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. Alana Lynch on

      On women's magazines:

      Women's magazines are often subtly misogynistic in and of themselves. You say they're treating men like games. Maybe that's so, and that's crap. No one here has said anything about women's mags being anything but trash. Check out the number of feminist blogs that make a point to mock every Cosmo issue as it comes out (The Pervocracy's monthly Cosmocking feature comes to mind), along with Nerve's "Cosmo's Worst Sex Tips".

      Pointing to Cosmo to try and give this vile trash credence is intellectually dishonest, though. First off, as someone before me said, free speech is the business of the government. Kickstarter is not a government agency, so it's a moot point. Secondly, whether you want to admit it or not, this crap is encouraging sexual harassment at the very minimum. "Try again" after a woman has turned you down is NEVER okay. No means no -- if she changes her mind, she will tell you. You don't get to put consideration coins into us and get sex out. That's not how it works.

      What none of you MRA types seem to grasp is that it is NEVER okay to touch someone without permission. Never. Not ever. There are a number of established couples with implied consent, but those couples largely have clear boundaries about what is and isn't okay to assume. Touching someone you've just met to try and get them into bed is a revolting leap over boundaries. I'd slug a guy who picked me up and put me on his lap without permission -- my own boyfriend knows I'd be pissed if he did that. Don't get me wrong -- sitting on his lap is great, but it's always my decision about wanting to, and he respects that.

      Asking doesn't make you unmanly or whatever -- it makes you respectful. And remember, women are people. We have brains and opinions and feelings. Assuming you know what they are just because we've got a pair of breasts and you like them is ignorant, and assuming you can touch our bodies because you like what you see is assault. Consent is sexy.

    2. Missing avatar

      Courtney Aiello on

      Thanks for this. Kickstarter is a great company.

    3. Jason A. Quest on

      It was easily within your power to place the funding of the campaign "on hold" while considering what action (if any) to take. In fact, I would have assumed that you had procedures in place to do just that in the event of a reported violation of your terms. So not only did you fail to make a decision in the amount of time you were given (understandable), you failed to recognize that you needed more time to consider it (not understandable).

    4. Missing avatar

      Bill Davies on

      I understand that you may be trying to do the right thing here, but there are a few concerns/suggestions I have:

      Perhaps I misunderstood, but I got the impression something was added last second to the project that disclosed an intent to promote violence against women. However, as I read the details of the project, I didn't see and watershed moments. In the immortal words of Denny green, "They are who we thought they were." Did I miss something? Is it just that someone complained with the words in their proper order such that you thought, "By jove, they may be on to something."

      Second, you provide a link under the guise of transparent disclosure. I get that and on the surface, it seems pretty cool. However, the link you provide is not just a snapshot of the offending project. It also provides a current and active link to the offending project. It feels a little akin to a police spokesman reporting on a bank robbery and instead of showing stills from the bank's security camera, they show in stark detail the robbers entering the code to the safe.

      Finally, and I don't really blame you for this, it appears as though you are promoting your apology through Facebook, etc... Again, its not overly problematic but it hints ever so slightly of the firefighter who is obsessing over an ex so he starts her house on fire, puts it out and then leverages the expectation of gratefulness. I am not saying that's what you're doing - I'm saying the handling of it makes it seem like that might be what you are doing.

      The apology is certainly better and more sincere than most, or no apology. Next time, give $20,000 to the non-profit and spend $5,000 on a PR profession to fine tune the crisis management message. That would turn this solid triple into a homerun.

    5. Jeff Allen on

      This comment has been removed by Kickstarter.

    6. Missing avatar

      Suryce on

      People are pointing out that the quotes were out of context and that they are supposed to be in a section about interacting with someone you are already interacting with. Thing is, this kind of advice is still problematic for two reasons :
      1) Being in a relationship doesn't mean you have automatic consent.
      2) The only thing that is consent is the word "yes", absence of rejection is not consent.

      Oh, and about women magazines, I have some news for the people who criticize the large movement that is feminism without having done any research about it: guess what? Feminists are the first people on Earth to criticize women magazines!

    7. Missing avatar

      John Funk on

      @Jeffrey Thank you for proving you are part of the problem.

      Also, please note that the only people who have problems with this are all guys. Not a coincidence. My brothers, please open your eyes to the very real harm that shit like this causes - as Nicole Elizabeth Edmonds said above, 1 in 3 women worldwide is abused by a partner, usually male. We can be part of the problem and contribute to a world hostile to the women in our lives, or we can start being part of the solution.

