We were wrong

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Dear everybody,

On Wednesday morning Kickstarter was sent a blog post quoting disturbing material found on Reddit. The offensive material was part of a draft for a “seduction guide” that someone was using Kickstarter to publish. The posts offended a lot of people — us included — and many asked us to cancel the creator’s project. We didn’t.

We were wrong.

Why didn’t we cancel the project when this material was brought to our attention? Two things influenced our decision:

  • The decision had to be made immediately. We had only two hours from when we found out about the material to when the project was ending. We’ve never acted to remove a project that quickly. 
  • Our processes, and everyday thinking, bias heavily toward creators. This is deeply ingrained. We feel a duty to our community — and our creators especially — to approach these investigations methodically as there is no margin for error in canceling a project. This thinking made us miss the forest for the trees.

These factors don’t excuse our decision but we hope they add clarity to how we arrived at it.

Let us be 100% clear: Content promoting or glorifying violence against women or anyone else has always been prohibited from Kickstarter. If a project page contains hateful or abusive material we don’t approve it in the first place. If we had seen this material when the project was submitted to Kickstarter (we didn’t), it never would have been approved. Kickstarter is committed to a culture of respect.

Where does this leave us?

First, there is no taking back money from the project or canceling funding after the fact. When the project was funded the backers’ money went directly from them to the creator. We missed the window.

Second, the project page has been removed from Kickstarter. The project has no place on our site. For transparency’s sake, a record of the page is cached here.

Third, we are prohibiting “seduction guides,” or anything similar, effective immediately. This material encourages misogynistic behavior and is inconsistent with our mission of funding creative works. These things do not belong on Kickstarter.

Fourth, today Kickstarter will donate $25,000 to an anti-sexual violence organization called RAINN. It’s an excellent organization that combats exactly the sort of problems our inaction may have encouraged.

We take our role as Kickstarter’s stewards very seriously. Kickstarter is one of the friendliest, most supportive places on the web and we’re committed to keeping it that way. We’re sorry for getting this so wrong.

Thank you,

Kickstarter

Comments
    1. Missing avatar

      deleted on

      This user's account has been deleted.

    2. Missing avatar

      rnxx on

      Kickstarter, I am really disappointed. You removed a project which was in no way advocating violence against women. I've been following the author of the book for a long time now. While I have to agree that his wording could have been way better, I am still deeply saddened by your decision to give in to public pressure (pressure coming form people who evidently never bothered to read his material, if not for the small chunk of it that proved useful in attacking him).

      I do understand that people get emotional whenever rape is concerned, and I remember myself becoming furious after reading one blog (forgot the name of it) that was advocating abuse and violence towards women. But this whole witchhunt was mounted against the wrong man. I myself have followed advice very akin to the author's, and this never led me to abuse anyone. I have a girlfriend, many friends, and no one ever hinted at me being abusive or disrespectful. In fact, thanks to this kind of guides, I started caring more about the people that were close to me.

      To the people who condemned the author's work, I wish you would read the whole thing and with an open mind. Some of the things this society teaches us are great, some others are a byproduct of our collective fears and issues. Relationships (all kinds) are complicated, and a very big chunk of very popular advice and approaches is, unfortunately, flawed.

    3. Missing avatar

      Ziyo on

      @ Jeffery Dean , Mike Maring et al

      First of all, don't confuse 'feminism' with 'misandry.' Not all feminists are man-hating lesbians (and not all feminists are lesbians, though I don't see what's wrong with being one ). I consider myself a feminist, and I am straight, and that obviously doesn't mean I hate all men. The issue is, this guide, under all the fluff about being an 'Alpha Male ' promotes taking away a woman's agency, reducing her to no more than a tool for a man to have sex with , less than a human being. If you actually read the excerpts , it does say or imply things like 'set her on your lap by force'. Have you ever seen a woman setting a man on her lap by force ? No? Good. Regarding women who seduce men, yep, that's true. Women seduce men, men seduce women, men seduce men , women seduce women . Physical assault (i.e. pulling a woman's hand to your crotch ) is, well, physical assault . It only serves to convey the message that the woman is not 'supposed ' to have any agency over her body or her behaviour, supporting society's patriarchal structure (men still get 19% more salary than a woman in the same or a similar position because employers assume she has a husband/boyfriend to provide for her , to illustrate it differently).

      Last of all , the number of known cases where a man is sexually assaulted by a woman is zero (I've never heard of a man being raped by a woman , that's for sure! ) , so the argument that 'women also assault men' is ... not very strong. On another note , there are men out there that support feminism (and whose opinion/ideas you might actually listen to , because yeah, I'm female) , so why do you feel treathened enough to go into the defensive ?

