We were wrong

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Dear everybody,

On Wednesday morning Kickstarter was sent a blog post quoting disturbing material found on Reddit. The offensive material was part of a draft for a “seduction guide” that someone was using Kickstarter to publish. The posts offended a lot of people — us included — and many asked us to cancel the creator’s project. We didn’t.

We were wrong.

Why didn’t we cancel the project when this material was brought to our attention? Two things influenced our decision:

  • The decision had to be made immediately. We had only two hours from when we found out about the material to when the project was ending. We’ve never acted to remove a project that quickly. 
  • Our processes, and everyday thinking, bias heavily toward creators. This is deeply ingrained. We feel a duty to our community — and our creators especially — to approach these investigations methodically as there is no margin for error in canceling a project. This thinking made us miss the forest for the trees.

These factors don’t excuse our decision but we hope they add clarity to how we arrived at it.

Let us be 100% clear: Content promoting or glorifying violence against women or anyone else has always been prohibited from Kickstarter. If a project page contains hateful or abusive material we don’t approve it in the first place. If we had seen this material when the project was submitted to Kickstarter (we didn’t), it never would have been approved. Kickstarter is committed to a culture of respect.

Where does this leave us?

First, there is no taking back money from the project or canceling funding after the fact. When the project was funded the backers’ money went directly from them to the creator. We missed the window.

Second, the project page has been removed from Kickstarter. The project has no place on our site. For transparency’s sake, a record of the page is cached here.

Third, we are prohibiting “seduction guides,” or anything similar, effective immediately. This material encourages misogynistic behavior and is inconsistent with our mission of funding creative works. These things do not belong on Kickstarter.

Fourth, today Kickstarter will donate $25,000 to an anti-sexual violence organization called RAINN. It’s an excellent organization that combats exactly the sort of problems our inaction may have encouraged.

We take our role as Kickstarter’s stewards very seriously. Kickstarter is one of the friendliest, most supportive places on the web and we’re committed to keeping it that way. We’re sorry for getting this so wrong.

Thank you,

Kickstarter

Comments
    1. Missing avatar

      John Funk on

      @James It doesn't matter what he's talking about trying. If you try something, and she's uncomfortable with it, YOU STOP TRYING IT. Holy shit man, this is like "basic consent 101."

      If you ask 15 times and she says no, and she finally says yes on the 16th time, she didn't actually consent, you wore her down through coercion. Your so-called "facts" bear no resemblance to the reality half of humanity lives in.

    2. Michael O'Brien on

      What a refreshing dose of integrity. Thank you for showing that there is at least a little of that left online.

    3. Calee Himes on

      amazing amazing amazing apology. thanks for taking responsibility for a decision that you made that was wrong and for trying to do something to "make up for it". you did the right thing. i can only hope that other companies can follow suit when the wrong decision is made.

    4. Jennifer Johnson Avril on

      Wow, interesting how a lot of the clueless wahhhhhh misandry men posting here have never ever funded a Kickstarter project. I'm going to hazard a crazy guess -- you're a bunch of fucking trolls from Reddit.

    5. Jennifer Johnson Avril on

      @John Funk, seriously, thank you for getting it and stating it so clearly.

    6. Missing avatar

      Elizabeth on

      @Jeffrey Dean i'm sure this has been mentioned already (there are only so many pages of comments defending this project one can read) but that quote you keep pulling out? "If she says no, stop immediately and tell her you don't want to do anything that would make her uncomfortable."? what are you doing that's making her say no in the first damn place? honestly, not being a perpetrator of sexual assault IS NOT THAT HARD.

    7. Missing avatar

      deleted on

      This comment has been removed by Kickstarter.

    8. Missing avatar

      Camile Lox on

      This is wrongful condemnation... what is wrong with hooking up (short term - if you find that "slutty", you're an idiot with victimless morals) or dating, and trading tips on doing such? Even if you don't, you're going out with the intention of attempting to find a partner to hook up with.There are women trading tips, or writing about how to seduce men, and there's nothing wrong with that. At all.

    9. Missing avatar

      Darren on

      Do you want me to start making a list of content I personally find offensive right now so you can start purging and prohibiting them now, or wait a bit until you come back to your original stance?

