Recently someone received their order from an Etsy seller. This order came with an enclosed card which said:
Hello! Please leave us a review! Every 30 days I select ONE 5-star review to WIN A FREE PRODUCT!
At first glance, you may think “Wow, what a great idea!”
The seller stated that the drawing would only be relevant to anyone who left a 5-star review.
Is this against Etsy’s rules?
The problem isn’t with the “Hello! Please leave us a review!” portion. This is fine. We can ask someone to leave us a review.
It’s that second part where it says that only those people who leave a 5-star review will be eligible for the freebie.
This is flat-out shilling.
How do we know? Well, here’s what’s contained within Etsy legal under their House Rules.
What is Shilling?
There are multiple types of shilling, including for example, when a seller does the following:
- Has a friend or family member purchase an item and leave a biased, inauthentic, or untruthful positive review.
- Compensates a third party through free or significantly reduced items, samples, cash, or other compensation to purchase and leave a biased, inauthentic, or untruthful positive review.
- Opens or uses additional accounts posing as an independent buyer to take inauthentic action on the first account. This could include purchasing an item to leave a review for the first account, deceptively favoriting the first account’s shop or listings, upvoting positive reviews on the first account in order to position them more prominently, or taking any other actions to artificially inflate the first shop’s reputation. This is also called “sock puppetry”.
What is Sock Puppetry?
A sockpuppet is an online identity used for purposes of deception. The term, a reference to the manipulation of a simple hand puppet made from a sock, originally referred to a false identity assumed by a member of an Internet community who spoke to, or about, themselves while pretending to be another person.
So in my opinion, what this seller is doing is wrong and against the terms that Etsy has set forth.
Now, there could be an argument that because the seller isn’t promising a free or reduced gift but rather doing a random drawing, that it isn’t against the rules.
But do you really want to go head to head with Etsy because you want to split hairs on a definition?