Kickstarter aims to boost honesty, transparency

June 14, 2019 | 11:29

Tags: #advertising #crowdfunding #hyperbole #marketing #renders

Companies: #kickstarter

Crowdfunding site Kickstarter has revised its rules in an attempt to give unwarranted hyperbole the boot from its platform, banning projects from claiming discounts from theoretical retail prices and using superlatives in their descriptions.

The world of crowdfunding, where customers dubbed 'backers' provide funding to not-yet-launched products and services in order that their creators can afford to launch said products and services, is one fraught with difficulty: For every crowdfunding project that delivers on its promises, there are dozens by the wayside which either failed to generate enough interest to reach minimum funding requirements or took the money and failed to deliver on their promises. Even projects that do deliver often give backers something considerably weaker than promised, when the dreams of the design phase meet the reality of manufacturability and budgetary constraints.

In an effort to head off growing discontent from backers and critics, crowdfunding site Kickstarter has introduced a new set of rules which it hopes will help prevent backers from being disappointed. These rules are aimed at projects which talk the talk and fail to walk the walk, preventing creators from discussing future projects in the present tense, claiming hefty discounts over theoretical future selling prices, and making 'guarantees or promises [they] can't keep.'

A more interesting new rule - presented as a guideline, though one which may result in account restrictions or project suspension for anyone choosing to disregard its advice - is a ban on the use of 'superlatives or puffery' aimed at preventing projects presenting themselves as the 'the world's best/smallest/fastest/first/etc. or the ultimate/unrivalled/revolutionary/etc.'

'The language you choose to present your project plays a critical role in setting expectations for backers,' the site tells its users. 'Your project description should give backers a realistic and accurate picture of what you’ve done so far, what stage of development you’re in now, and what you’re hoping to create with their support. Leaning on cheap marketing language to make your project appealing at the outset won’t do you any favours in the long run if your project isn’t able to meet the unrealistic expectations you set for your backers.'

The site has also told creators to be transparent about their funding goals, setting them to the level at which the project can be delivered without the need for additional external investment. It has also banned promotional flashes, which typically boast how quickly a project met its funding goal, on all videos, images, and descriptions.

Kickstarter has also revised its rules on the use of rendered images rather than real photographs, banning the use of photorealistic renderings or heavily-manipulated images which showcase not-yet-extant features or functionality. Interestingly, this echoes changes to the company's rules back in 2012 which explicitly banned renders - rules the site relaxed just two years later in 2014.

The full list of new presentation rules can be found on the Kickstarter website.

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