We were wrong

Share this post

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. Cassandra Miles on

      @Mike Maring, Are you kidding me? What if it was a guide for men to sexually assault other men? What if it was a book empowering men to walk up to other men, force them into their laps, and put their cocks in their hands. This isn't about how to have game with willing participants, it's a manifesto on sexual ASSAULT. Rape does not occur on an equal paying field. Pull your head out of the sand!

    2. Missing avatar

      Terra on

      Thank you for your apology. And recognizing you were wrong. I deeply appreciate the honesty and your donation.

    3. Missing avatar

      Richard Holmes on

      Good response (especially the RAINN donation)... but tardy. It shouldn't have taken two days to say this.

    4. Jeff Allen on

      Absolutely pathetic kick starter. Knee jerk response to mindless groupthink buzzwords.

    5. Missing avatar

      Petkus on

      Well done Kickstarter. I've supported a few projects, and watched many others.
      I am very pleased to see your stance and moving to correct a wrong.
      Well done.

    6. Abigail Hanley on

      Thank you. I've rarely seen an organization respond as quickly and thoroughly as you have to a mistake. You justify our faith in you.

    7. Missing avatar

      Lya Kahlo on

      An excellent response to this. Well done Kickstarter! Thank you for being classy, respectable and mature about it.

    8. Malika Johnson on

      You are trying to make me fall of the wagon because I really want to have celebration drinks because of this! Sexism is closer to no longer being tolerated!

    9. Missing avatar

      John Funk on

      @Alexander - Any sort of seduction revolving around manipulation is wrong whether male->female, female->male, female->female, male->male, or whatever. That we can agree on. I would hope Kickstarter wouldn't allow any of these.

      Seduction itself is not evil. Manipulation for the sake of sex is.

      @John Smith - Context doesn't help. "If she's uncomfortable, try again later" doesn't make it better.

    10. Howard Freeman on

      Great transparency and explanation. This kind of communication builds even more trust. Well done.

    11. Candice Bree on

      " If we had seen this material when the project was submitted to Kickstarter (we didn’t), it never would have been approved. " - how did you not see it??? someone reviews these applications before they are approved right? You need a better screening process. Also, "When the project was funded the backers’ money went directly from them to the creator. We missed the window. " - I don't understand this, I did a kickstarter and they held my money for awhile to take the 5% for kickstarter and 5% for amazon and didn't let me know it was ready for withdrawal till much later...????

    12. williamchandra on

      Kickstarter you have my respect! but the level of backers of this project is too damn high! you're not the only one to blame, but look at the society as a whole! we got a problem

    13. Missing avatar

      Lya Kahlo on

      "Context doesn't help. "If she's uncomfortable, try again later" doesn't make it better."

      Exactly. if this weren't a sexual harassment/sexual assault how-to manual, this 'try again later after she clearly rejects your creepy advances" wouldn't be there.

    14. Lauren Klein on

      I accept this apology. You were absolutely in the wrong, but thank you for attempting to atone for your mistakes. The goodwill donation goes a long way.

      As someone who has had two major ($10,000+) projects funded through your site, when this whole thing came out I have to say I was extremely disappointed and was seriously questioning whether I would ever return. You made the right choice in this statement.

    15. Missing avatar

      doodlemancy on

      Please re-think the way your system works, as well. There should be some kind of review before the funds are handed off... having read the FAQs, it looks like there's no human review beforehand? If you'd had more than two hours, maybe this isn't the decision you would have made.

      Thank you for listening to us and for doing the right thing... well, a right thing, at least. You kinda missed out on doing THE right thing. But we've learned something, haven't we? And it only took 50,000+ people screaming at you for three days to accomplish it.

      I'm still a little hurt. I don't know if I'll use Kickstarter again. Maybe.

    16. Heather Monroe Kinne on

      Thank you Kickstarter for apologizing, for recognizing you did wrong. While it saddens me that such a project was funded in the first place (and has since gained even more attention as this story broke across the interwebs), your apology and your donation will hopefully work towards some sort of karmic balance. Thanks for being transparent, too - more companies should do as you have done.

    17. Jenny Ma on

      @ Mike Maring and Jeffrey Dean: What is wrong with the project? Did you read the excerpts on the reddit link the creator posted? Consent isn't a one time thing. And not asking permission before doing something to anyone is NOT okay especially when it comes to invading someone's personal boundaries even during sex.
      "If she says no, stop immediately and tell her you don't want to do anything that would make her uncomfortable." You're taking this quote out of context by not following it with "It's your go-to when faced with resistance... If a woman isn't comfortable, take a break and try again later." There is no try again later. No means NO not maybe later especially if she says " If she says "STOP," or "GET AWAY FROM ME," or shoves you away". http://www.reddit.com/r/seduction/comments/1dvnem/above_the_game_part_7_physical_escalation_sex/

      Think about the females in your life and whether or not you would want the things the creator has suggested in this book done to them. If you don't feel okay with that, then you definitely should not feel okay about this "seduction manual" being funded.

