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. Chaz on

      Okay, first off these crowd sourcing funding sites have an ethical duty to screen all projects prior to officially posting it to the site. So why was this project not screened prior to posting. If you give us the whole so many, too busy excuse, then hire more employees to help with this. It would have prevented this from happening. You say you didn't catch it till 2 hrs from ending... well, I'm pretty sure you're still at eh same as IGG, where you have 45-60 days for a project post to raise funds. RIght? That doesn't speak highly for your attention to detail... 2nd, did it actually meet it's goal. It sounds like it, since you mentioned about the money going straight to the originator from donations. This is equally disturbing. When a lot of us legit filmmakers are trying to crowd source a project and can't reach our goals, and this does? What does that say for society in general? Hmm... And what was their over all objective for raising funds? That too is disturbing. An apology or explanation is irrelevant now! But you never officially apologized to your other consumers, you only admit you were wrong. And then to cover up or make up for this, you donate to an organization that prevents what the content was on your site... hmm... Nice politics! It's also why I recommend others to use IGG! Sorry!

    2. Trudy on

      @John Funk Thank you so much. I was worried someone might have misinterpreted what I was saying -- and think I was victim blaming (which I'm not!)

    3. Dietra Tewalt on

      It looks like a few people don't know the facts surrounding the controversy. The really ugly stuff wasn't mentioned in their Kickstarter package. It was found elsewhere.

      http://caseymalone.com/post/53339539674/this-is-not-fucking-harmless

    4. Shad Stewart on

      @Jeffery Dean: I am male. I consider persons like yourself to be a blight on our gender and on this society. If I *ever* saw a person behaving the way this book indicates men should behave, regardless of that person's gender or the gender of the person they were directing their behavior towards, I would do whatever I could to make them stop, immediately. The fact that your zealotry against the feminist cause blinds you to the very real destructive nature of this sort of advice does not change the fact that it IS destructive, it IS vile, it IS wrong, and it IS illegal.

    5. Michelle Marie Riches on

      Yes. Kickstarter. Yes.

    6. Tracey Tracdc Duncan on

      good job taking responsibility for your actions. very refreshing.

    7. Missing avatar

      Lya Kahlo on

      Andrei - this guide is not about helping shy men meet women. This guide was not deliberately and repeatedly violating a woman's boundaries, sexually harassing her, and in some parts, blatantly instructing men to commit sexual assault.

      This guide has literally nothing to do with flirting. If you're unable to respect women, their boundaries, their autonomy, etc. stay away from all of them.

    8. Missing avatar

      Christina Parish on

      Too little too late, and you've lost me as a backer of future projects. I wonder if you would have had to think twice about removing a guide to committing other criminal acts - I suspect you wouldn't have - and I also wonder why seeing users with violent screen names backing this project didn't help you decide that this was probably being perceived as less dating guide and more date raping guide.
      ...

    9. Missing avatar

      Mackenzie Morgan on

      @Trudy:
      "You are the reason why you would be laughed out the courtroom if you pressed sexual assault charges against a woman for forcing your hands on her breasts."

      THANK YOU! What the heck is with people not understanding that feminism benefits men too?

    10. Missing avatar

      Blue on

      Thank you, Kickstarter. While I'm not happy a project like this still managed to get funded, I'm pleased it won't be happening in the future.

    11. Peter Eng on

      A thought: Is there some way to build a "pause button" in your systems? If there's only two hours left, and you need time to make a decision, being able to put the actual cash transfer on hold (a decision which would have a lower bar than removing a project) while you review might be valuable.

    12. Missing avatar

      John Funk on

      @Trudy oh no, you didn't come across as victim blamey at all. Male victims of domestic and sexual violence are woefully underserved but that certainly ain't the fault of feminism! I think someone's just misinterpreting you, though whether out of malice or ignorance I can't tell :P

    13. Deborah Frost on

      There is nothing in Cosmo that can in anyway be compared to this "project."

    14. Missing avatar

      Lya Kahlo on

      I'm getting a huge kick out of the dudes pretending to be women defending this how to sexually assault women guide. Dudes - you're obvious and transparent.

