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. Carolyn on

      Thank you for this.

    2. Heather Howard on

      Thank you, Kickstarter.

    3. Tsvi Tannin on

      You guys are fucking awesome. Way to be heads up when stuff spun out of control.

    4. Allan Berkovitz on

      What a load of crock. It's not about or promoting rape. http://pastebin.com/zwHYzCZe
      People sure know how to blow shit out of proportion and not do any actual research themselves to learn the truth. Way to go.

    5. Missing avatar

      LAM on

      I am happy to see that you have tried to do right, and to see that your company in fact does not support projects that promote rape and sexual assault. However, you didn't really say how you are going to make sure something like this never happens again. If the project contained content that was prohibited by your terms to begin with (promoting or condoning violence against women) and you were unaware of it until 2 hours before the project end, what are you going to change to make sure that future projects don't slip through? It seems like you need to look at your vetting process (if there is one) and let us know how you are going to improve that, instead of just making a new rule banning "seduction" manuals.

    6. Nathan Paul Rhoades on

      @Baly Cooley - here is the problem with what you just said....context. Two sentences with very different meanings the first is suggested in the book and the second is what people are assuming thus making an ass out of themselves.

      1- If you have gone on several dates with a girl and the making out is proceeding into heavy petting, "Pull out your cock 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 dick."

      2- When approaching a stranger in a bar, "Pull out your cock 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 dick."

    7. Acacia Brovedani on

      http://jezebel.com/an-easy-guide-to-fending-off-pick-up-artists-521688391

      "If someone ever picks you up and puts you in his lap and you don't want to be there, the best response is right there in your butt."

    8. Montserrat Mendez on

      You have to accept projects before funding can begin, so you had to know what the project was about at the beginning, I always assume there's a thorough vetting. Otherwise your oversight procedures need some revisiting. This two hours left excuse does not fly.

      Look, let's face it, you're not here to help the little guy. You are a business, and are here to make money, while you may brand yourselves as the champions of the little people; your certainly more than willing to just line your pockets with Braff and Mars percentages. So I have to guess that 25,000 dollar donation is chump change next to what the company is making.

      I'm not saying that I won't consider supporting a project on Kickstarter or otherwise (though from now on only give to people I personally know) because now I have questions about your vetting process. Your own bottom line being what you are obviously protecting, I will actually opt to search for real investment opportunities where some of the return may come my way, and not yours.

    9. Tasha Turner
      Superbacker
      on

      I read a fair amount of the guide the last day of the project. It could have easily been titled "how to become a creeper dude". Advice to "get close, closer than you are comfortable with" ding creepy behavior. Walk up to a beautiful strange woman and say "hey I just have to tell you you are gorgeous" creeper dude & most women HATE dudes who do that. As I was reading much of the advice I was thinking my reaction would be to politely and honestly explain why I had just kneed the guy in his balls or called the cops. I swear to g-d it wasn't about meeting women to have relationships it was about intimidating women into having sex & yeah as a woman I know the difference between a man who respects me & one who is just trying to get in my panties.

      If I go to a bar with my girlfriends its not because I'm hoping desperately that some guy will think I'm good looking enough to hit on with really bad come-on lines, its to hang out with my friends. The book seriously looked like he'd read a lot of the don't be a creeper and turned it all into things to do.

      Thanks Kickstarter for the apology and donation.

    10. Brian Calhoun on

      @Alison if you had read the passage you'd have got to this point. "Likewise, when you get a girl home. I highly advise to go for the makeout as soon as possible (In the back of the cab, in the elevator, as you're opening your front door, etc.) This sets a sexual tone and diffuses awkwardness that can lead to additional resistance." I'm not saying his method is perfect or even a terribly great idea but if a woman hasn't refused to be in your presence at this point then I feel like shes ok with the seconds of the guide that come after this. It doesn't jump straight to inserting things. But you wouldn't know that as you didn't read the passage you're still repeating the out of context quotes.

    11. Missing avatar

      Ranshiinsitha Parabola on

      Yes, you were wrong, because surely now that piece of shit is still ging to be published and will have a lot of impact in desperated virgins that have no idea how to properly treat women and think being nice to them is wrong and that's why they're not getting any.
      I can't stop being angry but this is a mistake, aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaanyone can make a mistake... so i will deep breath and calm the fuck down.
      Thanks for the donation to the association, and for the apology.

    12. Missing avatar

      Lisa Boucher on

      Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

    13. Marauder on

      Dear Kickstarter,
      Thanks for a great apology and a follow up to the problem.
      <3 Marauder

    14. Alison Diem on

      @Brian Garrett Brigham- Rape isn't always violent and it isn't always between strangers. That's the thing that people keep forgetting or that they don't understand. The "let me just put the tip in" or, "can I just rub your breasts"- the kind of pressure and constant pressure to just give in that some women just can't get away from and eventually give in to, even though they don't REALLY want to but feel like they have no choice.

      No one should have sex because they feel like they have no choice.

