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. Bruce Lamesse on

      Well done, Kickstarter.

    2. David Chase on

      Thank you for explaining and being honest about.

    3. Missing avatar

      laura wright on

      No, no, no. This guy's book gets made (8 times over, in fact), and you apologize afterward. By seeing this project through to fruition, you've supported a project that advocates rape, and you've done it in the name of artistic freedom. When this book get cited in some court case where a woman -- your sister, your mother, your daughter, your friend, maybe -- has been sexually violated, demeaned, hurt, and humiliated, that blood is on your hands as much as it's on the author's.

    4. Missing avatar

      miguel delgadillo on

      Are you guys serious?
      Are you not men?
      In the words of Pontius Pilate, "This man has done no wrong."

      America used to be the land of the free. We used to have free speech.
      Kickstarter postures like they are cutting edge free-thinking futuristic adventurers but
      the truth emerges. You guys are a bunch of wimps controlled by women, afraid to disagree the FemiNazis that run this country. I am ashamed to have thought better of you.

    5. Diane Wilkes on

      This is what an apology should look like. I was one of those who contacted you about the offensive content. Thank you.

    6. Missing avatar

      Deanne Fountaine on

      Well done. If anyone needs to know what a real apology looks like, I will send them here.

    7. Leah Doner on

      Wow, the comments here from MRA tossers really do reveal them to be sexual assault cases waiting to happen. Apparently they can't see any potential problems with a book that advises men to literally put the moves on a woman as she screams "no".

    8. Topher White on

      Well done. I think people need to be clear that kickstarter occurs at the *start* of a project. You don't have access to the complete or finished product because it's not finished yet. Duh. Some content which you previously hadn't seen was revealed to be, well, sucky. We don't expect you to be omniscient.

      The apology is a good one - accurate, sincere, and with follow-up for changes. You can't ask for more than that. But you did ask for more than that of yourselves, and your donation is appreciated.

      All in all, this is truly being a stand up company. You've earned my support.

    9. Richard Do on

      Some thoughts as I was writing about after I did a bit of reading. These were intended to be private, but perhaps sharing won't be a bad deal. Again- just private thoughts I had with myself.

      + + +

      Wow... Loads of things seem so ass-backwards these days.

      Reading this and other articles such as our youth in high-school anal probing others as bullying tactics makes me think of how pathetic our new generation is. What is making it acceptable? What ever happened to an old-fashion ass-beating? (Not to say either is acceptable, but if you were the one being bullied, what would be the lesser of two evils?)

      Let's consider tracing back the origins of what we are beginning to witness.

      Porn? Bad parenting? Culture? What culture? Who knows...
      Where are our heros- a gentleman celebrity messiah. We have clowns.

      (Think _What do we glorify in this generation?)

      I wonder...

      _Let the senseless males benefit off the senseless females.
      (Ever hear that saying, don't trust the skinny chef.)
      (Not to judge a book a book by it's cover, but I'm supposed to learn how to seduce women from an unhealthy looking guy with ill-presentation skills in what looks like his Mom's basement- no thanks. I don't think I want to be a part of the audience who is inspired by that.)
      (I think real mean to learn from are probably writing about how to climb mountains, how to build a play-set for their kids, or too busy doing more productive things.)

      _Why are so many so angry? Is it because there is a guide to sex out there, or rather that members of our precious female species are dumb enough to fall for these tactics?
      (Guns dont kill people, people do. Guys who read books about sex don't have sex, the women who fall for the tricks do.) Not sure if makes sense? Eh...

      _What ever happened to romance and the art of flirting; of patience- building something and being rewarded with something more than sex. Sex is the last stage in the chase and adds into the complete flavor of the experience. (Who says you can't flirt with many people? Doesn't mean you have to have sex with em, but it may lead to great convos and experiences... maybe a job or gig or whatever... It's fun, it's imaginative.)

