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. Marie Mary on

      Bullshit Kickstarter! You cancelled other projects much earlier. You guys are liars! Don't trust kickstarter. They will do it again.

    2. Brian Calhoun on

      @Jody Houser the point of the guides like this is to help men figure out at what point their advances weren't wanted. I know in a perfect world misunderstandings wouldn't happen but honestly they're going to. Information in this guide could help a man understand that just because a woman is going along with the flow doesn't mean she wants to have sex. But a lot of men won't ever find this out because kickstarter is banning the entire genre. Its not a woman's job to tell you she doesn't like it, it's your job to figure it out before it crosses any lines.

    3. Brendon on

      @Brian Calhoun, Well put. Thanks for putting reason in all your last few posts (especially the latest one. Banning this is more dangerous than allowing it. The criticism reminds me of people hating on sex education thinking that they are advocating promiscuous sex.

    4. Katie Roe
      Superbacker
      on

      While I do not believe that it was impossible to have pulled the funding before the project had reached its end, I do appreciate the change in policy and the donation made to RAINN. Thank you.

    5. Missing avatar

      Jody Houser on

      @Brian But the fact remains that loads of women and men both are saying the information in this book is terrible at best and illegal at worst. So why is the word of this one random writer being held above everything that everyone else is saying? If guys are interested in connecting with women, why aren't they listening to all the women saying they don't want men to act like this?

      The problem at the core here is assumption. Assuming you know what someone wants or can figure it out without actually asking. Assuming that someone is interested when they say they aren't and that you can tell when they're paying attention or not. What you're saying about about how a guy needs to "understand that just because a woman is going along with the flow doesn't mean she wants to have sex" is perfectly right! But the easiest way to figure it out is to ASK.

    6. Jonathan Lucero on

      What if the author was a woman? And the theme was the seduction of men? Or a man writing about seducing other men? I could go on with other examples but you get the idea. You are still in the forrest and surrounded by trees by this rediculous censorship.do you know of any project funding sites that foster creativity in a censor free environment?

    7. Brian Calhoun on

      @Jody Houser because the women saying they don't want men to act like that might not be the individual woman they are trying to seduce at the moment. Several women have come on here and tried to say that banning an entire genre because people are misguided and one of them straight out got told she needs therapy.

    8. George J Cook on

      could not disagree more. I saw the cached page. what was wrong with it? what's wrong with guys learning to chat up women? or women learning to chat up guys? This is so goddamend silly. I see 3 possible categories of people supporting this : 1. Guys with no game, who will never ever have any game, so they don't like it. 2. Women who aren't going to get hit on by any guy, so they've got their knickers in a twist. 3. A whole bunch of yes people, who have no idea what they're complaining about and instead of real issues make noise about this crap.. business as usual in the united states...

      I'm personally totally offended that this is somehow connected to misogyny, and I demand that a similar 25,000 donation is made to a men's charity that protects men from violence from women as well.

      I'm tired of this inverted sexism and hysteria nonsense. The middle is not the opposite of one extreme. If people could recognize that the world would be a better place.

    9. shayne.oneill on

      William, the problem is some of the material wasn't just "how to get a girlfriend", it pretty much advocated sexual assault, of sorts. Thats what upset so many people.

    10. Missing avatar

      Wyvern on

      Thank you! So glad you're responding to feedback. and the donation too <3

    11. shayne.oneill on

      George: Its not the funding page thats the problem. The content is the problem. Much of the material in the book is available on the net and parts of it pretty much advocate sexually assaulting women. Thats what pissed everyone up.

    12. Brian Calhoun on

      If the author of this guide had been a woman it would have made millions of dollars similar to a light BSDM novel that managed to become the fastest selling paperback of all time.

    13. Michael Dutton on

      Good call and genuine apology. Since I am a novelist I can understand your dilemma in refusing material that promotes negative values/actions while simultaneously attempting to safeguard the creative process.
      It's not always easy to make that decision, but you made the right one.

    14. Missing avatar

      Greg Walters on

      From the Reddit - Opening Section - "CHARACTERISTICS OF A MODERN ALPHA MALE"

      From the start the treatise assumes that all women are submissive. That you simply have to be DOMLYDOM *enough* to awaken her inner submission.
      That's pretty much the start and end of where this little piece goes straight into misogyny. Everything else is just icing on the cake.
      "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."
      Because 'no we can't' needs to have a good reason behind it and women just say no to be coy.
      Not because they don't want to actually say no because they don't want to because the last guy they did that too raped and beat the shit out of her (what Meditations on Violence calls 'Punishing' for daring to presume a social class above their station) nononono it's because she secretly wants it.

      http://www.reddit.com/r/seduction/comments/1di9xu/above_the_game_part_5_flirting_touch_conversation/ - this entire section is gaslighting, emotional abuse combined with NLP directly lifted from....less gentile sources.

