Kickstarter Is Not a Store

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It's hard to know how many people feel like they're shopping at a store when they're backing projects on Kickstarter, but we want to make sure that it's no one. Today we're introducing a number of changes to reinforce that Kickstarter isn’t a store — it’s a new way for creators and audiences to work together to make things. We’d like to walk you through these changes now.

Creators must talk about “Risks and Challenges”

Today we added a new section to the project page called "Risks and Challenges." All project creators are now required to answer the following question when creating their project:

“What are the risks and challenges this project faces, and what qualifies you to overcome them?”

We added the "Risks and Challenges" section to reinforce that creators' projects are in development. Before backing a project, people can judge both the creator's ability to complete their project as promised and whether they feel the creator is being open and honest about the risks and challenges they face.

The new section will appear below the project description of projects that launch starting today.

New Hardware and Product Design Project Guidelines

The development of new products can be especially complex for creators and seductive to backers. Today we’re adding additional guidelines for Hardware and Product Design projects. 

They are:

  • Product simulations are prohibited. Projects cannot simulate events to demonstrate what a product might do in the future. Products can only be shown performing actions that they’re able to perform in their current state of development.
  • Product renderings are prohibited. Product images must be photos of the prototype as it currently exists.

Products should be presented as they are. Over-promising leads to higher expectations for backers. The best rule of thumb: under-promise and over-deliver.

We've also added the following guideline for Hardware and Product Design projects:

  • Offering multiple quantities of a reward is prohibited. Hardware and Product Design projects can only offer rewards in single quantities or a sensible set (some items only make sense as a pair or as a kit of several items, for instance). The development of new products can be especially complex for creators and offering multiple quantities feels premature, and can imply that products are shrink-wrapped and ready to ship.

These guidelines are effective for all Hardware and Product Design projects that launch starting today.

We hope these updates reinforce that Kickstarter isn't a traditional retail experience and underline the uniqueness of Kickstarter. Thanks for reading, and thanks as always for using Kickstarter.

UPDATE (Monday, September 24): We just posted an update answering follow-up questions from this post. We've also pasted the content of that post below.

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!

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