    15. Missing avatar

      Laura Brady on

      This should be the gold standard for how companies address their mistakes.

      1. You unambiguously admitted fault instead of the all-too common response of: "We're sorry that you're upset".
      2. You explained how this happened without making excuses.
      3. You made a lovely gesture of reconciliation with your donation to RAINN.
      4. And probably most important of all, you reviewed your existing policies and then instituted new ones to prevent this from happening again.

      Thank you & well done.

    16. Jennifer Carole on

      It seems as though you may need an intermediary step near the end of a KickStarter that allows for vetting. Maybe something like a "suspend" so you can place a campaign on hold if you learn of something untoward. Suspending this idiots account would have given you the time needed to do the vetting without jeopardizing the campaign if the assertions were unfounded. I realize no one wants to be in the business of "deciding" but it comes with the territory. Growing a great business means you have responsibility.

    17. Wayne Stacy on

      Nice work KS, good job at standing up and taking responsibility.

      For the hate mongers, who will be satisfied with nothing they would have said or done,...STFU and move on. The only thing that satisfies you people is seeing something fail completely. So you would only take pride in watching the doors to KS close. "put them out of business, that will show them"....grow up.

      Again KS, well done, it takes courage to admit being wrong. Especially when you do not necessarily have to.

    18. Sharon McCarthy on

      Good apology -- a model for how companies should respond when they screw up.

    19. Missing avatar

      Ben Saffer on

      Great apology, well done guys, mistakes happen, its how you deal with them that makes or breaks a company.

    20. Missing avatar

      Melody Fassino on

      Thank you so much for this genuine apology - especially the significant donation to a fantastic and critical organization!

    21. Winterkewl Games LLC on

      Good Job Kickstarter It's brave to come out and say you're sorry and to make amends like you have. Personally it's the project creator that I think needs to apologize not Kickstarter but it's really nice to see such a positive movement stay committed to positive creative endeavors.

    22. Shad Stewart on

      A further note to those worried that Kickstarter's (entirely correct) decision to ban "seduction guides" will ban legitimate future projects: a seduction guide is NOT the same thing as a guide on how to talk to/be successful with the opposite sex in romantic situations. A seduction guide is about manipulating someone for the purpose of getting them to have sex with you. At BEST they constitute emotional abuse; at worst, downright physical coercion. There is nothing good there. There is no reason Kickstarter should support such projects, and I am exceptionally glad they have chosen not to.

    23. Greek Winter Media on

      Decided to show this to my wife. Her response: "Wow some of those people really need to get laid'" I find myself agreeing.

    24. Stephan Vandenborn on

      @Linda M

      The hyperboly is just pooring out of these quotes like a waterfall, and therefore are somehow losing any credibility. You could pit shopenhauer against those and have a nice mud throwing theatre. But... c'mon, you're not taking this seriously right? A few expressions like these shouldn't mean that anyone should loose their respect for any sex :)

    25. Missing avatar

      Rivka Holler on

      While it's great that you guys are apologising for this misstep, it's far too late.

      It doesn't matter that you had, according to this apology, never removed a Kickstarter so close to the end of its campaign. What matters is that it needed to be done, but you neglected to act. Because the project will still be funded, Kickstarter has successfully aided in any criminal/violent acts that are encouraged or spurred by this "seduction guide." The fact that you are donating money to RAINN after the fact means nothing. You can't just treat the symptom, you have to treat the disease as a whole.

    26. Bonnie Joy Sludikoff on

      You are Great, Kickstarter. Thank You for advocating for women's safety.

    27. Magnus T. Hansen on

      Everyone: this is not simply a "meet women" guide. it includes advice such as "take her hand and put it on your dick. don't ask first, you're doing this to show her you are a leader" and "get physical. position yourself so you can touch her and rub her legs and thighs, and don't ask permission first."

    28. Missing avatar

      deleted on

      This user's account has been deleted.

    29. Laura Chatterton Clark on

      Thank you for reacting, this project is greatly disturbing.

