kickstarter simplifies rules
June 4, 2014

Crowfunding To Get Simpler? Kickstarter Modifies Rules For Project Acceptance

Peter Suciu for - Your Universe Online

Kickstarter could be looking to kick it up a notch. On Tuesday the crowdfunding site announced that it had changed its rules in order to make it easier for would-be entrepreneurs to get "started" with projects. This follows the 2012 decision that cracked down on hardware products that were only in the "development" stage – as a way to avoid confusion for backers that they were funding a potential product not one ready to ship out the door.

The decision two years ago was to reduce the likelihood for disappointment should the product never ship or be shipped in a form different from what the project's owner promoted during the funding stage.

"Millions of people from around the world have used Kickstarter to bring ideas to life. More than $1 billion has been pledged to restaurants, board games, documentaries, innovative technology, and much more," Yancy Strickler posted on the official Kickstarter blog. "Today we're excited to announce two important changes that make Kickstarter easier to use than ever before — and improve a couple parts of the system we know haven't always been as simple as they could be."

Kickstarter's decision is apparently aimed at providing creators with the "support and freedom" that is required when developing a project. The rules have also been trimmed down from about 1,000 words to some 300, while some banned campaign types – such as bath and beauty projects – will now be allowed.

To help ensure that freedom, as well as support, the crowdfunding site introduced the "Launch Now" feature, which could provide creators with a simple choice to launch a project whenever it is ready, or to ask for feedback from a Community Manager first. On Tuesday Kickstarter confirmed that Launch Now has been rolling out in stages, and said that it was available to about 60 percent of projects while it will be further expanded in the weeks to come.

For those looking to get to the funding process, the approvals process has also been revised. Now projects will get the green light algorithmically – as opposed to Kickstarter employing human moderators for every submission.

This could be a bold move for Kickstarter, but one that might be necessary for the site to remain viable in an arena with increased competition.

TechCrunch's Darrell Etherington reported, "It's a very different take on crowdfunding to the one Kickstarter initially espoused, and one that in many respects deemphasizes community and instead puts the focus on growth. It's not quite Indiegogo's stance of neutral network operator, but it's much closer to that vision, and it means we should see a whole host of new projects on the site that we’d never have seen before."

However this move shouldn't affect the quality of the would-be projects on Kickstarter.

"We'll continue to actively govern the site with thought and care," a Kickstarter spokesperson told VentureBeat. "Projects will be reviewed by a sophisticated algorithm we developed that looks at thousands of data points. And our Moderation and Trust & Safety teams are focused on making sure everyone on Kickstarter is following the rules."

Whether these initiatives will actually kick start renewed interest in Kickstarter might still remain to be seen. In fact it could potentially have the opposite effect and drive people away from the crowdfunding site.

"The difficulty is less about people getting started and more about the audience tiring of these kinds of efforts," Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, told redOrbit. "Lowering the bar would seem to increase not mitigate that problem. In fact while it could provide a short term pop, long term it is likely a going out of business strategy.

"It is never a good idea to sacrifice quality for quantity particularly in a market that may be tiring of your service largely because the existing quality is too low," added Enderle.