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. kangarooster on

      Sincere apology, admitting you made a mistake, removal of the project in question, prohibiting 'seduction guides' AND A DONATION?
      Just ONE of those things would be amazing, but this?? Respect.

    2. Missing avatar

      John Funk on

      lolololol "misandry."

      Dudes, come on. Joshua and Noah, stuff in womens' magazines and "seduction guides" penned for women - none of that comes close to this. None of that actually advocates for sexual assault, or for "trying again" after one's advances have been rebuffed. Even if they did, that's ignoring the unfortunate fact that overwhelmingly men assault women, not the other way around - so even if they were dispensing the same advice, one would almost certainly lead to much more harm than the other.

    3. Jun Watanabe on

      Start a Kickstarter to raise the 25K :)

    4. Adam McLane on

      Thank you for maintaining our trust.

    5. K G on

      Thank you for this, Kickstarter.

      Do I think you made the right call at the time? Nope. Does this actually "fix" anything? Not really.

      But you are opening your eyes, which gives me hope for the future, and for that I thank you.

    6. Soren Smith on

      To the folks at Kickstarter: Thank you so much for this. I understand the difference in being caught not wanting to alter policies retroactively, and altering them going forward. You've made the right call here, and you did it rapidly enough to make your sincerity just as clear. Thank you again; looking forward to some KS projects I know are coming up.

    7. K S on

      To Kickstarter - the donation makes a big impact on my opinion of you during this.
      To the men who have defended why this needed to be done - thank you

      To the men who think it was a mistake - get a grip - look at the other men here and learn. They are doing it right.

    8. Missing avatar

      Noah on

      And @ John Funk, I think you are confusing sexual assault with sexual intercourse. I guess you need to experience at least one of them to know the difference...

    9. Alana Lynch on

      @Noah

      Uh, guy, you have some pretty poisonous shit about women internalised, and saying a woman has to be "attractive" to be assaulted is bullshit. Rape and sexual assault are about power.

      Here's an idea: see all the women saying they want to be asked before you touch them?

      Maybe do that instead of pouting that no one wants to be touched without consent.

    10. Missing avatar

      Molly on

      Thank you for this.

    11. Missing avatar

      Noah on

      @ Ms Lynch: Not at all, you seem to be very confused. I have no prejudice towards anyone - in case you haven't noticed, I'm arguing against it. And, I have a sneaking suspicion that most rape isn't about power at all, it's more along the lines of someone can't get laid because society has labelled them in all sorts of ways that they can't deal with, leaving them with only one option. I don't personally know anyone that has been involved in a rape, as far as I know (so much for that 1 in 3 women being victims of rape statistic I've seen floating around lately), but I'm willing to put money on my theory in at least 80% of cases

    12. Missing avatar

      John Funk on

      @Noah - ah, okay, I'm sorry. I had you confused for someone who actually cared about being a good person, my mistake. Seeing as how you jump straight to the ad hominems, and simultaneously insinuate that rape depends on one's attractiveness (which ignores that rape happens to everyone of any age, disabled, male, female, etc), I clearly won't make that mistake again.

      Male oppression is not made up. Please take your toxic MRA viewpoint and get off my planet.

    13. Kristi Wallace Knight on

      Thank you for taking responsibility and making a donation. This restores some of my goodwill toward Kickstarter, though not all. The next step in restoring confidence in Kickstarter would be for you to implement a strategy that allows for a campaign to be **suspended** if a need for an investigation or review comes up. Make potential 24- to 72-hour suspension a condition of signing up with Kickstarter in the first place. That you only had two hours to make the decision is a poor excuse and should never happen again.

      I look forward to future developments.

    14. Missing avatar

      donghole on

      The longer I look at this vaunted defense, the angrier it makes me:

      "No problem. I don't want you to do anything you aren't comfortable with."

      That is some manipulative shit right there.

    15. Missing avatar

      Jay Martin on

      You missed one thing that you absolutely MUST implement: a way to "pause" a kickstarter so that if something comes up and you don't feel you have the time to evaluate it before funding, you can hit the "pause" button and it won't fund or accept any more supporters. It gives you time to do a proper evaluation and if nothing comes out of it then you can "resume" the countdown.