    18. Weiyi Guo on

      When I first read about this project being on Kickstarter, I was very angry and disappointed precisely because Kickstarter has always been a community which I respect and which I feel safe in. As I said to a friend yesterday, "Kickstarter has always been one of the good guys for me." Thank you for confirming that perception with this decision.

    19. Stephen Gibson
      Superbacker
      on

      Kudos to you. Perhaps a suspend feature needs to be added to the site so you can investigate any future cases like this. Once again points to you for admitting your mistake and doing what you could after the fact.

    20. Missing avatar

      Danielle on

      Wow. Respect to you kick starter.

    21. Greek Winter Media on

      We get it, we get it. Sex is evil unless a woman expressly and clearly says she's ok every step of the way. 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. Feminists are fucking ridiculous. Unless a woman is 100% in control it's OMG rape culture! Silly shit.

    22. Jeff Anthony on

      A seduction guide should not be construed as rape nor is it violent toward women. It is a product which likely has a market.

      Your cached link is misconstrued as well.

      You are wrong on so many levels with this one. This post seems to be going a bit viral and the benefits will go to the cockroach Borg.

    23. Dan Vedda on

      I'm with you, Kickstarter. I have no doubt about the sincerity and good intentions in your organization. But this is part of the price of growth--things you'd never approve slip by through creator deceit, staff inattention, or simple volume of work. Perhaps other eyes might have raised a flag, but it shows how negative off-mission stuff can creep in. Agreed, it begs for an overhaul of the approval process, and I'm sure you're at work on that already. But scaling for the current Kickstarter has to be done in a balanced enough way that this incident doesn't repeat without shutting out creators with fringe-but-allowable content. It's a tough job, and I wish you well on it. I know you'll work hard to get it right this time.

    24. heidi phelps on

      You could still prevent the funds transfer at this point, and you know it. Decent apology, but ultimately an empty gesture if there is no follow-through.

    25. Missing avatar

      AJ Redford on

      Thank you. I signed a letter about this earlier in the week, and then presuming the wheels were turning to get things as they should be. Your apology is so gracious, and I really appreciate it. I'm going to go send the link around now. Thank you again!

    26. Missing avatar

      Radi4Music on

      Kickstarter, I appreciate your sincere apology and the effort to make things right by that massive donation to
      RAINN.

      For the future, may I suggest that you put in an automatic 1- or 2-day delay on payouts to the successful projects, which if in place earlier, might have helped you have time enough to go over the evidence in this case and revoke funding where your project approval process might have missed something earlier?

    27. Michelle Paul on

      Thanks, Kickstarter. I know lots of people are complaining that you aren't/didn't do enough, but I understand all where you're coming from, and you're doing so much better than a bunch of other popular websites in handling these cases, so kudos to you guys.

    28. Ingrid Dontgoogleme on

      So, if you get assaulted because of Kickstarter's actions, have no fear. RAINN is funded up for a little while.

    29. Cassandra Miles on

      Thanks for the apology, Kickstarter. Just a note: RAINN doesn't *prevent* sexual assault, it helps treat and counsel survivors. In that case, you should donate a hell of a lot more to the cause since there are 732 backers. I won't feel satisfied until whoever approved this project is let go. A society that is passive about sexual assault is not equal or free. This SHOULD hurt your brand, as it is now associated with rape culture.

    30. Julia P. Dickinson on

      Awesome, the donation can go towards helping women who may find themselves on the receiving end of that book's "advice." It all works out in the end(?)

    31. Jt Metcalf on

      This seems like a genuine, honest apology from the folks at Kickstarter. I, for one, find it great that the company can recognize it's shortcomings and publicly admit them unlike so many other companies nowadays that would have just tried to sweep this under the rug. Good job Kickstarter.

    32. Adi Heller on

      Thank you for making this right.

    33. Joey Stuart on

      So,never really kept track of this, until Kickstarter posted an apology about not removing it. After reading what the kickstarter was about, I honestly can say this: I cannot understand how this is any more degrading towards women than an episode of Jersey Shore, or anything regarding that Snooki woman or the Kardashians. This is a rather basic premise: men who want to be popular with women. Yes, its sleazy, but unless I missed something, I don't see the "sexual abuse book" that people called this.

    34. alendrel ~~Awaits the King~~ on

      @Jenny Ma
      Exaclty.

      The author isn't saying '"If she says no, stop immediately and tell her you don't want to do anything that would make her uncomfortable." out of respect for the woman's agency and boundaries, but 1) to create a shield of deniability for himself, and 2) to not waste further effort at that time.

