Tindie, The Etsy And Yelp For Electronics

For one reason or another, Tindie has become known as the Etsy for DIY electronics, tinkering, and all things that are regularly featured on Hackaday. Now [Emile] over at Tindie is tackling another problem faced by homebrew electronic wizards: finding good middlemen, board houses, places that do assembly, and machinists. The answer to that is Tindie Biz, something that [Emile] is calling the ‘Yelp for electronics.’

[Emile], the owner and creator of Tindie used to work for Yelp, something that got him more than a few “boo”s at last week’s Hackaday Omnibus Launch Party. Despite the community’s inexplicable hatred of Yelp, [Emile] actually learned a lot; verification is the ultimate problem of user-submitted reviews, and his solution to that problem is to put proof of a transaction in with the review, lest Tindie Biz fall into a disarray of spam and astroturfing.

Already there are over 1,400 manufacturers on Tindie Biz, but [Emile] said right now, his new manufacturer review site needs input from DIYers; the real value is in getting people who have done business with manufacturers around the globe to submit reviews. It needs reviewers, and that’s where you come in. It’s all free, and like most good ideas, something that makes you say, ‘I should have thought of that first.’

29 thoughts on “Tindie, The Etsy And Yelp For Electronics

  1. I wouldn’t say “just above useless”. I bought two shields for my Teensies via Tindie. I hadn’t really thought it was supposed to be a hangout — I just wanted full-pin access when I’m using a breadboard.

    Mind you, I have serious problems with what I bought. I lack the SMD skills to mount all the parts, which the seller did not make clear would be necessary. I may simply buy one of the pre-assembled kits, or I’ll never finish what I started.

    Perhaps it’s time for me to fill out a comment there instead of here.

    1. @pseydtonne good to know. We’d definitely like to hear what product that was so we can help the seller improve the description. My email is emile(at)tindie{dot}com if that is easier.

      Founder of Tindie

      1. Normally I’d say “oh yeah!” However I’m deathly afraid of ruining the Teensy in the process. I know its not Delftware (which would actually do fine in a toaster if it has already survived three centuries and the trip to the States). I’d rather practice on something that won’t annoy me when I ruin it.

  2. “the community’s inexplicable hatred of Yelp”

    One reason to hate yelp is their policy of allowing business owners to remove bad reviews for a fee. That kind of disingenuous business practice makes them useless as an objective source of information. If Emile wants this Tindie Biz thing to work out, he needs to be more transparent than Yelp has been about these sorts of policies.

    1. @jonathan – 100% agree with transparency. That is why we’ve made a few decisions from the outset-

      1. There will be no payment by manufacturers for advertising or access
      2. We will not be removing ANY reviews that pass our verification process. That was the reason for adding images of an invoice/receipt so that we can verify an actual order took place.

      Our verification process is to ensure the reviews that go up are accurate and not spam generated by businesses to foster their reputations. But we are open to any and all ideas. It must be trustworthy for it to be useful and we fully understand that.

      Thanks for the feedback!

      1. Well, I would think it will be easy for manufactures to generate fake/real orders and put up “legit” reviews. Let me elaborate. Manufactures can create accounts and buy their own product and put up good reviews for themselves. If they don’t want to get their hands dirty, they can always just pay a third party to do that for them. I couldn’t really think of a way to stop that.

  3. Don’t give up, try building it. Worst that can happen if you ruin it is you threw away a few bucks which is the same result if you didn’t try.

    I have a little story about a battery charger. For the hackaday anniversary event, I decided to make some lipo charger PCB kits that attendees would assemble. Had to keep the BOM cost low as I was paying for it, so I had to get cheap PCBs from china which took forever. By the time the deadline came around I had the parts kitted up but my documentation was um, lacking. 90% of the parts were SMD, some of which were very fine pitch. I arrived at the event to discover the work tables populated with some of the worst soldering irons ever. We’re talking 1/16″ chisel tip all oxidized and crusted over. I thought the project was doomed, however after an hour I started hearing people proclaim ‘Mine Works!’ Many of these people had never soldered SMD before. By the end we had somewhere around 85-90% successful completion and a bunch of happy kit builders (as Phil Collins’ ‘Against All Odds’ was playing in my head)

    tl,dr; you can solder smd parts, try it.

  4. Good idea– bad user interface. The search box should be a last resort. Suppliers need to be grouped by category (and possibly location) and browsable. Now we have to tediously type in a search for each possible vendor. Instead of display-only name we have to google, why not at least link to the web site.

  5. It will be interesting to see if the verification process biases the reviews towards the negative…a person’s willingness to go to the trouble of photoing an invoice seems more likely if they had a bad experience as anger fuels effort…but a yelp for middlemen would be incredibly useful for many.

    1. @Jason Thanks! Only time will tell. Fortunately we can put a lot of time behind this. Anything social takes a lot of time and energy to get the wheel spinning. This will definitely be one of those projects. But we’re fully behind it and putting in the time and energy to see it through \o/

  6. Kudos to Tindie for their continued efforts to expand resources!
    I’ve had the opportunity to be a Tindie seller for quite a while and the experience has ALWAYS been positive!
    These guys are first class, and easy to work with, and most importantly easy to communicate with.

  7. Does Tindie now accept payment methods other than PayPal? (See the recent Hackaday post about PayPal for why this is relevant—I’m surprised this hasn’t been mentioned in either of the two recent posts about Tindie.) When Tindie launched, I was excited, but when I saw PayPal was the only way to pay, I decided not to join. I checked again about a year ago, and PayPal was still the only option then (though I had trouble finding that fact on the site). So, does Tindie now, or will it soon, accept other payment methods? (I’ve heard Stripe is good and easy to set up, and, given the audience, cryptocurrencies may be viable too.)

    1. @PointyOintment We actually do accept Stripe payments (and have for some time). The reason we still use Paypal is that outside of the western world, Paypal is king. With customers in 96 countries, you see the dilemma. But we did add Stripe for customers wanting to use a credit card. So come on over!

    2. I’d like to see Tindie use something other than Paypal as a way of paying sellers. I left ebay to avoid Paypal’s high fees. If I have to deal with paypal on tindie, I might as well go back to ebay and gain a larger audience.

      Would it be hard to set up bitcoin support? Having a way to peg to a currency would help sellers know they aren’t getting wiped out by bitcoin exchange swings.

      1. Thanks for the feedback- the difficulty actually isn’t in the implementation, but the accounting. Adding another checkout option (apart from Paypal & Stripe) makes it quite difficult on the disbursement & accounting afterwards where we are tracking potentially 3 different payment platforms, and the disbursements across all. That is why we’ve been hesitant to implement our own BTC implementation. Waiting until it is baked into Stripe or Paypal, is much easier.

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