66% or better

Ask Hackaday: (How) should we control Kickstarter campaigns?

Kickstarter campaigns helped bring new and innovative products to the market during these last years. However there often are failures that can happen at several stages. We’d like to hear your opinion about them and discover what you think could be done to foresee/prevent these kinds of bad experiences that damage the trust between individuals and funding platforms.

Post-funding failures

There are a few project teams that give up a few months after receiving the funds, like the people behind the iControlPad 2 recently (disclaimer: we’re not backers). Even if [Craig] stated that he would document the entire production process on film and be open about all the project life steps, that didn’t prevent the project from being dropped (oddly enough) exactly one year after they received the funds. The more the project was headed towards failure, less was the frequency of updates regarding the project’s current state. The official reasons for this decision were difficulties that arose with the chosen LEDs, we’ll let you make your own opinion by having a look at the updates section. Thanks [Nikropht] for the tipping us about it.

Pre-funding failures

What is happening even more often on kickstarter is (usually successful) campaigns being canceled by the website itself after a few people rang the alarm bell. This may be due to an unfeasible project idea, a fake demonstration video/photos or even an attempt to resell an existing item under a new name.

The best examples for the first category undeniably are free energy generators. Here is an indiegogo campaign which actually succeeded. The creators announced one month ago that the project is running a bit behind schedule (aha), that the machine will cost around $5000 and that they’ll “need the funds before they make the units”. What can be done to educate the public that such energy is not created out of thin air?

The second category includes the recently canceled LUCI advanced lucid dream inducer (thanks [Michael] for the tip), which ended 2 days before the deadline. Technical guys got skeptical when they saw that the electrode signals were amplified several feet from the brain with an audio amplifier. At first glance, this was the only sign that this project may have been a scam (let’s give them the benefit of the doubt). Further research indicated that GXP (the company behind the campaign) didn’t exist, and most of their pictures were photoshopped. Here is a link to a quick summary of the situation and if you want to be entertained we advise you to make some pop-corn and head to the comments section of the project. What’s terrible here is that backers started to turn against each other, as the company always had a ‘good’ explanation for all the backers’ questions.

At last, there are some persons that just make funding campaigns with already existing products. This is the case of the eye3 flying robot and the vybe vibrating bracelet (don’t order!). Note that all of them were successfully funded. The eye3 was created by the same persons that made LumenLab, a company that created the microcnc. You’ll find more details here. The vibrating bracelet was just this one, which would be made in different colors. We just discovered this website that covered both project in greater lengths as well as many others.

Kickstarter fraudsters

Scams can also happen on the backers’ side. Recently, a Kickstarter backer named “Encik Farhan” attempted to rip off many Kickstarter projects. A ‘credit card chargeback’ technique was used, were the backer would contribute to the campaign, receive his perk and later cancel his credit card transaction using diverse reasons. The money would later be taken from the campaign funding by the payment processor.

What can be done?

The examples cited in this article set precedents which may turn people away from crowdfunding. In your opinion, what could be done to prevent this? Another reason we ask is because Hackaday may launch a sponsored product soon, thanks to the new overlords. This hypothetical product would be designed with the Hackaday community in a completely transparent process.

In the meantime, if you find any perpetual motion machines on kicstarter or indiegogo, be sure to send them in. You may also want to checkout this website predicting the success probability of a given kickstarter campaign.

Comments

  1. Necromant says:

    > Hackaday may launch a sponsored product soon, thanks to the new overlords.

    One question: Noselight?

  2. JJ says:

    It’s embarrassing how people cry like babies when the kickstarter they backed fails – no one told them to hand over the cash…..

    • that is like saying “oh, best buy sold you a block of cheese instead of laptop, well no one forced you to hand over your cash.”

      Kickstarter is a venture, and not a guarantee, however both the backers and creators agree to terms that state they will make good (in good faith) on what they say they will do and backers must realize that there is a risk.

      Yes I backed ICP2, and if I known Craig’s history, I wouldn’t have, shame on me, but that doesn’t mean he gets to run off with all the money. KS requires he provide a breakdown of where ALL FUNDS went, and issue refunds or other “make goods” in an attempt to provide restitution to backers to the best of his ability.

      The shame of it is, the firmware and PCB people seem to think it could work, but Craig mismanaged the money so bad and price quotes expired so it became unprofitable to build.

