From the Shirt Desk:

Hello!

I saw a long and engaging conversation on the interwebz and thought I would address that over here for all of the artists.

First, I’m glad you are engaged and passionate about driving participation in the Derby! I am, too! We talk about the Derby and winds of change frequently and have some cool ideas floating around to make it more accessible (hint: it involves small screens) but that does not have a date guarantee, yet. I am encouraged to see the posts that were shared to drive your fans to the Derby; that is exactly the type of grass-roots efforts that will increase Derby participation in both votes and participants. We need more of this! Your followers have a personal connection to you and your artwork, and when you promote it (and even offer rewards like free shirts), they come. It is even better when they become customers instead of just voters.

Admittedly, we have opportunity to connect with customers directly once they have voted by letting them know when the designs they voted for won or were curated and are available for purchase. That will take a little time because of old technology, but we are working on it. You can help by continuing to campaign on your social channels.

Second, some of you long-timers may remember that we had a thriving and welcoming community. As we add new artists organically or otherwise, it is important they feel that connection to our community. I encourage you to welcome them. Do not harass them or make assumptions or accusations because of a few bad eggs; there is always at least one and we will find them or karma will. Recognize that they might bring a zillion followers and fans with them which will naturally increase their votes in the Derby; that does not mean they are automatically cheaters. We watch Derby behavior closely to look for shenanigans of the worst kind and we appreciate your sleuthing to increase our awareness. If you have a concern, that tattle button is there for mashing to share your concern(s) with us.

Lastly, I am grateful for you and that you share your talent with us at Woot! We may have lost our glasses (I’m old, ok?) for a while, but know that I [have had lasik] am working around the clock (as are all of us at Woot) to innovate for our customers. That means that things will change, cheese will move, even it if isn’t as fast as we’d like, and we will all get better together. We invite you to stay and keep the lines of communication open! Just like winter is coming (sadly to a close), change is coming.

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This should be the priority. Even back in the busy days, folks regularly commented about not knowing that the designs they voted for printed.

Back in the days, the welcoming part could be debated. For better or worse, some folks were rather brutal in their commenting.

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I agree with @Narfcake – voter notification is SO important.

As for concerns around voter fraud, large followings can look as if ballot stuffing is going on. But that’s not the key concern. It’s when designs that are objectively suspect (ie. not the usual popular fodder, new/unknown artists, and obvious issues with the design) rise to the top. Those create red flags for me, and I’ll tattle. Sometimes they win. And they never sell. Which brings us to the real problem. Woot and the creative community need to sell shirts. If pure/organic voting isn’t generating a result of sales, we need a new and/or augmented method of selection.

Lastly, I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that I think the tattle button is basically inert. Staff has commented that they do review the tattles, but I rarely see any action when I use it. Obviously I’m no decision-maker in that regard, but as an open-loop mechanism, it’s pretty unsatisfying.

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IMHO, we have lost a good number of designers (and their fans) over the years do to random enforcement of the derby rules. Rejections were once swift and fair…
The derby entries barely follow the theme sometimes and it is frustrating; some of us try to really follow the rules and others post whatever they think is funny, clever, or have laying around. And yes the tattle button does not seem to do much.
I have said before, there needs to be a thread or ongoing list for the do’s and don’ts of woot shirt design. This needs to be linked to on the submission page and/or in the derby launch area. This list needs to include all the standing rules that aren’t obvious. Bans or certain subject matter, bans on the use of styles or specific artists, bans on gifs in the comp, bans on extra wording in the comp, Copyright and when proper names can be used, maybe a link on parody vs plagiarism, How flexible the theme can be taken, etc.
I wish the Daily from the derby was a weekly thing. Say, every Monday, one extra derby shirt would be selected by woot to be featured as the Daily.
The other thing is payment for designs.
I know that it is up to the artist to send in their art to be featured in side sale, and I think the artist could request that it is not used. But, there are many designs that sell virtually nothing. So I wonder if the side sales are really worth it, or if they just dilute and bury good designs. I wish that their were a small upfront payment for every design (beyond a free tee); maybe this would make the selection of the side sale shirt more of a risk and therefore would require the woot staff to debate what may or may not sell. I would rather see the side sales be smaller and less frequent than to have such dilution.
I think that shirt woot is on the brink of becoming a print on demand shop like teepublic. I think that the curation needs to be heavier handed or fully open. This strange mix of the two might be part of woot’s ills.
On a final note, I miss the shirt thread directly under the shirt design. I also miss the thread that had all the shirt comment in one thread, I really enjoyed looking through this. It made me look into shirt designs that I wouldn’t have normally clicked on. Just the design needs to be linked to in every comment so that it would be easier to track the thread back to the source.