      I also don't see the vaunted 'this is for established relationships' headings in here - it's all just 'do this and remember these things' not 'so you've gone on a few dates and want to seal the deal'

      It's....yeah. It's treating women like they're a vending machine and what they dispense is sex. The fact that it then explicitly tells you how to be coercive in such a way to imply that you can get sex with dubious consent pretty accurately casts it as a 'rape' manual.

    15. ZILLA on

      Thank you for doing the right thing Kickstarter.

    16. Goran Gligorin on

      I'm amazed how quickly people can jump on board a hate train like this. I haven't followed the whole store, but apparently it take only one short blog post.

      Have any of you even ready the reddit post this guy has been publishing for quite a while now? Do you understand that this is meant for the shy guys that rarely get the girl? I've been lurking around the seduction community for a while now and have never seen anyone even remotely suggest rape. Not even close. But they do tell the guys that in the right moment you can touch a girl on the shoulder, or something like that, and observe her reaction. If she pushes you away, she's not into you, so go talk to another girl. Plenty fish in the sea and stuff. That's where it start. But you have to also understand that some of these guys didn't have sex yet, so guides like this try to cover that to.

      But when you haven't read the start - the openers, the little tricks to get you started with talking to girls - pass the middle, where they explain how to pickup on signals, reading just the advanced sex things might distort your opinion very much. It's like watching Ocean's 11 without realizing it's fiction. It turns into a "how to rob a casion" guide then. But that's how things are like when put out of context.

      Anyway, I guess what I'm saying is don't judge a book by its cover, as 99.9% here are doing. I'm very surprised that Kickstarter did that as well. I like KS, but if they start canceling projects based on biased and uninformed little blog posts and giving into the hate train powered by the same post, than what's keeping other projects safe?

    17. George J Cook on

      @shayne.oneill - ok, well, perhaps kickstarter should clearly identify what the problem was then : with the evidence they have provided I see zero problem.

      @Brian Calhoun. I agree completely - it's like the southpark episode where a hot female teacher abuses young boys and everyone's like "hhhhey.. nice one!".. It's about time that people worked out what equality actually means.

      In Bolivia, we actually have men singing "all you want is sex, you're shallow, I want someone who wants me for who I am", because let's face it.. women's equality has just turned into a pissing contest with a strap on.

      The point has been utterly missed, and I feel this is just another paragraph in the rather silly chapter of how the sexes inverted in the 22nd century.

    18. Daniel Guzman on

      I'm disappointed that in the end you allowed this to be funded, but your apology is sincere and you've taken steps to make reparations for your error. I'm hoping in the future you won't take such reports lightly and you'll make a better effort to ensure more disgusting and harmful content isn't funded again. Thank you, though, for realizing the errors you made and promising to ban content like this in the future.

    19. Missing avatar

      Admiral on

      Thank you for this.

    20. Missing avatar

      Jonathan Noble on

      @Jeffrey Dean

      "Sex is evil unless a woman expressly and clearly says she's ok every step of the way."

      ... YES. Absolutely, yes. That is absolutely the case. What in the world could possibly be unreasonable about that?

    21. Missing avatar

      RIck Moen on

      Better than nothing, not counting the glaring failures of both omission and commission that you're carefully skipping over. I'd say you folks merit about 0.6 of a cheer out of a possible three. Because pretty obvious reasons: dsmoen.livejournal.com/469090.html?thread=1680994#t1680994

      You can do a lot better.

      Rick Moen
      rick@linuxmafia.com

    22. Missing avatar

      Greg Walters on

      @Brian Calhoun - fifty shades is also essentially a product of rape culture. It's also a terrible novel that gives advice that'll get you serious amounts of paperwork.
      I mean..it's bondage twilight fanfic with the serial numbers filed off and since twilight is a stalker porn story with a different kink...well at least twilight doesn't assume *all* women need displays of dominance.

    23. Laura Anne Edwards on

      why didn't you see the material before it was published??