      Glorifying sex as the most important agenda in the experience is justified only to those who are desperate enough to shrug it off as an accomplishment.
      ("At least I got laid bro... high-five. Yeah!") Pathetic.

      People need to work on themselves- setting real tangible goals like perhaps a skill which will lead to a job/career. Challenge yourself to overcome doubts. This will build authentic confidence.
      When you resort to tactics in an attempt to shortcut the process of character building you only get temporary results.

      Who has time to chase unworthy ass. It will probably fall in your lap if you worked just as hard to pursue your passion- unless maybe your passion is just getting laid which in that case consult a professional escort who knows what they are doing.

      If that's not the chase then look at the bigger picture- yourself. Don't sell yourself short with temporary 'ego' driven accomplishments. Quality over quantity.

      + + +

      One more time... A conversation I had with myself.

    10. Tyrannus melancholicus on

      On the spectrum of apologies after the fact, this is definitely one of the better.

    11. Johanna Roberts on

      You know, I'm really not happy at all that you guys decided to, when push comes to shove, side with the creator of a how to rape book because "yay creators!" instead of pulling the plug right there. The donation money to RAINN is great, but this vile POS still got over 8x it's asking price for a book on how to make people like me into victims. Excuse me if I'm not happy you admit you're wrong AFTER the fact.

    12. Dan Leveille on

      Well handled, Kickstarter!

    13. Bret Robinson on

      You guys are awesome. Well done. Perhaps you guys have a future as political and business consultants!

    14. April Gress on

      Thank you for at least making a contribution towards the poor women who are very likely going to suffer at the hands of this "guide" that will fall into the hands of misogynistic asshats that funded it.

    15. Alex Conall on

      Thank you for the apology, and for the donation to RAINN. I have been planning to crowdfund cover art for my novel, and when I saw your first response to this problem I decided I would do it through IndieGoGo instead of Kickstarter; now I'm mostly convinced Kickstarter is the better choice, as I'd originally thought.

    16. Missing avatar

      deleted on

      This user's account has been deleted.

    17. Missing avatar

      rogelio tavera on

      >>>" Perhaps it would be best to make sure to ask multiple times while you're already in the middle of it in case she changes her mind and it suddenly becomes rape. "<<<

      as a man that respects women and and understands his male privilege, but would prefer equality, i say ask once.

      "yes" means "fuck me"

      anything else means "fuck you"

      and at any point if she says "no", then stop, otherwise it is rape.

      as a man, if i am out and about, the worst i might fear is that someone would kick my ass and take my wallet.

      but the fear of rape is part of the female reality.

      despite the apology, i am still appalled that this misogynist project was funded.

      i would also like to see actual proof of the donation to RAINN.

    18. Missing avatar

      Brittany Swafford on

      While Kickstarter did a good job of "covering their tracks" the flaming that is going on for this project is ridiculous. What seems to have happened is a nerdy, shy, un-confident male wrote a piece and went a little too far on how to be confident and take the lead. While I can see the issue it is being blown OUT of proportion. He doesn't say to rape anyone or hit them. People are taking this and using it just to find something to complain about. When Anastasia Steele gets spanked and the other subs in "50 Shades of Grey" are dominated the public finds it "sexy" but when this one random male posts something about being dominant and taking the lead, its a witch hunt. GROW UP, people.

    19. Missing avatar

      Greg Rodgers on

      I just looked at the cached page for this issue. And frankly I don't see it in any way encouraging violence against women - just helping men to "be good with women" - what is wrong with that? How many women would wish for something to teach men to be "better"? Would like you to detail specifics about why you changed your mind on this because otherwise I think you are wrong.

    20. Missing avatar

      rogelio tavera on

      >>>just helping men to "be good with women" - what is wrong with that? <<<

      not looking at women as mere objects for male pleasure is being good with them.

    21. Missing avatar

      sunkzero on

      Reading the cached page, I can't see anything about rape or violence towards women...? Would be nice to be pointed towards those sections as I'm baffled as to why this has created such a ****storm.

