers, the efficient and effective functioning of the platform is paramount. Unfortunately,eBay has been plagued by technical problems and operational challenges for years...

...Fast forward to recent years and the platform still faces issues. In 2018, eBay sellers complained about countless technical issues including incorrect billing, lost photos, warped titles and many others. On this month’s end of year podcast, eBay senior management apologized to sellers and admitted, “This is a 2018 that we don’t want to repeat on a number of levels. And the technology issues that we have had with the platform is top of the list.”

We agree: The consistent reliability of the platform is central to eBay’s success, and management must do all that it takes to achieve it.

While innovative endeavors in new pursuits like machine learning and augmented reality are promising future technologies,eBay’s publicly touted initiatives in these areas will add little value if the core platform continues to have critical functionality failures.

Many of those same things could be said about Etsy today - users are constantly wondering if new "experiences" they see on the site are tests or glitches, and the recent release of a gimmicky AI-powered gift guide arguably adds little value to the core platform if other major issues are not promptly and properly addressed.

Etsy Gift Mode AI Recommendation Tool Launches In Stealth Mode
Etsy Gift Mode helps buyers easily find special gifts for all the people & occasions in their lives, with a little help from AI.

In some ways Etsy's new handmade item policy enforcement procedure which leaves items active but limits visibility is an improvement for sellers (previously, Etsy would completely remove the listing and sellers had to beg for it to be reviewed), if it's not executed well, it can and will still cause massive problems for legitimate sellers and harm to the platform.

Technical glitches like Etsy experienced today are exactly the kind of events that (rightly) earned eBay scrutiny and criticism from Elliott Management and if CEO Josh Silverman doesn't turn the tide on these kinds of execution failures, the currently "friendly" engagement from Elliott could turn against him in a heartbeat.

Was your Etsy store impacted by this "routine sweep technical glitch?" Let us know in the comments below!

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Liz Morton is a seasoned ecommerce pro with 17 years of online marketplace sales experience, providing commentary, analysis & news about eBay, Etsy, Amazon, Shopify & more at Value Added Resource!