The Folksy uprising

There’s been a lot of anger in the online handmade community over the last 24 hours stemming from an update to Folksy‘s rules (which you can find here). I think the main problem is there are a lot of vague areas between their interpretation of handmade vs hand assembled, of which I asked to give my opinion and was granted the opportunity. I have pasted below what I wrote and hopefully I should get a reply soon. It’s not the most eloquent piece of writing but I think it gets the point across how you must absolutely word things spot on otherwise any ambiguity can seriously damage your reputation and upset a lot of people.

Because of this, several people on Facebook and Twitter have closed their Folksy shops. My personal opinion is this is a premature action as a lot of those shops were operating within what I suspect the rules were trying to say, and some people will just not have read everything properly before jumping on the bandwagon with their fire and pitchforks, as is the case in any conflict humans tend to find themselves in!

Anyway, here’s my e-mail, please let me know your thoughts in a comment if you’d like to and you can always contact Folksy with your opinions on their support@folksy.com e-mail address.

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Hello,
 
Apologies for this being from my work e-mail, I wanted to make sure it arrived and if you had any responses that I would get them as I am having some computer issues at home and will be running a reformat later.
 
As promised on Twitter due to a bit of an uproar that has arisen due to the new rules on what is deemed as “handcrafted” rather than “assembled”, hopefully this will be useful, but if it’s rubbish I don’t mind, I just hate to see so many friends and acquaintances get so upset, especially since Folksy is a great selling venue and certainly the leading UK site. I have been with Folksy since I believe the very first week and have extensive experience within the craft marketplace, whether as a seller, a magazine editor, a workshop leader, a writer, or as an administrator of a forum (I also hope to write my PhD thesis on this little community!), so I hope I can give a bit of perspective as to why this has become such an issue and so quickly.
 
I must tell you that I do agree on your stance as putting together a gift basket or putting a charm on a chain is not craft as it doesn’t require any particular craftsman skill, knowledge or practice that a normal person does not possess and I do see the need for this to be in the rules, along with the stance that copyright violation will not be tolerated (however I have seen someone on your site ripping off another designer and told the original craftsperson this weekend and I am sure she has been in touch with you over it!).
 
With mainstream craft, most areas will use something that has been manufactured, whether it is resin for resin jewellery, thread for embroidery, beads for jewellery making or wool in a knitted jumper. It could even go as far as glue and paper for making notebooks or cards. For some of these areas it is easy to identify that a lot of creative input into using these supplies has been put into play.
 
However, there are some areas where this new rule is not so clear cut and therefore unfortuantely the rules are still too vague, my first thoughts are:
– Melt and pour base soaps
– Teacup candles
– Jewellery with bezels and licensed artwork (or scrabble tile pendants, etc)
– Simple strung beaded necklaces/ childrens bracelets, etc
– recycled glass bottles slumped as spoon rests
– Rubber stamped notecards/bookmarks
 
It is very clear that the current craft trends are leaning towards jewellery and card making, and unfortunately for Folksy, these are the vaguest areas when taking into account the rule clarification.
 
I would suggest that to differentiate between earrings that are a pair of studs stuck to a pair of buttons for example (literal assemblage) and a pair of earrings that have been made from buttons wired together (original design) you could ask that more than one process has gone into the creation of an item, or a slightly easier option would be that the piece has taken longer than five minutes to create, for example. A simple strung necklace due to knotting, attaching clasps, etc will easily take longer than this, however simply putting a brass charm on a chain doesn’t which I think shows the difference between the areas you are trying to put across. Also picture examples of “dos and don’ts” might help too! By putting in examples I think people will feel a bit less alienated.
 
This is how I would have worded this section in the rules- I wouldn’t even have the two sections as I think it makes it unneccessarily complicated:

“In order to sell your item on Folksy, your item must be made to your own design, or by the use of a pattern or clip art licensed for commercial use. You cannot sell a design that has been copied from someone else without their explicit permission to do so in accordance with UK copyright law. Your item must be “handmade”, and NOT simply “hand assembled”. At Folksy, “hand assembled” applies to any item that is made by attaching two mass produced components together, for example stringing a charm onto a chain, or gluing a button to a ring blank or notecard and selling as a finished piece of work. A “handmade” item would take a minimum of five minutes to make and contain elements of design, personality or skill from the crafter, for example a rubber stamped greetings card would show understanding of layout or a beaded necklace would show colour co-ordination.”

Even then, I’d get people on the forum or as blog comments to see whether I am on the mark here or not, I may be missing something massively obvious but I really don’t think it needs to be complicated!

Also I think it is quite difficult to enforce the use of licensed clipart, patterns released for reproduction, etc and that some leeway should be made from Folksy to allow these sorts of works that are not violating any copyright laws or plagarising anyone else’s designs. I think you might have hinted that this is OK but it is not clear enough when you mention “this item may not be made by you” in the current rules but I think it could be read differently by different people so I have altered that bit too. 

Anyway thanks for letting me stick my oar in, I hope it has been at least a little useful!

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James at Folksy has just replied so I have put his response below- I would have hoped for something a bit more detailed since I wrote at length (I am usually so concise!) but never mind…

 

From: james

Subject: Wording of new rule – as discussed on Twitter!

Thank you for your reply and for taking time to think about this.

We do understand that the terms are not as definite as people would like, however, craft and ‘handmade’ are not easy to define. We’ve taken on board your points about being more specific and including examples and will look to review our terms again in the coming hours and days to try and improve them.

Best wishes,

James @ Folksy

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