Kickstarter Introduces New Rules To Try To Limit Disappointment

from the some-good,-some-bad dept

There have been a few stories of late about the possibility of backlash over failed Kickstarter projects. After all, for all the cool things about Kickstarter, anyone investing in a project there is taking a risk, and some of that risk leads to dashed expectations. Kickstarter has apparently been taking those concerns quite seriously, and issued some rule changes directed at hopefully limiting the disappointment factor for supporters of physical products, mainly by doing more to highlight the risks and current state of the offerings.

New projects will be required to detail what the risks and challenges of the project are, and how they intend to overcome them. It should be pretty interesting to see how those sections turn out. To be honest, I could actually see that being really useful for people behind these projects, as it's not uncommon for enthusiastic creators to not even want to confront the risks and challenges they're facing. Forcing them to do so will hopefully lead to more realistic assessments of what can be done.

The other rule changes seem a bit strange to me, and I'm not sure they'll be as effective. The first is to ban renderings or simulations of products:
  • Product simulations are prohibited. Projects cannot simulate events to demonstrate what a product might do in the future. Products can only be shown performing actions that they’re able to perform in their current state of development.
  • Product renderings are prohibited. Product images must be photos of the prototype as it currently exists.
  • I can certainly understand why they're doing this, as it will clearly give a much more realistic picture of where things are at the moment. But it seems like requiring renderings and simulations to be clearly marked as such might be a more effective solution -- along with showing what the actual current state of the technology is. Since many of these projects need money to finalize development, it seems fair to show what they intend the final product to look like.

    The other ban is on offering multiple quantities of a reward, unless it really only makes sense that way (like where you need a pair of devices to make something work). That's to reinforce the idea that this isn't a "store" for pre-buying things, but to really get people to invest in the project itself. While it does often feel that projects got a bit lazy with upper tiers that were little more than "5 of x," I'm also not sure that this one really makes that much sense. Kickstarter defends the decision this way:
    The development of new products can be especially complex for creators and offering multiple quantities feels premature, and can imply that products are shrink-wrapped and ready to ship.
    I understand the line of thinking... but I could see that taking away value from potential buyers who are willing to take the risk and buy in on a product early, where they'd like multiple quantities.

    Either way, it's fascinating to watch how Kickstarter continues to evolve -- and to note that the company (as it has for a long time) seems very keen on listening to what people are saying, and figuring out reasonable ways to avoid any problems.

    Filed Under: crowdfunding, products, rules
    Companies: kickstarter

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    1. identicon
      Olif M, 25 Nov 2012 @ 10:11pm


      Kickstarter is clearly ran by hipsters who just don't understand the first thing about hardware manufacturing or liabilities in regard to it. Obviously their legal counsel got freaked, spoke with the children in management and came up with this solution. Morons like Felix Salmon at Reuters freaked them out when products such as LIFX got large quantities of buyers.

      First, and take it from someone in the hardware industry for many years... Nothing - i mean *nothing* you see in marketing videos ever works at launch. Across the board - consumer to enterprise. NONE of it work in the marketing videos. At best its close - worst its totally staged. Way of life in hardware. The rule of no prototypes, product simulations, etc - is not only impossible - but also is impossible to enforce. They have no idea whether a product is really working or not. And by giving their buyers any kind of 'assurance' it is - they are just increasing their liability - not decreasing it.

      Second, Quantity limits are pointless. You have liability irregardless of the number an individual person orders. The risk for Kickstarter is in the size of the funding - not the quantity per buyer. It makes *no difference* if an individual ordered 1 or 10. If a project fails a law firm is going to come hunting for a class action if the amount of the funding is high enough. In fact, more customers, with smaller sums is better for them as it gives them way more control over their plaintiffs.

      If anything, Kickstarter should be doing everything possible to:
      #1 - ensure larger sums on hardware projects to help ensure success - or at least delivery of semi-working product.
      #2 - require transparency, not discourage it with limits on what you can advertise. By letting hardware show exactly what their product *should do* and where they are currently in the development process


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