      In this, Kickstarter has shown that it is committed to being part of the solution, and I respect them for that.

    8. Missing avatar

      Toby Teh on

      For those who are a little confused about why removing this fund is such a big deal, I suggest skipping to point 7) of the Reddit article, where there are suggestions for men to escalate physical intimacy by, and I quote:
      - "Physically picking her up and forcing her to sit on your lap"
      - "Don't ask for permission. Be dominant. Force her to rebuff your advances."
      - "If a woman isn't comfortable, take a break and try again later."
      - "Pull out your c**k and put her hand on it."

      And even though these recommendations are meant for the later stages of the seduction, the author categorically dismisses consent from women. Initially I thought this was a sleazy, if harmless seduction handbook. But at point 7) it goes beyond sleaze into outright harassment, and yes, that is violence. Seriously guys, imagine if someone used these techniques on your sister, or your mother, or on you. You wouldn't be too comfortable with that, I'd imagine.

      But what disturbs me the most is that the entire article dismisses or omits personal connection, natural chemistry, sincerity... y'know, the things that love and friendship is supposed to be about? The article is about the superficiality of seduction, about scoring women for the sake of scoring with them, instead of because you genuinely love and care for them.

      More importantly, if these techniques work as well as advertised, what's to stop a man from using these techniques to force himself onto a woman who doesn't want his advances but is not able to rebuff him, or a girl who doesn't know any better? Violence against women starts when men believe that women are a right, a prize, or a mere object, and this book is dangerously close, if not within that realm of thinking.

      Kickstarter, you did the right thing. You may have made a mistake in allowing this through in the first place (this is, after all, one in thousands of funds), and there might have been a few legal entanglements, but your donation, your changes to your policies against misogyny, and your continued commitment towards helping creators speak volumes.

      Thank you Kickstarter, for admitting your mistake. That was the right thing to do.

    9. Missing avatar

      Bill Davies on

      @Jeff, guilty as charged. hehehehe

    10. Corvin Esque on

      Well done. Thank you.

      I'm still disappointed that this project was funded, but I am so glad that you listened and made appropriate changes so this will not happen again. And thank you for contributing to RAINN, the organization that helped me to heal from my own rape.

    11. Missing avatar

      Jessica Porter on

      I appreciate the apology and your donation to RAINN. However, you have not addressed how this project passed your initial screening, nor your deletion of comments about this issue on your facebook page, nor your refusal to allow the dropoff of a petition to get you to acknowledge the issue. I've supported Kickstarter projects in the past and would like to in the future, but I think you have more problems to address.

    12. Missing avatar

      deleted on

      This user's account has been deleted.

    13. Greek Winter Media on

      @Stephan Vandenborn

      The quote was taken out of context. The author clearly says that this isn't for "women you met 5 seconds ago" but for someone you've been dating for days.

      If you're going to comment, at least know what the hell you're talking about.

    14. Trudy on

      Why am I not surprised that all the people who appear to not understand that this book condones and promotes sexual assault happen to be male?

      Sorry dudes, if a man takes my hand and puts it on his crotch, it's already sexual assault. It doesn't matter if he lets me withdraw my hand afterwards -- he's already sexually assaulted me. I am just amazed that anyone thinks that this kind of behavior is acceptable.

    15. Missing avatar

      Bausson Etienne on

      Well, hard to take that kind of decision in two hours.
      Good apology, continue with your great work :)

    16. Missing avatar

      Robert Gannon on

      The gesture is wonderful with the donation to RAINN. However, you're lying about the timeline. People began flagging the project the night before. You knew longer than two hours before it was funded what was in there. Yesterday, you said the material quoted to you didn't necessarily reflect the book when it was excerpts from the book that had been already published on Reddit before the campaign.

      I've helped people with Kickstarter projects before. It takes at least two days for you to release the funds. You're lying to people about your timeline to keep up your super easy crowdfunding image. How about dropping the platitudes and admitting that you just don't want to cancel this one project for whatever reason?

      As for the comments claiming context is ignored, ignoring the sentence after the back away advice is worse than not including the back away advice. Why? Because the very next sentence says to try again later after telling the woman you won't do anything to make her uncomfortable. Telling men to manhandle women--grab them and put them on your lap is from the book--and then try again later if she resists is assault. Period. She already told you know and this PUA is telling you to go back and try again, presumably after she's had a little more to drink or is more tired and less likely to fight back. Disgusting.

