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.
Why didn’t we cancel the project when this material was brought to our attention? Two things influenced our decision:
The decision had to be made immediately. We had only two hours from when we found out about the material to when the project was ending. We’ve never acted to remove a project that quickly. Our processes, and everyday thinking, bias heavily toward creators. This is deeply ingrained. 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. This thinking made us miss the forest for the trees.
These factors don’t excuse our decision but we hope they add clarity to how we arrived at it.
Let us be 100% 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.
Where does this leave us?
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.
One can argue (endlessly, cuz INTERNET) as to weather or not 4 hours was enough time, or how the money should be handled, etc. etc. but none of that matters. The point is, Kicksarter does not have and had not earned a reputation for being a cesspool like Reddit is, they got thrown a curve ball, they fixed it. Good for them. Kickstarter is good.
Regarding the money getting through to the project, that is clearly irrelevant. Bad people gave some bad person some money to do something bad. We'll see how that goes. It will be funny when it does not go as planned.
Anyway, good job Kickstarter and good job Internet for acting responsibly.
I see you didn't actually read any of the material that was put up kickstarter. I expected more from a science blog.
No, I didn't read a word of it. I read three blog posts from trusted sources. I have no interest in being sullied with reddit crap.
This is not a science thing. But you know that, right?
I'm doing an Orson Welles slow clap right now. Seeing an organization make a genuine stand on women's rights, apologizing when they run afoul of their stated standards and then making a meaningful gesture to prove they haven't put their own profits before their values is pretty great.
Not gonna say there isn't a lotta crap on reddit, but to act like the less than savory characters that have gotten news are representative of the entire community is short sighted. There are many subsections of the community and many amazing redditors. Here is a link to one of my favorite redditors whom I think you'd get a kick out of.
I know there are good things on reddit, but in my view the bad guys have marred the whole thing. I've done very little on reddit myself, just posting the occasional item. Then, one day, I criticized some of the misogyny going on somewhere there and the next day my account was "fixed" so that every time I tried to post I got the message "you're posting too quickly" ... and I'm pretty sure a few days between posts is not too quickly.
So those misogynist elements of Reddit apparently have a hidden, unofficial police force taking care of things for them ... just a guess on my part. Meanwhile, what can fairly be characterized as verbal sexual abuse can run rampant on reddit and that behavior is protected and even encouraged.
It does not take a large percentage of a community to be a cesspool to ruin the whole thing. In any event, makes no difference to me. I've been excluded as a member of that community (other than being allowed to read the threads) so I see no particular reason to support it.
Only scum would create a project like that so it would not surprise me if they simply took the money then never followed through, and that would serve the other scum that supported them right