    24. Kristen on

      Just because society has fucked up double standards doesn't mean the people who think this book is atrocious do. Feminism is about men and women being equal, which means wanting to abolish the double standards that are actually positive for women. Most feminists want men and women to be held to the same standards, unlike what many anti-feminists seem to think. Men get raped too, and if they're raped by women they have a high chance of getting laughed out of court. Men quite often get shafted in custody battles. Paternity leave isn't as common as maternity leave. Somebody having it worse than somebody else does not make the person who doesn't have it as bad not matter, and just because when it comes to women doing awful things involving sex like having sex with a student doesn't mean that gets to be an argument about why this isn't bad. That argument is irrelevant here, because that's not the point anybody is trying to make. Why focus on the straw men instead of the real issue?

    25. Missing avatar

      Lissa Allcock on

      Well done. Thank you for responding to our concerns.

    26. Caitlin on

      @Jeffrey, the offensive advice was not in the Kickstarter summary, it was in the excerpts published on Reddit.

      @Robyn, 2 hours is enough time to remove a project if you have already made the decision to do so. It's not enough time to go through the entire decision making process and then remove it. The fact that the Kobe project was removed minutes before the deadline does not prove that 2 hours is enough of a window.

    27. Shellie Ikip Higinbotham on

      As much as I appreciate this apology it remains a hollow gesture while you allow the funds to be transferred. Why is it that funds transfers can take a couple of weeks normally but you claim you handed the money over to this nimrod straight away? Surely with the controversy having sprung up before the project completion you would have held the funds until you saw how this played out and whether this will damage your brand. If violence against women were truly banned from your site then you would have held onto the funds pending an investigation. If you had actually transferred the money (which we all know you haven't yet done) you could make a move to rescind the funds based on the author using your site fraudulently or posting a project against your terms of service. This is a PR cover up with an empty gesture attached. I'm guessing you've realised that you might get sued by one of the various women who will probably get assaulted because of this book. This kind of cover up is aimed at avoiding that. I will never again send money to anybody who uses Kickstarter while you continue to fail to stop this rape promoter from receiving funds. You still have the power to prevent this from happening. Shame on you. Shame, shame, shame. I hope you feel at least some modicum of guilt for the rapes that will surely result from this book. Should I get a betting pool going on how long it takes for you to delete this comment. I dare you to let it stand. It's highly suspicious that there are no negative comments here about your continued support for this particular project. This apology will remain meaningless until you stop the author from getting the funds.

    28. Rebecca Gorman on

      Could you go a bit further and send a link to this post to each of the funders? Even better, a warning that following the advice in the guide may be unethical and/or illegal, and could possibly constitute criminal action?

      I believe the naive men who paid for this guide deserve this information, before they end up changing who they are, hurting someone, and getting in trouble.

    29. Jon Farrar on

      I think you're wrong about being wrong, Kickstarter. You took that one quote way out of context and caved under pressure from fascist groups hoping to impose their will and censorship on anyone who fails to stand up to them. Whoops!

    30. Missing avatar

      deleted on

      This user's account has been deleted.

    31. Missing avatar

      Rebecca T Einolf on

      Thank you. I found it disturbing.

    32. Jake Caro on

      I was disgusted when I learned of this, but I am extremely happy to see this dealt with in this manner.
      I've rarely seen a website like this be an transparent with a problem like this, I really respect you guys.
      I'm glad we won't have to see anything like this on the site again.

    33. Missing avatar

      deleted on

      This user's account has been deleted.

    34. Shy Allott on

      Due to inaction, Kickstarter "missed the window". That inaction fails to support a community on which your platform relies. Its very encouraging that you've donated $25k to RAINN, but the fact that this kickstarter was funded, and this product will exist, fails us individually and as a whole.

    35. George Worroll on

      To those of you who have just looked at the project page, click through to the reddit link if it's still active. Some of the content that will be in this book was posted there. And after reading the reddit threads, if you still think there's no problem with this book then you are a terrible person.

    36. Tennessee Women's Theater Project on

      Thank you for this sincere apology, for taking proactive action against future projects in this vein, and for putting your money ($25,000!) where Kickstarter's mouth is.

    37. Missing avatar

      Jarren Butterworth on

      Good on you guys, so many companies would just post a "sorry you were offended" non-apology and make some excuses. Great apology and great follow up action.

    38. Goran Gligorin on

      I think all of you should read the other side of the story: http://pastebin.com/zwHYzCZe (AUTHOR'S RESPONSE)

      It's the authors response and gives context and perspective on the whole thing. I'm not trying to change anyone's mind here, but before going on a witch hunt, don't you think you should hear both sides of the story? Come on people, I thought inquisition was left back in the middle ages...

