The Kickstarter Blog

We were wrong

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. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Jeff Grubb on June 21, 2013

      Good apology.

    2. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Holly Green on June 21, 2013

      Wow Kickstarter! As a friend of the person who raised the issue online and was among those who reported it early, I thank you for posting this follow up.

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      Creator Trudy Goold on June 21, 2013

      Thank you for this.

    4. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Justin Harrison on June 21, 2013

      now you can't say you were wrong about being wrong

    5. Kenji%20avatar.small

      Creator Kiran Trivedy on June 21, 2013

      Nice one!

    6. Itsmeimpopart.small

      Creator Alana Lynch on June 21, 2013

      The sincerity here is obvious -- thank you for trying to make this right.

    7. Missing_small

      Creator Anonymous (deleted) on June 21, 2013

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

      "When the project was funded the backers’ money went directly from them to the creator. We missed the window."

      According to numerous sources, the checks aren't sent to project creators for weeks. One example (from the Crabby Wallet project): "First, Kickstarter needs to transfer the funds so we have the money to make the orders (this can take up to 2 weeks)."

      Please explain these inconsistencies.

    8. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Annie Cowan on June 21, 2013

      My respect for your company has increased a thousand-fold. Thank you for facing this head-on with incredible humility, honesty, and integrity.

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      Creator Luke Michaels on June 21, 2013

      Please prohibit anything that encourages cruelty to living things, such as this: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/backyardbrains/the-roboroach-control-a-living-insect-from-your-sm

    10. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Jordan Bradley on June 21, 2013

      Very very very well written apology. This sort of corporate transparency is what makes creating great.

    11. Missing_small

      Creator Ryan Hall on June 21, 2013

      Nicely Said.
      Great way to be transparent, open and upfront.
      Thank you.

    12. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Adam Girardo on June 21, 2013

      A positive outcome. Thank you.

    13. Img_3036_small.small

      Creator Kevin Clark on June 21, 2013

      I can't imagine the week you guys must have had. Thanks for trying to make it right.

    14. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Allison Butler on June 21, 2013

      Thank you for your efforts, transparency and communication on this issue. I am glad to see that you are practicing intellectual integrity in recognizing that you made mistakes, but using this opportunity to improve policy and practice.

    15. Missing_small

      Creator Ben Sawyer on June 21, 2013

      Very well done. Thanks, Kickstarter.

    16. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Stephen C. Holtzman on June 21, 2013

      Great reply!

    17. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator apokryphon on June 21, 2013

      it's ok kickstarter, you did good after all and we lurrrrrve you

    18. Wtf%20picard.small

      Creator Karen Brown on June 21, 2013

      Thank you for a REAL apology, not a 'sorry for anyone feeling offended' or something. And for the actions you are taking, as well.

    19. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator John Cieslowski on June 21, 2013

      You're good by me.

    20. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Leigh Anne Vrabel on June 21, 2013

      Thank you for your transparency, your willingness to admit you were wrong, and your steps to address the issue.

    21. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Geronimo Doucet on June 21, 2013

      "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."

      "Let us be 100% clear: Content promoting or glorifying violence against women or anyone else has always been prohibited from Kickstarter.... Kickstarter is committed to a culture of respect."

      lol ok

    22. Corvuzonni.small

      Creator Corvus Elrod on June 21, 2013

      Thank you so very much for this. I wish the project had been brought to everyone's attention sooner and I understand that fast decisions aren't always possible.

      But with this response, I can happily continue to support and create projects on your platform.

    23. 21042_1195245295169_5542419_n.small

      Creator Glenn McClune on June 21, 2013

      @Robyn, I can point out that money is often taken instantly from backers and sent to the amazon account. Some of the transactions take more time. I am friends with a creator and will be doing my own soon, and he made a point of mentioning to me that most of the money is transferred in minutes or hours, with those accounts that have a problem taking longer.

    24. Itsmeimpopart.small

      Creator Alana Lynch on June 21, 2013

      @Robyn:

      1. I think they found out about the Kobe beef scam a while before it was set to fund. They found out about this guy two hours before it funded. Don't quote me on that, though; there might be an inconsistency there.

      2. It's not Kickstarter cutting the check -- it's Amazon Payments, and your credit card is charged right when the campaign funds. I think it genuinely is out of Kickstarter's hands after that point.

    25. Missing_small

      Creator Dominic Quentin on June 21, 2013

      What the hell... A Roboroach is def. also not done.........

    26. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Tom Heydweiller on June 21, 2013

      Nice try... I don't doubt your sincerity but the apology falls short. Apologizing after the crap has hit the fan is like putting the cart before the horse, just trying to excuse why you shouldn't be in trouble. You had the time to cancel the project even after it had funded, you could have pulled the plug on it for violating you guidelines. Plus I am sure the offending material just didn't show up just before funding so someone should have caught it earlier or do you not monitor the projects after they go live? Thank you for your apology but in my view you have lost a lot of credibility.

    27. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Adam Windisch on June 21, 2013

      Robyn,
      Just because the Jerky project was cancelled at the last second, doesn't mean they weren't considering it well in advance.