    30. /dev/null
      Superbacker
      on

      To all the people talking about how the Jerky project got pulled minutes before the deadline, there is a difference between something that had been brought up weeks earlier and a decision was reached before the funding period ended, even if only by minutes compared to only learning of something within a few hours of the funding period ending.

    31. Missing avatar

      deleted on

      This user's account has been deleted.

    32. Shad Stewart on

      @Jeffery Dean: Even assuming your comment about showing to your wife is not pure fiction, it changes nothing. Part and parcel of equality is acknowledging that women are perfectly capable of being absolutely wrong about things too. If she exists, and you did show her, and that was her response, then she is equally as wrong as you.

    33. Randy Tayler on

      Good apology. Wish you'd taken the right action sooner and prevented this from funding, but this'll do.

    34. Greek Winter Media on

      @Gunjan, since you've backed 0 projects and obviously only signed up to make this comment, I doubt Kickstarter will miss you. Bye bye.

    35. Missing avatar

      Maria Cownan on

      Thank you for hearing my voice and others. Very proud to support and promote a community that has a heart.

    36. Juliana Sloane on

      Thank you for this.

    37. Michael Lantz on

      See the one thing I'm curious about is how much of the project was changed since it was submitted for review? What was the book originally about if it wasn't a 'how to' on abusing women? I think Kickstarter needs to go back in their files and show is what it was exactly that they DID approve.

    38. Sarah Byerley on

      You didn't know about it? Really? Because I'm pretty positive that dosomething.org brought you a petition with 50,000+ signatures and your CEO (Perry Chen) would not return their phone calls regarding the issue. But yeah, you had no idea.

    39. Vix on

      Nice to hear you understand =)

    40. mhardwick on

      Thank you, Kickstarter. You may not have made the initial call that I was hoping for, but you eventually handled it in a respectable fashion and I appreciate that. I'm so glad, too, because I love Kickstarter for the good work you do, and there were two KS projects that I'd held off on funding while waiting to see how you handled this. I'm very much a vote-with-your-dollar type of person, and Kickstarter allows me to follow that philosophy. I would have missed this site terribly if you'd handled this poorly in the end.

    41. Darrell Pitzer on

      Nice try, but it does not ring true. If indeed there was no way to stop this at the end of the funding period, then you need to do one or both of 2 things to make sure this does not happen again: (1) Do a better job of vetting the projects, and/or (2) have a "kill" switch on fundings ... that is, don't let ANY money go to the creator until the funding periods has ended AND you have had some amount of time (even a couple of days) to ensure that everything is up and above board for the project.

      Apologizing after the fact is just self-serving.

    42. Sebastian Kunz on

      Hear my commentary titled Too Little, Too Late or The Cost Of Being Wrong... Saturday noon pacific at 960 KNEW in San Francisco.

    43. Missing avatar

      Dylan Morrison on

      Oh, to anyone saying that they could have taken the money back because "It's all credit cards", its not so simple. Kickstarter, as you should be aware, uses Amazon Payments. Basically, this means that once a project has been funded the transaction is between the backer, the fundee, and Amazon, not kickstarter. They've already given back more than their 5% cut to RAINN, so.. really, thats enough for me.

    44. Missing avatar

      deleted on

      This user's account has been deleted.

    45. Wendy Vermeers on

      Thank you. Now if only Ken Hoinsky would issue a similar apology instead of continuing to offer up excuse after excuse of what he really meant, or who this is really meant for. Just say sorry, exclude these behaviors from the final edit and put a forward in your book about respect for women, respect for who they are and how to not be part of the rape culture. I'll write it for you...I'll even offer advice on how to do so. Women have control over their sex life as much as men and there's no key to unlocking our vajayjays. Thinking otherwise is IN THE GAME not ABOVE IT.

      Suggestion...any profits you make, instead of going to party, Ken...donate it to RAINN. It's the right thing to do.

    46. Jen on

      Thanks, Kickstarter. Good to know that this won't be a platform for creeps like that in the future.