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. Missing avatar

      dracodynasty on

      I don't understand why there is no way for the Kickstarter team to simply freeze a project and investigate.

      Using that, it would never matter how far the project is from its deadline, and a complete and throughout investigation could be done without too much hurry. I'd add that said freeze would only be used if investigating got over the deadline.

      Sure, it would be inconvenient for the project makers to have a delay in the last sprint of a kickstarter campaign, but if it permits to bail out projects like this ? Projects who give a bad name not only to kickstarter but to a large part of humanity as a whole ? Projects that condone atrocities for money ?

      It would be worth the trouble.

    2. Missing avatar

      John Funk on

      @Noah - I'll repeat myself: With the views being professed here, it's no wonder that your female friends haven't confided in you anything on the topic of any potential sexism or god forbid sexual violence that they've encountered. Rape culture is real, and a problem, and that you don't see how advising young men who might be socially awkward to *keep trying* even when she's said no, or to forcibly put someone's hand on your penis, is sexual harassment or sexual assault, means you are perpetuating it.

      For Christ's sake.

    3. Missing avatar

      Jason on

      Very well done KS.

    4. Missing avatar

      J on

      Wow, so a witch-hunt based on butthurt, "it hurts my feelings", wins over truth? Truth is that hack comedian that started the whole witch-hunt conveniently left out OTHER parts of the same post by Ken H.

      Funny how that same post that has everyone all hysterical, has THIS in it...

      "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."

      Funny how the feminist man-haters left that out. Typical misandrist, feminist, strawman BS. Cherry pick something, take it WAY out of context, and get all "my feelings were hurt, somebody do something". Boo hoo.

      Another victory for man-hating women who listen with their irrational emotions and not logic (i.e., did you read the book? No, because how could you if it's not even OUT yet).

      And of course, no one on the butthurt side cared to read Ken's response that clears it up. No, that would go against their cognitive dissonance of choosing comfortable lies they want to be true, versus actual reality.

      Don't worry feminists, I use and will continue to use the same tactics this book will talk about, and it will work. Girls EAT IT UP! Literally and figuratively.

    5. Missing avatar

      deleted on

      This comment has been removed by Kickstarter.

    6. Letha Myers on

      With all my heart I thank you for stepping up and owning the mistaken misstep of not removing the project at first, genuinely apologizing for that and then taking action to try to balance the unfortunate fact that this man's empowerment of sexual assault and potential violence against women will go forward by donating to RAINN. I will not forget this, nor will many others. Thank you for standing with me and other women to say "No, that's not OK. It is not right. And it will not be tolerated"

    7. Missing avatar

      Christina Crisostomo on

      Thank you! So encouraging to see a responsible response from Kickstarter.

    8. Natascha Kate Wood on

      Well done, Kickstarter, you did good.

    9. Missing avatar

      Denise A Romano on

      This comment has been removed by Kickstarter.

    10. Missing avatar

      Lady Red on

      @Sidewinder, please get off the planet. All your self-important hot air is contributing to global warming.

    11. Ryan Sawchuk on

      I appreciate the apology and explanation and I think the anti-kickstarter posts are ignoring some key facts.

      1. Nothing on the kickstarter page posted for the book in question was promoting violence towards women or really even offensive. Cheesy and juvenile yes but there are thousands of how to get with women/men guides on Amazon.com and frankly in just about every issue of Cosmo.

      2. As it turns out the author had posted questionable and offensive content on various reddit forums. Again none of this was posted on his kickstarter page and nothing in his description of his book mentioned it contained content that promoted violence or disrespect towards women. Had kickstarter done a background check on the author they probably would have uncovered the content and never posted the project in the first place but I think the question is whether it is reasonable to expect kickstarter to investigate the background of every project owner when first glance the content of the project seemed fine. I think that issue is open to debate.