    10. Michelle Lopez on

      While this is a great apology that I appreciate, I do wish you guys would talk a little bit more about the steps you are taking to prevent anything like this happening again in the future. That is, you mention briefly that allowing this project to get funded was in part a process failure — so what then, are you doing now, to prevent anything like this to happen again?

    11. Missing avatar

      Naomi on

      A fitting apology. Thank you for this.

    12. Haley Saucier on

      Thank you so much for the apology! Thank you even more for banning this kind of material in the future!

    13. Tacitus James on

      Typical leftie fascist censorship. Every man you ever slept with was a successful seducer. Men who supplicate to women, wait for formal permission from the woman and her attorney before going in for the kiss, i.e., don't "bust a move," are the men that turn women off. They are the men women describe as "creepy." These losers end up sitting home at night keeping the porn industry eating steak.

    14. Missing avatar

      Noah on

      @ John, That term "ad hominem." Mm mm, gotta love it, right? I'd like to take a moment to point out that you've said the same thing about 5 different ways now. Congratulations on, again, showing everyone that you'll never be capable of thinking outside the herd.

      The thing is, though, you still haven't presented a valid argument. If you had the slightest bit of intelligence about you, and stopped taking everything out of context (I'm starting to feel like you, saying the same thing over and over again), you'd realise that the purpose of this book is to eliminate instances where a woman might find herself in a position where she's not comfortable having sex. I can guarentee you that any "MRA" would tell you straight up that if a woman rejects you, then casually and calmly move on to a different one that - one who might respond positively to you. Notice how rape wasn't included in there anywhere?

      There's that ol' hypocrisy shining through again - trying to tell me what I'm saying is illogical when you're straight up pulling senseless ideas out of your ass

    15. Missing avatar

      Becca on

      :D I'm impressed. Thank you for making this effort!!!

    16. Elissa Kapp on

      I appreciate this apology and the new rules put into place. The donation is great too. But I'm not convinced that you did everything you could to stop the project in time. Is there no way to suspend a project for further review so you have the time that you need after a project is reported?

    17. Missing avatar

      J on

      @John, ok then, so you stop trying it (and become a weak man). Go for it. But let me give you a hint, the "trying" part has NOTHING to do with rape or sexual assault. Look up the guides and find out for yourself. So to accuse this of being rapey and promoting assault, is an OUTRIGHT lie. You may not like or agree with what the "trying" thing is (again, you gotta read it for yourself but you won't because you sound like you are p***ywhipped), but it is NOT rape or assault. It's one thing to say "James, you just stop", but to automatically claim it is rape? Speaking of ad hominem.

    18. Vini Marques on

      Amazing way to handle this. Kudos.

    19. Missing avatar

      William Vota on

      Too little too late.

    20. Missing avatar

      Darren on

      You are currently on your front page promoting a book about Darwin's Evolution of Species. As creationists find this highly offensive, I suggest you remove that project as well. A creative site taking a stance on what is and isn't acceptable or offensive is a disastrously dangerous precedent to be set.

    21. Ashley Austrew on

      I'm so pleased and inspired to read this. Thank you.

    22. Missing avatar

      Alex Szele on

      Bravo. Thank you for a comprehensive and sensitive response to an enormously complex issue.

    23. Jennifer Johnson Avril on

      @Sidewinder -- So it's a woman's job to fend off a man's advances until he stops, is what you're saying. Well, luckily, the men who wouldn't stop when I asked, did stop when I asked again, or screamed, or, on one memorable occasion, socked him in the jaw. That last one was in a public space and the guy wouldn't stop groping me even though I said the words "I am not interested in you at all, ever, for anything sexual, ever." He basically listened and then tried again later. I'm certain you would never tolerate for one second a gay man "inviting you to copulate" the way you state women have to tolerate men issuing said "invitation".

    24. Missing avatar

      Misa on

      First I want to say I really appreciate this apology. It is well-stated and seems sincere.

      My suggestion for the future would be to implement a policy of temporary suspension. It will probably happen again that an offensive campaign will come to the attention of Kickstarter a little too late. What I suggest in cases like this is a policy of immediate suspension, which would not cancel a campaign, but would essentially stop the clock on it. The goal of this would be to allow time for an investigation and well-thought decision on the campaign, without having to rush or risking missing the deadline.