      Personally , what offends me most is that , as this ''guide'' apparently apllies to the entire female species, denies the human being - complexity of women, and , what I've said earlier , reducing them to 'tools'.

      I hope this clarifies things.

    4. Missing avatar

      Turkka on

      Respect, great way of handling a problem that is more than just PR.

    5. Sarah MacRae on

      @Mike Maring, are you kidding me????
      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."

      I just about threw up right there. I stopped reading, because I didn't want to give it a second more of my time.
      This blog MAY appeal to boys who call grown women "girls" and only want sex from them, but it doesn't appeal to me, and will offend a lot of women and men who have an ounce of sensitivity. As a woman I do not want to contribute one cent to someone who thinks that when a woman rejects your sexual advances, secretly she's thinking that it's a turn on and that she really wants you to äggressively escalate your physical advances. That's not sexy, that's sexual harassment at best, and can lead to sexual assault at worst. Not cool, and Mike YOU ARE WRONG.

    6. Missing avatar

      Shala Byers on

      Wow. Impressed with the sincere apology here. Go Kickstarter--everyone makes mistakes thanks for owning up to yours!

    7. Missing avatar

      AnotherAngel on

      @Ziyo
      "Last of all , the number of known cases where a man is sexually assaulted by a woman is zero (I've never heard of a man being raped by a woman , that's for sure! ) , so the argument that 'women also assault men' is ... not very strong."

      Unfortunately thats just not true. Women can be rapists and we can rape men. Female-on-male rape vicitims face similar harassment and further victimisation when they come forward and are taunted with comments like "Raped by 4 women? Sounds more like a dream for my bucket list."
      The awful thing is that as long as people assert that men arent or cant be sexually assaulted and raped by women we are aking sure that the victims will never be taken seriously.

      The argument IMO is not that female-on-male rape and sexual assult doesnt happen, it is that though it does happen that doesnt justify things like this book's content. That there are cases where women are agressive doesnt justify men being agressive. The argument "but they started it" lost validity when I was 6 years old.

    8. Ellen Mulder on

      Thank you Kickstarter for having the decency, common sense, but also courage to apologize. It takes a lot for people to apologize these days. Yet is a good, if not the best, way to show that you take responsibility for your part in unfortunate matters, and at the same time clarify your position on that very matter. Violence should not by publicly funded. "Duh" one might think, but many organizations and websites don't take their roles seriously yet. Maybe you can nudge Facebook in the same direction??? They also display, and therefore promote, a large number of sexist, racist, objectifying, violent and or offensive pages. I report an offensive page everytime I encounter one, but the 'reporting' doesnt appear to change a thing (!). So thanks again, for taking responsibility openly and therefore setting a great example to follow.

    9. Rightbread Team on

      Your link doesn't work. I was not able to see the "transparency"

    10. Jay c on

      NOPE. It's not rape if a woman is consenting. There is no such thing into hypnotizing some chick to unwillingly sleep with you.

      Let's be not aloud to improve ourselves!!

      If we suck at dating and can't get a girl for the life of us, we should just go live in a hole and die!!

      How is learning social skills, building confidence, showing your interest rape? There is a way to turn anything the wrong way. Why is porn legal when there is such thing as child porn, rape porn and that bullshit??

      FLAWED LOGIC

    11. Tom B.
      Superbacker
      on

      @Jay c

      You are correct that is the woman (or man) is willing, it is not rape. But just touching someone that does not want you to, which is what the book advocates, is assault, plain and simple. Picking someone up and sitting them on your lap, or taking their hand and placing it on your crotch, are sexual assault.

      If those are your idea of "techniques" for winning over women, then you deserve to be alone. And if you actually try them on someone, then you deserve to be in jail, with that nice "Sexual Offender" tag on you for the rest of your life when you get out.

    12. batpigandme on

      Classy move kickstarter!

    13. Local Media on

      I'm not in the least offended by this guy. To be offended by him would be a waste of my time. People can choose what they expose themselves to. Don't like it? Leave it on the shelf; but censoring this is ridiculous. There was no "violence against women" in any of the material he posted that I found. I really did expect that the content would be horrifying. What a joke! Also from what I can see his advice for men on how to have good sex is not awful. I'd like it if my partner was thinking of how best to "rock [my] f-ing world!"

    14. Missing avatar

      Karina Anderson on

      Once again, political correctness run amok.

      Feminists constantly shout and blather about women being "strong, smart, anmd powerful" and other such generalities and crap, but they get their panties in a knot over some guy who wants to publish a book about how to meet and attract women? And you call this book abuse??+? But, but... I thought women were strong, smart and powerful! But you feel threatened and abused by an effing book??!!

      But it appears to be OK to puke out crap on feminist websites about how they would like to mutilate men's genitalia and other pleasant things. You are all such a bunch of little turds.

