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Kickstarter, the world’s most popular crowdfunding website, unveiled a multitude of new rules for project creators yesterday. The new guidelines are meant to emphasize the creative nature of the site over its function as a destination to pre-order products.
“It's hard to know how many people feel like they're shopping at a store when they're backing projects on Kickstarter, but we want to make sure that it's no one,” wrote company co-founders Perry Chen, Yancey Strickler, and Charles Adler in a blog post entitled ‘Kickstarter Is Not a Store.’ “Today we're introducing a number of changes to reinforce that Kickstarter isn’t a store — it’s a new way for creators and audiences to work together to make things.”
All project creators must now address their proposals’ potential shortcomings by answering the question, “What are the risks and challenges this project faces, and what qualifies you to overcome them?”
Additionally, the company implemented several stringent guidelines aimed at hardware and product design projects, banning renderings and simulations.
“Projects cannot simulate events to demonstrate what a product might do in the future,” declared the co-founders. “Products can only be shown performing actions that they’re able to perform in their current state of development … [while] product images must be photos of the prototype as it currently exists.”
Lastly, Kickstarter project creators can no longer dole out massive quantities of their product design or hardware project as rewards for backing the campaign. Items can be offered in single quantities or, in special cases, a “sensible set.” (Backers of the LIFX project might want more than one light bulb, for example).
“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,” added the Kickstarter co-founders. “We hope these updates reinforce that Kickstarter isn't a traditional retail experience and underline the uniqueness of Kickstarter.”
Again, with the exception of the “risks and challenges” section, these changes only affect product design and hardware projects; other categories, like games, remain unaffected.
The Kickstarter community’s reaction to the changes has been mixed, with some praising the site’s new guidelines and others blasting them as onerous and unfair.
“I like what you're trying to do here but I don't think the rules you're implementing will have the intended effect,” Kickstarter user John Kelley commented on the original blog post. “A lot of hardware projects need minimum orders to enter into mass production economically and allowing someone to order two or more can make it much easier / cost effective to reach that goal.”
“This is a great change and will push some vaporware out of KS,” countered Kickstarter user John Fricker. “Concept art is easy, but getting to a prototype is hard. No one should be ripped off by a pie in the sky promotional video from a team with no track record and no clue how to actually build something. Thank you for these changes.”
These new rules provide an opportunity to crowdfunding sites like Indiegogo and RocketHub to snag talented designers seeking to crowdfund their projects — particularly those frustrated with the multiple quantities rule — away from Kickstarter. Whether there will be a large migration away from the site remains to be seen, however, as Kickstarter campaigns will receive a boost in credibility from the updated guidelines.