    22. Missing avatar

      Alli Treimer on

      Kickstarter - I just want to say that I really appreciate the way you handled the aftermath of this. I think it's made you smarter for the road going forward, and I believe that you'll do anything in your power to keep it from happening again. I know my comment is just one amongst hundreds, but I wanted to voice how wonderful of a team I think you are, in the midst of a lot of the uncalled for backlash you are getting just for this apology! A drop in the bucket, as they say. Kickstarter is awesome, and may it always stay that way!

    23. Scott Stewart on

      Total overreaction. You ARE wrong. Now. Not before. You never should have removed the project from your page. Dangerous? Violent? Where. Show me one shred of proof. I won't hold my breath -- because there isn't any. Stop flogging yourself over some overwrought sense guilt you're feeling because a small group of noisy, politically correct moral Nazis scared you. You can't set yourself up as a moral gatekeeper. You're destined for failure, And you've already gotten a damned good start.

    24. Missing avatar

      Amy Horan on

      Thanks for the transparency and apology. I was very offended by your inaction but now understand why. I appreciate your honesty and, because of it, will continue to be a fan of your site.

    25. Missing avatar

      deleted on

      This user's account has been deleted.

    26. Teresa Haino on

      I love how often the term Nazi is being tossed around here; what a train wreck.

    27. Katie Hartman on

      @Brittany Swafford - An excerpt from this book *tells* the reader to expose himself, grab the woman's hand, and put it on his penis, specifically noting that she should not be asked for permission. I'm not exaggerating, here:

      "Pull out your cock and put her hand on it. Remember, she is letting you do this because you have established yourself as a LEADER. Don’t ask for permission, GRAB HER HAND, and put it right on your dick.”

      That's textbook sexual assault in a lot of jurisdictions. I'm all for literature and skill training that helps men increase their confidence and sex appeal, but this is recommending criminal behavior that could put both the man and the woman involved in a seriously horrifying situation.

      And the sexual dominance kink/fantasy has nothing to do with it. "Safe, sane, and consensual" is BDSM 101. Consent is key. If you haven't established that it's okay for him to force your hand onto his body, then it is NOT. OKAY.

    28. Missing avatar

      Kimberley on

      Thank you very much for issuing this apology and taking steps to keep things like this from happening in the future. My respect for your company has increased greatly.

    29. Rik Spruitenburg on

      Thanks, Kickstarter.

    30. Brendon on

      @Jody Houser "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."

      The fact remains that loads of women and men who haven't read the book are saying that the context of a book that hasn't even been released yet is illegal at worst? What the heck? This extremist language is entirely the main problem with this discussion. Nothing in what the author said on the reddit posts that the book is based on is illegal. You're taking some quotes out of context without reading it and making assumptions. Same with most of the critics. I'm not saying you should agree with his message. I'm saying you should read the posts yourself and make an informed judgment rather than jump to conclusions and call for a ban of something you know little to nothing about simply because you saw some out of context quotes that bothered you.

    31. Missing avatar

      David Webb on

      Kickstarter,

      Thanks for being very upfront and responsible in addressing this issue. It is refreshing to see companies be open, transparent and honest. It serves an example for other companies who might learn to act in a professional and ethical manner.

    32. Missing avatar

      Keira on

      Nice, Kickstarter! I wish more companies would hold themselves accountable in this manner. Thank you.

    33. Missing avatar

      John Funk on

      I love that people try to assert being against poisonous harmful rape culture with the moral panic pro-censorship right wing. PS guys, feminists like comprehensive sex education, empowered women who enjoy sex and hate rape culture. None of those are mutually exclusive.

      But I'm going to give a last-ditch attempt at explaining why this was fucked up.

      No, at no point in this book did he explicitly say "Go and hold a woman down and force your dick into her." He did say some pretty skeevy stuff, and that isn't the only type of rape anyway, but for the sake of argument let's take him at his face value that he means to respect womens' bodily autonomy.