    25. Missing avatar

      Nicole Lenard on

      Thank you so much. KS's initial response to this had worried me greatly, to the point where I seriously considered removing my account. I'm grateful that you took the time to look into this project more closely, grateful that you now understand our concerns, and very touched by the generosity of your donation. You guys did good.

    26. Missing avatar

      Krystal on

      Can we point out in the "authors" "apology" thing that he is writing a WHOLE CHAPTER on how not to rape or sexually assault a woman? Do guys really need to be taught how not to rape someone? Do people actually need to go out and buy a book to learn how to not assault people?

    27. Missing avatar

      Noah on

      @ Ms Jennifer: Reddit spawns more PC feminist bullshit than anywhere I can think of. I'd never visit that place.

    28. Missing avatar

      John Funk on

      @Noah yes, "ad hominem." let's review. 1.) insinuating that people who disagree aren't having sex (my gf would be very upset to learn that). 2.) insinuating that a woman who disagrees doesn't need to worry about rape because you find her unattractive. 3.) actually comparing me to Hitler because what, you're cool and edgy? Those are ad hominem attacks.

      I've presented plenty of valid arguments. "Teaching insecure young men to be more confident and take the initiative is fine and dandy, but 'Above the Game' actively says that if a woman is uncomfortable, wait again and try later which is leading these same insecure young men to think that things that are hugely fucked up are actively necessary in helping them get laid" is a perfectly logical, internally coherent statement. You should look into making some of them, it might help.

      Above the Game doesn't suggest moving on. It suggests waiting again and trying later.

    29. Missing avatar

      Colbtron Fultron on

      Thanks for the apology. Personally, a guide to speaking to women is the same as rape. Who do these men think they are, trying to approach women and speak to them? It's disgusting. Just the thought of them trying to talk to the opposite sex and ask them on dates just puts a bone chilling fear in my soul. I'm not sure how the world works or how the species is propagated, but I know I don't want to hear about it, and it's got to be illegal. React a little faster next time Kickstarter, because if this happens again it might be the end of civilization as we know it.

    30. Missing avatar

      donghole on

      @Elizabeth, it's even worse than that. The quote is: "No problem. I don't want you to do anything you aren't comfortable with."

      First, "No problem" is plain awful. That's what you say to someone who has asked you for something or for whom you are doing a favor. "It's okay, in no way has it inconvenienced me that you object to my assaulting you." Then we get to "I don't want you to do anything you aren't comfortable with." That makes the situation a thing the person being assaulted is doing, not a thing the assaulter is doing.

      And don't get me started on how you're supposed to memorize this line as a go-to in case you encounter resistance!

    31. Missing avatar

      J on

      @Jennifer, no some of the people here actually funded this project. But when you go to our profiles, the backer history shows this project not there. Maybe....because....KS.....removed.....it. (That's me speaking slowly for you). This happened to be my first project I backed, since I SIGNED UP in May. Was planning on funding more projects, but forget it. And yet I bet in 6 months, you will get some feminist project here on KS that will promote/endorse manipulating men, getting their money and their house, taking their kids from them, (it will be a film or something stupid), and you all won't bat an eye. In fact it will be looked at as "Girl power".

    32. Arno on

      My respect for you have dwindled significantly, I'd cancel all my pledges if that didn't hurt the projects I do care to support.
      Folding to this kind of pressure sets a bad precedent, catering to the mob mentality of these people who demand censorship is wrong and goes against the free democratic nature of Kickstarter.
      This politicizes the site robbing it of its neutrality, ingraining a bias towards some projects while demonizing others.
      Will you start to censor comics, films, music or fashion as well when a vocal minority protests the content ?
      I don't have any right to shape this site or the projects it chooses to allow a place on it, that is your privilege and it should remain yours alone.
      Keep you back a little straighter in the future Kickstarter or you'll see my money being spend elsewhere.

    33. Missing avatar

      Elias Lawliet on

      Apologies that are just words are meaningless...I'm happy to see that you have taken action as well. Thanks, KickStarter! I will be encouraging people to use your platform from now on.

    34. Icepick on

      Thank you. I appreciate you taking a stand up attitude and for support RAINN!

