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. Cathar Seamus on

      so, how exactly improving poor social skills with woman is equivalent to 'being misogynistic'?

    2. Missing avatar

      Ainjel Stephens on

      This won't solve all the problems, but it's a start. Thank you.

    3. Missing avatar

      J on

      @Jennifer, divorce? What are you talking about?

      And as far as this "Which means to me they cared about that project, primarily, and not Kickstarter as a whole.", I guess browsing other projects like I have over the last month, thinking about some cool tech projects (while they are still active), doesn't count for you? I was gong to fund a tech project on arduino stuff, but 1. they had 1 day left an weren't even at 20% funded, so no point there (I felt bad for them), and 2. I don't make rash decisions. Like I said, I joined a month ago, WHEN I FIRST LEARNED ABOUT KICKSTARTER.

    4. Brian Calhoun on

      @Alison Diem your excerpt is from a section of the guide that is for what happens after a woman has consented to you putting a digit into her vagina. I'll link the page for you so you can atleast read it. http://www.reddit.com/r/seduction/comments/1dvnem/above_the_game_part_7_physical_escalation_sex/

    5. Missing avatar

      Kim Brunner on

      Thank you Kickstarter. I hope other internet companies follow your example.

    6. Cathryn Swan on

      This relates to the issue at hand in that in addition to human exploitation, exploitation of animals and other beings should be banned also. I agree with Luke Michaels above - this project RoboRoach is horrifying, cruel and wrong -- it's not up to humans to decide that a living being has no feeling and that this cruelty and domination is somehow benefiting people to learn about neural pathways (that should be in a controlled setting, not offered to 'the masses):

      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

    7. Nupur Maheshwari on

      @L hmmm, but if a girl is SHY, say, and doesn't exactly know how to put her discomfort into words, even if she is making subtler cues that she is uncomfortable, then the "seducer" can keep on trying. It's her fault for not being "defiant." Good to know.

      Also, he says to back off because,"better safe than sorry." Just to be clear, that means doesn't mean backing off out of RESPECT for the INDIVIDUAL you are trying to "seduce," but backing off to avoid being outed as an overly aggressive asshole who is millimeters away from crossing the line into outright sexual assault.
      Smh. How is that defensible?

    8. Amy Patterson Black on

      Thank you, Kickstarter, for the sincere apology. Many people think that some organizations "go overboard" with their political correctness and banning of things that promote violence towards or degrade women. They (mostly men) just don't realize how insidious and pervasive our paternalistic culture is and the ways in which violence against women is perpetuated through constant exposure to material like this. "Seduction" of a woman is seen as an innocent thing by some men, but when it includes getting the woman drunk (or drugged), lying to her and taking advantage of her when she is impaired, it is a fine line that is being walked. You shouldn't have to do that to have sex with someone. If they won't have sex with you sober, maybe there is something about YOURSELF that needs to change. Thank you for standing up for what is right.

    9. Brian Calhoun on

      @Nupur I think that by addressing the topic of resistance he is trying to help men understand that some women just aren't interested in them and to recognize when they are genuinely saying no as opposed to being coy. He is trying to counteract the Pepé Le Pew mentality some men may have.

    10. Kathryn Elizabeth on

      Thank you, Kickstarter. I suppose one day you wake up and have a great idea about a website for funding artists and indie filmmakers, and several years later what you're really doing is working out social policy for misogynists. Dealing with the kind of loons that make sexual assault manuals is probably not what you had in mind, but now we all agree that it's your responsibility to enforce a little decency. So I'd like to thank you for thinking about the problem, and coming up with answers that thoughtfully addressed the issues.

    11. Eleri Hamilton on

      Thank you. I think what happened here emphasises the need for a mechanism that allows KS to put a hold on fund distribution in cases where ToS & ethical violations are found before the end of a campaign, even if it is mere hours. Some sort of review process before money is handed over is needed in cases where significant abuses are alledged, and some way of pausing the automated payment process so that backers aren't charged while the review is going on.

    12. Missing avatar

      Elliot de Vries on

      No, Kickstarter, you are wrong *now* and simply pacifying bigoted gender ideologues.

    13. Brian Calhoun on

      @Amy Patterson Black the guide in no way suggests getting a woman impaired as a tool at anytime.

    14. Missing avatar

      Richard Lyon on

      "Content promoting or glorifying violence against women or anyone else"

      cf.

      "Content promoting or glorifying violence".

      Since the latter is the necessary and sufficient moral statement, we are left wondering who are they referring to by "anyone else", or what purpose this particular construct serves other than gynocentrism.

    15. Riana McKeith on

      That's great news! I reported this project and was very disappointed both that it exceeded its targets & that the project wasn't cancelled by you. At least it won't happen again & I can be proud of your site once more!

    16. MARY BAUMER on

      Thanks for owning your mistake and the error. You guys are awesome and I appreciate your candor and willingness to just say "we screwed up, we're sorry." Thanks too for the donation to RAINN. They do great work so you do.

