In response to mounting concerns about project owners' responsibility to backers — or seemingly lack thereof — crowd-sourcing platform Kickstarter has announced new guidelines that offer added protection against fraud. Detailed in a blog post today, the new provisions require creators to disclose any "risks and challenges" a project may face, such as potential production delays and escalating material costs. The change, Kickstarter says, will allow users to gauge whether or not they feel the creators are capable of completing the project as promised.
Additionally, the company has set new guidelines specifically for hardware and product design projects. Effective immediately, new Kickstarter campaigns will be unable to use simulations or design renders to illustrate what a completed product may look like or how it may function. Instead, creators must provide photos or video of prototypes as they exist at the time of posting. The company has even gone as far as prohibiting multiple quantities of a product as backer rewards, which they fear could strain production schedules.
Informing backers of 'risks and challenges'
Kickstarter, which has taken a relatively hands-off approach up until now, has come under fire as controversies with high-profile projects have arisen. In July, the creators of the Android-based game console Ouya were criticized for their pursuit of funds outside of their planned Kickstarter campaign. Other projects, like the much anticipated Pebble smartwatch, have fallen behind schedule, with backers still in the dark about when the finished product may arrive. In more extreme cases, like the Cam Crate, backers have gone months without any form of communication from project creators, leaving them with cash out of pocket and empty handed.
While the company's new guidelines may help safeguard users from backing risky projects, they provide no further protection to users after they have already made an investment. It's unclear if Kickstarter has plans for more policy changes, or if it will leave backers to fend for themselves.