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. Tammy Shipps on

      In answer to everyone who says he wasn't advocating rape:

      What you are missing were several posts on Reddit by the creator of this Kickstarter project, going into more detail than what is listed in the video or on his Kickstarter page. Here is a link to the blog post that was posted after the content on Reddit was discovered:

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

    2. Susan Kennedy on

      Well done. Mistakes are made by us all. This is a good explanation, a good apology and a with some redress. Great example to set.

    3. Missing avatar

      Jamie Young on

      It sounds like you folks should think about a creating a way to temporarily suspend a project... or strengthen your initial review process. It's great that you're prohibiting "seduction guides" but what about the next time something flies under the radar? Are you going to catch issues earlier, react more quickly, or will we get another "oops we messed up"?

    4. Adam Keele on

      Based on the video, this doesn't appear to be offensive in the slightest--and I'm the biggest opponents of the club-guy mentality of just going out to find one-night stands. Maybe it gets sleazy in all the description, but I've seen FAR worst than this--actually, this is the tamest and most genuine one I've encountered.

    5. Brian Calhoun on

      Fine @Rumtopf the hand on the dick section is an example of how to show leadership and dominance leading into and during sex. Not meeting a woman, not flirting with a woman, sleeping with a woman. I know not all women want dominant men in the bedroom that is fine but this is just trying to give some men who are unfamiliar with the situation of sex an idea of what to do. Unless of course getting told what to do during sex a woman's thing then I guess this guide is wrong for that.

      As for consent the guide is trying to teach what is and isn't consent because no its not always verbal.

    6. Maria Y. Diana on

      Thank you Kickstarter! :-) I admit I didn't expect you to listen to us. I am VERY happy to be wrong.

    7. Dean Massalsky on

      Kickstarter for Government. Apologies always work when they are sincere. Well done.

    8. Missing avatar

      J on

      @Brian, we need to jump out of this feminazi hivemind. This will go on forever as long as feminists rule this society the way they do.

      @Gail, finally a woman who uses LOGIC and REASON. Thank you for stepping up. The ONLY thing the author is guilty of is bad writing by not clearly communicating his intent and purpose. He needs to polish that up. He is NOT promoting actual rape. I'm sorry most of these cry baby feminists and man-ginas are giving the female species a bad name. We need more women like you.

      I use/used these tactics before, and I knew when a woman was truly not interested. Did I keep going? No, just like the author, I stopped. And I also know that the stuff this book will talk about WORKS! That's what pissed the ugly-can't-get-a-man feminists off. It works, and women like it.

    9. Tiffany Ross on

      Thank you Kickstarter.

    10. Missing avatar

      jeffrey ames on

      Except all Kickstater did was disallow books about dating advice for men. This one that you all tried to stop still got funded and is still becoming a book. You didn't do anything except censor a certain subject like a bunch of fascist nazis.

    11. Missing avatar

      Daria Mulske on

      Thank you, Kickstarter, for being willing to admit a mistake and take action. Your willingness to take the issue of sexual assault seriously is very appreciated. On behalf of sexual assault survivors, I want to thank you for your thoughtful actions and your donation to RAINN. May other corporations, organizations, and businesses learn from your example and follow suit.

    12. Brian Calhoun on

      @James don't challenge them on the utterly hilarious double standard when it comes to dating and seduction advice for men vs woman. Because apparently its ok for women to be bombarded by constant manipulative bullshit billed as advice.

    13. Zachary Smith on

      To all the folks who are still excoriating Kickstarter, thinking they haven't done enough, and need to be boycotted, etc -- just because you already sharpened your pitchfork doesn't mean you have to still stab someone with it. Put it back in the shed. The campaign was abhorrent, Kickstarter admits this, apologized unequivocally, and donated a tremendous amount of money (many times what they earned on this transaction) to a truly deserving charity. Those are, without question, very good things to do (particularly the RIANN donation.) The piling on is just too much -- does Kickstarter's CEO need to personally drive to the would-be-rapist's home and stone him to death?

    14. Alison Diem on

      @Brian Calhoun- Consent should always at some point be verbalized, man. Wow. That explains a whole lot, right there.

    15. Brian Garrett Brigham on

      @Allison. I am in no way supporting douchbags that try to do this to women in any way shape or form. It is in bad taste and I thought I made that point abundantly clear.

