This week has seen Folksy make some clarifications to its terms around our definition of “handmade”. In 2008 we stated that items which could be sold on Folksy must be “majority handmade” using the craft skills of the maker. Although this definition has not changed, it has not been sufficiently enforced and has been interpreted differently by makers and designers. We therefore took the decision last week reiterate our definition of handmade. The timing of this decision was based partly on reacting to a groundswell of complaints and also in consideration of the re-launch in November. At least one of the following criteria must be met to satisfy our definition of handmade (taken from the full terms) and list on Folksy:
- Craft Skills: The item is handmade by you through a craft practice, for example knitting (either using a pattern you have created or one that you have permission to use), woodturning or sewing.
- Original Design: The item has an original design. For example we allow knitted garments made using mass produced wool, handbags made using mass produced fabric or jewellery designs using mass produced beads as long as these are based on an original design. Also, the item may not be made by you (e.g. prints of illustrations or photographs or decals of original artwork) but must be your original design and not a copy of someone else’s.
You only have to meet ONE of the above points for your work to qualify as handmade. If in any doubt whether your work meets these criteria please email firstname.lastname@example.org Our decision to clarify the terms is also in direct response to:
- Negative reaction to many items on Folksy which were ‘assembled’ from mass produced items.
- The growth in the number of ‘assembled’ items as a proportion of the total work on Folksy. Jewellery in particular, was affected.
- Our vision for the business, which is to focus more on craft skills and build a brand which is clearly aligned with handmade work (as well as craft supplies).
There exist a number of services online that allow you to sell items and Folksy needs to have a clear identity if it is to grow and continue its success and support skilled makers and designers.
Concerns about the clarification to Handmade
We have read the feedback on the forums, on email, twitter, Facebook and on blogs and whilst there has been lots of positive support for what we’ve sought to do, there has also been concern about the clarification and our communication of it. The negative responses revolve around a few points, each of which I’d like to respond to.
- It’s not fair as many have invested time in promoting their work on Folksy and they might not be allowed to sell there now.
People who have spent time and money on promoting their work on Folksy can still save their listings and use them to sell. The definition applies to all new listings. However, listings made before the 7th September do not need to comply with the definition of handmade until November 1st. This gives people selling ‘non-handmade’ items time to sell their item or change their listing to a ‘handmade’ item if they should wish to.
- It’s too ambiguous and isn’t being implemented consistently.
We’ve consulted widely and have produced a definition of “handmade” which we feel works for buyers, makers and designers. We may seek to improve the wording but the spirit of the definition will remain unchanged. The support team have been implementing the definition with continuous reference to the criteria we have and whilst we don’t discuss individual accounts, we are being consistent in our decision making, being incredibly careful where we set precedents for different artefacts and offering our rationale on our decision to everyone who contacts us with a query.
- The communications around the clarification have been poor and left many unsure about where they stand.
We realise a managed communication should have been in place before we made the announcement and we should have justified our decision at the time, rather than after the event. We apologise for not managing this as well as we would have liked. Going forward, we’ll be making the new terms more obvious around the site, in the context where they are needed, such as new listings and in shop set-up. We’ll also be making a simple document for makers and designers to reference – the current support system is aimed at addressing specific queries and is too complex for people just wanting to know basic terms.
- That we’re policing the handmade policy by encouraging people using the site to report items that breach our terms.
We use a variety of different mechanisms to moderate activity on Folksy. The support team view hundreds of items a day and check on the work of a sample of new sellers. We also allow people to “report inappropriate content”, a post moderation tool used by the majority of marketplace websites. Items reported are viewed by the support team who make a judgement on whether that item contravenes any of our terms (such as handmade, but also copyright, pornography etc.). Buyers and makers do this of their free will and we don’t expect people to do this, nor do we rely on people to do it, it is just one of the ways moderation functions.
Some people have suggested that we should ‘vet’ new shops or newly listed items. We are looking at a process of accrediting new sellers before their work is published (not juried according to taste – but whether they meet the terms) on Folksy and this could well be something we look to implement going forward.
In the meantime and to help people see how we are implementing the clarified terms, here are some examples of what we do not consider to be handmade. This is not a comprehensive list and if you are unsure if your work may be affected please contact support via our Helpdesk.
Examples of what we do not consider to be handmade.
- Jewellery made with one charm or stone that hasn’t been made by you attached to earrings, necklaces, rings etc. If the charm is the defining feature of the piece, then this doesn’t constitute an original design, this applies even if there are the addition of other charms or beads to the piece.
- One mass produced element on a card does not constitute an original design. Multiple items on cards that are used to build up an original design are fine.
- Gift tags made using images that are not created by you.
- Confetti made from mass produced stamp cutters.
- Use of mass produced rubber stamps on items with no other design or associated craft skill.
- Any badges and mirrors that do not use original designs.
Our decision should not be taken as a value judgement on ‘assembled’ work. Some of it is brilliant and also sells well. Our decision is aimed at defining Folksy as a brand and a business for the long term. We wish all those people who sell items we no longer support, or who have chosen not to sell on Folksy, all the very best. We would like to thank everyone who continues to support Folksy. Going forward we aim to show that the work of makers and designers on Folksy will be better supported because of the decision we have made regarding handmade now.