The Kickstarter Blog

FAQ: Guidelines for Hardware and Product Design Projects

On Thursday we announced new guidelines for Hardware and Product Design projects on Kickstarter, including prohibiting product simulations, renderings, and offering multiple quantities of a reward. Today we wanted to answer some common questions we've seen in response. Thanks for reading.

Kickstarter announced that it's prohibiting product renderings in the Hardware and Product Design categories, but "rendering" can mean a lot of things. What does Kickstarter mean?

To clarify, we mean photorealistic renderings of a product concept. Technical drawings, CAD designs, sketches, and other parts of the design process will continue to be allowed. Seeing the guts of the creative process is important. We love that stuff. However renderings that could be mistaken for finished products are prohibited.

Do the new guidelines mean that Kickstarter will only accept Hardware and Product Design projects with finished products?

Not at all. We simply ask creators to share with backers exactly what’s been done so far, show how the product currently works, and explain how it will be completed. In short, we expect creators to show their work. Backers have shown that they're happy to get involved in projects that are in earlier stages when the creator is clear about the remaining work and their ability to complete it.

Do the new guidelines apply beyond Hardware and Product Design projects that are developing new products?

No. The new guidelines only apply to Hardware and Product Design projects that are developing new products. These guidelines do not apply to Design projects like the LowLine and +Pool or Hardware projects like Stompy: The Giant Rideable Walking Robot. Why? They aren’t developing new products that backers are expecting in their mailboxes.

How will Kickstarter know whether something is a simulation or rendering?

We may not know. We do only a quick review to make sure a project meets our guidelines. If an obvious simulation or photorealistic rendering is spotted during that review, that project will not be allowed to launch. If a simulation or photorealistic rendering is discovered after a project launches, that project will be canceled. Everyone should continue to use their best judgment when deciding whether or not to back a project.

Kickstarter announced that Hardware and Product Design rewards could only be offered in single quantities. What if my product works best as a pair or as a set of five?

As we noted in the announcement, sensible sets are fine. If your piece of hardware is best offered as a set of five, that's okay, however you couldn’t also offer it as a single piece. Creators will have to decide what works best for their project.

Final thoughts?

We created Kickstarter so more creative work could exist in the world, and last week's changes are in service of that mission. We're confident that these updates will lead to an even better Kickstarter. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, and thanks for being a part of it!

Comments

    1. Missing_small

      Creator Thomas Kirby (deleted) on October 7, 2012

      I'm simply not going to use Kickstarter until the rules are changed back. This hurts hardware projects and it makes them unusable for the backers.

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      Creator Ron Lussier on October 7, 2012

      Why does Kickstarter think we're idiots? Why are they punishing us for the success they've had so far?

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      Creator John C on October 10, 2012

      Best guess, Ron, is that whenever a hardware project runs past its estimated delivery date, whiny backers start screaming about how it's all a sign of fraud. The theory seems to be (no doubt based on decades of engineering and manufacturing experience and not just a self-entitled attitude) that, since it's easy to walk into an electronics store and buy one capacitor, anybody should be able to buy ten thousand of them without a hitch.

      I've seen a few projects that have (of course) run late due to supply issues, and if the creator dares post an update that implies doing anything but building and shipping product (even if the parts aren't available, yet, I guess), half the messages are stupidly-angry backers rambling about priorities being out of order (not that I understand what they think someone should be doing while waiting for the factory or supplier...) or screaming that they PAID to have a product delivered by a promised date (which, by Kickstarter's rules, they didn't), and how dare the creator break that covenant to make things actually, y'know, work. (I have to wonder what these people do when they buy a plane ticket and the plane is delayed, or their Internet service is slow. Do they scream at faceless corporations, too?)

      Since they're loud backers and apparently going to the press to whine, Kickstarter feels the need to "do something," even if that "thing" can't possibly solve the problem, since those people will be just as angry and whiny when their one-unit "sale" is delayed.

