Caveat Backer

For Crying Out Loud, Kickstarter Is Not a Place to Buy Christmas Gifts

You're taking a risk.
snake oil For Crying Out Loud, Kickstarter Is Not a Place to Buy Christmas Gifts

You wouldn’t just buy this, would you? (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

On the heels of a harshly worded blog post earlier this month, ruling that refunds from anyone other than the campaign creator are simply not in the cards, the Kickstarter cofounders are once more clarifying what users can and cannot realistically expect from the platform. This followup reminds everyone that backing a project is not tantamount to placing a preorder.

The title? “Kickstarter Is Not a Store.”

Said the cofounders:

It’s hard to know how many people feel like they’re shopping at a store when they’re backing projects on Kickstarter, but we want to make sure that it’s no one. Today we’re introducing a number of changes to reinforce that Kickstarter isn’t a store — it’s a new way for creators and audiences to work together to make things.

Also, did they mention that there are no refunds? Because there are no refunds.

All campaigns must now answer this great, glaring question: “What are the risks and challenges this project faces, and what qualifies you to overcome them?” In short, projects ought to stand up to the same kind of scrutiny as the most glancing investor evaluation–not to mention the risk portion of an S-1 filing.

Hardware and product design projects also must meet new guidelines. Product simulations and renderings are now verboten–show only what you’ve got. What next? Outlawing the flattering profile pics that disguise the double chin?

The blog post closes with another reminder that, for the love of God, Kickstarter is not an airport Brookstone:

We hope these updates reinforce that Kickstarter isn’t a traditional retail experience and underline the uniqueness of Kickstarter.

Smart steps toward transparency. However, we can’t help but feel like maybe backers might want to step up, here. The expression “buyer beware” dates as far back as the Roman Empire. And if someone tries to sell you the Brooklyn Bridge, it’s generally a smart move to ask a couple of probing questions before you fork over any greenbacks.

Follow Kelly Faircloth on Twitter or via RSS. kfaircloth@observer.com