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Ask Slashdot: At What Point Has a Kickstarter Project Failed? 247

Posted by Soulskill
from the when-people-get-angry-on-the-internet dept.
skywiseguy writes "I have only used Kickstarter to back a single project so far, but one of the backers of that project pointed us to a project promising video capable glasses which was once one of the top 10 highest funded projects in Kickstarter history. After reading through the comments, it is obvious that the project has not met its expected deadline of 'Winter 2011,' but the project team rarely gives any updates with concrete information. All emails sent to them by backers get a form letter in reply, they routinely delete negative comments from their Facebook page, and apparently very soon after the project was funded, they posted pictures of themselves on a tropical beach with the tagline, 'We are not on a beach in Thailand.' Their early promotions were featured on Engadget and other tech sites but since the project was funded they've rarely, if ever, communicated in more than a form letter. So at what point can a project like this be considered to have failed? And if you had backed a project with this kind of lack of communication from the project team, what would you consider to be the best course of action? Disclaimer: I have not backed this project, but I am very interested in funding Kickstarter projects and I do not want to get caught sending money to a less than reputable project. According to the above project's backers, Kickstarter claims to have no mechanism for refunding money to backers of failed projects and no way to hold the project team accountable to their backers. This does not seem like a healthy environment for someone who is averse to giving their money to scam artists."
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Ask Slashdot: At What Point Has a Kickstarter Project Failed?

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  • by Troed (102527) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @06:31AM (#39642035) Homepage Journal

    for the same reason that we don't have a gift economy

    Humans have always had a gift economy, including today. Book tip: "The generous man" by Tor Norretranders.

    http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/142903.The_Generous_Man [goodreads.com]

  • Re:Trust (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mark Hood (1630) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @06:32AM (#39642041) Homepage

    Hear hear. From Kickstarter's own FAQ [kickstarter.com] (oddly, no-one's quoted this yet):

    Who is responsible for fulfilling the promises of a project?

    It is the responsibility of the project creator to fulfill the promises of their project. Kickstarter reviews projects to ensure they do not violate the Project Guidelines, however Kickstarter does not investigate a creator's ability to complete their project.

    Creators are encouraged to share links to any websites that show work related to the project, or past projects. It's up to them to make the case for their project and their ability to complete it. Because projects are usually funded by the friends, fans, and communities around its creator, there are powerful social forces that keep creators accountable.

    The web is an excellent resource for learning about someone’s prior experience. If someone has no demonstrable prior history of doing something like their project, or is unwilling to share information, backers should consider that when weighing a pledge. If something sounds too good to be true, it very well may be.

    So there you have it - caveat emptor. If you throw money at a stranger, based on a promise, it's down to you. Most of the Kickstarter projects I've seen have been 'hey fans, you love our website, help us make a book' kind of things, which would certainly bite the owner in the ass if they let you down.

  • by AdrianKemp (1988748) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @07:10AM (#39642181)

    Startups don't all work out (not even fucking close).

    The idea of kickstarter, the entire idea of it, is to distribute the costs among many people so that each is investing no more than an amount they are comfortable losing.

    Instead of a share of profits like you would get with a large investment in the business, you get token rewards if and when it succeeds.

    Kickstarter is entirely clear about all of this, and anyone who invests in something should a) do their homework and ask the right questions and b) not give up more than they can walk away from.

    The whole idea is that for the price of a theatre trip (for one!) you can help fund a cool idea, and lots of people are willing to do that. It's not about contracts and buying stuff it's about good will and helping something you believe in come to life.

  • by Neil_Brown (1568845) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @08:15AM (#39642507) Homepage

    I "invested" in ZionEyez, since it sounded like an interesting project, and something that I'd be pleased to see come to market. I use "invested" liberally here, since I don't for a second think that this gave me ownership in the project, or anything like that. Perhaps "gambling" would be a better term.

    I gave my money to help a project get sufficient funding to go ahead. The "reward" level I paid for was listed as "You will receive the Eyez by ZionEyez HD video recording glasses with clear and shaded removable lenses" but I read this as being dependent on the project succeeding — if I don't receive the glasses, I'll be disappointed, but I wouldn't consider it a breach of contract. I expected the project to give it its best shot, and to put effort into attempting to succeed, rather than taking the money with no intention of creating the project, but it's inevitable that some projects will fail.

    Whilst I'm disappointed that the project has been delayed quite considerably, and I'm mindful of the fact that I may never see the glasses, to me, this was an "investment" which did not materialise the way I had hoped rather than buying a product which was not delivered.

    I feel particularly sorry for some of the feedback posted to the creator of the Hanfree [kickstarter.com] project too...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @09:06AM (#39642907)

    What does Linux have to do with gifts/donations?
    (Most contributions to the Linux codebase are made by paid developers)

  • by Mike Buddha (10734) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @02:59PM (#39647917)

    A long time ago, I worked at a startup that was funded by a fairly successful software wholesaler. I'd been working for 6 months, with the promise of a raise once we'd hit a certain milestone and could begin sales. That milestone was hit with time to spare and sales had begun. I was brought in for my big performance review and told that I was doing well and that the owner was happy with me and the product I'd created, but there wasn't enough money for the raise. I was disappointed, but reality is reality and I'd have to wait for the raise.

    The very next day, the owners wife showed up in the office, very happy and excited (she was really nice, I have no beef with her), and wanted everyone to come out to the parking lot to see her brand new Lexus.

    Needless to say, my motivation dropped to about -10 at that point. My work ethic dropped to "do enough not to get fired". I don't think it was a conscious decision, it just sort of happened. I swore that I'd never take a job for less than the market would bear with the expectation of future rewards, and I haven't.

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