    16. Missing avatar

      John Funk on

      @Noah - with that attitude, no wonder none of the women you know have bothered to confide in you about a potential sexual assault. (Also, 1 in 3 is a victim of domestic/partner violence, not rape. In the US, it's more like 1 in 6 for rape. Please do take care to get your statistics right before you argue poorly against them.)

    17. David D'Antonio on

      Wow; my respect for you guys has dropped immensely. As others have said, you use pretty sexist and offensive terms to describe something you don't like.

    18. Deirdre M. Murphy on

      I strongly request that you add, in your rules, a provision that lets you put a hold on paying out a "funded project" if, shortly before the end of a project, you are informed of a possible violation of your terms of service.

      I am glad to see this apology. I am, however, still upset that you gave this person money for this project. Even though you didn't have time to properly investigate between when you heard the allegations and the end of the project, you did know about them prior to sending the money. It seems to me that once you were notified of this issue, the funds should have been held pending an investigation of the problem.

      I second (or third or whatever) the request that you immediately take steps to retrieve the funds sent to support this illegitimate and harmful project. I would like to see you hold the person who received those funds financially liable for violating your policies and terms of service.

      Thank you again for your apology. I will be watching for additional action in this matter.

    19. Nikole Pagan on

      What about the several days worth of people reporting the page for TOU violations before the petition was hand delivered? What about the phone call your CEO received the day before, and ignored? Was he on vacation? Was your review team asleep?

    20. Erin Tilly on

      Yay! Thank you for addressing the issue!

    21. Acacia Brovedani on

      Oof. I know feeding the trolls and expecting reasonable discourse is a lost cause, but...

      1) Cosmo "seduction guides" are things like "be super insecure and dress exactly how he wants you to - too much makeup and you're a whore, but make sure you keep everything shaved and tweezed and plucked so you're acceptable" and "Here's a bunch of recipes to cook for him because men love women who serve them"... so yeah, they're pretty shitty and most feminists hate them too, but I don't think they're quite the case for "misandry" that you think.

      2) "This is for after you've gotten to know the girl!"... is not the defense you think it is. Assault is assault is assault. It doesn't matter if you just saw the girl at a club and shoved her into a wall and forcefully kissed her, or have hung out a couple times and decide you get to manhandle her body and put her on your lap because you want her there. The only difference is she's going to be less likely to feel comfortable reacting in the second case - because social conditioning has taught her it's rude to maintain her boundaries with acquaintances. So... congrats for taking advantage of that. You're an asshole.

      3) Telling men that the only thing that counts as "no" is a woman shouting at you and shoving you away is this "rape culture" thing everyone keeps talking about. Not only is there a whole bunch of social conditioning for women to never cause a scene like that (because seriously, try and tell me you wouldn't then turn around and go "Bitch, no need to overreact"), but there are a lot of situations where that kind of confrontational behaviour is just not safe.

      Look, I know it's hard to shake out a whole bunch of stuff society, via movies and TV and magazines and hanging out at the bar, has told you is ok. But you know why misandry is not a thing? Because "I feel sad because when I try and hit on women they might think I'm a rapist" and "I deal with some level of fear every time I'm in a public place because the guy hitting on me might ignore my boundaries and rape/assault me" are not equivalent!

    22. Cage LaCapitan on

      @Jeffery Dean, and any other folk who are comparing this man's quotes to what is in women's magazines:
      Well, you have a point.Those physical sexual advances mentioned in women's magazines are not any better than what this man was writing in his posts and books, and are just as offensive. if you truly feel that Cosmo and Redbook and all the others shouldn't publish such information then TELL THEM. Hold those magazines accountable for their content. You're right, in one sense all those magazines are advocating a certain amount of sexual assault on men committed by women. But don't let that be an excuse to get this project off the hook. Sexual assault and ignoring personal boundaries is not okay under any circumstance regardless of who is the victim and who is the assailant.

    23. Missing avatar

      Noah on

      @ John: Please take your toxic views and get off of _our_ planet. What makes you so special that you think you're above me? It's people like you that support the existence of the rape culture. I also like how you jump straight to the ad hominem of assuming every single sexual encounter is rape. Sorry for confusing you for someone that didn't just spew out the same thing that every other feminist on the planet seems to think. Open your eyes, there's a lot more going on in the world than what you read on pinterest

    24. Cees de Groot on

      Kick-ass response to something that can happen.

