Friendship and Reputation in Social Funding Sites
Kickstarter is a torrent of money these days. Though the Amazon river springs to mind as all that cash washes by me, I think that the everglades might be a better example of the complexities in that system. Not only does it fit in terms of describing each project as it’s own little biome (project), interacting with it’s neighbors in weak and sometimes hard to define ways – it’s also very messy. I don’t mean messy as in underhanded, as a recent article discussed. I mean it is hard to find what you want to find, or track what needs to be tracked.
I’ve discussed my problems with their search engine in the past, and I won’t belabor the point here. If you want to find out what I mean, you’ll just have to keep reading.
(Fund The Wardenclyffe Horror!)
Today I have two man complaints: Friends and History.
I have one Kickstarter friend (I’m sad for me, too) at present. I like the feature; when he backs a project, I can go over and take a look. I would like to add more, but Kickstarter has made this basically impossible. I have to have someone as a friend on Facebook and a few other secret criteria before it will even give me the option. This is totally unworkable.
Friends would be a great, even useful concept if they put a little work into it. For starters, I should be able to click on someone’s profile and just add them as a friend There are easily two dozen users I would like to do this with right now. Some I know in real life, some I have collaborated with, and some I see on practically every project I back. To me this is a no brainer if I think someone makes a few particularly witty comments in the comments section, I should be able to request an add in two clicks or less.
Once everyone has a small cloud of friends, the good folks at KS would be able to add all sorts of useful data filtering toys for the users to play with trends. Before they add these peripheral features though, I would like for them to add one really important tool.
Call it history, or memory, or reputation, but I want to know who someone is, where they have been, and what they have been up to. I have seen multiple projects up now where a project creator has put another project up without fulfilling his previous project (in some cases multiple projects). In a perfect world, the backer survey that creators send out at the end of a successful funding period would contain a mandatory section asking all the backers about their experiences, paired with another survey when the project is fulfilled to measure satisfaction every step of the way.
Despite the warnings that Kickstarter is not a store, I am not so sure that all backers perform their due diligence in every case. Sometimes its hard, I know. When that perfect widget is staring you in the face, and you just can’t make yourself say no to the shaky business plan that it is sitting on top of. As Kickstarter gets older though, and creators start working on their third and forth projects there should be an easy way to see if they are reliable and reputable without reading a few pages of comments on each of their previous endeavors.
How about the rest of you, what features do you think Kickstarter needs (besides better searching, we all know that is a huge problem)?
Amazon has a “people who bought this also bought/looked at these”. That would be useful. Say I was looking at a zombie-themed game with 100 backers, 50 of whom also bid on a steampunk game that I hadn’t seen. Well, now I have, and can decide if it’s for me.
I second your “reputation” idea, though with fulfillment times smeared out over months, I wonder if it would work. I mean, I back something in October, they promise delivery in March, but I don’t get it until April. Am I pissed because it was late? Well, I would be looking for some updates, explaining what happened, but some people might just be pissed at having to wait and downvote the creator reflexively.
I agree with most of your concerns, but I’m sure the powers that be could find a way to iron them out.
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