Tuesday, September 14, 2010

From Etsy: Announcing Etsy Groups in Beta!

We are thrilled to announce that the eagerly anticipated Etsy Groups is becoming a reality. Currently undergoing an invite-only beta testing process, this site feature will provide a way for our members to organize, interact and communicate on Etsy.
This first phase of Groups offers the bare minimum abilities to edit and moderate a collection of members on Etsy. It's basically a replacement for ye olde Teams pages. Down the road we will be adding Group discussion forums, Group marketplaces, communication features, and much, much more. Much-much, oh so much, much more!

An enormous amount of the strength of our community comes from our extensive and vibrant Etsy Teams program. Once upon a time, when Etsy first began, Street Teams were created to enable community members who lived nearby to one another to get together in the real world. The idea was to provide people with a networked way to meet-up in person and have a trunk show, or collaborate on a group project. We very quickly saw Street Team activity outgrow its original purpose as people started creating global, or interest-based teams, whose members were spread out all over the world and would meet in the Virtual Labs, on Forum threads, or via blogs. This was so exciting that we dropped the "Street" part of the name so that we weren't limiting the kinds of activities that the Teams program supported.
For years now, the Etsy Teams community has grown and grown. Currently, there are 39,337 members in 796 teams and we receive applications to create more almost everyday! We have teams from all over the world, and for almost every persuasion (though, there is always room for more...). Unfortunately, while our teams activity and participation has been flourishing, the tools that leaders have to manage their teams hasn't kept up. With the current system, team leaders must email any changes to their membership roster or profile to Etsy on a monthly basis, and yours truly updates the Teams pages manually. At long last, we have built a tool that makes it easy and straightforward for leaders to run their own teams. Etsy Groups is what we are calling this site feature whereby it will be easier to create, maintain and promote an organization on Etsy, whether it is called a Team or goes by another name.

Ken and Sam working hard on coding Etsy Groups.
Etsy Groups currently exists in a limited, invitation-only, beta version. We are going to move beyond this first iteration of Etsy Groups quickly. Soon this will be an open site feature for everyone in the community. Here's the plan:

Step One
Earlier this summer we sent out a survey for team leaders who were interested in volunteering as beta testers to help us kick the tires of the first version of Groups. We analyzed the survey data and selected a number of leaders from a variety of teams — some large, some small, some international, some with very casual requirements and some with strict membership codes of conduct.
Shortly, Etsy Groups will be open (by invitation) to this initial sample gang of beta testers. Once these first leaders start migrating their members over to Etsy Groups, more and more people will become part of the beta testing process. The reasoning behind keeping Etsy Groups as invite-only for a brief period of time is to limit the amount of initial traffic on Groups so that we can quickly focus on any problems that might arise and tackle them right away.
Step Two
Etsy Groups will open for all current team leaders to come activate their current teams and set up their new profile pages. The Groups site feature will give all current team leaders the long overdue ability to administrate, edit, and update their team's homepage on Etsy.

The advent of Etsy Groups will not make any changes that require team members to re-tag any items. With Groups, we intend to fix the somewhat flawed system of team tagging in the near future. In the meantime, teams are welcome to keep their current tags. Everything that current team members and leaders have done hitherto in establishing and building your teams (including coming up with a name and fostering a brand to go along with your online presence) will be completely transferable into the Groups feature.
Step Three
Groups will become live for everyone! At this point, anyone on Etsy will have the ability to create a group, write a description and create membership guidelines (a.k.a. the charter). You'll be able to create groups that are open to all, or ones that are moderated — meaning people will have to request permission and be accepted in order to join. More information about how all of this works will be coming soon.

The crowd at Etsy Dallas' Etsy Craft Party on June 18.
What's in store for the future...
The Groups feature on Etsy will continue to grow, and we'll add new features to it!

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