    25. Missing avatar

      deleted on

      This comment has been removed by Kickstarter.

    26. Angie Harris on

      THANK YOU. So much.

    27. Missing avatar

      Sardar Mohkim Khan on

      Good move and a solid apology. Let's hope bigger brands can learn from you guys that accepting the fault doesn't hurt the brand.

    28. Missing avatar

      Lisa Liel on

      I am extremely impressed with your apology, your explanation, and your commitment for the future. I will use Kickstarter as an example of a company that acts honorably, and I'm very glad to be able to support projects on your site. Thank you.

    29. Elizabeth Beurling on

      There are a lot of people using gendered and homophobic slurs to defend the project.

    30. Brian Vaughan on

      Thank you, Kickstarter, for clearly explaining your side of the situation and sincerely apologizing for a misjudgment. You have reclaimed my respect.

    31. Missing avatar

      deleted on

      This user's account has been deleted.

    32. Missing avatar

      Krista Navin on

      Thank you for this apology. Everyone makes mistakes, and it is important to own up to them and apologize. Thank for committing to respecting women in future KICKSTARTER projects.

    33. Missing avatar

      Anna P. on

      Oh, Jeffrey Dean (et al). Your voices shine like a beacon of reason amidst a veritable sea of feminazi trolls. I am in awe of the way you thrust your privilege around for all to see.

      It must be hard for you, I know, to watch all these man-hating lady-trolls express their pesky opinions. Don't they KNOW that nothing is truly misogynistic and sexist until it's been deemed so by someone as talented and adept at spotting inequality as you?

      It's so *confusing* for women, sometimes, trying to sort out for themselves which particular aspects of rape culture they should be insulted by.

      Because surely - surely!- as long as the INTENT of unwanted physical contact isn't actively rape, then what's the problem? All those anti-social nerds who are pining away in their basement caves in longing of a book like this - it's not like they want to assault anyone, god. They just want to touch pretty girls! And sometimes pretty girls get real turned around about what they do and don't want, so these guys just want to HELP them, you know? They just want to point out, "hey, my dick is right here, okay? I'mma make sure you know that by grabbing your hand and putting it there."

      But like, they'll totally stop if the girl says no forcefully enough. Because hey, it's not assault, and it's not rape if she doesn't say anything. Silence is consent, man!

      If only everyone else could understand that. Maybe if you explain it to them again. Maybe use smaller words, so the ladyfolk can really grasp exactly which parts of this whole thing they should and should not be offended about.

      I mean, what is there to be offended over? Magazines like Cosmo print this sort of stuff all the time, and that's exactly and completely the same thing, since we live in an equal society that has absolutely no history whatsoever of discriminating against, silencing, and allowing violence towards women. Cosmo definitely creates an equally dangerous culture in which men feel threatened and unsafe, and that - THAT, of course - is what makes this whole thing okay!

      Since you've found an example of sexism towards men, that means that there is literally not a single thing wrong with a dude wanting to publish a guide for other dudes on how to harass women. Because EQUALITY, right? Am I right?

      I commend you, Jeffrey Dean and Co. for taking time out of your day to come here and explain to us why the ladies have misplaced their outrage, why the publication of a book like this could serve only to better society as a whole, and why the actions taken by Kickstarter don't deserve commendation of any kind at all.

    34. Missing avatar

      John Funk on

      @Noah - you're spouting words and phrases that you don't understand the meaning of. That's cute. I know not every single sexual encounter is rape; most of them actually aren't! But the 'advice' in this manual, specifically the advice to keep trying even when she's said no, is the sort of advice that leads to sexual assault. Your statement about how rape is what happens when someone "only has one option" for sex is disgusting and ignores the fact that partner or spousal rape is a thing that happens all too often. You are uneducated and ignorant about what rape, and rape culture actually are.

      My eyes were opened a long time ago, and I hope for your sake that yours will be too before you do something you, and someone else, will be carrying with you for a very long time.