    17. Missing avatar

      Lya Kahlo on

      This comment has been removed by Kickstarter.

    18. Missing avatar

      Yeoldeblacksmith on

      I've been waiting for an announcement from y'all before determining if I would continue supporting this site or not. This apology has clinched my support. Well done!

    19. Missing avatar

      Brandon Bennett on

      All of these posts from apologists stating that quotes were taken out of context is missing the bigger picture. The book and its content is promoting the idea of women as an object for your sexual pleasure. That there is some method to tricking a woman into having sex with you. This whole "nice guy finishes last" thing is such bullshit to begin with. A woman doesn't owe you sex if you treat her a certain way, even if that way is very caring and considerate. The real book of advice would be a book on how to communicate, and how to do so to ANYbody. If you really want to just get someone to sleep with you, man or woman, there are those who have made that their profession.

    20. La Colonia de San Luis on

      IF you are really serious about supporting projects that respond to gender violence (not facilitating it) you should also reconsider your declining of our creative project that was exactly trying to remedy gender violence and insecurity in Colombia....Creative Security.

    21. Alexander Khanukov on

      @ Nicole Elizabeth Edmonds, Excuse me but WTF are you talking about? I'm a backer of this project. I hope you better have proof with that or you best retract that statement. I've backed one project in my entire time on KickStarter. This one: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1567392952/good-people-hard-times

      For anyone interested, here is my Profile page: http://www.kickstarter.com/profile/568218689

      It's people like you who probably go around accusing everyone of imaginary crimes as well.

    22. Amanda Gregory on

      I AM SO PROUD OF YOU KICKSTARTER! Sometimes it's too late to undo what had been done, but compensating for the negative of this project succeeding by donating to a fund that is polar opposite is just glorious. Thank you so much for doing the rightest thing you could in this situation, being transparent about it, and being just all around a wonderful group with a ton of integrity. Kickstarter: You rock. <3

    23. Black Cat Tours on

      No apology is ever perfect, this is obviously the case here as well, but the effort is much appreciated. For those who are snarking about how fake "rape culture" is, denial is just as dangerous. This project spoke about actions that are -illegal- such as forcing a woman to make contact with your genitals. This is called sexual assault. Yes, it would have been nice if Kickstarter had stopped this before it was funded, but a step has been made in the right direction to prevent things like this from happening in the future, and that should be applauded.

    24. Missing avatar

      Noah Karr on

      This is probably the best apology and response action to a situation like this that I have ever seen. Thank you for doing the decent thing, Kickstarter.

    25. John Zmrotchek
      Superbacker
      on

      It was an ugly, complicated situation, and regardless of previous action or lack thereof, this is a positive step going forward. Good on you, Kickstarter.

    26. Avi R on

      I applaud this decision.

    27. Missing avatar

      James Daily on

      I applaud this decision. This was handled very well under the circumstances. Projects that explicitly suggest and condone illegal acts should not be a part of Kickstarter. And that is an easy, bright-line rule to follow.

    28. Missing avatar

      Sara Danver on

      Jeff Allen 2 minutes ago
      I don't believe anyone on this comment thread gets laid on anything resembling a regular basis.

      that's irrelevant. someone's sexual history doesn't make them any less able to speak to what they would want, and not getting sex doesn't make everyone on earth as bitter as you appear to be.

    29. Amy R on

      Well, just half an hour after I posted on your Facebook wall, you post this.

      First of all, thank you for the apology. For me, apology accepted.

      1. You apologized for real and didn't do one of those "sorry you were offended" fake apologies.
      2. You explained without making excuses why it happened.
      3. You're donating above the amount you made on the project to RAINN. Kudos.
      4. You're reviewing your policies.

      Also, I suggest the next time someone comes over to deliver a petition, don't send your office manager out to take it.

      But, I feel much better about Kickstarter and rescind my declaration to only go to your competitors from now on. You did what the community asked of you, and in a sincere way. You have my thanks for that. Now hopefully we can move on and continue to crowdfund awesome projects.

    30. Missing avatar

      Corrine Davidson on

      Thank you for realising your mistake, and being so honest and public with your apology

    31. Julia Park Tracey on

      Thank you. Much appreciated.

    32. Alexander Khanukov on

      I meant to say, "I'm not a backer of this project." It should be noted that Nicole Elizabeth Edmonds is lying.