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I’d love to see people get, maybe, email notifications of wins they’ve voted for. I think that would be a great reminder. I don’t get huge traffic with Facebook or Twitter. I’m just not social enough to exploit that resource.

My other biggest wish is that comments on shirts in the derby would return to the first page. I feel like not as many people comment because of the click through to the forums. When I was first starting out, my shirts looked a lot rougher - as do many new artists. I think it was really helpful for me, in developing my standard of quality. Let’s be honest, that’s still a struggle sometimes. I envy some of you guys. I’m mostly sarcasm and doodles.

I love Woot, but I worry about sustainability. Since the price hike, shirt sales have gone down, drastically. A derby winner sells a few hundred, instead of a few thousand, and editor’s choice shirts sell only a few dozen. I love that more art is getting out in the world (especially when it’s mine), but I hope we find a good balance that will benefit both Woot, and the artists.

That being said, Woot staff? Loves of my life? I dream of the day I get my stuff on a journal https://bit.ly/2IcygYd, or an apron https://bit.ly/2S39ycy, or a blanket https://bit.ly/2X5mfYj, or one of those fancy hammocks https://bit.ly/2SLX9yf. Just a suggestion. <3

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Woot,
Have you thought of reaching out to past power-house designers? Have you asked them why they stopped participating in the derby?
I don’t know if this would solve anything, but it may give you a mirror in which to look.
I don’t think that you can get them back, or their followers, necessarily. But you may be able to use this information as a warning to stop future alienation.
Shirt woot feels like that awesome restaurant that has hit hard times and the management has no idea why… Does the design and print industry have a Gorden Ramsey that could come in and tell us where it all went wrong?

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As a non-artist and a consumer of shirts I can say that there have been a number of factors that have curtailed my previously high rate of shirt buying over the last few years:

  • Change in shirt - going from Anvil to American Apparel back to Anvil or however we got to where we are today (I’m not even sure, TBH) really put a damper on my buying experience. Knowing what fit, how much it would shrink, and how it felt and then it all went into limbo made me less inclined to buy. I’ve been happy with the current shirts I’ve ordered and hope this stays.

  • Price increase - I get that this is/was inevitable but with the above, it made it harder to swallow.

  • Exclusivity (or lack there of) - Two parter

  1. When the shirt catalog came out I was torn. I was excited at the prospect of getting duplicates of shirts I had previously bought and worn out but when a new shirt came out, I was less “GOTTA GET THAT SHIRT BEFORE MIDNIGHT” and more “I can probably wait on that and get it later” with later ending up being never. I don’t even know if that’s completely true. Are all previous designs available? Or are some no longer available? What are the rules with the catalog?

  2. The Reckoning - I think this was a good in between from “HAVE TO GET IT THAT DAY” and “I can wait forever because it’s in the catalog”. The reckoning brought me back more frequently to see what I might lose the chance on buying. If I waffled on something week 1 and saw that it was in the Danger Zone before the reckoning, I would probably just spring for it to make sure I had one. I went to the Top 20 portion for the first time in recent history just because of this post. Does The Reckoning even matter? All the shirts in the Top 20 are still the same price as the ones in the catalog and are only available as shirts. Maybe keep them at the $15 price point while they’re in the Top 20 and/or offer them in the other styles as well? Other than bragging rights for the artists, there’s no real reason for the consumers to check out the Top 20.

