In Which Kickstarter Rules the (Corporate) World

I feel like I need to put something up here, since I went off on Kickstarter a bit two days ago.

The response was slow, by huge corporate internet scandal standards, but the response was great:

Dear everybody,

On Wednesday morning Kickstarter was sent a blog post quoting disturbing material found on Reddit. The offensive material was part of a draft for a “seduction guide” that someone was using Kickstarter to publish. The posts offended a lot of people — us included — and many asked us to cancel the creator’s project. We didn’t.

We were wrong.

First, there is no taking back money from the project or canceling funding after the fact. When the project was funded the backers’ money went directly from them to the creator. We missed the window.

Second, the project page has been removed from Kickstarter. The project has no place on our site. For transparency’s sake, a record of the page is cached here.

Third, we are prohibiting “seduction guides,” or anything similar, effective immediately. This material encourages misogynistic behavior and is inconsistent with our mission of funding creative works. These things do not belong on Kickstarter.

Fourth, today Kickstarter will donate $25,000 to an anti-sexual violence organization called RAINN. It’s an excellent organization that combats exactly the sort of problems our inaction may have encouraged.

We take our role as Kickstarter’s stewards very seriously. 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.

My understanding is that Kickstarter made, gross, about $800 on this project. Obviously, they were faced with PR losses that dwarfed that figure; obviously, this and everything else a corporation does was largely or entirely a business decision. There are people who will be upset about this, who will say they should’ve done even more, or acted faster, or whatever.

Please don’t be those people. We live in this world, where businesses do, you know, business, and this is the best public apology I’ve ever seen (leaving aside a couple missing commas). It seems truly genuine, it’s titled “we were wrong,” nowhere does it say “we’re sorry you were offended” or “we apologize to those who were offended” — the company takes full responsibility, then donates thirty-one times what it earned on this project to a very worthy organization (honestly? When I got to the $25,000-to-RAINN part, I teared up a bit). Yes, I think they could have pulled the project (and if they don’t have some procedure in place for pausing projects pre-funding to allow for fuller review, I think they’d better come up with one quickly), but I can also appreciate that it was a sticky situation they were in, not the kind of thing that a corporation’s leaders and lawyers can usually work their way through in two hours. It’s really a tragedy that Hoinsky gets his $16,000…but he might have gotten this funded through other, less conscientious venues anyway. Failing having stopped the process before funding, I think this is the best they could possibly have done.

Obviously, I had nothing whatsoever to do with this…my little screed was just between you, me, and the like two or three other friends and relatives who are reading this right now (okay, like 300 people or something saw it; still basically nothing). But I still feel proud, like, for people in general. For the power of the internet in the right hands. And so on. As Chuck Wendig said on Twitter a bit ago: “This is why you shouldn’t listen when people get cranky about Internet outrage and claim it to be temporary & useless.” Sometimes a little well-placed anger, repeated thousands of times over, can do great things.

So I’m happy, and I’m a big Kickstarter fan again. Now to puzzle over whether my Big Plans (which were in large part a response to this) are still worth doing…if you’re one of the six or seven people I’ve shared them with, I’d welcome your input on that. Or if you’re not and just want to guess and comment below anyway, I’d welcome your input, too. 🙂

3 thoughts on “In Which Kickstarter Rules the (Corporate) World

  1. Seven Hundred and Thirty-Two “Men” to Stay the F*** Away From – Bill Parker's Personal Bloggy Thing

  2. I still think you should go for it. I think there’s a place in the world for positivity and respect to counteract the so-called “seduction guides” out there.

  3. I was really, really happy with this apology. I agree with you wholeheartedly, the $25K to RAINN was a total above-and-beyond gesture that they really didn’t need to do. Changing their policies was the right step, and you’re absolutely right, the “We Were Wrong” title is something that accepts responsibility, does not diminish the wrongness or try to slough it off on someone else, and accomplishes something that’s as rare as unicorn rainbow farts: a corporation showing actual humility.

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