Why Redbubble permanently closing its forums matters

So Redbubble have, after all, closed its forums permanently.

Many regular forum users received an email full of platitudes yesterday, 2nd February 2019. Please cross reference my post with Byron’s post here: https://www.redbubble.com/people/byron/journal/....

Spin back to October 2018, 4 months ago, when the forums were closed temporarily.

RB copypaste email: “We will temporarily be closing the forums” (emphasis theirs)
Me: “Given the last year, what reason do artists have to believe this is temporary?”
RB Community Manager, personal response: “ We don’t have any intention of removing the forums permanently. ” (emphasis mine, but exact quote)

I’m not going to make this post a long tedious rant.

For me, this is concrete evidence that artists cannot really trust what RB tell us.
It’s one thing for RB to promise “we will be fixing X soon” when it’s fairly clear “soon” is not actually soon.
But this is beyond that.

I don’t think it’s credible there was any serious discussion about keeping the forums open. I don’t think there was any serious intention or possibility of the forums coming back when they were closed “temporarily”. I made that guess at the time and sadly that pessimism has come true.

Even considering a long period of deteriorating relationships with its own artists, this is a low. Trust is important.

I’m not going anywhere and will continue to upload to Redbubble. But I think it’s important to document moments like this.

Redbubble’s relationship with its artists was probably the best thing it ever had. Maybe some artists valued the community aspect more. But for me, the open, honest, professional and accessible relationship Redbubble had with its artists was absolutely exemplary.

For most of Redbubble’s history, if you were an artist raising issues with the site, you could expect an honest and reasonable response from Redbubble staff, whether on the forums, the blog, wherever.

Now, Redbubble treats those artists like a threat.
That’s why the forums have gone.

P.S. I’ve been jokingly saying “The groups will be next”. But I just tried searching for groups and couldn’t. The normal dropdown option – are you searching for products, artists*, journals, groups, etc. – has vanished. There seems to be no public, open way to find groups, or even to see that there are any groups at all.

When accessing groups via the personal menu, it’s still on the old-style site. Searching groups is on the old-style site. Groups themselves are on the old-style site. The rest of the site has been revamped and invested in, but groups not updated at all, and actively hidden away.

On Redbubble’s journey towards being nothing more than an online catalogue, how long is the process of getting rid of groups?

*On that note, I have no idea how RB expect customers to find individual artists. Maybe they don’t?

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