  • Over Saturation
  1. Not including the garage sale (because I think of that more like a “Clearance” side sale then a “Shirt” side sale) there are currently 6 side sales going on with 6 different “categories”, 5 of which have an avg of about 30 shirts in each one. The blanket side sale I’m good with. But an extra 150 designs seems over kill for me. Woot, in general, has blown up with side sales, extra sales, more items. I know, I know. They’re trying to make money and more items means more sales but it’s hard to keep up. Then you add the derby and I’ve already lost interest or wasted too much time and have to get back to work.

  2. I’m on the forums daily during the week and since logging out yesterday around 5pm EST and now there were 130+ new topics in the forum. Not all of them are new item topics but >90% of them are. Some of them show up in new side sales across the site which are easy to find. Others are added to current side sales which get lost in the mix. Still others are just lost in the ever growing system of Woot. I skim through the forum topics to see if there’s something I might like. I hardly ever just browse Woot which means I’m not spending a lot of time at Shirt.Woot.

Just some perspective from one of your long time consumers.

I’m still mad at myself for not getting the launch day t-shirt. I wasn’t happy it was on white and I sweat a lot. sigh

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Excellent points, thank you for sharing that! I’ve definitely noticed that the side sales create MORE shirts and MORE opportunities (especially for a mid level artist like me), but it’s definitely harder to get attention on the individual shirts in the sale.

I have wondered about the effectiveness of the Top 20. Before the price changes, the top 20 was still slightly cheaper than the rest of the catalog, which gave people an incentive. Now I watch it out of curiosity until one of my designs drop off.

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Woot can skip asking one artist, at least. Between med school, shirt.woot derbies, and a side business, one two of those had to go.

It was printed on creme.

(I don’t have that one either. :crying_cat_face:)

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Sums it up for me too, with the added aspect of “I have a ton of shirts already.” Granted, well over half of my shirt.woot collection was second hand, but I have non-woot shirts too.

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This has been a concern of mine since I posted about it a month ago in this topic thread.

I’m all for new tees, but the fact that there’s been 15 new designs every week along with dailies and 6 different curated catalogs that are only paying artist per shirt sold, it’s becoming apparent Shirt.Woot wants to lessen the amount paid to artists when a majority of their shirts are being sold as non-exclusive contracts.

I see the appeal from a business standpoint. Saturate the site so no customer is excluded from finding something they like, but it’s starting to hurt monthly sales when I can only sell 5 shirts from an editor’s choice (including the free tee I buy for myself with the credit I’m given) from a derby sub that only scored 12 votes. I’m extremely thankful my design was chosen by the staff, but when I only score a minimal amount of votes and don’t think the design will sell very well, I feel like I should have the option to decline being included with the honorable mentions.

Just my 2 cents.

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Alas, sales have been hurting since “the change” a day shy of 7 years ago and the #1 volume artist starting his venture the very next day. For perspective, a poor seller of the “old shirt.woot” era was a design that “only” sold a thousand on its debut day.

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I still say that the side sales should not be FEATURED as the daily and that they should always pick one shirt from the previous week’s derby as the MONDAY daily HM.
Are dailies submissions so few or of such poor quality that you need to remove two days of the week from them? Or it it a question of saving 2k per week by not having them?

TTFN.

It seems to be more of a money thing from my viewpoint. Even the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place shirts aren’t selling as much as they used to.

Honestly, I don’t even pay attention to who wins the derby anymore… It’s hard to keep up with the derby.

This would also support the idea of “over-saturation” don’t you think? If you add up all the sales from all the side sales and give it to the top 20 and the current daily, wouldn’t that get you closer to the numbers from before the beginning of all the side sales?

I know it’s not going to be a direct correlation, just because someone is spending some money on X, doesn’t mean they would spend the same amount on Y.

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Totally agree with this…I don’t check out the reckoning very often because there is no incentive to buy anything from that list anymore.

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Nothing has sold like “they used to” since “the change” 7 years ago. :frowning: It wasn’t the sole reason, but it was a major one.

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The fact that there are a zillion other shirt sites doesn’t help either. :stuck_out_tongue:

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