    33. Missing avatar

      Lya Kahlo on

      Jeffrey Dean, it's not okay to assault women you've been dating "for a few days" either. I don't believe for a moment you are actually confused about this issue.

    34. Amanda Hagemann on

      Thanks Kickstarter, I love you and this apology means a lot :)

    35. Ian Miles Cheong on

      Thank you for stepping up to this.

    36. Alexei Osman on

      @Jeff, you DON'T do something without consent and then force someone to have to say no to you. By the time you've forced someone to say no to you, it doesn't matter, you've already committed sexual assault because you never got consent in the first place. I don't care if you don't do it again after that. You still assaulted someone. If you can't see that that's messed up and you're protecting entitled rapist behavior, then maybe you should consider that YOU are the type of person women are afraid of. Or you know, you might be a rapist. Just a thought.

    37. Greek Winter Media on

      @Trudy Yeah, and if a woman takes my hand and puts it to her breasts and I claimed it was sexual assault I'd get laughed out of the courthouse. Silly hypocrite.

    38. jax jackson on

      Can you post a cache of the 700-something individuals who donated to the campaign so that those who want to blacklist public supporters of violence against women can do so?

    39. Missing avatar

      John Funk on

      It's worth noting that those complaining about "free speech" are ignoring that criticizing problematic content and having the right to decide what does and does not represent your private organization are both in and of themselves exercises of free speech.

    40. Missing avatar

      Robert Gannon on

      Even if the chapter deals with someone you've dated a few times, it's still telling you to move on ahead without consent. Dating someone =/= consent. Period. You think you own a woman after two or three dates and can do whatever you want? That woman is also a human being who gets a say in the relationship. If she says no to you forcing her on your lap, you let go immediately. You don't apologize and then try again later. You don't keep groping her all night long. You respect her wishes. Grabbing her when she says no is assault. Sitting her on your lap or shoving your genitals in her hand because you're the leader is assault if she has not given you consent. If she says no or stop, you stop. You do not pass go. You do not collect your sexual conquest. You respect the woman and her wishes.

    41. Missing avatar

      Mackenzie Morgan on

      @Jeffrey Dean:

      The moment you touch someone without permission, that is assault. Telling them to stop AFTER they've done something without permission is not fixing it. They need to ask FIRST.

    42. Greek Winter Media on

      So many angry man-hating feminists here. This page must have been posted on some of your hate blogs.

    43. Missing avatar

      Becky on

      @Jeffrey Dean

      No quotes were taken out of context. You can view his original concept right here: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search…

      Click on the link and read. Then you'll see things like:
      "Decide that you're going to sit in a position where you can rub her leg and back. Physically pick her up and sit her on your lap. Don't ask for permission. Be dominant. Force her to rebuff your advances."

      "If at any point a girl wants you to stop, she will let you know. If she says "STOP," or "GET AWAY FROM ME," or shoves you away, you know she is not interested. It happens. Stop escalating immediately and say this line:
      "No problem. I don't want you to do anything you aren't comfortable with."
      Memorize that line. It is your go-to when faced with resistance. Say it genuinely, without presumption. All master seducers are also masters at making women feel comfortable. You'll be no different. If a woman isn't comfortable, take a break and try again later."

      Do you see the problem? If not, then you are the problem.

    44. Erin McBride on

      I appreciate the sincere apology.

    45. Greek Winter Media on

      So many angry man-hating feminists here. This page must have been posted on some of your hate blogs.

    46. Ian Linkletter on

      Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

    47. Jessica Price on

      Thank you so much, Kickstarter. I had -- with great regret -- decided to stop using Kickstarter as a result of the decision to let that project remain, but now I feel I can continue to fund Kickstarter projects with a clear conscience. Thanks for taking active steps toward making the world a better, safer place for everyone.

    48. Missing avatar

      Brandy on

      I'm glad you realized it was wrong, but I, for one, reported it 3 hours before the end and I know other people were reporting it as early as 7 hours before. It really takes more than two hours to read a few reddit threads that very clearly show that the advice was promoting sexual assault? Thanks for figuring it out eventually, but this guy still got $17,000+ for telling guys to manhandle women.

    49. James A. Henley on

      Thank you for the transparency, Kickstarter. Those of us that reported the content / signed the petition appreciate it. It is always better to understand the reason behind a decision even if you don't agree with the decision itself.