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Uneven Performance

Everything in life has rules. It’s just the way it works. They range from the impossible-to-violate (physics), through the strictly enforced (legal), all the way down to the merely suggested (cultural, social, ethical). And that’s fine with me – sometimes the man and his laws are stifling, but often as not rules are put in place for a good reason. Crowdfunding is no exception to this trend. As I discussed in a previous post, one of the big differentiators between the two main crowdfunding sites is the strictness of their rules.

  • Indiegogo will let you do most anything, and is just a platform for fund raising.
  • Kickstarter requires a concrete end goal, specific funding requirements, and a whole list of things projects can and can’t offer.

In the past I have argued that one of the reasons Kickstarter is more successful than Indiegogo is because it has used it’s rules to create a significantly higher average quality level on its website, and that this drives traffic. In my own Kickstarter I noticed that most of the dollars pledged to Wardenclyffe came from these window shoppers. Unfortunately, I have also noticed lately that Kickstarter is not always applying its own rules evenly.

Lets explore the issue.

Before we can look at the examples, we need to examine what Kickstarter is and is not okay with having on it’s site. The pertinent bits for this conversation are:

Funding for projects only.

A project has a clear goal, like making an album, a book, or a work of art. A project will eventually be completed, and something will be produced by it. A project is not open-ended. Starting a business, for example, does not qualify as a project.

and

Prohibited content.

There are some things we just don’t allow on Kickstarter:

; (This is a rather long list)

  • Projects using Kickstarter simply to sell existing inventory
  • Rewards in bulk quantities (more than ten of an item)

Today lets look at these rules for three cases:

Shadows of Esteren – This is a very good looking project. If it was their first, they would already have my money. Take a look at their previous project though, and you will see that this project is a retread of their previous work. Even the main reward for the new Kickstarter was already released as a pdf during the first Kickstarter (Book 0.) Obviously this high dollar double dipping project is violating the rule “Projects using Kickstarter simply to sell existing inventory” in an attempt to make more money off of crowd funders, and to all appearances Kickstarter is okay with that.

The worst part though – to me, is that not only are they doing this project to “fund” a product they funded with their previous Kickstarter, they are also offering to sell you the “last copies” of the special edition of book 1, a product which was supposed to be available only to backers of their first Kickstarter. Whether this is deceit, greed, or inconsistency I can’t say, but I would hope that Kickstarter would look into it, especially if someone reported it (as the person who told me about it did).

Prediction: Their “Book 2” stretch goal was achieved. I expect them to launch a book 2 Kickstarter in a few months, to sell the remaining copies of the first two projects (including the special-never-to-be-repeated-editions)

Let a young artist realize her dream – I’m not sure how this project made it past the censors in the first place. It is very clearly not a project, but was funding for four full days before it was stopped.

Lost Legends – This one we’ve talked about previously, so I’ll be brief. Take a look at their $700 tier, a 12 pack of the board game, and then compare it to the rule about “Rewards in bulk quantities (more than ten of an item)” not being allowed. I’ve asked Kickstarter for clarification on this issue, but they had no comment.

Side note: Their bulk reward level gets you a whole $.67 off the price at the single product level. Thats a great discount for ordering so many copies.

Update: this project hopes to boost its sales with other peoples more recognizable characters. How did it ever make it through the filter; you’d think that IP issues would be paramount right now, given the 3D printer issues that have made the news recently

The more time I spend searching Kickstarter, the less unofficial its secret motto of caveat emptor becomes. Is the volume of new projects making Kickstarter’s enforcement sloppy? Does their cut of the above projects make them inclined to relax the rules here and there for money makers? I have had to attend more than one leadership training class recently, and though hardly an expert, I can say that the quickest way to create the appearance of favoritism is to handle such projects inconsistently. This would be the perfect lead in to discuss the way they spot light their projects, but I think I’ll save that rant for another time.

Find any oddities while you’re out there exploring? Let me know! I could always use more topics to write about.

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This entry was posted by David Winchester.

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