    17. Steven Wolfe on

      Not entirely comfortable with Kickstarter picking and choosing what's acceptable based on whether it offends a certain number of people. I am offended by books on rearing children with orthodox Catholic values. But I don't demand it be removed. Unless the book was advocating illegal activity - and it wasn't - isn't it up to people to choose whether to pledge or not, and not have the decision made for them by pressure groups?

    18. Missing avatar

      L on

      @Napur I don't disagree. The author makes the mistake of putting onus on the girl to make a decided and clear statement of rejection and disinterest, a loud and clear NO or STOP, as if it were that easy, but he does ultimately tell men to back off in this case. Which is in contrast to a lot of comments who read the author's (shortened) quote to suggest that men should just keep at it and keep trying.

      "Just to be clear, that means doesn't mean backing off out of RESPECT for the INDIVIDUAL you are trying to "seduce," but backing off to avoid being outed as an overly aggressive asshole who is millimeters away from crossing the line into outright sexual assault." - Yup, you say it right here, his advice is NOT to cross the line into outright sexual assault. Also in contrast to the many people who have claimed his book to be a guide to sexual assault and rape. Besides which, the intent may differ, but the result is the same. Backing off is backing off.

    19. betty on

      all companies should release press releases when they (whether accidental or now) do wrong. respect.

    20. Nathan Paul Rhoades on

      This is ridiculous. What kind of dim bulb confused being dominant in bed with someone you have been dating with sexually assaulting a stranger. Taking things out of factual context only proves that you needed to lie to put this guide in a negative light. Shame on you.

    21. Jennifer Johnson Avril on

      @James. The make-believe project you suggested sounded like you're more than a little pissed off at women, although I agree with you, it's a crap sounding project, and I wouldn't fund it, but then, I'm not funding anything here anymore, which is too bad, because it's a decent platform for independent creators. As for the rest, sorry you felt included in my generalization, duly noted I was not describing *you*, but a general tide of people defending the book.

    22. Missing avatar

      Patrick Granvold on

      Thanks for this awesome and heartfelt apology! Kudos to your team.

    23. Liz McLellan on

      Thank you guys. I can go back to reccommending the platform without reservations. I very much appreciate that you took this seriously.

      To the people that do not get it...who seem to be mostly straight men... Next time a gay man grabs your hand and puts it on his dick without permission...you have something interesting to say on this topic.

      Respect to kickstarter for showing people who don't know what a real apology looks like - how it's done.

      Bravo!

    24. Vin on

      I appreciate this. Thank you.

    25. Missing avatar

      J on

      And people wonder how it was possible that people in the 17th century would perform witch hunts. I am soooo glad thought that we are more advanced today....for sure..... (cough cough) we get the WHOLE picture and not jump to conclusions ....(cough cough)...we know that perception and reality are often two different things.....(cough cough).... we put truth above peoples' feelings.... (cough cough). Man, why do I keep coughing? ;) Some people just want to live a comfortable life taking the blue pill.

    26. Missing avatar

      Elvira on

      Thank you, Kickstarter for the apology, donation and renewing my faith in all things good.

    27. Brian Calhoun on

      @Liz McLellan If I've been on a couple dates with a gay man and I am currently making out with the same gay man in his room semi-nude and he puts my hand on his dick, I really can't get that upset.

    28. Nathan Paul Rhoades on

      @Liz McLellan No where in that book does it even remotely suggest pulling your dick out to a random stranger. However if a gay guy was following what the book actually said and touched my back and said something and my response is no and they left me alone I would have no issues with it. You are straight up lying to use a straw man to attack it.

    29. Missing avatar

      Sarah Dorger on

      Kickstarter, thank you for revising your guidelines and addressing this problem with maturity. Hats off to you. Let's hope something like this never happens again.

    30. Missing avatar

      Noah on

      @ Ms Cathryn, I'm not sure if you realise this, but the whole premise of this site is to exploit people for their money if you're looking at it from that perspective

      @ Nupur: If she's shy, she's probably not going to end up in your room with you. Think about it.

      @ Ms Amy, there is some truth in the latter part of your statement. Personally, I'd never approach anyone that is clearly far more intoxicated than myself. On the flip side, you can't possibly blame men for the fact that women intentionally go to places that people get drunk and take the initial steps towards sex.

      I disagree with the former, though, the evidence of going overboard on PCness is pretty evident.

    31. Rumtopf on

      Eww gads, what am I reading?! Some people are justifying the "don't ask her, put her hand right on your dick" quote by saying it's for after you've kissed a girl? Because we all know kissing = consent for everything else, yeah? She was asking for it, amiright? Just take what you want, you alpha male, you. Don't worry, if you creep her out you can just try to harass her again later, but only after she shouts "NO! STOP!" at you(anything else is a maybe!). *puke*

      Oh oh, but this book can help diffident men, they cry. Help them to sexually harass women, yes.

    32. Missing avatar

      Scott Warwick on

      Very stand up! We all make mistakes. What separates us is whether we own up to them as an adult/professional or do we make weak excuses as a child. Proud to be a part of Kickstarter.

    33. Brian Garrett Brigham on

      Here is a portion of the offending material that I have copy and pasted without any editing editing.

