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. Sophie Lagace
      Superbacker
      on

      Thank you for quickly and clearly recognizing where Kickstarter had reacted incorrectly, and taking action to prevent reoccurences. As a Kickstarter user, I am pleased.

    2. Missing avatar

      David Jones on

      A bad situation, but a good apology for it.
      As people have been saying: you've come across as honest, you've given reasons rather than made excuses and you've put your money where your mouth is through the donation.
      Shame that the situation came up in the first place, but I wish more people would own up to mistakes and apologise this way.

    3. Missing avatar

      brian noble on

      Good on ya kickstarter.

    4. Missing avatar

      Mary Soracco on

      A semi-victory. I'm pleased. I hope we also appropriately shamed the author. ;-) Up until I read this, I was going to refuse to support Kickstarter projects anymore. Now, I'm rethinking that decision. Thank you for acknowledging the importance of this issue and rethinking your policies. It is much appreciated.

    5. Missing avatar

      Ev on

      Thank you for your remorse and correction, Kickstarter. Now let's continue using this for good things!

    6. Diana Walter on

      I've been a proud supporter of several projects hosted here and, thanks to this excellent post, will continue to be. Thank you so much.

    7. Missing avatar

      jessica whittington on

      thank you for this apology. You have proven that when we work together we can change things. You have also received loyalty from me. You guys are striving to be a good company. thank you!

    8. Octavia Dahl on

      Nice cover your ass faux apology. If this had been something more offensive to the men who ran your company I'm sure it would have been taken down with seconds to spare. Disgusting.

    9. Kevin J. Maroney
      Superbacker
      on

      @Candice Bree,

      The patently offensive material was not in the Kickstarter proposal; it was "preview" material that the project owner posted to Reddit after the proposal went live. Kickstarter does review every proposal, but they're not set up to vet and review every project in depth after it has been posted.

      The fact that the project proposal page is so anodyne makes it clear that the project author knew that the material he was preparing to publish was offensive.

    10. Missing avatar

      Nancy Tilson Sinback on

      Nice apology but since I couldn't see anything misogynistic (I may not have access to it) it seemed less offensive and more pathetic. That said, since we live in a culture that still objectifies, demeans, and otherwise puts women in a second class status, it was nice to see an organization give a sincere apology for promoting a project that they deemed offensive to women.

    11. Jack Frazee on

      Thank you for recognizing your mistake and making proper amends with the donation to RAINN.

    12. Lisa Kurt on

      Thank you for making this right and turning something hateful into something helpful.

    13. grace
      Superbacker
      on

      Thank you so much for your sincerity in this apology. As a supporter of Kickstarter, it means a lot to me to read a genuine apology. I hope that this situation will prevent similar Kickstarter campaigns in the future.

    14. Missing avatar

      Ben Jones on

      So does Kickstarter now accept non profits? Or was this just a gift to a non profit organization? Our organization, Racing Dreamz, would love to raise funding to build a specialized kart track. If anyone could help suggest how we could achieve this goal, please contact us. Thank you.

    15. Missing avatar

      Tané Tachyon on

      Thank you for taking these steps and posting this message.

    16. Missing avatar

      Alex King on

      I appreciate all the difficulties involving your decision. I'm a woman and a feminist and I still think this was not a case of black and white. I'm against the publishing of this guide and very much against its point of view on women and men, but I can understand the many issues arising from considering the cancellation of a project like this on such a short notice, and deciding what to do next.
      Thank you for what you wrote here. I truly believe this is not the kind of material you want to promote.
      I hope this helped to bring awareness to this subject and shed a light on how the actions depicted in the guide are disrespectful and harming.
      I hope this can be used to create something positive, a better understanding of each other.

    17. Octavia Dahl on

      Are all these thank you's written by your staff?

    18. Missing avatar

      Bart DS on

      Even if you want to doubt the sincerity of the Kickstarter team's words, you can't really doubt the fact that they are donating about 15 times what they've earned (I hear KS takes 10% of whatever a project makes) on this project to donate. They literally put their money where their mouth is. I find that hard to argue with. Thank you for this Kickstarter. It might technically be too late, but at least we can rest assured it won't happen again.

    19. Missing avatar

      Lorelei on

      1.@Mike Marring!! You need to check your stats on rape and violence against women and children BEFORE you make an asinine comment like that again!! As a survivor of incest, sexual assault by a stranger AND abuse and spousal rape by a husband. I Do know the stats and it's staggering and a problem. We're not saying that all men or women rape but we ARE saying that it needs to END. YOU sound like a person people need to worry about! What was written in that page CAN be misconstrued in anyway, but it was very clear what was meant to be an assault how to.
      2.When is the author going to make a statement and apology?
      3.Any company can apologize and make it sound convincing if they want to stay in business, but if they aren't reading the books their funding their just as at fault should someone get hurt!