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      Creator Astraea on October 10, 2012

      I can understand the renderings rule, but imo a better way would just be having all renderings (realistic or otherwise) to be labeled as such on the picture/video itself. In big red letters. Prototypes are also necessary, but it's just easier to visualize an item when a rendering is available.

      However, the quantity rule boggles me. While I understand that higher pledges can and are sometimes rewarded with extra items along with the product itself, I can only want so many t-shirts and stickers. And as many have pointed out, some items could be packaged individually, in pairs or even groups of 10 and still be a 'sensible set' to the backer. If I, as a backer, believe in a product and its creator enough to pledge for multiples of it, and am fully aware of (and accept) the risk of the item possibly never reaching completion, why shouldn't I be given the option of backing multiple items?

      I agree that Kickstarter is not a store, but these new rules won't mitigate the issues with this either. Perhaps the risk of funding (both general and the ones listed by the creator) should be highlighted to the backer before every pledge is made, before the checkout process begins, so that backers are reminded to what they're putting their money towards.

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      Creator Ber on October 10, 2012

      I'd assumed after the massive, near-unanimous opposition to the original blog post that changes would have been made to allow for clearly labelled renders and multiple quantities. I'm very disappointed that KS has forged ahead with these badly considered changes that pander to consumer-mindset backers.

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      Creator Thomas Kirby (deleted) on October 11, 2012

      The money that the backers put up is speculative and it is supposed to be. Most backers can't get a lot of good out of a single piece of hardware. They should ask the backers. A backer needs several pieces because, because he or she needs several pieces for use even in a single device, because any meaningful product testing absolutely requires multiple copies of the same piece of hardware, because if a backer engineers just one bit of hardware into one device, they are going to have to do it several times. I would appreciate a more ingenuous response from the owners of this site.

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      Creator Jesse Coleman on October 12, 2012

      My campaign was rejected, citing the new rules for 3D renderings and quantities of items.

      My 3D animations were not simulations, but a simply footage video of the model being moved around on screen, simply to illustrate that the files exist and are ready for production. I really dont see how they could be mistaken for photo-realisitc simulations.

      Nonetheless I have since removed the 3D model footage, and now Im (still) waiting for the re-review.

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      Creator Steve Nicholson on October 17, 2012

      Add me to the long list of people opposed to the quantity one rule. My most recently backed project is the LIFX LED bulb. I backed quantity four because I felt that was a good quantity for my application. One size does not fit all. If I could only have backed for one, I most likely would have not backed at all.

      This limitation is going to hurt designers, backers, and Kickstarter. But it will certainly benefit competing crowd sourcing sites.

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      Creator Stijn on October 17, 2012

      So it seems Kickstarter choose to ignore our complaints and simply keeps quiet. Not a great sign.

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      Creator Thomas Kirby (deleted) on October 18, 2012

      I'm going somewhere else to promote my project.

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      Creator Jonas, Tom, Linda & Laura on October 26, 2012

      when did kickstarter ban sunglasses / eyewear projects and why? you are leaving out the possibility for some real progress in these areas

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      Creator No Resume Labs on October 27, 2012

      To the decision makers at KS,

      I am a huge fan of what you guys do here. However, the "No Multiple/Bulk Rewards" clause for design projects seems unnecessarily limiting to me.

      I am currently designing a project that I think will be significantly impacted in a negative way by this clause.

      Is there a reason why you have stopped allowing this option to your backers?

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      Creator Ethan D. Monat on October 27, 2012

      I like Kickstarter. Probably too much. It's been one of my main impulse-buy inducers for several months - everything from a touch keyboard, to a jellyfish tank, to a new type of instant coffee. While reading some tech news, I heard about Kickstarter's new restrictions, which seem specifically targeted at the types of Kickstarted projects I most enjoy - "Hardware" and "Product Design".
      While I see the point regarding projects overpromising and underdelivering, I am utterly flabbergasted that what seems to be the most popular categories on Kickstarter (at least from pledge figures) are being targeted for stricter regulation. There has, to my knowledge, never been any promises of product delivery time, quality, or capability on a Kickstarted project BY KICKSTARTER itself; so why is Kickstarter trying to make itself arbiter?
      Why this change in policy, and why hasn't an attempt to ensure quality been enacted any of the other, less concrete categories, like Art or Dance?