      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 FUCK ME FUCK ME HARD" from the "SERIOUSLY GET THE FUCK OFF OF ME, YOU CREEP" variety of resistance.

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

      Is this a bit distasteful? Yes. Is it shallow? Yes. But calling it a "rape guide" is out of bounds. Please fill me in if I missed that part where he explains how to rape someone. As far as I can tell this is a guide that could also be used by women in the bar scene to get some insight on how guys are trying to manipulate them.

      I'd say you guys at Kickstarter have made a mole hill into a mountain. Saaa wing-and-a-miss.

    34. T.A. Donnelly
      Superbacker
      on

      Its not easy to balance freedom of speech with taking a stand against misogyny / racism / homophobia. I can understand your hesitation to act, and I appreciate your apology. I still think Kickstarter is a force for good in the world. Thank you.

    35. Alex Kramer on

      Talk about taking action! Thanks, Kickstarter. I wish more companies were as honest and transparent as you.

    36. Sarah Cooke on

      One one hand, yes, kudos for acknowledging the problem, your mistake and looking to rectify it.
      On the other - it's your company. YOU control it - so where is the problem in freezing the project till it can be investigated properly AND You have the power to refuse the funding.
      Impressed, but not entirely

    37. Stephanie Eagleson on

      Thank you very much, Kickstarter. This is exactly the attitude I was hoping for from you, because I love how you work, and I hated having to turn my back on you. Now I don't have to, and I'm super glad about that. :) I appreciate how thorough your transparency is and how clearly you recognize you what you did wrong, and how, and some things you can do to avoid making the same mistake in the future. You've got my forgiveness!

    38. Missing avatar

      deleted on

      This user's account has been deleted.

    39. Brian Calhoun on

      @Rumtopf the dick quote isn't after kissing its after you've been on a few dates and she has consented to physical intimacy.

    40. Missing avatar

      Kathy Koplik on

      I appreciate the apology. It would be good to create a system that can respond quickly enough to pull the financial plug on offensive projects should this happen again--as it very well may.

    41. Missing avatar

      Claire Lovell on

      Great apology!!!

    42. Missing avatar

      Jenna on

      What is so violent in this project? But thank Kickstarter for donating money to charity anyway! Love you!

    43. Peggy Parker Coons on

      Thank you for the apology. I'm sorry you couldn't cancel the project - but donating the money to RAINN *almost* makes up for it! I'm also glad that in the future you won't be funding "seduction guides". DoSomething.org must've been instrumental in bringing this issue to the forefront. Thanks for your apology and for doing the right things! <3

    44. Missing avatar

      Bryan on

      Thank you for a legitimate apology and trying to make the best out of a bad situation by contributing to a solid organization that helps prevent rape. Going forward, I personally would really like to see more clarity on what will result in not accepting a submission and guidelines for what KS will do if a situation similar to this arises with a future project. Once can be a genuine mistake but I expect that the result is putting a plan of action in place to not make the same mistake twice.

    45. Jennifer on

      @Mike Maring: No, Kickstarter is not wrong for calling this project "misogynistic, offensive, etc." Yeah, the fundraiser in question looked innocuous enough on this website, however it was linked to material on Reddit that was very, very, very bad. Do a little more research to find out what this stuff said yourself, see the whole story. It's material from a book or something called "The Game," and pretty much encourages men to treat women in a very strong-handed, misogynistic way that pretty much equates to sexual criminals/predators. This project was not simply a "dating advice" or "seduction manual," it was a manual on how to force yourself on women.

    46. Bonnie Mortensen on

      So refreshing. Thank you for your integrity.

    47. Alison Diem on

      @Brian Calhoun - Funny story. I in NO WAY read anything on that page about asking for or getting consent from the women in question. In fact, the author SPECIFICALLY SAYS to NOT ask for permission.

      "Decide that you're going to sit in a position where you can rub her leg and back. Physically pick her up and sit her on your lap. Don't ask for permission. Be dominant. Force her to rebuff your advances."

      Not only is he NOT getting consent, he's FORCING her to rebuff his advances if she DOESN'T want to have sex with him. So, weaker and/or shy ladies, good luck with that. Hope you own a taser and you have it on you.

      So... when, exactly, in this process does the woman consent to let your "digit" enter her vagina? All I'm getting is that the guy puts the woman on his lap, no consent required, and then there are fingers in vaginas and hands on dicks, and never once is there a conversation about what she'd like or if she even wants to have sex with him at all.

      You want to know what women really want? TO NOT JUST BE AN OBJECT THAT YOU WANT TO SCREW. We want to be a PERSON that you're having a moment with, that you're having a CONVERSATION with first, that leads to sex SECOND. That conversation doesn't even have to be very long.

      "Hey, do you want to have sex with me?"
      "Yes, I do."
      "Okay. Let's do this."

      Done and done.

    48. Baly Cooley on

      It was not about the pitch. Reading only the Kickstarter page, one would get the sense that it was harmless. It was the Reddit posting showing the actual content that revealed the book was advocating sexual assault with such gems as, "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." http://www.reddit.com/r/seduction/comments/1dvnem/above_the_game_part_7_physical_escalation_sex/