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. Sean Baker on

      Okay, maybe I missed something. Maybe I missed the violent part, or the part where this is inappropriate in any way, shape or form. Maybe.

      care to elaborate as to why this is being apologized for? You're all joking right? This is a joke?

    2. Missing avatar

      Karen Garnica on

      I wrote on Thursday regarding Kickstarter being used to fund violence against women. "We’ve never acted to remove a project that quickly" is no defense for allowing someone to gain money to promote violence against women. Disgusted it took two days for you to wise up and do the right thing.

    3. Missing avatar

      Mark Hall on

      You did the right thing with this. Good Job !

    4. Terri Margo on

      Thank you for your apology and making the decision not to support this form of sexist project.

    5. Michelle Venus on

      Well done, Kickstarter. This is just one reason I love you.

    6. Dan Zaetz on

      Did anybody here actually read the link? What abuse are they talking about? It clearly recommends backing off if you're even a little unclear whether she's outright rejecting you. "Better safe than sorry." If this was to women going after men it would be touted by Oprah herself as "sexually empowering for women everywhere". Suggest a woman be the lead in sexual activity and get physical? Give that person an award! Do the reverse? SHUN. Look, no one's going to argue that this isn't a very forward dating MO, and not everybody will be turned on by it. But there's a difference between being forward and actually being violent.

      The REAL reason Kickstarter's making this apology is because nobody reads anymore, and if the two-word summary sounds remotely offensive, or if someone tells them it is offensive, they will assume it's offensive, and this will happen en masse. Then there are those who vehemently oppose anything that doesn't fit with their worldview. If they feel repelled by it, they believe everybody should also be repelled by it. Newsflash, people: you are not an accurate representation of your entire gender. You are a small subset, and some people enjoy dates differently than others. I seriously doubt the actual Kickstarter people fall into either of these categories, but they are afraid of backlash from those who do. If it got out that they supported a "seduction guide" ("Gasp! that two-word phrase sounds misogynistic!") on their website, the soundbyte-driven media would eat them alive. Plus apologizing "sincerely" makes for great PR. When in doubt, side with the women.

    7. Christian Page on

      this guid dose cross the line a litle but alot of what pepole are qouting is a bit of a gray area.
      so girlsand guys agnst this 100%
      tell me what your advice to a guy who has gone on 5 dates with a girl flirted with her she flirted back she invites you into her bedroom alone and is siting next to you on her bed.
      if kissing and touching her at this point is 100% rape then 90% of men rape everyday.
      this coming from a nerdy virgian who has never had sex purely because i always fallow a rule of the girl has to make the first move(ps she never dose)
      dont forget there dissension bans all dating guides.
      not just this one that crossed the line

    8. Missing avatar

      Linda Johansson on

      You're kidding right? Weak and cowardly.

    9. Tyler St. John on

      I know Kickstarter is a project founded for the greater good. I have no doubt that this apology is sincere, and I hope this shows people how committed you are to doing the right thing. It takes some serious guts for a group of your reach to simply say, "We were wrong." Everyone makes mistakes. This project has done far more good for humanity than damage that particular scumbag could ever do. As far as I'm concerned, apology wholly accepted.

    10. Nathan Paul Rhoades on

      @Mark Mensch Okay I will follow your advice and imagine a gay guy using the book on me. He puts his hand on my back and says I am cute and he wants to talk. I say I am not gay and not interested at all but thank you. He goes away and never comes back.

      Sorry that just doesn't sound very horrible at all. Everything else you mentioned is just an awful lie.

    11. Missing avatar

      Jack Michaud on

      Lame. It's pathetic that there was nobody with the courage to use their judgment and call a spade a spade and pull the project on sight. The creators have their money, they win.

    12. Kris Nielson
      Superbacker
      on

      Thank you

    13. Stef Rozitis on

      Thank you for this apology, it is thorough enough to come across as sincere (especially with the actions taken). It is rare to see such integrity coming through in an apology. I feel a great deal of respect for you!

    14. Katrina Bahbeydoll Hendy on

      Yes, good apology! Wish you nuked it instantly. Don't want any of that in the world!

    15. Missing avatar

      Catherine Stearns on

      You gave $25,000. to RAINN? Oh no! They do nothing for rape victims. They get so much money in federal funds, they don't need it. They are very stingy and cheap when it comes to spending the money they get on victims and catching rapists. Why not give it to a small up starting company who is aggressive about change? Why not give it to Laura Bates? :(

    16. Missing avatar

      Kishore Asthana on

      This is an excellent example of how mistakes should be handled. Most people and organisations become defensive in a knee jerk reaction. Well done.

