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. Di Carlin on

      Well done, Kickstarter. Thank you for owning the mistake and assisting an organization working to correct the rape culture our society has become.

    2. Missing avatar

      Joshua on

      After actually doing the research on what this project was and it's intentions and language and goals, it seems pretty clear to me that this is a "Politically Correct" move from Kickstarter, which is very unfortunate. I do hope everyone who commented on this page actually looked into everything that it's about before decrying your heated opinion. This project was clearly a "Self-Help" book with the goal of helping men find relationships (in whatever form) with women. In fact, nothing seemed amiss until I read the "disturbing material" link, which turns out to be a chapter on how to engage in sexual behavior, AFTER you've gotten far enough to be comfortable in the company of a particular woman. The "disturbing" part would no doubt be the language describing a man touching a woman without her permission. However, this is a common human interaction for both sexes while in a mutually flirtatious situation. What you have to remember is this is a book trying to convey to guys, who don't understand that it's okay to be human even around an attractive person, that people feel weird about someone asking their permission to do something that seems natural to everyone else. Even if you didn't consider that aspect, he immediately makes a point to emphasize that NO means NO and if that's the case you should genuinely convey that you don't want to force someone to do something. That doesn't sound like an advocate for violence against women to me. If this guy can't write about a sexual encounter the same way that Cosmo can then I think we're confused at who's being discriminated. Don't take mine or anyone's word for anything. Go find out for yourself and make your own opinion. It may be different from mine and that doesn't mean it's wrong. That's a part of being human. After all, he says himself that it's not for everyone.

    3. Peter Wysoczanski - Obsidan Order on

      what about misandry? does this belong in KS?

    4. Rumtopf on

      Anyone claiming that the book wasn't offensive, misogynistic or that it didn't promote sexual assault, clearly never read the samples. One suggestion was to take ones penis out, forcibly grab the woman's hand and put it on said penis, with no warning or consent. I suggest you go and actually look up these book quotes because you appear to be defending this vile behaviour. Sure it's wishful thinking to believe that many people would take back what they said about there being no misogyny or offensive material, but the reality is that plenty of nasty people see nothing wrong with sexual harassment, see: the backers.

      Thank you Kickstarter, I'll be glad to continue using your service.

    5. Peg Betterly Robinson on

      Ok, good. Ok, fine. But...

      You need to include a "if we find you've slipped offensive elements past us, we sue your butts" clause in the contract.

      You need a standing "instant freeze" policy, so that if you end up in a similar position you've got an immediate go-to reaction built in that allows you the time for consideration that you did not feel you had in this instance. (Though in all honesty, that should have been possible in any case, even with only two hours standing.)

      You need to put a bit more effort into screening projects. Not even a lot. I mean, the narsty stuff was already available online. A quick search would have told you what you were in for.

      Basically you've handed your apology one hell of a lot better than you handled a lot of the events leading up to that apology -- and given what you're indicating now, you're not building in all the safety-checks you need to ensure you don't have to apologize again and again in years to come.

    6. Missing avatar

      Noah on

      Straight up, you guys are wrong. Do you see what you're doing? This is oppression. As someone else mentioned, there are literally hundreds of guides for women to attract men available in every last shop you visit. What makes it so bad when a man gives advice to his fellows in the field of attracting women? Oh, that's right, the double standard when it comes to misandry, and the lack of understanding of the term misogyny, means that the whole world flips right out whenever someone with a pair of tits takes everything out of context to label something as sexist. Not only is this behaviour absolutely disgusting, and the truly sexist, it is hypocrisy of the worst kind. How about the staff here think about what they're doing for a second and stand up for themselves, rather than let themselves fall victim to the rape culture that is "political (in)correctness"

    7. Missing avatar

      Amber Holbrook on

      Thank you for your apology. I appreciate your company's integrity in this matter.

    8. Ashlee Gabrielle Tester on

      Logged in just to comment on Jeffrey Dean's stupid comments:

      RAPE is not a SEXUAL CRIME. Rape is about POWER AND CONTROL of the subject. Yes, it is most certainly NOT okay to engage in sex if BOTH parties are not 100%. Sex IS evil when the other party has NO SAY in what happens to them. Get your rapist mindset out of here! People like you are not needed in this world. You make it a horrible place.