      It's the kind of manipulative behavior that is trying to coerce someone into "giving in" to having sex with you that makes this so creepy. "Trying again later" has the feel of trying to wear the girl down, that if you bother her long enough she just give up and let you screw her just so you'll leave her alone.

      If you're okay with someone having sex with you because they think they have no choice, you're gross and creepy and I want nothing to do with you. People should be excited to have sex with you, they should actively want to, because it's fun and exciting, and they're turned on, not because they're trying to just get away from you. Think about it.

    15. Rebecca Grackle on

      A good apology. Thank you sincerely, Kickstarter. I am glad I'll still be able to use your site.

    16. Marauder on

      And, William Baldwin,
      The guide was basically encouraging sexual assault and rape, stating that if a woman says "no" it just means she's horny and that you should try to aggressively pursue her or even grab her and put her on her lap no matter what because if you show aggression, you'll "get the girl".
      Pretty sure Cosmo has never put out an issue encouraging women to rape men when they say they don't want them.

    17. Missing avatar

      Rebecca Saldivar on

      Thank you for this, Kickstarter. Your apology is a model for others found in a situation like this. The fact that you are willing to make up for this book's message by donating such a significant sum to a worthy organization speaks volumes. I really respect your organization and the work you do.

    18. Amy Couch on

      Thank you so much!

    19. Brian Calhoun on

      @Alison Diem, your entire line of thinking is why guides and things like this are necessary because otherwise men will be out running amock using trial and error. And if during a trial a guy encounters a woman who never says no but is thinking No really hard in her head and he doesn't understand this is a possibility then a terrible tragedy could occur. The author was planning on releasing an entire chapter on helping men understand that no means no and sometimes nothing means no and sometimes everything means no.

    20. Missing avatar

      J on

      So at the end of the day folks, there are 2 ways to look at this. Pop quiz people: (Two choices, one is right, one is wrong)

      1. Ken is writing a book that actually tells men to go and rape women, do whatever they want. I mean literally, "I will do what I want all the way, whether you like it or not"...

      or

      2. Ken is writing a book that tells men to be confident, and not be afraid of women or worship them, but one PIECE of a BLOG post was poorly written by him, NOT clearly communicating his REAL intention. AND this book still he tells men to NOT rape women but to back off if they

      Guess what? Trick question. You can't choose yet because the book is not done yet. And guess what? When it is done, you can read the book for free, per Ken, and see for yourselves that he is AGAINST raping women. But everyone loves a good witch hunt when they think it's for a good cause.

      In the end though, I know the right answer is #2.

    21. Alison Diem on

      @Brian Calhoun- Dude, you don't get it. I READ the passage.

      Important point to note here: A woman can opt out ANY time she wants. Consent 101, my friend.

      You need to check on that all the time, man. Just because she's KISSING YOU IN THE CAR, doesn't mean she wants your dick. "Well, she liked making out with me, guess she wants to ride the wang."

      NO. Check yourself.

      Clearly, we're not going to agree, but I've read the passage and I find the whole thing creepy. I wish anyone who buys the thing the best of luck and hope they have a good lawyer. They're going to need both.

    22. Brian Calhoun on

      @Jaclyn Middleton at no point does the book suggest to be aggressive regardless of what the woman says. It specifically has a section detailing resistance.

    23. Gail Kurpgeweit on

      I don't get it! I read through the material and watched the video and saw nothing wrong with it! He's not promoting violence against women - he's teaching men how to be more attractive to women. WTH! Women's magazines are FILLED with articles detailing how women can 'get their man!' I can only hope that this extra publicity will help him on his project. This is America, people! We still have free speech!

    24. Missing avatar

      Abigail R.G. Verret on

      "@Glenn That seems reasonable. Point taken.

      This part, however, is completely false: "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."

      According to CNN, Kickstarter canceled the Kobe Jerky project minutes before it funded. http://money.cnn.com/2013/06/17/technology/kickstarter-scam-kobe-jerky"

      @Robyn, as someone pointed out (a few people, I think), the cancellation itself was right before the funding. They said they've never had to ACT to remove something that quickly - like begin the investigation.

    25. Robert Killheffer on

      Thanks for taking this matter seriously, and for revising (and regretting) the decision you made at first, under severe time constraints. Most of all, thanks for being willing to admit you made a mistake.

    26. Woody Woodburn on

      Bad decision, TERRIFIC response! You are an example for all companies to emulate! Sadly, I am certain few will follow your lead the next time they err... Good on you, Kickstarter!

    27. Missing avatar

      Alvina Yeh on

      Thanks for doing this kickstarter. I have so much respect for you as a company.

    28. Katey Jackson on

      Thank you for the thoughtful response and for the transparency. Additionally, thank you for making a donation to RAINN.

    29. Brian Calhoun on

      @Alison Diem here you go then this covers your argument. "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." guy made a mistake in thinking a chick wants the D his foul his bad he stops.

    30. Shamil Nunhuck on

      I must be missing something here, because he was not advocating rape.