      3. Once kickstarter was made aware of the questionable content they only had a few hours to act. Again in hindsight they should have acted immediately and I wish they had. However, I personally accept their apology for not doing so and for putting in procedures that will prevent a similar thing from happening in the future. Having worked through a fair share of emergencies and issues at various jobs, two hours is not a long time, especially when one needs to do their own due diligence on the issues that were brought to kickstarters attention to get the information to the decision makers (people are in meetings, at lunch etc.) This isn't an excuse but an explanation, we have all been in situations where perhaps we wished we make a call sooner but didn't either b/c we were uncertain, wanted to run it by our boss, weren't sure of the true nature of the issue and so forth.

      Ultimately, I think Kickstarter made a mistake but then handled things very well. They apologized, put in procedures to prevent it from happening again and made restitution to potentially affected groups. That is a lot more than many companies in similar situations have done.

    12. Jonathan Orlofsky on

      You shouldn't even have to apologize. This is not your fault, and I don't believe you should be held responsible for this sort of thing. It's highly generous of you to donate all that money, too.

    13. Roxy on

      this apology after the fact means less than nothing.

    14. Brian Calhoun on

      Author's Response - http://pastebin.com/zwHYzCZe

      I am devastated and troubled by the allegations that my book, Above The Game: A Guide to Getting Awesome with Women, promotes rape. That couldn't be further from the truth. A handful of quotes were taken out of context and posted on Tumblr which steamrolled in a game of telephone where hardly anyone bothered to read the original version.

      People took advice from a section on "Physical Escalation & Sex" and posted them online. Devoid of context, they appeared to be promoting sexually assaulting women when that wasn't the case at all.

      The gist of the controversial advice is "Don't wait for signs before you make your move. Let her be the one who rejects your advances. If she says no, stop immediately and tell her you don't want to do anything that would make her uncomfortable. Try again at a later time if appropriate or cease entirely if she is absolutely not interested."

      The thing that the commenters on social media are leaving out is that the advice was taken from a section in the guide offering advice on what to do AFTER a man has met a cute girl, gotten her phone number, gone on dates, spent time getting to know her, and now are alone behind closed doors fooling around. If "Don't wait for signs, make the first move" promotes sexual assault, then "Kiss the Girl" from The Little Mermaid was a song about rape.

      That cherry-picked advice, without that important context, makes it sound like I am advocating non-consensual sexual advances on strangers. I would absolutely never do such a thing.

      In fact there is an entire section on consent that the bloggers conveniently left out to paint me in a poor light:

      These are copied verbatim from Above The Game:

      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.

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

      ---

      You understand that honesty is the greatest aphrodisiac.
      With great power comes great responsibility. You understand to your core that her heart will be broken if she ever feels manipulated by you. You literally have the power to color all her future interactions with men. As such, you demonstrate supreme desire without a drop of presumption. You make your intentions clear. She will never put you in the friend zone. You approach authentically. You leave her better than when you find her.

      ---

      Additionally, the book contains an entire chapter on sexual assault & rape, preaching men what not to do. Of course no one has seen those parts yet because the book hasn't been released yet.

      I realize these are delicate issues, but I ask people to lower their pitchforks until they take the time to hear the full story.

      Thank you.

    15. Missing avatar

      Noah on

      @John: If you're getting raped by your spouse, you should probably think about a divorce. It's not my fault you can't make decisions for yourself. If anyone is uneducated here, it's you. You're the typical white priveleged male that thinks they shit candy and puke rainbows - only you don't because that's totally gross and you'd never be caught talking about such an unsavoury topic. And if you're trying to insinuate that I'm a rapist, you're only serving to prove how much of a moronic hypocrit you are, and reinforcing one of my earlier points.

      Perhaps I should stop bothering with logical thinking altogether and start only reiterating exactly what I'm told to believe? Seems like a good idea on the surface, but you all seem like miserable losers, so I probably won't bother

    16. Missing avatar

      deleted on

      This comment has been removed by Kickstarter.

    17. Michael J. Epstein and Sophia Cacciola
      Superbacker
      on

      Thank you! You've done right!