    35. Jennifer Johnson Avril on

      @Mr Noah (see how stupid that is? Cut it out), what's your point? My point is the author of the guide got his start on Reddit and a lot of his followers have probably showed up here to argue when they have no interest in Kickstarter at all.

    36. Nupur Maheshwari on

      @Tacitus James Those "losers" are also the ones women end up MARRYING, because they are genuinely nice people, and their partners feel like they can TRUST them not to constantly be trying to force them into something they don't want to do. Suck on that, you troll.
      @Misa I totally second the idea of temporary suspension.

    37. Missing avatar

      L on

      There are a lot of things that you can be genuinely upset about in the book and the excerpts available on reddit, and by all means I respect everyone's opinion to look into the site and decide for themselves after reading through the information available how offensive the material is, how questionable the author's intent, and how problematic some of the advice is. However, I do wish as people post the author's section on consent, they would post it IN ITS ENTIRETY, before discussing it as problematic or dismissible:

      "IMPORTANT NOTE ON RESISTANCE:

      If at any point a girl wants you to stop, she will let you know. If she says "STOP," or "GET AWAY FROM ME," or shoves you away, you know she is not interested. It happens. Stop escalating immediately and say this line:

      "No problem. I don't want you to do anything you aren't comfortable with."

      Memorize that line. It is your go-to when faced with resistance. Say it genuinely, without presumption. All master seducers are also masters at making women feel comfortable. You'll be no different. If a woman isn't comfortable, take a break and try again later.

      All that matters is that you continue to try to escalate physically until she makes it genuinely clear that it's not happening. She wants to be desired, but the circumstances need to be right. With some experience, you will learn to differentiate the "No, we can't... my parents are in the next room... OMG F*** ME F*** ME HARD" from the "SERIOUSLY GET THE F*** OFF OF ME, YOU CREEP" variety of resistance.

      Of course if you're really unclear, back off. Better safe than sorry."

      So far, I haven't seen anyone quote the section right after "try again later" that addresses that if she's blatantly resisting and not interested, that men should stop escalating. Period. And perhaps more helpful, the author tells us that if you're really unclear, just back off. Better safe than sorry.

      You may still have issues with this advice, and that's all fine and good, but I hope that commentators are at least aware of the fact that the author is telling men to back off in the case of a defiant and decidedly not interested response.

    38. Missing avatar

      John Funk on

      @Jennifer Johnson Avril - you're welcome. I can't imagine how exhausting it is to deal with this shit on a daily basis; just trying to fight the good fight and be a good ally is draining and I'm not even taking the brunt of it! Keep it up, there are plenty of good men out there who have your back, even if some of us don't know it yet :P

      @james - respecting a woman's wishes and not putting her hand on your junk before discerning if she wants to is not weakness, it is strength. "it is better to ask forgiveness than permission" doesn't apply when dealing with sexual consent.

      You're correct that in itself, just trying again isn't rape or sexual assault. But what it is, is an encouragement to ignore a woman's stated desire. It's treating "no" not as the end of it (which it should be), but as the beginning of a negotiation. And that's the sort of mindset that LEADS to rape.

      I'm done here, guys. I don't have the time or energy to devote to arguing with you anymore. I repeat my earlier statement: I sincerely hope for your sake that you will have your eyes opened before one day you wake up to realize that you've done something you can't take back.

    39. Missing avatar

      Rhoda Schiano on

      I hope Kickstarter will also be setting up a fund to aid the victims of the morons who read this book

    40. Jennifer Johnson Avril on

      @James, so all the folk I mentioned. . . sponsored. . . one. . . .project. Which means to me they cared about that project, primarily, and not Kickstarter as a whole. As for the rest of it, I'm really sorry about your crappy divorce or whatever that was about.

    41. Missing avatar

      L on

      Link to the reddit article: http://www.reddit.com/r/seduction/comments/11ng7n/above_the_game_intro_my_story_preview_of_my/

      See the various sections on the left for the appropriate topics the author discussses.