    31. Missing avatar

      Abigail R.G. Verret on

      For those of you asking why Kickstarter didn't see the material in advance - the guy didn't release his full "guide" upfront. He was releasing excerpts as the process went on; I believe both on Reddit and on Kickstarter. It's perfectly reasonable to believe that Kickstarter only saw enough to know a nerd was writing a seduction guide, and not enough to know that some of the content of it was horribly offensive.

    32. Rumtopf on

      That's bullshit, Brian Calhoun.
      You said "and she has consented to physical intimacy."

      Hmm, not how I remember it...
      "Pull out your c**k 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***.”"

      So basically, you have to convince yourself that the woman is consenting to physical intimacy, any type, because you're certainly not asking her(that's what makes it so alpha.... pfft). Gee, that's not rapey at all. "Don't ask for permission" = consent now?
      I'm not buying that for a second.

    33. Paul Molnar on

      I am pleased that you have made an apology, though part of the issue is the chicken s#it way in which you handled things after you realized that you should have done something. This is, st least, a step in the right direction though.

    34. Brian Calhoun on

      @Rumtopf You didn't read the material. You're just repeating the out of context quote from earlier. We've moved beyond that point in the argument.

    35. Missing avatar

      deleted on

      This user's account has been deleted.

    36. Missing avatar

      Tara on

      This is ridiculous. He was not promoting rape.. how about you people actually read something before you hop on the bandwagon.

    37. Missing avatar

      carol harr on

      thank you, kickstarter, for standing up for what is moral and right, and for acknowledging your mistake both in word and deed.

    38. Liz McLellan on

      Young men in the US don't understand what consent actually means.
      There are young men rotting in jail because they literally do not get it.
      There are men in the thread that do not get it.

      Reading all the #pua crap is not about consent - it's about manipulation.

      Do yourselves a favor and grow up.

    39. Brian Calhoun on

      Please people, if you have an honest argument about how this is a rape guide please post a quote that isn't the LAP quote or the DICK quote since we all know those weren't taken in context.

    40. Missing avatar

      deleted on

      This user's account has been deleted.

    41. Lindsey Estes on

      Thank you Kickstarter, at least this was a learning experience for everyone, and one stepping stone towards further prevention.

    42. Greek Winter Media on

      @Gail Exactly. This was no different than women's magazines sold in every supermarket in the country. The only reason people are crying and gnashing their teeth is because thre advice was aimed at males instead of women since apparently women can do no wrong and men are evil to these over politically correct out of touch whackos.

    43. Dennis Riddle on

      I looked at both the cached page and at the blog post, and here are the clear facts:

      1) The author did not post ANY of the actual book content on the Kickstarter page, particularly the offensive parts.

      2) Because of 1, Kickstarter did not know that was the content of the book. A dating guide for men can exist without promoting either misogyny or sexual violence. So the initial approval was ok based on the information submitted.

      3) Someone did some internet research after rolling their eyes about another dating guide, and found the author's existing guides. These guides DO contain misogynistic and sexually coercive suggestions, and definitely violate the terms of use.

      4) Kickstarter became aware of this information shortly before funding. Regardless of what actions they could have taken at that point, they were going to face bad PR, and to just pull the project without researching and verifying the information themselves would have been irresponsible.

      I can honestly say that I think they have done the best they could under the circumstances. If they had had a day to verify the accusation before funding, I think they would definitely have pulled it. As it is they are taking responsibility for being unable to do so, and doing their best to mitigate the situation.

      The biggest piece of fallout from this jerk and his project is going to be that Kickstarter will likely be taking longer to approve projects, and need to see more of the source for each project. That plus some internet research will likely weed out all but the most careful scammers/dirtbags. But it will likely inconvenience others, and a few may want to review their own trail of Google and Facebook spoor before trying to start their own projects.

    44. Missing avatar

      Sasha Merie on

      Thank you Kickstarter. We appreciate your actions, and we're happy to see you changing policy so this doesn't happen again! uwu

    45. Adam Stark on

      I hope your actions serve as an example for others. Your thoughtful response will not go unrecognized.

    46. Magix Lxl on

      Thank you for taking a stand!

    47. Anneke Floor on

      @Kickstarter
      Thank you. You were indeed wrong. Admitting that sincerely and working to make sure you make amends and changes is refreshingly worthy of respect.

      @Shamil Nunhuck
      "I must be missing something here, because he was not advocating rape."

      He was advocating for sexual assault, but he didn't realize he was doing it. I hope that he genuinely examines why what he wrote is truly and deeply problematic, and that those who wonder why anyone is up in arms about it do the same. We all get programmed with expectations about the world, and sometimes it's moments of surprise and disagreement that can help us to see when those expectations are things we need to change.

      I'd like to add, for those who keep pulling out the "feminist man-hater" comments, that being feminist in no way means you hate men. Please update your definitions for 2013.

    48. Rumtopf on

      Cute, conflating PUA bullshit with real useful relationship advice. I'd laugh if women weren't harmed by this shitty line of thinking.