      Imagine every woman, every man - every person - has a light-switch that indicates consent. When the switch is on, they want to have sex with a person, or a group of persons, or whoever. When the switch is off, the don't want to have sex with that person. The switch can be on for one or more people at the same time that it's off for one or more others.

      Until not too long ago, it was not considered illegal for a man to rape his wife. That is to say, using my analogy, as soon as the "I do"s were exchanged, the switch was permanently flipped to the 'on' position. 'On' was the default position, in fact it was the only position.

      But the default position is not on. The default position for the consent switch is, and must always be 'off.' Now, seduction - that is, trying to turn the switch from 'off' to 'on' by wooing a woman (or man), chatting her up, flirting with her - is not a problem! Women and men can flirt, if they're in the right environment. Many including myself would argue that PUA techniques meant to flip the switch are manipulative and wrong, but that's besides the point.

      Here's the problem with this book, judging from the excerpts IN CONTEXT: It makes the assumption that the consent switch is 'on' as its default, and that it is up to the women to flip it 'off.' It assumes that she'll want you to put her hand on your dick because of how dominant and manly you are, and puts the onus on her to remove herself. Unless she rebuffs your advances with a clear and decisive NO, the switch is assumed to still be 'on.' Even if she waffles about it, it's not a no, so go ahead.

      But here's the problem: People in general, and many women specifically, are brought up being told that it's rude to just be NO. If you ask them to do something, like go see a movie and they don't want to, few people will go "No, I'm not interested," they'll give an excuse "Oh, I've committed myself that night." So right from the start, you're assuming that a woman (or a man) is comfortable doing something that maybe she's been brought up and socialized to not do.

      Maybe your agressiveness has intimidated her. Maybe she's too shy to speak up. Maybe she's too drunk to. Maybe she's scared that you'll hurt her if she protests now that you've forcibly put her on your lap. There are a dozen reasons why a woman who didn't want to might not speak up.

      But the book teaches that the consent is given by default, so if she doesn't speak up, the switch is still 'on.'

      That's why we say it's "rape-y." Because even if it isn't instructing people to directly rape, it's perpetuating a poisonous mindset that assumes consent is the default.

      If you ask the girl, "hey, wanna fool around?" and she yes yes, go for it! If you ask, "hey, come over here" and she slides into your lap, go for it!" I'm hardly some anti-sex prude that thinks women are incapable of enjoying themselves in a one-night stand or a relationship, and I don't think many of the feminists or other men and women who find this gross are either.

      But consent needs to be sought and given. Not assumed.

    34. Dave Michalak on

      This makes me so happy, Kickstarter, you don't even know. I sent you a pretty strong note of admonishment through the "report this" link, and I was very much afraid I was going to have to shut down my KS account, which would have been a shame, since I really enjoy using it. The fact that you owned up publicly and made sincere recompense really speaks highly of Kickstarter as an ethical company, and I greatly appreciate it. Good on you.

    35. Missing avatar

      Jean H on

      It's pathetic that people can't do a little reading because they'd rather go on and on with their ignorant ramblings about all us man-haters. It's already been stated numerous times that the Kickstarter version of the project didn't contain all of the full, offensive content in question. The creators cleaned it up to get it funded and the more disgusting sections were posted elsewhere online - scroll through some of the earlier comments to get that info - if you can tear yourself away from hating people for a sec.

      To whoever it is that keeps insisting that women's magazines are the same as this kickstarter project - you seem obsessed with this little non-fact of yours, and let me just set the record straight. I'm a woman. I read numerous magazines created for women. I've never been encouraged to sexually assault a man within the pages of those magazines. I might be encouraged to feel confident and sexy and to initiate a sexual encounter with my partner/husband, but just in case you weren't clear: that's not the same as sexual assault or sexual harrassment. You also seem concerned about your children being able to reach the magazines in the store. I can assure you Maxim is in reach of them too, yet I don't see much complaining about that.