    20. Korbei83 on

      I don't consider this your fault but I appreciate the sentiment.

      I find it very disappointing that such a project could find enough troglodytes to successfully fund. A low water mark.

    21. Grant Cruickshank on

      Kickstarter Admins,

      Just logged back in for the first time in months to thank you for your most excellent response to this whole situation. You've handled it with intelligence, transparency, humility and, most importantly, respect for your community. So very well done - you should be proud.

    22. Ashley on

      Wow, I really didn't think you were going to do anything about it, but you really proved me wrong! Good on you, kickstarter!

    23. Missing avatar

      rosezemlya on

      While I'm disappointed the project went through, I was very happy to read this post (especially the donation!) and to note the changes you'll be making to address similar things in the future! Thank you so, so much for this!

    24. Maria Isabel Garcia on

      To all the people defending this project because, you think it was harmless flirting techniques, PLEASE CLICK ON THE LINKS KICKSTARTER PROVIDED AT THE VERY BEGINNING OF THEIR STATEMENT. The author was using Reddit as a draft board for his book and there are entire paragraphs telling men to force women to touch their genitals as a sign of being dominant. That's not ok. That's sexual assault.

    25. Missing avatar

      Anosmia on

      The author supposedly says on Pastebin (http://pastebin.com/zwHYzCZe) that his comments were taken out of context. Some thoughts:

      1) We don't know for sure if the author actually wrote that post. The writer appears as "A Guest." Why not use his real name if it's really him? Maybe it was him, but it could also be someone from his camp trying to do damage control on his behalf.

      2) Even if he did write that post, how do we know that he didn't throw in some context right then and there to minimize the damage of his original work? A post on Paste Bin is NOT the same thing as providing a date-stamped original manuscript showing the inclusion of that context.

      3) If he didn't want his words to be taken out of context, why didn't he supply the context when he shared the inflammatory text on Reddit?

      I'm glad Kickstarter pulled the project and apologized. I'm disheartened by the folks here who are supporting him, especially the ones who keep coming back again and again to slam feminists and people who oppose the violation of sexual boundaries. To have THAT much hatred inside of them that they feel obliged to waste a whole work day feverishly posting comments that slam women and feminists is sad.

    26. Alexander Khanukov on

      Still waiting on that apology and clarification from @Nicole. :)

    27. Katie Viola on

      @Mike Maring
      Are you kidding me?
      One of the things listed was "Don't take no for an answer."
      Ignoring someone who says no? That's ignoring consent. Ignoring consent in a sexual situation? THAT'S THE DEFINITION OF RAPE.
      This isn't about man-hating. Men can be raped too. This is about trying to end the promotion of sexual violence as "seduction". It's bullshit.

      As for this apology,,,*shakes head* Kickstarter, if you don't review products before you allow them on the site, you really need to start. This is too late. And it's not the first time a product endorsing rape/rape culture has made it onto your site.

    28. Shaun Burnett on

      Kickstarter had the chance to shut this project down before it launched had the admin in charge only paid a little more attention to the material that was to be backed, and how, NUMEROUS TIMES, the person in question broke Kickstarter's Terms of Service.

      Furthermore, when I made my Kickstarter, I was told that after the backing time is over, it could take between 2 weeks and a month to process backer's funding and get the money to an account, so since he DID break the TOS, there's still time cancel his funding.

    29. Missing avatar

      Priscilla on

      Well done. I really appreciate the sincerity expressed and that you're willing to evaluate your actions, admit mistakes and rectify them, rather than doubling down in an attempt to Never Be Wrong.

    30. Bill Norris on

      pretty sure people were tweeting you before the end of the projects funding on the vile material you had on your site. But im glad you are at least apologizing for the error and donating to a cause that is good and the exact opposite of the material you helped get funded. Maybe review of your projects on the site before they are funded or even added to the site might be a good idea.

    31. Cat Williams on

      a bit late, but right on with your apology and lesson learned... carry on

    32. Hailey Willis on

      Thank you for this apology. I'm disappointed that you did not act soon enough, but the remorse you feel and efforts to make things better is clear. I'm still left with great feelings towards kickstarter, maybe even more so.

