First of all, go ahead and read Kickstarter’s admission of fucking up royally.
Let me start by saying, that is a well done apology. There’s no “We’re sorry IF” suggesting that maybe the wrongdoing was all in our heads. They take responsibility, they are enacting at least one new policy going forward (no more seduction guides), AND they are making a $25,000 donation to RAINN.
I’m hoping a situation like this never happens again, but in the event that it does, here are a few things I think Kickstarter could do a hell of a lot better:
- Acknowledge the problem. Wednesday morning, while the project was still live, Kickstarter’s Twitter and Facebook feeds were dormant. It’s entirely possible they were already in meetings at that point, but a tweet or a facebook post takes five seconds. “We hear you and we’re working on it.” Done.
- Implement a “pause button” or a “project on hold” functionality. Their post says that two hours wasn’t enough time* to work through all the issues with the project and its concerns. Giving themselves the ability to buy that time is key.
- Address the community ASAFP after the fact. We waited two days for the apology. I’m sure it went through several drafts, got read by dozens of pairs of eyes, and consumed most of the company’s time Wednesday and Thursday. That’s great. Silence is still awfully, awfully damning. They replied in a few places, sure, to BetaBeat and Casey Malone specifically, who chose to make those responses public. Something needed to go up on Kickstarter’s own blog well before this morning. Otherwise it made it seem like they were waiting for things to blow over, for something else to catch our attention on the internet so we’d go away.
So. With that in mind. I am grateful to Kickstarter for addressing the problem on the eventual, and I think they handled it pretty well for the situation they’d put themselves in. This isn’t me giving them a cookie, by the by. The apology reads the way a true apology should. I’m glad they didn’t resort to weasel-wording, but anything more than being glad sort of feels like thanking my houseguests for flushing the toilet. It’s just something you do, y’know?
I’m also glad to say this means I’ll back projects on Kickstarter again. My two-day hiatus probably doesn’t affect Kickstarter’s bottom line, but it certainly affects those of creators who had nothing to do with the Creepy Rape Manual, and that bothered the hell out of me. Sure, most creators could choose to use another crowdfunding site, but there are hundreds of projects whose drives started up before Wednesday, and they were certainly going to be hurting. There’s at least one feminist SF film on there I plan to back, and several books, anthologies, and games by people whose work I admire.
My trust in Kickstarter hasn’t been fully restored — that’s going to take time — but it’s a good start.
*I call bullshit on that one, honestly. Sounds like they knew it was wrong from the get-go. And it wasn’t two hours, but actually three, since the project funded four minutes before noon. Nitpicking? Maybe. But you can’t convince me they didn’t have plenty of time for someone to make an executive decision and pull the plug on it. Someone at that company knew there was a problem as soon as they walked in the door. Others very likely knew about it hours beforehand, and someone ought to have been on the fucking horn.