      That all being said, to those who are fighting the good fight and arguing with the morons who do not see a problem with the content of this "guide"... while the attempt had to be made, it's probably not worth spending a lot more energy on. Based on the back and forth I've seen they aren't getting it. The rest of us are all man-haters (I'll be sure to tell my husband, he'll be surprised to know how much I've hated him all these years). Sadly they are not likely to become enlightened anytime soon. I'll pray for their wives, girlfriends, daughters and sons, and I'll take comfort in the fact that most of the comments here seem to acknowledge that the guide is trash and the donation being made is awesome (even if there is debate over whether Kickstarter should have canceled the project).

    36. Angela on

      You have earned all of my respect. Especially the fact that you guys are able to flat-out admit that you were wrong, without qualifying your statement with an excuse. Thanks Kickstarter team.

    37. Lee MacKiewicz on

      To all the men quoting the bit saying you should back off if the woman is uncomfortable, it's still not good enough. The work actually continues with:

      "If a woman isn't comfortable, take a break and try again later."

      Which is STILL sexual harrassment. If you don't take the first no for an answer, why would you take the second one for an answer?

      I personally hope that Kickstarter continues to be as 'over-cautious' as some people have put it with their projects. Hopefully this will be enough to ensure that a project like this never makes it under the radar again. thanks for the donation to RAINN, KS.

    38. Lee MacKiewicz on

      Other horrific lines include:

      "hysically pick her up and sit her on your lap. Don’t ask for permission. Be dominant. Force her to rebuff your advances."

      and

      "Pull out your cock and put her hand on it. Remember, she is letting you do this because you have established yourself as a LEADER. Don’t ask for permission, GRAB HER HAND, and put it right on your [genitalia]."

      This is assuming that she, the woman, gives consent because you have FORCED HER TO GIVE CONSENT by physically manipulating her body into the position you want it to be in. Ie. NOT CONSENT!

      "Even when a girl rejects your advances, she KNOWS that you desire her. That's hot."

      No. That's f&%^ing disturbing, if a woman has already said no.

      "Read 50 shades of grey or some other chick porn."

      Please, PLEASE don't think this is EVER a good way to learn safe sexual practice!!!!!!

    39. Missing avatar

      Joe Wheeler on

      So Kickstarter helps get a rape manual funded that could have easily been cancelled under their current TOS, BS’s everyone about why they couldn’t stop it, makes a tax deductable donation that will cost them nothing in the long run and people hail them as standing up for what’s right?

    40. Missing avatar

      rogelio tavera on

      a book on how to score with women, portraying them as sexual objects for the pleasure of men, views them as chattel.

      this perpetuates the rape culture.

      that is what some people can't grasp.

      the truth is that every woman is a unique person in her own right with individual likes, dislikes, joys and sorrows.

      to deny that is to deny her humanity and strip her of her dignity.

    41. Missing avatar

      Razgriz9327 on

      Apology accepted... not happy but you have begun to make amends. Thank you for owning up to your mistake

    42. Missing avatar

      Linda Sal on

      Nice to see you are making changes. Hopefully this never happens again.

    43. George J Cook on

      Ok, I've come round to agreeing it should've got kicked... but I think kickstarter did a lousy job of explaining why.. I think they should've compiled some quotes or something, as it looked like nazi feminists whining over nothing; but having been shown some more of the quotes then I think it's safe to say it's too extreme and deserves the snip...

      Saying put your hand on someone, maintain bodycontact, be confident is one thing (though really if a guy doensn't know how to do any of that stuff naturally, in a way that's pleasant and organic for both him and his lady friend, well.. he's pretty screwed [or not, as the case may be ;)] anyhow).

      The stuff this dude is talking about is actually kind of fucked up.

    44. Missing avatar

      Rachel Smith on

      This is a fantastic apology. Thank you.