The Rolling Blackout Theory

It has been suggested numerous times in the Etsy forums that Etsy may use “rolling blackouts” to free up space on its’ servers.  Etsy has, of course, denied “rolling blackouts.” But then…. who knows how they define that term.

Is this merely a theory? From my own experience, I often had sales coming from geographical clusters. Your experiences? Your thoughts?

Can someone explain the rolling blackout theory?

Rolling blackouts?

What are rolling blackouts?

Rolling blackouts?


This theory was finally addressed today by Administration:

Rob White8:40 pm Oct 23, 2013 EDT

I’m seeing the terms of “rotating shops” and “rolling blackouts” being used to mean a couple of different things. I’ll give you my understanding of the ideas, and then I’ll address that and we’ll see if that’s helpful when coupled with Kellan’s more straightforward post. =)When I see members posting about shops being “rotated” or subjected to “rolling blackouts,” that confers to me the idea that there’s some process that cycles certain shops in and out of visibility to buyers, via some medium – I think search is generally cited the most often with these terms but I could be wrong. Additionally, it’s done in such a way that everyone gets a turn being “on,” but inevitably everybody gets a turn being “off.” Therefore, everyone will be subjected to some time in which they can’t be seen, and some time in which they can.This is not how we operate. We do not have rolling blackouts, we do not rotate shops in and out of search visibility to make room for others so that everyone has time in and out of search visibility.

What we do is we work regularly and constantly on search to make it provide the most relevant results for buyers – those things which best match the terms they provide us and which they will be most likely to buy. Changes that we make to relevancy may make it easier for your shop to be seen in some searches, given how you’re tagging and titling your items. Further changes may make it easier still. They could also make it not as easy, again, depending on the changes.

We cannot be certain which individual sellers are going to benefit or not to any improvements we make to relevancy or any tests that we run on search. We can say that any given seller who is following our policies will have the chance to benefit, and generally they will have their best chance by accurately describing their products as best they can via titles and tags. It remains a core component of our relevancy algorithm.

So, trying new ways to improve relevancy, sticking with some and discarding others, sure. Rotating shops? Rolling blackouts? No.

In other words, no there are no rolling blackouts; it is just our programmers constantly testing and changing things. 

2 thoughts on “The Rolling Blackout Theory

  1. I am trying to research this too. Since about July my sales have come in clusters and now I have not had a sale in two weeks. This despite my efforts at marketing. The term I have started hearing is “server load balancing”. I did find this site and wonder if any computer geeks could see if etsy has left us any nuggets of information there.

  2. Dear Anonymous- where have you been all my life? I think you just gave us the Etsy version of the DaVinci Code! Now if only I could understand what the hell they’re talking about, maybe I could figure out why the handmade sales are in the tank. Thanks for the GREAT info!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s