      Gack, women like you all make me embarrased to be female.

    15. Matthew Stavola on

      It's good to see that Kickstarter took responsibility for it's inaction by donating $25k to RAINN, but this paragraph bothers me a little bit:

      "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."

      A "seduction guide" shouldn't default to "man tries to forcibly get laid" in your minds. There are books for women detailing how they might attract men, some of them are down right disgusting in content. So when you say that dating guides "encourages misogynistic behavior" it annoys me that you neglect the fact that they can be misandristic as well. I get that this book in particular was nothing but offensive garbage towards women, but let's not play favorites here.

    16. Missing avatar

      carolbruce on

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    17. Missing avatar

      Gregorius G on

      This is ridiculous. From what I could see the guide was maybe somewhat corny and derivative. If you found it tasteless and wanted to ban it for that I'd understand. Branding it as some kind of advocacy for violence against women is basically pandering to political correctness in its most twisted form. To write this long snivelling apology and donate money to a battered women charity just smacks of the worst kind of corporate moral policing.

    18. Missing avatar

      Gregorius G on

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

      A direct quote from the books draft. Sure his writing skills could use some polishing and I can see some women being put off by his attitudes but what are we getting outraged about? The guy is advocating a strategy of persistence, directness and dominance without crossing the line into non-consensual sex. I can't remember the last time I heard a woman say "I gave him explicit permission in writing to touch me. Then we proceeded to go through the safe sex protocol, that involved me for signing a whole bunch of documents in triplicate just to be sure"

      Why do we have to be boring and robotic about human sexuality? So much about seduction and sex is dynamic and involves a million subtle bodily tells, ruses, innuendo and transactions of power. The demarcation between non-consensual and consensual sex is a clear enough one for anyone who has some basic humanity and social skills, no matter how obnoxious or pushy he may be - perhaps not social robots like Tom B though. The demarcation between misogyny and different culture bound attitudes to sexuality and gender are more complex. I really don't think its kick-starters job to policing this as it is a slippery slope. Welcome to the Brave New World of Kickstarter.

      The book makes me cringe to be sure and I don't think the world needs yet another seduction manual that is this uninspiring. But that's not for me to decide.

    19. Missing avatar

      Esther Pettigrew on

      Thank you, Kickstarter, for an apology where you actually own your decision instead of something like "We apologize if you were offended".

      Thank you for removing that project from the Kickstarter site AND providing a link to a cached copy so that anyone could see it if they wanted to would not stumble across it accidentally. (By the way, the link worked for me. For those it didn't work for, perhaps you need to check what your server or your browser blocks?)

      Thank you also for the links to the draft material of the book and the blog post about the project. That was very useful information to help me make my own informed decision.

      Thank you for knowing the difference between a genuine self-help book to build social skills and misogynistic drivel that treats sex as the goal to winning a game and views women as only sex-dispensers. From reading the comments, I have some hope for humanity as it seems that most posters are equally aware of the difference.

      Thank you for putting your money where your mouth is. $25,000 is more than 30X of your 5% fee from the project. To me, that seems an adequate restitution. While that money could have been spent fighting the creator of the project, I'd rather have that money going towards helping women rather than lining lawyers pockets.

      Thank you for taking steps to prevent a repeat of this in the future by updating your submission guidelines to prohibit seduction guides or other similar material. I would hope that in the future, if a similar project was brought to your attention at the 11th hour, these updated guidelines would allow you to instantly respond.

      I appreciate the apology, the information, the honesty, the sincerity, the transparency, the updated submission guidelines, and the upholding of basic humanity. Bravo! We all make mistakes - but only the best of us learn from them.

    20. Kirsten Simmons on

      Kudos for a sincere apology and appropriate donation. Isn't banning all self help material a bit like throwing the baby out with the bathwater, though? There are way more legitimate, creative works in the genre than there are creeps advocating sexual assault. I've supported a number of them here in the past. Is there a way to alter the guidelines to allow those projects back in the fold?

      Oh, and for the boys arguing that perusing a woman after she rebuffs you is seduction - I've dated some amazing, assertive guys, and can you guess the sexiest thing each of them did in the early days? They asked if they could kiss me.

    21. Missing avatar

      coopfoer G Gannon on

      This comment has been removed by Kickstarter.

    22. Missing avatar

      vivineee on

      This comment has been removed by Kickstarter.

    23. Missing avatar

      deleted on

      This user's account has been deleted.

    24. Missing avatar

      Spencer Rogers-Greason on

      What in the hell about that project was promoting or glorifying violence against women??

    25. Missing avatar

      Peter Teloff on

      This seduction book is teaching a kind of interaction that is not good for both sexes.

      Humans in general or even more broadly living beings are those who deserve respect, all of them.