    35. Missing avatar

      John Krill on

      I suggest you create a new policy were you can freeze a project so any wrong doing can be checked out. If the claims are false then restart the Kickstarter clock. If true then KILL the project and refund contributors.

    36. Harriet Orchard on

      @John Smith:

      You obviously haven't watched the Little Mermaid. She loves Eric, but can't talk, and Sebastian is helping to save her life by singing that song....

      Anyway, here's a link from the blog that John Funk linked to, for the reddit page which has excerpts from this Rape Guide:

      http://www.reddit.com/r/seduction/comments/1gkth6/above_the_game_part_9_giving_back_be_a_value_giver/

    37. Draco on

      There's no way they did this because they wanted a cut of the money. The project funded to 16,000 $ and Kickstarter sent 25,000 $ to a charity because of it.

      And KS keeps only a percent of the 16,000. They're taking not only a PR hit, but a financial one too.

      So it's not about the money.

    38. Missing avatar

      Lacey Gilmore on

      Glad you get it. A woman is ALWAYS in control of her own body. But so we are clear, so are men. Rape goes both ways. If a man says no, that also means no. Both parties should be in control of themselves

    39. Cassady Toles on

      This makes me deeply uncomfortable. I thought the whole point of kickstarter was that people could fund projects that wanted funding. I'm deeply uncomfotable with this vague and non-specific basis for wanting to pull the project. Lets imagine that I wanted to publish a murder mystery about a serial rapist. Could I? Or is that "encouraging violence to women" or is it "degrading to women?"

      I don't support "seduction guides" but that book about pick-up artists a couple of four or five years back was stupid popular. It probably is. If someone wants to fund a new one, why shouldn't they?

      I am deeply uncomfortable with kickstarter feeling the need to get involved.

    40. Missing avatar

      Sara Danver on

      Jeffrey Dean 1 minute ago
      We get it, we get it. Sex is evil unless a woman expressly and clearly says she's ok every step of the way. 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. Feminists are fucking ridiculous. Unless a woman is 100% in control it's OMG rape culture! Silly shit

      Actually, yes. that would be better. Anything less than an enthusiastic an unequivocal yes is rape. and if you're not sure, ask again. and again. and again. Always be sure. If you were uncertain about having sex with someone, wouldn't you rather that person checked to make sure you were okay?

    41. Dominique Teagle on

      The apology/solution isn't perfect, but it's miles better than some weak-assed "We're sorry YOU were offended" statement that people/companies sometimes give.

    42. Nicole Elizabeth Edmonds on

      It should be noted that Alexander Khanukov was one of the financial backers of the project.

      It should also be noted that 1 in 3 women globally are abused by their partners. You cannot reverse blame to target women when this statistic still exists today.

      I am glad to see Kickstarter take this to task, and applaud many of the men here who understand why this sort of project is a problem, that gives me some hope.

    43. Amanda Capley on

      Thank you Kickstarter

    44. Stephan Vandenborn on

      @Jeffrey Dean

      Leg rubbing and snaring her is NOT meant to be actions to take on women you met 5 seconds ago. At least that's how I view this comment. If you're doing stuff as a guy that she may possibly reject, you're doing "that stuff" too soon and have not waited for a proper moment for this.

    45. Michael Dambold on

      Thank you for being so honest about this. Thank you for the transparency, and taking the steps you took to not only ensure this never happens again, but the donation to the non-profit.

    46. Jordan Thomas Wiegand on

      While I don't support the content funded by Kickstarter, it seems that Kickstarter ought not to be in the business of saying what should and should not receive crowd-sourced funding. Provided the content isn't illegal, Kickstarter should simply connect funders with fundees; not decide which projects have merit or not. Kickstarter should be all about the free association found in crowdsourced projects which may stand or fail on their own merits.

    47. Ella Silver on

      Dudes i didn't even read the offending material but... the way you immediately and articulately apologized when you realized you may have made an error.. that's classy. Not many people can do this with the finesse and dignity that you did.

      So for whatever it was, apology immediately and blindly accepted. You're ok in my books, friend.

    48. Simon Crouch on

      transparency might not be the right word, your cached page fails to load.

    49. Missing avatar

      Heavenslaughing on

      This is a thoughtful apology. I have a project for which I intended to use Kickstarter in the future, and had the company simply let this rape manual pass without comment, I would have had second thoughts about using the website for any purpose in the future. The change in policy and donation to RAINN help make clear Kickstarter's position on the matter. It's appreciated.

    50. Jacquelyn Gill on

      Thank you for this apology and attempts to make amends. Thank you for listening. Now, we can focus our time and energy on the author of Above the Game, and hope that he expunges the inappropriate content from his book.

      It would be helpful, also, to link to some of the text that was objected to, because there are people who are outraged because they can't see what was objectionable about the original proposal. That would help.