    14. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Tom Shrive on October 31, 2012

      Kickstarter... we have a great project, and we do really need some cash to take it further. But at the moment you're new rules on rendering would heavily damage our chances of getting investment. On paper the project is not crazily innovative, but the way that the elements, CRUCIALLY design is very important. it's not a valid argument to separate hardware from design - and say you just want technical drawings... we will show the working PCB, no problem, but we also need to be able to show people how beautiful our product will look.... But you are only letting us show people some CAD rendered sketch. This will have lost everything. We will be more than happy to write THIS IS A RENDER, WE ARE NOT AT THIS STAGE YET, THIS IS NOT A PHOTO - whatever you require, we are not looking to use you as a shop, or mislead people, but please, please let us show off our carefully considered colours, texture and design.

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      Creator Tom Shrive on October 31, 2012

      ugh... your*

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      Creator Guy Ovadia on November 1, 2012

      Kickstarter team, THIS IS IMPORTANT. You are ruining a good thing. Listen to your community. please.
      remove the restrictions on renders and, especially, multiple quantities.
      I expect, at the very least, some kind of dialog with the community on this. Right now I only see frustrated posts like mine and nothing from you.

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      Creator Peter Standley on November 5, 2012

      I am having some flashbacks to when EBAY decided it no longer wanted to be a real auction house but more of a flea market sale location where you could "BUT IT NOW" on most of its offerings and do away with actually bidding on items like collectibles. They changed their rules and drove away a LOT of long time very active supporters. Is Kickstarter drinking some of that same elixir?

      More disclaimers and up front info is fine. Many people will still not read any of that, just gives you more of legal basis for denying you had responsibility for a failed project. Label renders, that should be enough. And the quantity limit seems arbitrary when only applied to some categories and not across the board. With all the extra warnings now in place, it seems silly to restrict people from placing bigger bets on projects they want to support.

    18. Missing_small

      Creator Thomas Kirby on November 27, 2012

      I've said before that the backers are the ones who want and need multiple quantities the most. For example, although I can't spend much, I have several microcontroller boards and chips because one small hobbyist needs multiples. Even someone who has but one or two small projects going can really use a board that he can try new things on while using the other one in a more or less finished project. I don't understand why the Kickstarter staff won't listen to the people who they say they are trying to protect.

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      Creator Jonathan Perry on January 14, 2013

      the screening process doesn't seem to always work as this company is using kickstarter to launch a product at the same time Keyshot is promoting their software with rendering shots. http://keyshot.com/join-luxion-at-ces-for-lumativ-nightlife-apparel-launch-party/2013/

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      Creator Balancin' Act Team on November 3

      What if an image is clearly labeled "Simulation" or "Photorealistic Rendering" such that it could not mislead anyone, is that allowed?

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      Creator Joe Chan on December 11

      I feel it is completely unfair that Kickstarter says it "doesn't allow multiple rewards" in the project category and then approves projects with multiple rewards such as the Circuit Scribe -
      http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/electroninks/circuit-scribe-draw-circuits-instantly

      This project is great, and approaching 500k, but why should it get away with offering a "gift pack."

      Many other creators have been denied multiple rewards on their projects. Why does this one get to pass through unscathed? The hardware projects with the best successes are the ones that offer multiple rewards.

      By limiting some projects and not others, KS is opening itself up to a discrimination lawsuit and leaving lots of money on the table.

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      Creator Bruce Fast on March 13

      I find the "no multiples" rule to be painful, so much so that I am seriously questioning whether I will do a kickstarter campaign, or whether I will just kick kickstarter goodbye.

      On renderings, I generally agree that renderings can deceive, causing people to believe that a project is farther along in its cycle than it is, Such renderings should be permitted. However, if it is made perfectly clear that an image/video is a rendering, I would think it should be permitted.