    17. John H. on

      Pathetic. Either KS has standards that they enforce, or they not. In this case, it's proof that KS doesn't vet things.

      And quite frankly, the proposed book is no more offensive than most of the other tripe that passes for "dating advice".

    18. PuraKai Clothing on

      In life we all make mistakes, as business owners we all make mistakes, as employees we all make mistakes, the best we can do when we make a mistake is to say we're sorry (hopefully mean it) and ask for forgiveness. In the United States our creativity and speech is protected, as an American I cherish those rights, in the same regard as a husband and father of three children I protect my family as best I can from the speech and creativity that's not in line with our morals and values. My daughter and I have a project on Kickstarter right now, and I accept their apology. Seems like it was a good way for them to handle it and improve the procedures for vetting new projects.

    19. Andy Brice on

      By all accounts, yes, this project had a tone that was sexually-agressive and misogynistic.

      But I think its an unhealthy overreaction to claim that "seduction guides" or "anything similar" inherently "encourages misogynist behaviour". There are plenty of ways to give people advice on flirting in a way that is respectful and consensual.

    20. Missing avatar

      Rugger Ducky on

      Kickstarter, to say you had only 2 hours to make this decision is absolutely not true. You were notified about it well in advance of that. You just chose to ignore the problem until right before close, and then act like you couldn't change things. So a "seduction" aka rape manual gets funded, you collect your $$ from what was raised, and you'll still hand over plenty of money to the guy laughing at you all the way to the bank. How about mentioning the thousands of signature petitions you TOOK, but ignored about this?

      Meanwhile at least 3 of the guys who actually funded this rape manual have taken to these comments trying to defend it. To those douchebags, I say just this: just because the current version doesn't say who the backers are, don't think that your names were long since vacuumed off. Oh, no one is going to publish them in a manual or anything, but suffice to say you have greatly reduced your chances of ever actually having sex with a real live woman.

    21. Missing avatar

      Kathrin Kohler on

      Why didn't you choose to temporarily suspend their campaign, thereby giving you time to reach an informed decision?

    22. Jeremiah Whitmore on

      You know, watching the guy's initial video for the kickstarter... And some of the text descriptions aren't too bad, either. At first, one gets the impression that he isn't offering you a guide to "get any woman into bed." The initial impression is that the guide is for shy men who just don't know how to approach women that they're attracted to, and that its primary purpose is simply to give pointers to inspire confidence. So I can understand how Kickstarter would have initially approved it, because it isn't until you get into the stretch goal descriptions that you realize what it really is. Particularly the stretch goal where he promises to add chapters on "Juggling Multiple Relationships" and "Rules of the Wingman." I don't know if Kickstarter has to approve stretch goals ahead of time or not, but if they don't, then I could understand how the project would get a green light without Kickstarter realizing what it truly was.

    23. Ryan Black on

      Yeah... At first I felt like this was just another anti-men situation but this is really gross.

      http://t.co/wQaMw7jVKY

      This whole thing is really sick. He tries to cover his ass with a bunch of "i don't mean fist-pumping, type-a, bro-type alpha males" but he's really saying "learn how to be an awesome date-rapist!" This guy should be shut down altogether. The fact that he refers to a woman's body with porno slang makes it perfectly clear this is a 14-yr-old boy in a man's body trying to hurt women. No wonder guys around the world are lumped together as misogynistic pigs.

    24. Maximillian Bernhardt on

      I'm disgusting as how completely devoid of objectivity you people are. You were more concerned with your witch hunt than you were with fairly assessing what you were looking at. You just adopted the fanatical views of the mob without investigating yourselves.

      The project description and video gave zero cause to assume this was a "Rape guide" or even a "seduction guide.". This is how you all elected to view it, casually shrugging off anything to suggest that this was an unfair representation. Why? Because it's much more self-satisfying to be able to string a villain up than it is to respond with reason.

      Oh, and the "quotes" from Reddit, that were posted by people who took them horribly out of context, and decide to interpret them in the most heinous way possible? That's what you people founded this entire debacle on. You took something, out of context, from somewhere else and, without seeing the finished material for the kickstarter, assumed it would be included in it.

      You all literally, when confronted with the truth, decided to ignore it for a more fanciful reality, all so you could pat yourselves on the back for fighting a crusade against a caricature of a villain, because the truth means nothing to you.

      I reject this apology, because all it really is is an admission that Kickstarter lacks objectivity and the integrity to value that objectivity more than the raging idiocy of a mob.

      But do go on, call me a misogynist, call me an enabler of rape culture, fight a straw man while the people who are actually your enemy go unnoticed. I'm mad because I feel someone has been misrepresented, and nobody has given me actual proof to the contrary, and I just chose not to put a noose around the guy's neck before he was even convicted.

