I know this thread got a little off-track when Rob showed up and people wanted to ask him questions, so I am not going to try very hard to keep my comment on-topic.
I just want to say that I think the circles are one of the best things Etsy has ever come up with. I suspected they would be when they were first unveiled and my own personal results have borne that out. I listed a new design on the 11th and it already has 241 views and 27 hearts. The amount of times that this ring has gotten passed around in the circles is bringing a lot more new customers to my shop and my sales are healthy. I was planning on advertising on some blogs this spring but I have been putting it off because I am pretty close to being as busy as I can handle without that.
Finally, I think that if Etsy really wants to improve morale around here, they could do that by making smaller changes that directly address seller concerns. Yes, everybody went on and on about the search, but fixing the search is a never-ending thing and that is not going to make many people happy because they cannot see an end product. Plus, half the people here now weren't around before and can't even remember how bad things had been, so the changes still appear incremental to a lot of people. If Etsy wants to make the sellers here happy they need to do two things: address the concerns people have with favoritism and add more shop management tools.
I am glad to see that Etsy is working on the first concern (per Rob). It can be very disheartening, even as a successful seller here, to see the same people making the front page literally day after day, racking up thousands of sales while everyone else has to worry about sales. We all have bills to pay, families to support, businesses to maintain; it's discouraging to see a small subset of sellers given huge advantages in meeting these challenges while everyone else struggles even though we all pay for the same services here.
And as for shop management tools, I get so frustrated every time Etsy makes a change-- positive or negative-- and all the add-on shop tools disappear. I use these, I need these. I love the new header design-- I HATE that my sold item search has been disabled to accommodate it. It would be nice if useful features like this (things that many of us will use on a daily basis) were more of a focus to Etsy. It's great that you are allowing third-party developers to tackle these problems, but it creates unequal access to the tools (since some are usable only on certain browsers), and since the tools are not incorporated into the site itself, they are often down as much as they are up. I guarantee that if you could release features like these once a month, you would do a lot towards improving the general mood here. I appreciate that you have your eyes on the big picture, but I think you forget that it can sometimes be hard to be satisfied with the big picture alone. Small, concrete improvements are things that we can all see, use, and appreciate, and when they all add up, it feels like progress.