      "If you're okay with someone having sex with you because they think they have no choice, you're gross and creepy and I want nothing to do with you."

      I am absolutely NOT okay with someone having sex with me because they think they have no choice. That IS gross and creepy.

      When I originally read the message I got from Kickstarter and read through the first few pages of posts I wanted to go find this guy and kick his ass. Then I watched his video and thought "That sneaky bastard" because I was sure he had done something nefarious by misrepresenting his project. So then I went to the Reddit links and read his blog posts. While I was appalled by his tactics I see nothing there that refers to raping a woman, its just a guide on how to be a total asswipe when it comes to dating women- I found the statements of people calling it a "guide to rape" misleading and Kickstarter sending me a link to this is a very poorly thought out PR move.

      Please do not put me in the same category as this douchbag as I have never and would never treat a woman this way.

    16. Raisa Derevko on

      Thank you Kickstarter for renewing my faith in you. I was worried there for a second. It takes a lot to step up and say that you were wrong and I commend you for it.

    17. Missing avatar

      Cassie Shaban on

      Thank you for publicly speaking out against sexism and misogyny!!!!!

    18. Brian Calhoun on

      Between the straight liars and the white knights Kickstarter should be ashamed of themselves for censoring an entire genre. But I guess if 22 people showed in my office I'd get a little concerned not enough to roll over and agree to their ridiculous demands but I'd show some concern.

    19. Missing avatar

      Mantas Radzevicius on

      What was wrong with these types of projects, exactly? I found the quotes from about being maybe a bit too assertive, maybe they are a bit over the line. That's subjective, however. But in general, it was a guide to getting women. When we have books about training your husband like a dog on bookshelves, please. Ridiculous.
      This whole stance by Kickstarter seems reactionary and frankly preposterous. They should never have canceled the project, and they shouldn't in the future.

    20. Brian Calhoun on

      @Alison Diem My girlfriend doesn't walk over to me and say lets have sex I'm consenting to it every time we have sex. For you to think that this should be how it should work is worrying and speaks volumes about why this project is being attacked.

    21. Missing avatar

      Brian on

      It seems to me that in addition to a system for pausing a project in question, which seems perfectly reasonable, Kickstarter also needs to prevent people with new account and no backed projects from posting comments on their blog posts. No one cares that someone who joined in June 2013 and has backed 0 projects is "no longer going to use kickstarter"

    22. Outbreak-Productions on

      I don't see what's so offending about that book? It's a self help book for guys with low self esteem to help them gain some confidence in approaching women. Where's the problem in that and why are so many people "offended" by that?

    23. Missing avatar

      Ken on

      This is what I call integrity. Thank you.

    24. Sparrow Wyrst on

      A lot of people don't seem to have done the research on this problem. The offensive material was not actually given during the application process. For all intents and purposes it looked like another self-help guide for how to pick up women. However, some people looked this guy up, and found him posting excerpts from his book saying such things as 'Do not ask for her permission. Be dominant. Force her to rebuff your advances.' and 'if she says no, back off a few minutes and try again later.' This -is- sexual harrassment, and it's encouraging 'silence means yes' and 'no means yes,' it's completely disgusting.

      And to Kickstarter, we're all dissappointed you couldn't get to it in time, but at least you're admitting your mistakes, and I can respect that. A lot of people are complaining that you still have plenty of time to pull funding on the project, but the first project I backed had 11k+ backers and my payment was still gone from my account within hours.

      /Rant

    25. Aaron Walker on

      I want to be among the voices stating approval and thanks for this apology. It is clear, concise, and it does not seek to excuse the actions (or inactions), but rather to correct the shortcomings of this issue. Thank you.

      Additionally, thank you for the gracious donation, which was well above the funded amount of the seduction guide ($16,000) to a noteworthy cause.

      I'll be donating $50 to RAINN in solidarity. I hope others will join me.

    26. Anji Marauding Cephalopod Hall on

      Thank you so much for this. It is incredibly refreshing to see a company willing to take responsibility for their mistakes, and work so hard to rectify them.

    27. Brendon on

      Seems like you guys read that article and took it at face value rather than reading the context of the conversation. The linked article on reddit that you cite as the reason for your decision specifically says:

      "If at any point a girl wants you to stop, she will let you know. If she says "STOP," or "GET AWAY FROM ME," or shoves you away, you know she is not interested. It happens. Stop escalating immediately and say this line:

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

      Memorize that line. It is your go-to when faced with resistance. Say it genuinely, without presumption. All master seducers are also masters at making women feel comfortable. You'll be no different. If a woman isn't comfortable, take a break and try again later.