    28. Missing_small

      Creator Graham Wood on June 21, 2013

      at least you put your money where your mouth is, good job

    29. Bluehair.small

      Creator Mika A Epstein on June 21, 2013

      That apology is a nice start, but I call horsepucky on 'We only had two hours...'

      "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."

      That sounds ... really wrong.

      You approve every single KickStarter before it goes live, and you've rejected many (for understandable reasons). Frankly, this tells me that whomever approved this particular KickStarter made a bone-headed mistake. This is something that should have been flagged for a high level review, and if it wasn't, whomever said 'Yeah, that's okay,' need to have a talking to about why this was not okay. I'm not saying fire them, but your entire approvals team needs to all sit down and discuss why this happened, why it's not okay, and how to not have it happen again.

      Put some checks and balances in BEFORE it gets approved.

      Unless you're trying to say "We don't review the content before we approve a kickstarter" because if so? You need to start. Now.

    30. Missing_small

      Creator Anonymous (deleted) on June 21, 2013

      @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

    31. Ludren%20eightbit.small

      Creator Ludren on June 21, 2013

      spineless snails

    32. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Mike Maring on June 21, 2013

      What the hell? Looking over the project, what is wrong with it? Violence against women? Are you crazy? It talks about how to meet people and a guide for men to talk to women.

      I can't believe you guys just laid down and took this abuse from the man-hating organizations who see everything as rape. I'm disgusted by your decision.

      You were right. You ARE wrong.

    33. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Jeff Kowalski on June 21, 2013

      Thank you Kickstarter!

    34. Img_1733.small

      Creator Katie Carman on June 21, 2013

      It's a relief to see you guys have done the right thing -- and I appreciate the transparency about the situation. I do have skepticism though regarding not being able to stop the funding. This seems like a situation where KS should and probably could go above & beyond to make sure funding for this project does not happen.

    35. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Ethan Thibault on June 21, 2013

      I appreciate Kickstarter's transparency and sincerity on the matter - it can't be easy as a business to stand up for what's right and wrong (on the internet of all places), and I applaud them massively for taking a stand and apologizing. I have no problem with the fact that it's after the funding of the "seduction manual" (really?), it's the fact that they said anything at all that counts.

    36. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Mark Sammaritani on June 21, 2013

      Always better :-)

    37. Blue.small

      Creator Renegade Drum on June 21, 2013

      Thank you to the Kickstarter Team for being considerate and taking the time to clarify your position. Professional to the core!

    38. Missing_small

      Creator Clinton Nicholls III on June 21, 2013

      Now this? This is how you really apologize. Thank you for restoring my faith in your service and a bit of my faith in humanity, Kickstarter.

      You've done good today. :)

    39. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Terence Bowlby on June 21, 2013

      I hope that this project was clearly glorifying violence, and this isn't just censorship due to public pressure. Without seeing the content, though, I'll have to assume the latter.

    40. Missing_small

      Creator Drew Darrow on June 21, 2013

      Nothing wrong with saying "We were wrong." In fact, it actually makes you a better person for it.

    41. Missing_small

      Creator John Thile on June 21, 2013

      Thank you very much, Kickstarter. A wonderful apology and meaningful action taken. Too many "sorry you were offended" apologies fly around these days, and you owned it. This will definitely make me eager to fund more projects!

    42. Biohazard_red.small

      Creator Barbara on June 21, 2013

      Just hearing about this, I'm happy to see you folks at Kickstarter are genuine about the whole ordeal. It's sad when those grey area projects slip through the cracks of the rules of a site, so it's wonderful to hear that your site won't stand for this, and that it's amending the rules to make sure it doesn't happen again. Huzzah! Much love.

    43. Missing_small

      Creator Clement on June 21, 2013

      I suppose I'll juste chime in with the crowd, which, for once, is right.

      Bravo for your honesty.

    44. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator John S. Drew on June 21, 2013

      Sorry gang, but this is simply a "Let's make everyone happy" deal and while we'd all like the convenience of Kickstarter, there needs to be more than this. $25,000? A drop in the bucket compared to what they'll make on future projects from everyone who luuuurves them.

      Get with it folks. They can still pull the funding. It's all credit cards and frankly I'd have more respect for them if they fought it out with the loser who is writing this piece of garbage than trying to placate everyone with this nonsense. Wake up.

    45. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Mike Maring on June 21, 2013

      Your comment that seduction guide encourage "misogynistic" behavior is also incredibly offensive and sexist. How about you treat things equally between the sexes rather than immediately use terminology and words that place men in the immediate spot of wrongdoing? Kickstart, you're disgusting and I'm done with you.

    46. Missing_small

      Creator Netiya Shiner on June 21, 2013

      THANK YOU. My respect for Kickstarter has returned, and I thoroughly appreciate the stance taken against sexual assault and violence toward women.

    47. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Anisah Kasim on June 21, 2013

      Thank you for this.

    48. Missing_small

      Creator Marco Bulgarini on June 21, 2013

      Why don't you also show the complete list of "backer"? Those people would just need (in fact) a "kickstart in the back"

    49. Missing_small

      Creator William Baldwin on June 21, 2013

      Your cached link does not work for me.

      Unless the wording is degrading in such guides, I do not see the point. Otherwise, Cosmo would be banned, right?