    25. Miroslaw Baran on

      @Maximilian Bernhard: the guide is available on reddit, along with other ejaculations of author's personality (I recommend his AMA about picking up Japanese girls). All confirm that the idea of treating people with respect – and truly respecting boundaries and consent – is rather alien to him.

    26. Fedor Steeman on

      This is how to do a proper apology. Thanks for setting a standard!

    27. Missing avatar

      Kaeroku on

      While I'm seeing overwhelming support for the apology here, I'm a bit disturbed after having looked at the project. Though it's not something I'd have backed myself, the project is harmless; it is marketing to a specific gender, certainly. But no more so than a Kickstarter for a book offering tips on how to maintain a home and garden would be.

      In this case the author is offering to convey knowledge regarding the laws of attraction to those with less social aptitude than himself (presumably.) This is not a new concept, and does not need to be perceived in the "misogynistic" light that it has been painted.

      I was raised with the mentality that even if you don't agree with a person's argument / statement / approach, they have a right to their own way of doing things. In this case, while I wouldn't support the Kickstarter, there is nothing indicating violence against anyone in the page and I believe they have every right to fund the project.

      To the rest of you blindly slamming the project and telling KS that their apology was necessary - you really should take a look at the content and consider the consequences of censorship (versus the consequences of allowing a 'self-help' book to go live.) I think you all have your priorities wrong.

    28. Johanna Bischof on

      I absolutely love Kickstarted and have always adored the idea behind it. So I was terribly disappointed when i found that project and this is why I reported it to you.
      I'm not happy that the project got funded, but I want to thank you for this apology - it explained why the things that happened happened and I understand the reasons you give. I also find the actions you are taking admirable.

      Thank you for the apology - if only everyone could handle their online selves with so much dignity. I'm glad I can again wholeheartedly support kickstarter

    29. Missing avatar

      QueenxRook on

      Kickstarter, you're amazing. Thank you.

    30. Kaley on

      Thanks for this apology, Kickstarter, and for your support of creators. As an artist by profession I am relieved that your services exist and flourish. However, I am appalled that this project made it on to your site in the first place, especially when a project proposal I submitted was deliberately denied a few years ago. I was hoping to raise money to study music in Mali while engaging in teaching artist work in the community with children (Im a composer), the main goal being recording an album of collaborative work by local artists, children, an myself. Kickstarter rejected my proposal immediately, snidely commenting, and I quote, "We do not fund vacations. Have fun on your trip!" I was shocked, and am even more shocked that misogynistic content, if couched in the right "creator" vocabulary, has a better chance of succeeding than a project designed to help one of the poorest but most artistically exhilarating African communities.

    31. Missing avatar

      Chrys Ballerano on

      Thank you for holding yourselves accountable and humbly explaining your position. I really appreciate your transparency and sincerity. As a staffperson at a state coalition working to end sexual assault, your policy change means a great deal. I'll share this news with my colleagues and member programs.

    32. Maha Seadaway on

      Thanks to join the conversation human right is women right ,freedom and respect , we all will be better

    33. J.M. Henry on

      How much actual investigation was done on this project before it was taken down? Given the creator's response to the accusations, I'm guessing barely any:
      http://pastebin.com/zwHYzCZe

      If what's in the link is to be believed, it looks like you guys just took down a harmless project just b/c someone else said it was "sexist". That's setting a bad precedent...

    34. Joseph Christina on

      So, in this case you were able to "preview" what was going to be published. How could you possibly police projects that don't have their content available or finished? So, all the films being funded, music (never any misogynistic content in lyrics, right?) all need to get the Big Brother/totally PC seal-of-approval? I think this is a very bad precident. Had no idea Kickstarter was only for G-rated projects.

    35. Matt Graham on

      I love how people are taking this as some kind of "win" for social justice.

      -Removing a man's opportunity at freedom of speech? JUSTICE!
      -Seeing a man whose ideals you disliked walk away scott free with 25grand? JUSTICE!
      -Stripping away the platform that allows for a producer to provide goods that were paid for? JUSTICE!

      You're all living in fantasy land. The only winner here is the author. You should all get together and burn some books to rejoice.

    36. S. Rupani on

      gotta love that's it's all the men that are having trouble with it. oh boy. proof that decent men truly are few and far between. anyway, thanks kickstarter. i was ready to cancel my account over this issue.

    37. Eileen Walsh on

      Admirable reaction. I'm impressed!

    38. Missing avatar

      Nathan Samra on

      So I'm sorta confused. Would someone please care to clarify instead of mindlessly parroting the terms transparency and sincerity?