      All that matters is that you continue to try to escalate physically until she makes it genuinely clear that it's not happening. She wants to be desired, but the circumstances need to be right. With some experience, you will learn to differentiate the "No, we can't... my parents are in the next room... OMG FUCK ME FUCK ME HARD" from the "SERIOUSLY GET THE FUCK OFF OF ME, YOU CREEP" variety of resistance.
      Of course if you're really unclear, back off. Better safe than sorry."

      He's clearly not advocating sexual assault. You guys made a move to censor free speech because some people took offense to the text after skimming it, misrepresented what it was saying by putting quotes out of context. This is not good policy.

    28. Brian Calhoun on

      @Bianca Godsmark we understand you went to http://caseymalone.com/ and formed an opinion, but you have to understand that besides crazy bias that site cherry picked quotes out of context to build a "This is a rape guide" argument.

    29. Acacia Brovedani on

      Ok, Brian, without using those quotes - the larger problem with "seduction guides" like this, is that, as XKCD puts it, they "are dehumanizing... see relationships as adversarial and women as sex toys"

      It's the fact that yeah, sure, there's advice in there about backing off, but when thousands of women have spoken up and said "This makes me uncomfortable", the response isn't "Oh, ok, I'm sorry I unintentionally crossed your boundaries" its "You're a cunt, PROVE to me why this is a problem".

      It's the fact that these guides confuse confidence with aggressiveness, and use words such as BE DOMINANT - the implication being that if you are dominant enough, the woman will be submissive, and that is the proper order of the world.

      It's the fact that these guides talk about women as objectives or targets, rather than people.

      It's the fact that it perpetuates the idea that while, yes, it's great that it's telling people to respect a no, you automatically have consent until you are told a forceful NO. That lack of resistance is the same thing as consent. The reason we keep referring to them as "Rape guides" is because that is how you unintentionally rape someone.

      I understand dating can be scary, and that getting rejected over and over sucks. The social structures that say that men are pursuers and women are prey are stupid and outdated and awful. But guides like this aren't the solution. They're not teaching men to be comfortable in their own skin, to look for common interests, to recognize that women are people and they don't need to be so scared, that relationships are partnerships. They're teaching them that sex or a relationship is something you win *from* a woman using tactics and manipulation.

      But mostly, it goes back to my first point. Because women in the thousands are saying "This behaviour you've outlined is problematic and makes me feel uncomfortable and unsafe. It makes me feel dehumanized, like you don't respect my feelings or autonomy as an individual"

      And we're told "WAH, you're just butthurt, crazy cunt bitches being overemotional feminazis who attack everything. Misandry!"

      ... case in point.

    30. Fred Eder on

      This was an honest apology. They took responsibility for their mistake, and they didn't try to defend it. They also made up for the mistake with their donation. This is among the reasons I support Kickstarter. Well done.

    31. Missing avatar

      Alicia Vance on

      Wow, this is one massive WITCH HUNT. The only piece of advice that I would change is the part about trying again later after a woman says no. The reason I object to this is because you have to be pretty experienced to know the difference between 1) a woman saying no because she's not turned-on and 2) a woman saying no because she wants to turn you on even more. And if you're reading this book you probably don't have a ton of experience yet, so better to be safe and stop altogether at the first sign of resistance.

      The rest of the advice (and I haven't read the entire book, just the parts that people are calling out as offensive and "rapey") I think is okay. I found most of Ken's advice a turn-on. I have never liked it when a guy asked permission, and have always been most attracted to men who were aggressive sexually. A lot of the reactions to it seem puritanical, and in many ways creepier than the book.

      Also, there is great value in a book such as this. Men do crazy things when they can't get laid. Young men especially, can get violent. Look at the perpetrators of all the mass shootings in this country for the last decade. We are all animals, still, no matter how much we try and deny it. Why are fighters on a strict no sex diet before a fight? Because it makes them more aggressive. Most of them are guys who are not getting laid. I know that might sound silly but it's not. Men need to get laid. I'm tired of living in a society that doesn't accept men and boys for what they are, and is constantly telling them that their urges are not "appropriate" (also so sick of that word).

