The team behind the creative crowdfunding site Kickstarter has explained why it didn’t cancel a project offering backers a step-by-step guide to seducing women.
The company said that when the page was brought to its attention by a blog post on Wednesday morning, a decision needed to be made immediately. The project was less than two hours away from the end of its funding period and Kickstarter had never acted on a complaint in such a short space of time.
Kickstarter admitted that it missed “the forest for the trees” because as a company it instinctively wants to support creators. “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,” the company said.
Kickstarter conceded that these elements still didn’t justify its decision, but hoped that they provide some form of clarity as to why it chose to delay taking any action until after the project ended.
A blog post published today on the Kickstarter site today reaffirms the company’s position on this sort of material:
Let us be 100 percent 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.
The project, entitled “Above The Game: A Guide to Getting Awesome with Women” received $16,369 in funding from 732 backers; a total far beyond its original goal of $2,000.
This series of events poses a number of serious questions as to how Kickstarter operates, both in the way funding flows from the public to creators and the approval process for projects themselves.
As Kickstarter points out, “there is no taking back money from project.” Once the funding period ended, all donations were deposited directly into the creator’s bank account. “We missed the window,” the company admits.
The project had a funding period of 21 days, so the fact that Kickstarter was only notified of its existence two hours before the end suggests that there needs to be much tighter controls over what is approved or declined in accordance with the company’s own guidelines.
Kickstarter has now removed the project page, although a copy has been preserved “for transparency’s sake” in a cached state.
To make amends, the company is donating $25,000 to RAINN, an anti-sexual violence organization. Future “seduction guides” or anything similar are also banned from Kickstarter, effective immediately.
The team behind Kickstarter should be commended for talking about what happened – and its subsequent decisions – with such transparency. It’s a positive step forward, but arguably shows that its creators need to reconsider how it can stop such a project from slipping through in the future.
“We take our role as Kickstarter’s stewards very seriously,” the company concluded. “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.”