    33. Missing avatar

      Linda M on

      @Stephan Vandenborn

      So what you're saying is that when quotes are taken out of context, it is easy to paint people in a bad light? I think we agree perfectly. Here's the guy's own reply, something nobody in this thread seems particularly concerned with:

      http://pastebin.com/zwHYzCZe

    34. April Julier on

      That doesn't make a damn bit of sense. If Kickstarter doesn't review submissions, how can they say that they "prohibit" "content promoting or glorifying violence?" How did they not see this material when it was submitted? Shouldn't Kickstarter be reviewing material AS it's submitted? Sounds like Kickstarter dropped the ball during the submission process, and they don't apologize for that. All they said is they didn't see the submission? Bullshit. They didn't look. Bullshit apology. If they didn't do their job, they should own that and apologize for it instead of pretending this project was somehow submitted and approved without their knowing.

    35. Angela Korra'ti on

      As someone who's run a project here before and would like to do so again, thank you, Kickstarter, for doing the right thing. Especially for donating to RAINN.

    36. Missing avatar

      John Funk on

      @Jeffrey - thank you for jumping straight to the ad hominems when you realize that you can neither respond to Trudy, nor me, nor any of the others calling you out on your harmful bullshit with facts. You have proven your character, sir, and nothing more needs be said.

    37. Missing avatar

      Lorelei on

      Also $25,000 donation is a slap on the wrist compared to what that book may bring in.. I think the author needs to be putting a percentage of each sale as a donation to R.A.I.N.N as well for writing his garbage!! As well as each sicko who helped fund it!

    38. Sara Slater on

      Thank you KickStarter for your apology, sharing your reasoning, learning from your mistake and making a donation to RAINN. Peace

    39. Pat Myers on

      Thank you. Though it is disheartening to see this scumbag getting his money, I am grateful that you are removing all rape manuals. The "seduction community" is dangerous and predatory. We do not need them here.

    40. Peter Hentges on

      Thank you. This apology and your actions to do what you can to redress the error will allow me to continue to support other Kickstarter projects.

    41. Peter Wysoczanski - Obsidan Order on

      This isnt the first time you've broken your own rules, screw you and the horse you road in on... not funding another project till you fix some other mistakes you've made

    42. Mike Graglia on

      I tend to agree with those who aren't satisfied with this. Two hours is a long time. How do you clarify how this will never happen again? And are you sure you can't stop these funds?

    43. cthellis on

      My only surprise is that you did not have a "pause for additional content review" option. Obviously acting in haste can be negatively impactful for anyone, but you should really have the option to hold the release of funds for up to 24-48 hours after the Kickstarter closes, to be able to review and concerns that come to light at the 11th hour. This should be baked right into the agreement.

    44. Deborah Frost on

      If the project violates your clearly stated guidelines, you have every right to cancel it and to do whatever is necessary to pull the plug or, failing that, demand that the perpetrators refund. Sorry, I am not buying this, as appreciative as I am of your apology. What if you discovered the project was about funding pressure cooker bombs that will harm innocent people? If someone was publishing a "joke" book about mowing down first graders with assault weapons or sexually abusing them? Would you use the "two hour" excuse? There is NO excuse. And making a donation to some women's organization will no more right this wrong than writing a check to a hospital for some other circumstance perpetrated by misusers of your site. You could also take legal action and sue those who have clearly violated your terms of service if they do not voluntarily return the funds raised by their scam. As someone who has contributed to many Kickstarter campaigns, I will think long and hard about funding another if this is not resolved more satisfactorily. Thanks but no thanks, Kickstarter.

    45. Michael Vincent Bramley on

      This is an incredibly refreshing response to such a sordid story. Everybody makes mistakes, but hardly anyone likes to cop to them. When I heard about your failure to act before, Kickstarter dropped in my estimations, but after such a humble public apology and that handsome donation the company has certainly risen up.

      I do think there is one big lingering question...

      What does it mean that the project has been removed post-funding? Does the guy have any way to contact his backers and fulfill his promises? I certainly hope not, because one rapist with 16K in the bank is pretty damn bad, but thousands of potential rapists with rape manuals in their hands are considerably worse.

    46. Missing avatar

      barb graham on

      "The decision had to be made immediately...."

      I'm sorry, but if an immediate decision is required, why did you dither when this utter crap is right there for you to see?

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

      That is a really good way to get your fucking heart handed to you. Seriously. And I wouldn't start there, because a bird in the hand is a good place to begin, no?

    47. Sarah on

      This was an upsetting situation, but you're handling it about as best you can. Thank you for not just apologizing, but acknowledging that you were wrong. The donation is also a really great gesture.