Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Hope you’ve had a great, productive week and get some time to enjoy the weekend.

We’ve had a lot of questions this week regarding issues, features, etc. to do with The CraftStar; some of which have been very sensible and respectful, others had just become part of a collective craziness which got so out of hand it was impossible to address.  When new competition comes along, one should expect some resistance … we’ve seen it, we’ve heard it, and we’re bearing with it.  While we update frequently on our Facebook page, you may miss those posts, so here’s a little background on what’s going on and a summary of topics that keep coming up.  Part of this has been posted on FB, but we’ve expanded it here to address and answer more questions.

Have you ever had a dream and taken a great leap to make it come true?

That’s what we have done here, and that’s where The CraftStar began: A dream of a site of crafters FOR crafters – a crafting community where we support each other and our work.  We have a very talented and dedicated small team of people who are working very hard to bring it all together.  We are a start-up.   We do not have a team of 300 people and a turnover of millions of dollars.  From Day 1, we realized very quickly that there were a lot more people than we expected looking for a new home to sell their handmade goods, and since then, we’ve been working on building up the system (behind the scenes) to handle the traffic.  We are at a point now that we expected to be at the end of the year.  That’s great news, but also helps explain why we’re a bit behind schedule.

We opened the doors on May 13 to SELLERS, with the intention of giving them a couple of weeks to get to know the site, stock up shop and get ready to go.   There was no point in opening the doors to BUYERS at the same time ... there wasn’t anything in the shops for them to buy!

Yes, we are a couple of weeks behind schedule to open the doors to the buyers, and there are various reasons for that as said above.  All start-ups face unexpected hurdles and we have met quite a few we would never have envisioned.  Anyone who’s ever been involved in a website knows this to be true.

We will open as soon as the techs feel comfortable that everything is solidly in place to make your experience, and the buyers experience a great one.  We’re getting a lot of “pressure” to open the doors now … and that’s another well known trick of the opposition … launch a feature before it’s ready.  We’re not going to fall into that trap. 

The main question this week has been of security, and users worried about ours.  Firstly, please let me point out that at this point we don’t hold any compromising information.  I’ve seen posts where people have said their credit card information is open to the public ... that’s just not true.  We don’t have anyone’s credit card info right now!  We do not have security issues beyond any other website.  These stories have been so grossly exaggerated that they’re ridiculous. 

I asked the techs to elaborate on these issues:

About site security:
When we became aware of the security issue via Facebook Connect, we disconnected it and have been working non-stop to investigate and solve the problems related to it. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this has caused any members.
 
Overall, The CraftStar is still a work in progress. We're implementing new things to the site on daily basis, mostly which are invisible to our users. Despite days of running tests on our development system, just like with any site some things might get broken at times and cause extra headache to both site users and our developers. Some of our "bugs" have been related to member management / security and we have and constantly will take every step possible to protect our members accounts while developing this new home for crafters.
 
As you may have heard, there have been similar reports of other websites that have suffered similar issues. Very recently LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
The difference is that at The CraftStar we have decided to be extremely transparent of underlying issues towards our members and we are happy that we have no reports of member accounts being breached as a result of a recent member management bug.

Going forward we have already addressed these issues and we’ve enhanced our security measures through an additional layer of technical protection to better secure your information. Once we decide to put our membership and credit card processing in place we've made sure that all transactions are being processed by well known trusted partners who are specialized in these transactions. So it will be as secure as it gets with any other major site out there to purchase from The CraftStar.

Why is it taking so long?
While developing The CraftStar we want to make sure that everything keeps running smoothly and the main site doesn't have any major bugs in it before bringing the latest code alive. Especially when dealing with transactions, we want to be extra careful and test every little detail in our development environment. So, once implemented to main site, we can be proud of it and sleep at night knowing that it all works.  Also, fixing and fine-tuning a “running engine” is more difficult than one that is sitting on blocks.

What features do we have coming up SOON?
We're currently finishing the feature where users can put special badges on their items (geo-location, eco-friendly).  We'll have some changes to chat coming up which I'm sure users will be excited to see which will enable people to share items at the same time as chatting. We're also working on special integration that allows users to use The CraftStar and sell directly from Facebook, which is amazing.



Other questions that have been coming in:

Why didn’t we buy “craftstar.com”?  Very simple reason for that.  We’re a start-up, and the owners of that domain were asking for a fee that was beyond our means, and our idea of sensible out-goings. 

Why have we banned some people from our Facebook page?  We have banned a handful of people because their contribution had gone way beyond sensible criticism and became destructive to the community environment we’ve created.   The last straw was when someone hacked into our account and was posting nasty messages on our member’s pages, in our name.  That’s not acceptable behavior.  Think of it this way:  if you owned a restaurant, and someone came in several times a day with no intention of ordering any food but just sat in a booth yelling ridiculous comments and accusations about your business, would you continue to let that customer in? 

Instead of engaging in the craziness, we’ve focused on the amazing site we have planned and worked on for months.  We created this for the handmakers who felt they weren’t being respected and had nowhere to go.  We have so many exciting features to introduce that it’s very frustrating not being able to do it all at once.

We’re taking it step by step.  Fixing one (expected and unexpected) problem and taking one step forward at a time.  During this process, no charges have been made to anyone.

Despite whatever is thrown at us, our dream and plans remain focused.  The CraftStar is going to be an amazing place, where your dreams will also have the chance of coming true.

Thank you for believing in us … I honestly believe you won’t be disappointed. 

If you have questions, issues, or queries about the site, you can reach us directly:

General information:

Tech issues:
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