    9. TerrahTee on

      I am giving you the benefit of the doubt here and must say I'm pleased with your follow up! That "guide" was horribly offensive, and while I'm very upset that it was funded at all, I honestly think you did your best in the amount of time given. The donation and the future ban of content similar to this is definitely a step in the right direction! Thank you, Kick Starter.

    10. J. on

      Thank you. I appreciate it.

    11. Angela Kimzey on

      Thank you Kickstarter!! You guys are the best!

    12. Missing avatar

      madth3 on

      As a male, I'm glad you've taken this decision and I hope I'll continue to support Kickstarter projects for a long time.

    13. James Napoli on

      Very professional apology and excellent communication to the community. i wish kickstarter the utmost success in the future.

    14. Missing avatar

      deleted on

      This user's account has been deleted.

    15. Missing avatar

      Marissa Rodriguez on

      While I do appreciate your apology, what about the part where members of DoSomething.org came to your office with a petition of 50,000+ signatures begging you to take it down? Don't get me wrong, I am very happy that this project was removed, but how did one blog post get your attention when 50,000+ signatures on a protest didn't?

    16. katie shelly on

      Very clear and very good apology. I forgive you, Kickstarter. <3

    17. Missing avatar

      MeganEdwards on

      1) As others have stated, please consider adding an option to Pause a project while it is reviewed. If it finishes/passes review the remaining time can then be played out. This will give people whose projects pass/continue more time to raise awareness and gather support, which only helps worthy projects.

      2) change your policy to prevent Misognyny **and** Misandry. Sexual equality, rights, and protection goes both ways.

      3) To those who wish to see the funding to the project stopped, start petitioning PayPal/Amazon/Whoever-It-Is-That-Pays-The-Project and get THEM to revoke the funding being passed along. Your window is short, so start taking action that direction.

      4) Everyone: Don't be a Dick. Wil Wheaton says so.

    18. Missing avatar

      Kesse Grapenstein on

      Thank you to the folks at Kickstarter for complete apology and taking steps to counteract the harm this project does. I was only passingly familiar the name Kickstarter before I read news of this controversy yesterday, and my first impression of Kicstarter was that it was worrisome that the company would allow promotion and funding this kind of misogynistic material, but your apology and actions today quickly turned around that impression. Thanks again.

    19. Missing avatar

      Sarah on

      Hilariously, feminism isn't about equalling/empowering women, it's actually trying to level the playing field as it were. Make it so both sexes are equal in every sense of the word. Magazines that tell women it's okay to sexually assault a man should be burned at the stake because that's stupid, and this book was equally stupid.
      Fair enough, the author attempted to defend himself and everyone is taking every single thing out of context... However, let me just casually post this entire paragraph:

      "All the greatest seducers in history could not keep their hands off of women. They aggressively escalated physically with every woman they were flirting with. They began touching them immediately, kept great body language and eye contact, and were shameless in their physicality. Even when a girl rejects your advances, she KNOWS that you desire her. That's hot. It arouses her physically and psychologically."

      ... They were also probably famous or slapped repeatedly or in a brothel at the time. That behaviour is no longer accepted in society men, and the little paragraph above is (oh, it's that word again) sexual assault... If she's rejecting your advances, it means she's not interested... And it's the same vice-versa.

      Then there's also this:

      "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."

      While that advice is sound, what completely makes it all fall apart is the 'try again later' part, if she doesn't want you then she's not going to want you for a long... Long time.

      I suppose it would seriously help to read most of it, and despite him being genuinely willing to help... Wooing a mate has been around for millennia and if you can't get a mate without dating advice that could lead to anything short of assault in any forms (be it man or woman), I don't think you deserve one. Gotta learn with experience, and everyone's different, so what's going to work on this girl or guy ain't gonna work on the next one.