      As such I dislike the calls for whitch burnings (making backers public on a wall of shame) or talking about women as if they were especially worthy of protection. No! Real enlightment means respect for everyone, and understanding that special treatment or protection is sexism.

      I would have preferred a donation to human rights activists. This would have sent the right message: an educated decision by people who hold their head high in a view of a mistake and foster real societal improvement, instead of feeling ashamed by public outcry and strong lobby interests (e.g., feminst groups).

      @other commentors: thanks for considering those words before rejecting them immediately and falling into patterned reactions. Also you might consider that people who want such self-help books want genuine help, not more shaming, they already act out of shame/low self-confidence. Shaming them and assuming they are out there to do harm wont change anything for the good.

    26. Missing avatar

      Peter Teloff on

      @Tom B.: So you advocate a no tolerance, no mistake allowed policy. Truly enlightened. Instead of accusing each others of being monsters and going out of our way to make others feel guilty and bad, maybe it would be an idea to handle things like adults and stop blowing everything out of proportion.

      Aggressive and insulting behavior when you dislike something is not your right, it's childish and unworthy of adults.

      People need room to grow and develop and not fear and fascism. Limits have to be set, but in proportion!

    27. Andi Popp on

      Since I have just seen this now, here are my 2 cents: Until now, this has been my favorite site in the net. I have been promoting crowdfunding and Kickstarter on my blog for a long time. But reading about this decision leaves me utterly dissapointed. With you giving in to an unfounded political hate campaign against seduction guides, you have openly started to filter projects for political reasons (the whole violence thing is totally bogus and you know it). This means kickstarter cannot be a politicly neutral platform for creators and supporters anymore and that makes me extremly sad.

    28. Missing avatar

      Omni on

      What you were wrong about Kickstarter was giving in to censorship whores. This site has always represented the freedom for individual creators to find an outlet to get their creations out to the world. Just because some people don't agree with what a writer is writing doesn't mean it should be censored. The writer's freedom of expression should be respected.

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    30. Peter Chiykowski on

      This. This is how you apologize honestly and transparently. This makes me so proud to support the platform.

    31. Missing avatar

      Joel et Monique Bautista on

      HI everyone, we have launched “ KREMAS” one of our Haitian delights recently on Kickstarter, and we believe even if we go to family or friends but we need OTHER PEOPLE TO ENJOY in a easier way to discover projects, or they wont hear about them until it is too late, some backers might be interested.

    32. Missing avatar

      Joel et Monique Bautista on

      Sorry I forgot to post the keyword to search it “Haitian delights"

    33. Missing avatar

      ZenBar on

      Kickstarter you were wrong in multiple ways. You were wrong to even accept this project in the first place. In looking at the project, the layout and the wording reminded me of 'top secrets for picking up chicks' web site I saw 5 years ago. Probably the same person still trying to peddle his smut.

      You were wrong for not stopping the project even at the last moment. The 'Our processes, and everyday thinking, bias heavily toward creators' is not an excuse for feeding the ego of degenerate creators.

      Kickstarter should have enough maturity and courage now to not accept morally and ethically reprehensible projects because it 'might' interfere with creativity.

    34. Otakuten on

      To those asking how it supports violence against women, take a look at the actual book. In chapter 7 he tells men to sexually assault women. He also says that if they say "no" they actually like it and you should lie and apologize then try again ASAP. He says to never ask for permission before inappropriately touching a woman. He says to force women to touch you because they will submit to you if you force them. He basically says that if you try to rape her enough she'll eventually agree to let you. THIS is not okay.

      The Kickstarter page itself makes little to no mention of this, which makes it completely understandable why whoever screened it found no problem with it. It presents itself as an average self-help book for lonely guys looking to make a connection with a girl. It's the contents of the book itself, which were published on an ENTIRELY DIFFERENT SITE that a quick screening would not have seen, that support violence against women. It's a book about how to rape women by convincing the reader that women love rape.

      http://www.reddit.com/r/seduction/comments/1dvnem/above_the_game_part_7_physical_escalation_sex/

    35. Amanda YourCat Morrison on

      Thank you for the follow-up and gracious apology. Good on you for going above & beyond by donating to RAINN. Stay awesome <3

    36. Missing avatar

      Chris Bartlett on

      Good apology, though pity you seem to have no legal recourse against the creator, if they broke your terms can you not pursue them?

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    38. Soni Gupta on

      This comment has been removed by Kickstarter.

    39. Josi Sonali on

      This comment has been removed by Kickstarter.

    40. Josi Sonali on

      This comment has been removed by Kickstarter.

    41. Josi Sonali on

      This comment has been removed by Kickstarter.

    42. Missing avatar

      Upeksha Pawar on

      This comment has been removed by Kickstarter.