    18. Alec Fredericks on

      I'm a bit confused by this. I took a quick look at the cached link but can't really find anything offensive there. It looks like a guide to on-line dating aimed at men, particularly men who have a difficult time with it (hence their desire to have a book like this). Is there something deeper I'm missing? Kickstarter's apology mentions misogyny and content that condones or promotes violence against women. Did the Kickstarter campaign in question promote or condone violence and is the simple idea of teaching a man how to get a date equal misogyny? Again, maybe there is something deeper that I'm missing -- content buried beyond the campaign page -- but at face value I don't see the problem. I'd love someone to explain it to me if the campaign offended in some way, which it obviously has for so many.

    19. Todd H. Page on

      Thank you kickstarter. This was absolutely the right thing to do, and your sincerity is perfect.

      Love you, love your work, keep doing it :)

    20. Kristel M on

      If the payment is in Amazon's hands now, can you work with them on cancelling? I've personally seen that Amazon is pretty incompetent when it comes to fixing big problems, but is someone trying to work with them on cancelling this? And why isn't Amazon on blast for this if it IS in their hands right now?

      Other than that, I love everything about this post. Thank you, KS.

    21. Missing avatar

      Brian Ferris on

      Well said... thank you for the transparency

    22. Missing avatar

      Kevin Cranford on

      Let me start by saying I am completely against abuse of anyone. I say that to ask where does the project condone that behavior, that or the hatred of women? I can only read the cached version at this time, since the actual project has been removed, but I am not seeing anything that this apology addresses.

    23. Missing avatar

      andew burton on

      http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/894645307/shelby-and-the-bread-factory/comments…

      Why was that funding suspended three days after it ended, but not this project?

    24. Kristel M on

      Regarding quotes being "left out" by "misandrists" -- idk man, this is where I heard about it: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/06/20/why-do-puas-tell-each-other-to-creep-women-out/ Nobody edited that part out, and it really doesn't... help your argument...

    25. Missing avatar

      J on

      Hey Brian Calhoun, if you are posting Ken's response to show people what he really meant... get that out of here. No room for truth. Just emotions, irrational women who got their feelings hurt. Oh boo.

    26. Missing avatar

      deleted on

      This comment has been removed by Kickstarter.

    27. Missing avatar

      Noah on

      This comment has been removed by Kickstarter.

    28. Justen Robertson on

      Good job guys. Not on your initial actions, obviously, but it takes some integrity to admit you're wrong and then actually do something to make amends. I'm glad you did the right thing. :)

    29. Missing avatar

      J on

      @Alec, you are using logic and reason, seeking truth, not feelings or emotions of people who feel entitled to be heard because they were "offended". PC stuff. No room for truth here man. Please.

    30. Rebecca David on

      Thank you for doing this. It takes dignity to admit doing something wrong and my respect for this organization has tripled because of how you are handling this situation.

    31. Missing avatar

      Krystal on

      So wasn't there some kind of statement yesterday about why you were REFUSING to take any action against this whole thing? And how it was basically "no big deal" and stuff? Yet now it seems like a $25,000 deal along with rule changes.

      It would be nice if you would also address why you are deciding on changing all this and actually explaining that people that have no professional connection to Kickstarter is going to help with this book. I am sure that if that wasn't offered up to him the book that you are allowing him to still publish would include the horrific things that you are now against.

    32. Jacqland on

      Thank you, Kickstarter.

    33. Missing avatar

      John Funk on

      @James: you're ignoring the last part of that. "If a woman isn't comfortable, take a break and try again later." That's fucked up.

      @Noah: I have no idea what the fuck you're trying to say. I've read your post like five times and at no point do you actually make any sort of coherent argument that has anything to do with what I'm saying. Yes, I'm a white male with the privilege that comes with it, and because of that I will of course fuck up even as I try to be a good ally, because I'm human and humans make mistakes.

      that has nothing to do with the point that, while there is absolutely a difference between sex and sexual assault or harassment, the policies outlined in Above the Game are *pushing men into veering towards the latter.* There is a difference, and these policies are on the wrong side of it. And I am not insinuating that you ARE a rapist, though I am outright saying that with a mindset like yours, since you don't see any problem with the Above the Game passages quoted, you might some day become one and have no idea that you are.

