Kickstarter Sets New Rules
September 22, 2012

New Kickstarter Rule Prohibits Renderings, Require Risk Assessment

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports — Your Universe Online

Popular online crowd-funding platform Kickstarter has announced a series of new rules that limit the type of goods that can solicit funds through the website as well as the types of information that aspiring inventors can include to push their projects.

One of those new policies, according to Engadget's Daniel Cooper, is the banning of projects that use simulations or renderings as part of their sales pitch. From Friday onward, Cooper said that all proposals must include working prototypes of their inventions so that would-be donors can see exactly what the invention is capable of in its current state.

Furthermore, project creators will also have to complete a "Risks and Challenges" section designed to allow people to gauge whether or not a creator is being "open and honest" about the potential obstacles they face in the creative process, the company said, according to Shawn Knight of TechSpot. This will allow people to determine whether or not the inventor will be able "to complete their project as promised."

"Projects cannot simulate events to demonstrate what a product might do in the future. Products can only be shown performing actions that they´re able to perform in their current state of development," company officials explained in a Thursday blog post. "Over-promising leads to higher expectations for backers. The best rule of thumb: under-promise and over-deliver."

Kickstarter is also placing stricter limits on the rewards that solicitors can offer in exchange for donations, Chloe Albanesius of PCMag noted on Friday. In most cases, creators will only be allowed to offer single quantities of incentives unless multiple items are offered as part of a "sensible" set. Company officials argue that promising multiple quantities of items gives the impression that those rewards are "shrink-wrapped and ready to ship."

The new regulations come in the wake of increasing public concern that some projects, including the Ouya Android video game console and the LiftPort Space Elevator, will never see the light of day -- despite already having earned hundreds of thousands (or in some cases, millions) of dollars towards their funding goals.

Some experts have had mixed reactions to the new Kickstarter regulations. Wired's Ruth Suehle, for example, believes that the questions posed by the "Risks and Challenges" section of the application "should have been asked of every project from the beginning" and "offers the supporters full transparency into the projects they´re backing."

On the other hand, Suehle believes that there are many cases where renderings should be permitted, such as when the materials available to a creator at a given time do not match the ultimate plan for a device. These types of simulations would allow inventors to show would-be investors what the proposed device will ultimately look like, once the correct parts are accessible.

Suehle predicts that the new rules "will reduce the number of hardware projects we see on Kickstarter."

"It´s up to supporters to choose whether a project in its early stages is worth supporting, or if only those with fully functioning prototypes and a complete manufacturing and order-processing plan in place are right for their budgets and preferences," she explained. "By adding these restrictions, Kickstarter is trying to reduce the number of complaints from people who don´t understand what they´re putting their money into instead of fulfilling its primary mission, which should be to support creators and the backers willing to fund those creators´ projects."