    42. Jess 'Angel' Ansel on

      Thank you for taking a stance that says violence and sexual assault against women is NOT acceptable. It would have been nice if you could pulled the funding from TofuTofu's book, but the $25,000 towards RAINN shows you are trying to help women more than make a profit and goes a long way towards showing you realize it was wrong to support that book. Thank you again for standing up for women, and I'm sorry for the negative reactions of men who don't understand why this is important. They are not the majority of people, even if they are the loudest and most whiny voices on the internet.

    43. Missing avatar

      Randall Baird on

      Practice makes perfect, Kickstarter. Your apology is a model for transparency. Love the KAL book!

    44. Missing avatar

      Keyser Soze on

      Well i surely hope that you are enacting a blanket ban on all seduction guides written by WOMEN as well, especially from those who are or ever have been affiliated with any dating guides or magazines that have ever instructed women to anally rape men with their fingers without receiving direct, enthusiastic consent beforehand.

    45. Bec McKenzie on

      So let me get this straight... The project was still funded and the book is still getting published? Am I wrong? Please tell me I'm wrong. If not, you really oughtt to make a donation to RAINN for every copy that goes out.

    46. Alison Diem on

      @Mike Maring and @Jeffrey Dean- Did you read this little gem of an excerpt?

      "Pull out your c*ck and put her hand on it. Remember, she is letting you do this because you have established yourself as a LEADER. Don’t ask for permission, GRAB HER HAND, and put it right on your d*ck."

      That can and will get you arrested and is sexual assault. If she "lets" you do anything, it's probably only due to shock that she's in the situation that she's in. The only true consent to anything is a women telling you "yes".

      @Jeffrey Dean- Women's magazines are a huge problem- do you think that they aren't being targeted in an attempt to change the they contribute to rape culture?

      The reality here is that while women's magazines may suggest that women take on a more aggressive role in sexual situations, women do not have, as a general rule, the upper hand regarding strength or size when dealing with men in a sexual scenario and to imply such is disingenuous.

      The difference that you are failing to see or, at least, to acknowledge, is that women have had to deal with sexual violence to thousands of years in a way that men have not. Men haven’t been sexual prey in the same way women have. Men aren’t going out with friends and as a rule, worrying about getting raped between the car and the bar, or in the bathroom, or when they step outside for a bit of fresh air. Men might worry about getting mugged for their wallet but most men aren’t worried that they’re going to have some strangers hand up their skirt, trying to shove fingers where they don’t belong.

      Are you worried that a woman who reads Cosmo is going to rape you, Jeffrey? Because I’m pretty sure that you’re not. But I’m more than a little concerned that if I sit next to a guy who has read this guide I’m not going to be safe in my chair. Or that if I leave my friend by herself at the bar when I go to pee, that something bad will happen while I’m gone. That’s the REAL reason women go to the bathroom in packs, Jeffrey. Just a little tip, from me to you.

      THAT is the difference, Jeffrey, and if you can’t understand that or at least admit that, then I don’t know what else to tell you.

    47. Missing avatar

      Noah on

      I'll play your way for a moment

      1) Disagree with what? You're not making yourself very clear here. Kind of makes your "I present valid arguments" point null and void

      2) I never said anything about rape, I was referring to the moves in the book - which, if you weren't so caught up being offended over it to realise this, isn't about rape at all.

      3) What kind of sick, twisted person are you, that you consider comparing things to Hitler to be something that "cool kids" do??

      Above the game doesn't suggest moving on, you're right - It suggest fostering an environment where you and a woman can both be comfortable having sex. Sorry if that's such a huge issue and you can't handle that, but not everyone is scared of having sex with women. For those that are, that's the audience this book is here to help.

      Your ignorance is painful

    48. Brian Calhoun on

      I hope they start a kickstarter that forces people to read the actual source material in context instead of a blogger ranting before commenting on kickstarter actively entering into censorship.

    49. Missing avatar

      jamie on

      I just wish they blocked Anita Sarkeesian blatant scam (Asked for 6,000 ended up getting 150,000 and disappeared for a year) even though it was veiled in such obvious sexism. No wait I don't, why? Because even though I may disagree with with certain kickstarter campaigns I have the right not to donate to them. Kickstarter is showing it's bias with this one when they really shouldn't. If a kickstarter is blatantly illegal of course it should be shut down but if people find the topic offensive there is only one thing to do: Don't donate. It really is as simple as that.