      So that Ken is helping an audience that struggles with this, is really valuable. Should he tone down some of the more aggressive advice for a beginner audience? Probably. Is it "rapey"? No.

    32. Missing avatar

      A.N. on

      That's a good apology, and I'm glad that we can stay friends, Kickstarter.

    33. Keely Godwin on

      I think that this is actually a bit off a waffling apology. I know that several of my friends and I had reported the project as offensive with many hours left in the process. What you are saying is that despite reports of offensive or inappropriate projects, if you can't get to those projects within a week, you can't at least hold up the funding to evaluate and review the project to deal with the reports? Fail set up, guys. Fail.

    34. Brendon on

      @Tammy, that article doesn't answer anything. It's in the article you're commenting on so linking to it in the comments is pointless. The quotes they pull are out of context. The part about being dominant and forceful isn't about sex. It's about flirting in a club setting AFTER the guy already knows the girl is interested. The fact that it's being put next to a quote about sex completely misrepresents the context and makes it sound like he's saying "force her to have sex with you until she screams no", which simply isn't the case.

    35. Brendon on

      @Alicia Agreed except he didn't even say try again if she says no. He said back off if she's uncomfortable and try again later. He then specifically says if she says no then stop completely. This really is a witch hunt started by people who have no idea what they are talking about or are purposefully misrepresenting his message.

    36. Missing avatar

      deleted on

      This user's account has been deleted.

    37. Nick Botto on

      Thanks for both the apologies and the LOLs at the MRA weepings.

    38. Missing avatar

      Caroline Thornton on

      Mike Maring Do you really think there would be a fuss over a manuel on dating advice? Why don't you do some research before commenting. The project on kickstarter didn't include the offensive material. It was only discovered when the author's posts on Reddit were discovered (these were going to be the material for the book)

    39. Brian Calhoun on

      But @Acacia Brovedani you didn't read the guide or mention the fact that there is an entire chapter based around understanding consent that was geared towards helping men understand that they shouldn't force themselves on women.

      I appreciate your response but what is troubling in this thread is that people are doing the some of the following.
      A. Not Reading the Guide
      B. Pulling information that doesn't pertain to this specific guide out and using it to say this guide is horrible
      C. Basing their entire arguments on reading the Casey Malone post.
      D. Ignoring the double standard of women having access to similar advice.
      E. Congratulating Kickstarter after not even reading the Casey Malone or Reddit posts.

    40. Missing avatar

      Caroline Thornton on

      Mike Maring Do you really think there would be all this fuss over a dating manual? The offensive material wasn't found on the kickstarter website it was on Reddit.

    41. Brian Calhoun on

      @Caroline Thornton the offensive material was the result of mixing and matching parts of the guide that didn't go together.

    42. Missing avatar

      Jody Houser on

      For people who say all the quotes are taken out of context...

      "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."

      This is for people you're FLIRTING with, not people you've been on a few dates. Shamelessly touching people without their permission like this is a huge no, both from a moral and legal standpoint. And it's not "hot" or "arousing" for most women who are rejecting advances, it's terrifying. Especially when people so often mistake "being polite" for flirting or interest.

    43. Missing avatar

      John Funk on

      @Acacia - you nailed it. Wonderfully put.

      Also a big LOL at assuming feminists "run the world," James.

    44. Missing avatar

      Caroline Thornton on

      What is wrong with you people??? No amount of context makes what he says ok. Alicia Vance you need therapy

    45. Missing avatar

      Heather on

      The biggest apology is action. Get your team together, give t hem whatever new training they need and that will be the best apology

    46. Brian Calhoun on

      @Jody Houser The whole point of that section of the guide is to curb your last sentence and keep misunderstandings between men and women from happening. Also I argue that women would find a guy flirting with them but never touching them off putting. Can't kiss a girl even if she wants you to if you can't even work up the courage to hold her hand.

    47. John Pearce on

      Great and very public apology.

      Well done Kickstarter for standing behind your morals and doing what you felt was the right thing.

    48. Brian Calhoun on

      @Caroline Thornton because we all know a woman understanding and embracing her own sexuality is disgusting and wrong and she needs help for that.

    49. Brian Garrett Brigham on

      I'm gonna buy a copy of this book for all my single female friends as a guide on how to recognize over aggressive assholes. I appreciate Kickstarter for the RAINN donation but this PR stunt is doing nothing but giving this guy lots of free publicity. I expect it will by on HuffPo by morning.