      Your post is a confusing mishmash of ad hominem attacks and completely misrepresenting my points and stances. For you to "stop thinking logically," that implies that at some point you actually started.

    34. Missing avatar

      Jessica Dodd on

      To the commenters who think that it ISNT glorifying violence against women, then see this webpage which shows some quotes from excerpts of the 'teaser chapters' that the author posted and then later REMOVED (obviously didn't want people to take this sexual assault thing seriously, oops) that clearly shows it was encouraging readers to sexually assault. Scroll down a little and see for yourself http://www.uproxx.com/webculture/2013/06/sexual-assault-kickstarter/

      As for you Kickstarter, you have lost my respects and hundreds (okay, more like 60,000 from all those signatures) of others who have contributed to your projects and considered you to be an honest and trustworthy organisation. It's all about the money really isn't it? You weighed the pros and cons of potential future contributors and how they might be put off my you endorsing a sexual assault manual and finally caved, once there were enough signatures though, right?
      Its "nice" that you contributed to RAINN, what would have been great if you'd had the moral decency to not approve, and take down this project when you could.
      Perhaps another donation would be beneficial, perhaps to organisations that help educate men (and women) what constitutes sexual assault, and how to educate them on communication and prevention.

    35. Missing avatar

      Jessica Dodd on

      To the commenters who think that it ISNT glorifying violence against women, then see this webpage which shows some quotes from excerpts of the 'teaser chapters' that the author posted and then later REMOVED (obviously didn't want people to take this sexual assault thing seriously, oops) that clearly shows it was encouraging readers to sexually assault. Scroll down a little and see for yourself http://www.uproxx.com/webculture/2013/06/sexual-assault-kickstarter/

      As for you Kickstarter, you have lost my respects and hundreds (okay, more like 60,000 from all those signatures) of others who have contributed to your projects and considered you to be an honest and trustworthy organisation. It's all about the money really isn't it? You weighed the pros and cons of potential future contributors and how they might be put off my you endorsing a sexual assault manual and finally caved, once there were enough signatures though, right?
      Its "nice" that you contributed to RAINN, what would have been great if you'd had the moral decency to not approve, and take down this project when you could.
      Perhaps another donation would be beneficial, perhaps to organisations that help educate men (and women) what constitutes sexual assault, and how to educate them on communication and prevention.

    36. Missing avatar

      edgeways on

      Thanks Kickstarter, good move all around.

      go for it Meng, they fact that you have alternative means to fund projects of dubious provenance kind of highlights that this is not "censorship". Private entities have every right to act as gatekeepers to projects under their umbrella. They are not obligated to promote or fund everything that come their way. This is not 'censorship', this is not the suppression of free speech by a government entity in any way shape or form. Nexfilx does not stream pornography, facebook will ban your for all manner of activities, credit card companies AND paypal both severely limit people and organizations that you can make payments. Hell the payments for Kickstarter go through Amazon which has all manner of problematic practices associated with it.
      This is the real world. We live in a multitude of walled gardens. It is nothing new.
      And you are free to sputter and fume and disagree and seek another way to help fund/buy self help books that promote aggressive sexual practices, just as you are able to find and buy material that espouses all manner of abhorrent behavior. Under the belief that there is nothing wrong with it.
      So, cancel your account. You have effectively stated your vehement opposition to how KS works, the only consistent and logical conclusion is to no longer participate and to find other walled gardens that appeal to you more.
      Shalom

    37. Missing avatar

      John Funk on

      @Noah again with the ad hominems. Geez, it's like your arguments almost don't have any logical weight to them or something, so you need to compensate with comparing me to Hitler, huh.

      It sucks being socially awkward! I've been there. I had trouble talking to girls. Teaching socially awkward guys to be more confident and forthcoming, and straight-out say what they want rather than perpetually lingering around hoping for the girl to make a first move, that's a great thing! I am all for that.