      How is this any different than the 5 million magazines you'll see at the market on "how to attract any man" or "69 sex tips that will go straight to his head" or any of that other rubbish? It's all bullshit, and it's largely inconsequential, but this person should absolutely have the freedom to make a gender specific guide for men under the same freedoms. Even if the guide is garbage, even if the content is largely sensationalist in order to generate sales; there is no harm in him taking a formula that has existed for women for dozens of years and applying it to generate money from men.

      The project explicitly states that if you think she's rejecting you, back off. Under that pretext, any woman could "resist the rape advice" given in this book by stating "sorry I'm not interested" at which point the book says to walk away. If anything, we could use more of that mentality so that (idiotic) men don't see rejection as approval!

      Very disappointing outcome. Either remove woman's magazines, or allow this man to take the same bullshit presented in woman's magazines and present it to men.

    39. Cameron on

      Spineless move. The guide was completely harmless, and the man's only downfall was trying to make money off what people have been posting freely on the Internet for years. The book specifically said to back off if you even suspect rejection, and outlined boundaries not to cross. Unfortunately for the author, it seems a lot of people (maybe just women, since apparently it's "just men" who disapprove of the removal of this guide) think that making any kind of physical contact, as would have been completely normal twenty years ago, is in fact some kind of felonious sexual assault.

      Your apology being based on "violence against women" is a complete joke. There was nothing even remotely violent in this guide. It did not encourage, instruct, or forgive the use of violence against women. But now apparently touching somebody on the shoulder is violent? Like I said, a pathetic joke.

    40. Missing avatar

      Kelly Cuccaro on

      Why was it even approved in the first place? You guys allowed him to raise all of that money for a clearly disturbing piece of work.

    41. Missing avatar

      Erin Brown on

      Good job kickstarter, I wish you guys had taken action earlier but this is a good apology

    42. Grace Wood on

      Thank you for the actions that were taken; I'm frustrated with the fact that he deleted his most offensive comments from Reddit (& omitted them in his project proposal) so that there are men here who will believe that this is a biased act against an honest man, when he so blatantly endorsed sexual assault as a way of getting past no. (Or in his words, if you do stop at "no", it's only because it's "better to be safe than sorry".) A man who says that female consent is irrelevant doesn't deserve one penny of the money he's fraudulently raised, but he most certainly deserves all of the attention he will be getting over this.

      For those men here who say they need more specific content to believe this isn't a baseless attack, I suggest you find a way to follow that link & the subsequent link to the cached content of this "book". There isn't a chance that a decent person will find what he endorses acceptable.

      I want to think better of the men in the world than to believe that all of his backers bought (literally) into his most offensive content, & hope that the publicity causes them to think twice about listening to him. There are much better ways of meeting women, for either meaningful or more casual relationships.

    43. Missing avatar

      Thomas W. on

      Good on you for doing the right thing.

    44. Missing avatar

      Dalia on

      Great. I'm glad you apologized and I'm looking forward to more of your projects!

    45. Missing avatar

      deleted on

      This user's account has been deleted.

    46. Elona on

      I'm surprised by all the comments that applaud and quickly forgive this apology by Kickstarter. I appreciate it as well, sure, but to quickly add "Hooray I looove you Kickstarter" .. NO! Also, Kickstarter did not have a 2 hour window, they had at least 1-2 days when this was brought to their attention by dosomething.org. I had great respect and admiration for Kickstarter, and it saddens me to lose that respect (I still very much admire all the awesome projects they enable and facilitate). But, the way they handled this, is a sign of a bigger internal issue. You knew what the right thing to do was Kickstarter, and you failed to act accordingly.

    47. Vic Mazonas on

      This is the best apology I've ever seen. Seriously, you guys are sincere, honest, you explain your reasoning and the situation but don't make excuses, and you acknowledge the mistake.

      A lot of politicians could stand to learn a thing or two from your example. Good job, Kickstarter!

    48. James Barton on

      It's so rare to see a true apology these days - thank you Kickstarter for showing you understand the issue, committing to fixing it in the future, and backing up words with a significant donation to a worthy and appropriate charity. My respect for your company has increased by leaps and bounds.

      PS: For anybody who only saw the Kickstarter project page and is confused why the project was harmful, it was draft materials posted on Reddit that showed the project author advocated sexual assault. You can read more here: http://caseymalone.com/post/53339539674/this-is-not-fucking-harmless

    49. Missing avatar

      Phillip Glass on

      Kickstarter: where sex is otherwise known as "violence against women," and humans with penises are branded violent sex criminals. Wow, this whole fiasco is incredibly disturbing... looks like Kickstarter is the home of the new Inquisition. Anyone up for a book burning? The papacy would be proud...