Update: Kickstarter has responded to the allegations, apologizing for its response to this particular situation and saying that it does not tolerate abuse on the site. The full statement is at the foot of this article.
Crowdfunding site Kickstarter has allegedly banned transmedia artist Rachel ‘Haywire’ Marone after one of her projects received too much comment spam from what she describes as a ‘cyberstalker’ almost a year ago.
Marone says she received this email from Kickstarter’s community manager:
Daniella from Kickstarter here. Throughout the duration of your project, Extreme Futurists, there was an incredible amount of comment spam that several members of Kickstarter staff removed on your behalf. It has come to our attention that this comment spam has persisted at an alarming rate, and that you have engaged in conversation with the spammer. There are now over 300 spam comments that include your own engagement on your project.
This kind of activity is not allowed on Kickstarter; it violates our community guidelines. For this reason, we are removing this project from the site as well as suspending your ability to create projects.
Marone’s manager recently noticed that her account was accessible again, and sent Kickstarter an email asking if it was okay for the artist to create a new project on the site. The response, from the same community manager:
Thanks for writing in. If there is any chance that Rachel will receive spam from a stalker on her project, she should not create one. We simply cannot allow a project to become a forum for rampant spam, as her past project became. If this happens again, we will need to discard the project and permanently suspend Rachel’s account.
Marone’s post is currently on top of Hacker News, and the people of the Internet are making up their minds about the situation, some calling out Kickstarter for behaving unreasonably, others accusing Marone of simply trying to grab attention under the digital spotlights by unfoundedly criticizing Kickstarter’s decision.
Ammunition for the latter group: there’s some history of Marone getting banned from websites for different reasons (including Facebook, by her own account).
The sensible thing would be to await Kickstarter’s official response about this before breaking out the pitchforks, but it’s the weekend and Kickstarter is based in New York City, which means it’s still quite early in the day for the team.
A couple of things to keep in mind. According to Marone’s blog post, Kickstarter banned her at the end of April 2011, so it’s worth asking yourself why she waited this long to come forward. On Twitter, she also comments that she was afraid she’d get tons of backlash because so many people love Kickstarter.
If Marone is indeed telling the whole truth, it reflects poorly on Kickstarter because banning would seem like the last resort after attempting to amicably resolve the situation to everyone’s benefit and with a lot more conversation.
We are, however, aware that there are two sides to every story, and it’s a good thing to be familiar with both of them before forming an opinion.
Kickstarter is growing fast and it’s almost inevitable that situations like this arise. Just a few days ago, Kickstarter got heat for rejecting a pro-porn industry film.
We’ve contacted Kickstarter and will update as soon as we receive an official statement from the company.
UPDATE: Kickstarter has contacted us with the following statement:
“It is not Kickstarter policy to turn away projects that may attract spam or be subject to abuse. We were wrong to suggest that this was the case and we’re sorry for that. We welcome any project as long as it does not violate the Kickstarter project and community guidelines.
“Abuse is never tolerated on Kickstarter. Kickstarter’s moderators review any comment flagged by project creators and take whatever action is necessary, including banning or suspending an abusive user’s account. In the past year we’ve also made adjustments to the site’s functionality to limit trolls, restricting the ability to comment on a project to only its backers.
“We work very hard to look out for our project creators and our community, and part of that means taking abusive behavior very seriously. Our response in this particular situation implied the opposite. We take full responsibility for that and apologize.”