      Sorry for the huge paragraph, but /maybe/ that might... Diffuse the argument or spread it IDK. Do as you will uwu;

    20. Molly Kathleen on

      This is a very good thing that kickstarter acknowledges this but Ive seen plenty of disgusting stuff starting and sold on here, a former friend of mine bought a game about rape on here, that game and my protests to it are just one of the many related reasons we are not friends any more. Maybe now they will try a bit harder to catch disgusting stuff like that when its put on here and not when for when someone has a problem with it. He only found it from searching, it wasn't highly advertised or a least that's what he said. He said at first it wasn't graphic and only a joke, pictures of girls and the goal was to get them away from a tentacle monster but the real pictures had girls in ELEMENTARY school and HIGH school uniforms being groped and far worse by this monster. That's no joke that's a sub-culture created to fuel rape culture legally. On top of that pedophilia. Even his best "male" (as he used to say) friend was disgusted and they are also no longer friends. So I also thank you kickstarter cause admitably that sale was the final turning point in the end of supporting that misogynistic trash. (he truly was, but I must add technically the misogynistic conversation earlier in these posts are wrong both ways it simply means "male worshiping" and that can easily be a role that men and women play the term is indiscriminate. I know a lot of misogynistic women...) Thank you for restoring my faith in kickstarter with this, I kinda lost hope in organizations like this that I used to support because of the loads of terrible things like this and my situation that litter. A lot of sites don't give a damn (pardon me). You guys are back on my list! - I know this was long a ramble-ish but I just felt I needed to get it out.

    21. Kaessa on

      Now that is a proper apology. Thank you, Kickstarter.

    22. Rumtopf on

      Here come the MRAs *sigh*
      Some choice quotes, the disgusting stuff these idiots are defending:

      "“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.”"

      Oppression!

      "Pull out your c**k 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 d***.”"

      Misandry!

    23. Missing avatar

      xtrvgnt on

      So in other words, you royally screwed up. Two hours was long enough to realize from the text provided that it was messed up and you failed to act. Now this guy has the money to fund his sick book and you get your profits. No amount of apologizing will make up for this. Lost a lot of respect for Kicktarter and I'll be using another site from now on.

    24. AlphaBïtch Soup on

      THANK YOU for your transparency, honesty, and your commitment to keeping Kickstarter a misogyny-free place. <3

    25. Paula Joe on

      Thank you. For those not quite understanding what is wrong with the project from the cached link, please check out the blog post Kickstarter has referenced in their apology.

    26. Betina Kock on

      Well, you could have acted faster, but the apology is accepted

    27. Missing avatar

      Kimberly Pirtle on

      Thanks so much for this policy shift and sincere apology. This was the right thing to do, and I appreciate it. It has restored my faith in your organization.

    28. Storm Bennett on

      Wow, this was an integrity move you guys, and I am very glad to see it.

      I have been involved in a conversation on Facebook concerning this very issue, and were seeing people commit to not backing anything any longer on KS, which I thought would be a massive shame. For one project to effect the chance at someone else pursuing a dream would be a terrible thing.

      I hope this post and your donation bring those boycotters back and make it very clear that there was no association with this singular project, and that it was obviously something you wouldn't endorse.

      Thank you for addressing it, and for being so awesome.

    29. Kaeri Carroll on

      You rock. And you restored a little bit of my faith in humanity... thank you.

    30. Lucek on

      WTF. Some corporate speak and a tax delectable donation that'll save them more next year and all of a sudden everything honky-dory again?

    31. Michael Holzman on

      Like anything good, sometimes we learn from our mistakes to make it even better - BRAVO KICKSTARTER !!

    32. Drazzi on

      Kickstarter.. you are 100% wrong with this. The feminist blog post you read has quotes from the book that are COMPLETELY OUT OF CONTEXT.

    33. Missing avatar

      Ryan Kaldari on

      Thanks for the sincere apology. Glad to see that Kickstarter takes these sort of issues seriously.

    34. Keith Marran on

      I swear to God, I am not trolling here. I went to this guy's page and I don't understand the outrage. He helps guys get over their fear of talking to women. I know men that are in their thirties and are flat out terrified at the thought of going out on a date. It seems like this guy's project is about getting over that fear. His word choices are not ideal but they are not disrespectful or predatory. I didn't see any examples of misogyny or violence towards women on his page. If someone could calmly explain to me what people's complaints against him are, I would appreciate it.