    35. Missing avatar

      diana dorsett on

      This is a quote from the book, decide for yourself, "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"

    36. Missing avatar

      Sardar Mohkim Khan on

      Good move and a solid apology. Let's hope bigger brands can learn from you guys that accepting the fault doesn't hurt the brand.
      Appreciate the move Kickstarter team

    37. Brian Calhoun on

      I'm confused so putting someone's hand on your junk if you've already been making out with them kissing and fondling is Rape now? Has anyone read the guide or are you all going by the misleading quotes from the ranter site? No its not all sunshine and rainbows its a guide on how to hopefully seduce women something the vast majority of heterosexual males attempt at some point in their lives or another. To call this a rape guide is ridiculous and letting yourself be led my the nose.

    38. Timothy Brannan on

      Great apology (even though this was not in your control) and the money to RAINN is very nice touch. This sort of thing makes me happy to be a KickStarter supporter.

    39. Alexis Allen on

      Thank you, Kickstarter.

    40. Puzzlemaster69 on

      Can I still get a copy? ;-)

    41. Meng on

      Dear Kickstarter, what you have done officially today is to let me know that you are now my moral compass, you will take responsibility and decide for me what is right and what is wrong. You will censor projects because its content offends selective group of people. You will censor projects because you consider them to be wrong. You will take away my right to decide for myself what is right and wrong as well as my right to vote with my dollar. This is not the same kickstarter that help indie artists/writers to release their content because a traditional publisher deemed the content non-mainstream, offensive or "weird", this is not the same kickstarter that promotes creative projects. This is the kickstarter of walled garden, where I will be treated like a 10 years old without any independent thoughts of my own. For this, whenever I see a kickstarter project I would like to be part of, I will use every available means such as paypal, direct payment to the artist, indiegogo to bypass the kickstarter ecosystem.

    42. Moses Manuel Caballero Cruz on

      Honestly, The only reason I made a profile was to comment. Kickstarter, you guys are pure idiots. Your intention to "Apologize", merely to lure people back in. Come on! Be real. I don't buy your apology, and I just think you're a bunch of yuppies from Greenpoint that only care about Good PR. F**K YOU KS

    43. Stickler Meeseeks on

      So to all those villifying Kickstarter, please consider the offensive material was posted on ANOTHER SITE. That's not what was submitted to Kickstarter. And even assuming kickstarter should take into account third party site info, a day and a half isnt a lot of time for kickstarter to verify all the facts before scuttling the project.

      They acted rationally, rather than pull the plug on a knee jerk reaction. Once they had more time to review the situation, they donated far more than they profited.

    44. Missing avatar

      Noah on

      @John: My mistake on the statistical error, there are just so many new (mostly unfounded) numbers getting thrown around every day that I get them confused sometimes. I will reiterate my earlier statement - I have no prejudice towards anyone. I have plenty of female friends that confide in me about a lot of stuff, it's just that they aren't "victims of the rape culture," that you seem to believe is destroying the world.

      @ Ms Acacia: I don't read cosmo, so I'll trust you on the first issue. On the second, I explained this before - there is a difference between sexual assault, and sexual intercourse. The book is supposed to direct you towards the latter of the 2. I don't advocate the third point at all.

    45. Aric Clark on

      Way to stand up and take your lumps. Courageous.

    46. Missing avatar

      deleted on

      This comment has been removed by Kickstarter.

    47. Missing avatar

      Bridget on

      Amazing! I'm upset that this idiot got the funding he wanted, but the 25,000 you're donating makes up for that! I love when organizations take accountability and own up to mistakes. :)

    48. Missing avatar

      Lady Red on

      I'm sorry, this is unacceptable. Making a donation and admitting you were wrong (DUH!) does not cancel out the fact that YOU ARE STILL GIVING $16,000+ TO A MAN TO FUND THE CREATION OF A RAPE HANDBOOK.

      Sorry, Kickstarter. If being biased toward creators is going to result in the creation of crap like this, no donation will cancel it out. I will be ceasing to fund any projects through you and will be encouraging everyone I know to do likewise. By funding this project AT ALL you are lending legitimacy to the horrifying message it sends, and that makes you just as guilty.