      "Above the Game" would take those same socially awkward men, and instead of turning them into confident men, would turn them into sexual harassers or rapists. That's the problem.

    38. Gretchen Eckroate Shaw on

      Thank you, admitting you all made a mistake and the steps you took to remedy it are appreciated.

    39. Renee Reeve on

      Bravo and brava to you Kickstarter! A shame it was to late but your honesty and accountability is refreshing! Thanks for being on the right side of history and what an amazing gesture of donating that money!

    40. Missing avatar

      Sarah on

      After reading the comments, it is only reasonable to believe that nobody has read the comments. There are hundreds of links pointing to the "apology" and the "reasons this thing is a rape-handbook" and whatnot.
      TL;DR After reading the link to where the 'teaser' of the book is, there are some things in there which are genuinely good and could possibly help people, (YES I /READ/ IT) however there are some things in there which concerned me... I had wrote another post on like page 10 about my concerns. He honestly seems like he was trying to do a favour...

      He just executed it VERY wrongly... Especially the whole 'assume dominance', 'make her sit on your lap', and 'if she says no, try again later' (bearing in mind those are shortened to a significant degree).

      @Noah, sorry to burst your bubble but Rape Culture is a thing, and lemme just... Break it down a bit "In a rape culture, people are surrounded with images, language, laws, and other everyday phenomena that validate and perpetuate, rape. Rape culture includes jokes, TV, music, advertising, legal jargon, laws, words and imagery, that make violence against women and sexual coercion seem so normal that people believe that rape is inevitable. Rather than viewing the culture of rape as a problem to change, people in a rape culture think about the persistence of rape as “just the way things are.” I quoted that from http://upsettingrapeculture.com/rapeculture.html Feel free to... Read it maybe, I won't change your views on anything (no, that'd be rude) however I might as well validate that it exists to an extent, right?

    41. Missing avatar

      deleted on

      This comment has been removed by Kickstarter.

    42. Randi Skaggs on

      Classy move. Thank you.

    43. Kara Dennison on

      Thank you for this (and yeah, the cached link doesn't work, though I did see the original page). Re: guys complaining that women are 'butthurt,' guess what: no one gets to tell anyone else what shouldn't hurt them, offend them, or make them uncomfortable. It doesn't work that way. Actually feeling threatened and in danger is not the same as having someone disagree with you about something low-level on a comment thread. This is something that impacted a lot of people negatively. It falls to the people whom this book designates as targets of its methods to decide if they feel threatened; it does not fall to the people who will use the methods in the book to pursue said targets to decide if they're *allowed* to feel threatened.

    44. The Selkie Delegation
      Superbacker
      on

      Love you.

    45. Missing avatar

      J on

      @John, when he said "try again later" do you know what he is talking about actually trying? If you think "pull his " and so on, out and have her grab it.... you would be wrong. You haven't read all of the "guides" he wrote to get the FULL picture of what he is talking about. But of course, I am asking to much of you to actually read the WHOLE picture instead of a cherry-picked picture, and figure out what the Ken guy is really saying. You are a sucker for a logical fallacies called strawman, ambiguity, appeal to emotion, and of course the big one here, Texas Sharpshooter. Basic logic 101 man. Get the WHOLE picture, and base your view on facts, not some man-hating, feminist, PC, "feelings over truth", "above all else, do not offend me" witch hunt.

    46. Missing avatar

      Robin Bach on

      This comment has been removed by Kickstarter.

    47. Nicole Maron on

      Thank you for listening to the feedback, reviewing your previous decision, taking responsibility for your mistake, explaining your process to us, and taking positive actions to further demonstrate your commitment to fairness and women's safety. I felel like I can continue to support other Kickstarter projects now.

    48. Deneen Frazier Bowen on

      Thank you for making your position clear, publicly posting an apology and taking an action (the donation) to put your money where your mouth is. I appreciate the integrity with which you deal with posted projects and mistakes.

    49. Bill Garthright on

      Excellent apology! And now I can continue to love Kickstarter.