    39. Mark Amarok on

      Frankly, I find Kickstarter's reaction to be kind of insulting, and their claims that they didn't have enough time to stop the funds from going through are really questionable. Is their attempt to backpedal and kiss ass a good one? Absolutely! Is it the right thing to do? Not really. I know for a fact that Kickstarter was warned repeatedly about this and had complaints about it for well more than a few hours before it was ending, and they are the ones who chose not to react unti

    40. Bernhard Sombekke on

      KS, has made a choice, just like any other corporation can. In this case KS has chosen not to promote this type of genre. No problem with that. We are after all free to type/blog/tweet about this genre elsewhere for free. We can even start another kickstarter site if one wanted to, to support just this genre on its own. If the government were to censor this type of material I would be more concerned. As the values of a society are best reflected by its government (As least we hope government does this?)(?).

      KS's decision may be a reflection of this grey area, human relationships and interaction. For anyone can decide for him/her self what morals or values they would like to reflect in society. Whether it be right or wrong. It is up to the government/society to decide together what will be condoned / accepted.

      As for this book. It's good to see people discussing the nuances, boundaries, and complexity of interacting with other people. Lets hope that continues beyond this site. After all interactions and assumptions change continuously, and so it is of the utmost important that we continue this dialogue with our friends, family, and even with the people we are preoccupied by.
      As for what is right and wrong, I have no idea. Every person is different. And so you have to always maintain an open mind. Always. But then on the other hand you also have to listen to your own desires and needs too. Its that never ending balance which makes life so interesting...

      As for consistent verbal consent, I wonder whether you are all hypocrites and morally inconsistent (immoral).
      Are you immoral if you have rented a movie, or watched a serie, or read a book in which an encounter occurs between two people where consent is NOT stated verbally (ie. 99% of all media out there?)? Seems like you would be financing the same thing many here are against...

      Anyway, love this website. Keep it up.

    41. Dania Cueto on

      to the individual who decided to go to my website and post a very negative comment attempting to degrade my organization..if u had taken the time to read the comments..even one..on our website..u wud have realized u were speaking gibberish..We don't have a problem w attendance..in fact we are in a very high demand. but thank you for allowing our organization to rent space in your head even if momentarily..and for the suggestion of music...already do that...We have been doing this for quite some time now..9 years in fact...and the fact u had to remain anonymous tells me u have no backbone..but again..Thank you

    42. Missing avatar

      Deviija on

      The best response would have been to stop such a kickstarter project from being funded and the money exchanged. However, since it is too late for that, this apology and charity donation is a very positive response. I appreciate that kickstarter is showing how serious it is about the community and creativity of its projects and that they are positive projects that aren't meant to cause harm to anyone else.

    43. Missing avatar

      jerryblacksmith on

      This is old news in the pickup community. This method in particular is just Gunwitch Method/Seduction MMA tactics= from 10 years ago.

    44. Grayson Van Camp on

      I just recommended Kickstarter to a colleague yesterday. Thanks for this apology -- it makes me believe my trust in you is warranted.

    45. Johan Örtman on

      Great reading. And I agree, psychopathy for dummies? Not a great idea.. Keep up the great work! I haven't pledged as much as I probably should have but I really love your site and wish you have the success you deserve! Peace!

    46. Mark Amarok on

      Frankly, I find Kickstarter's reaction to be kind of disappointing, and their claims that they didn't have enough time to stop the funds from going through are really questionable. Is their attempt to appease their users a good one? Absolutely! Was it the best thing to do? Not really. I know for a fact that Kickstarter was warned repeatedly about this and had complaints about it for well more than a few hours before it was ending, and they are the ones who chose not to react until later and THEN backpedal. If time was such a factor, why not take that factor OUT of the equation by putting that particular kickstarter project on hold until it could've been dealt with properly, rather than just letting it go through and then holding your hands in the air going, "OOPSIE, that came out of nowhere, so we had no time!" You would've had time if you had actually listened to the complaints you were getting when you first got them.

      And to all the guys claiming this project wasn't offensive and trying to argue that it was a good idea: If women say this is offensive to women, then it is. Period. That's where it should end. Just like if somebody of a different race calls you out on doing something racist, you don't get (and shouldn't get) a say when you're not part of the group being marginalized.

    47. Jennifer Lynn on

      Thank you so much for this apology. Obviously, there were complications here, but this really helps me keep faith in what you're doing.

    48. Missing avatar

      Kaim Ohlrogge on

      Thank you, Kickstarter. I'm glad to have you as an ally and the measures you've taken to right a sour situation are more than I could have hoped for.