      @barb graham: Where did you find those quotes?

    35. B Santos on

      It's so refreshing to see a decent, sincere apology for once (none of that "we are sorry you think we are wrong" or "I'm sorry you were offended"). And not only a decent apology, but an attempt to balance things out, so to speak, with the donation.

      Thank you, Kickstarter.

    36. Leonard Tower Jr on

      Kudos on the apology and the donation!

      1) Please post a follow-up blog,
      including whether your $25,000 donation exceeds the percentage Kickstarter got
      when this project funded,
      and what that amount was to the penny.

      I hope it was. This would add a real sincere element to the apology.

      2) I suggest you change your policies, etc. to allow an investigation extension in cases like this,
      between when the project ends and gets funded. If you decide the project does not belong on Kickstarter, it doesn't get funded, but gets cached as this one is.

      During the extension, no new pledges could be made.
      But pledgers could undo their pledges.
      This lets each pledger conduct their own investigation,
      as well as Kickstarter.

      And let it kick in within a month of announcement,
      unless your current policy allows the terms to be changed while
      a project is active (then do it right away).

    37. Kimberly Crist on

      Is there any way for us to be able to view receipt of the money to the charity or for RAINN to back up your story about this $25,000 donation? Because it sounds awesome that you're doing that, but how do I know that this supposed monetary donation isn't just a ploy to win back some of the disgusted and irate female users without actually giving anything?

    38. Anne-Marie Larson Earl on

      Thank you, Kickstarter. I appreciate the apology. I hope that Hoinsky has gotten enough recognition that no woman will ever allow him to shove her or violate her while she says "no" again. Because that was in the guide, folks. It's not hard to find if you want to find it. Absolutely disgusting.

    39. Brandon R on

      Brilliant apology Kickstarter folks. Thank you so much.

    40. Keith Bowden on

      Thanks for being such a stand-up organization, Kickstarter! I still wish that everyone had noticed this a little sooner so that it could have been canceled (and relegated to the subreddit basement that spawned it), but you've made course corrections and your donation to RAINN exceeds the fundraiser.

      "Don't ask for permission. Be dominant. Force her to rebuff your advances." Ugh.

    41. Jessi on

      Thank you.

    42. Missing avatar

      deleted on

      This user's account has been deleted.

    43. Missing avatar

      Jenna Dawn on

      hard to believe that you "missed the window" when it takes funded projects two weeks to actually get the money. like another commenter said, it's just credit card payments— it seems there should still be a way to cancel the funding? isn't saying "the backers’ money went directly from them to the creator" a bit misleading? some clarification here would be nice.

      it's good to see you admitting you are wrong, so thank you for apologizing. but something still seems off about this entire situation. also, there are still 732 backers on that project who will probably continue about their lives and ways as if their actions aren't hurting anyone. they'll get their reward, laugh at how "witty" the writing is, and eventually try out these terrible antics on real people. if everyone who reads this books tries these forceful tips on just two people then that's almost 1500 more getting abused. just seeing that number makes my stomach turn and continues to make me question kickstarter.

    44. Nico Mara-McKay on

      You had far more than two hours. People were tweeting you, reporting it, and blogging about it. Not to mention the hundreds of comments you deleted from your Facebook page. You spent more time ignoring this than acting on it, and you're still allowing this project to fund.

      Not good enough.

    45. Cage LaCapitan on

      Thank you Kickstarter for your actions and accountability. We all make mistakes, and things get by us. Ownership of a mistake means a lot, as does transparency, and they carry weight to an apology. Thank you for addressing this "personally" so to speak, it is very professional.

      Thank you. This was very much appreciated.

    46. Leah Tedesco on

      There are some people commenting who don't think that this project advocates violence against women. Perhaps you didn't look closely enough. These articles may change your mind: http://caseymalone.com/post/53339539674/this-is-not-fucking-harmless
      http://blog.michaeljepstein.com/2013/06/an-open-letter-to-kickstarter.html

    47. Missing avatar

      Bethany on

      Thank you.
      It's degrading because it tells you to force women into your lap, to grab their hands and force them to touch you. It's disgusting, anyone who can't see that needs to re-evaluate how they treat strangers.