      I hope for a) a partial refund and b) that the remaining crew make good on the “open source” promise of the controller, going so far as to open source the hardware and such, that way, I can at least justify my money as helping someone somewhere.

  3. Zack Chapple says:

    Having run a successful campaign I have been on the receiving side of the questions. The two things I found helped establish the trust level with the people that backed us.

    1) We had a company that had been in existence for over a year when we started our Kickstarter, and had customers with our previous product line / people were still buying our previous line while the Kickstarter was running. Interestingly enough some people used our website to verify we were real before backing us, they bought one product on our site, when they received it they went and backed the Kickstarter.

    2) We had the actual product (an early prototype, but real) in our videos and pictures.

    The question I heard the most though was “are you actually going to deliver the product”.

  4. fartface says:

    A fool and his money is soon parted. If you do not have a clue about how the technology behind a project works and you cant make a decision on funding it beyond, OOOOOH SHINY then you deserve to lose your money.

    This kind of stuff has happened for centuries, I fun a LOT of kickstarters and they all succeed, but it’s because I know what I am looking at and when someone claims they can do something that seems to be a miracle or beyone what current technology can do, RUN AWAY.

    Occulus Rift barely passed the sniff test with me, I still did not fund it because they will not solve the lag issue that causes sickness in the nest 5 years. Some of their claims were off in la-la land, but they are doing far better than ANY OTHER 3D VR system out there. They just have all the same issues because they simply can not pump enough processing power at the whole thing to solve the biggest issues that have existed in VR forever.

    How you handle Kickstarter and IndieGoGo is to do your research, understand what you are getting into and ASK QUESTIONS. Be informed before the ohhh shiny impulse kicks in.

    • Dax says:

      “then you deserve to lose your money.”

      How about we successfully fool YOU? Would you accept the loss?

    • Indyaner says:

      I agree with you. On the other hand: Asking Questions and waiting for reply while all the good Rewards a taken by others is really frustrating. In the end the answers are trustworthy and all major-rewards are gone :|

      • Dax says:

        The caveat emptor principle makes for a paranoid markeplace where good ideas never get funded because people don’t want to take the risk of being scammed.

        As you pointed out, obtaining the necessary information costs something, and as long as the cost is higher than the gain, people simply opt not to participate.

      • CartesianCo says:

        Actually, we’re running a Kickstarter campaign and from my understanding you can pull out of your pledge any time before a campaign ends. So it would actually make sense jump on the bandwagon immediately and ask questions later. If you aren’t happy with the responses you get or how the campaign progresses then you can always pull out. Obviously, this approach only works if you make sure not to forget about your pledge though. ;)

    • six677 says:

      About the oculus rift, have you actually tried one yet?

      I got the opportunity to play with one on monday. That lag issue is hugely exaggerated. Yes its there if you look for it, but some of the people using it didn’t even notice that there was any lag at all until someone else asked how they thought the lag was. I put them on expecting some latency, had to stand there looking up and down to get an idea of how bad it is, which is not very. I came out without even the slightest hint of motion sickness, I genuinely wonder what is wrong with all these people that seem to think they need a bucket nearby.

      Only criticisms with the whole thing were the low resolution (in its own right its not too bad, its just the screen is right in your face, pixels are the first thing you notice, consumer version is a higher resolution) and comfort. Again, I thought the complaints about weight were exaggerated (although I perhaps didnt spend long enough with it to see the effects of that) but the unit I was wearing was rubbing on my nose uncomfortably with a hard edge, that can probably be fixed with strap adjustments, failing that some sort of soft foam on the hard edge (dont even know what it was) might help.

      Definitely buying one when the consumer units are available.

      • colecoman1982 says:

        I’ll preface this by saying I haven’t been lucky enough, yet, to have had a chance to try the Occulus Rift.

        How easily a VR system makes you sick is very much like how many FPS a game has to be in order to look fluid to you or whether, or not, you get sick when CRT monitors or fluorescent lights flicker at 60hz. It is, EXTREMELY, tied to a person’s individual brain/visual system. Some people get very ill very quickly. Some people, like you and I apparently, are virtually immune to it. Understandably, the people that get sick are going to be very vocal about it.

        • Rakyth says:

          I, too, am virtually immune to motion sickness. I also can’t see the sort of optical illusion/3D effects that are so popular these days. The ones that do get sick and vocal should probably realize that there isn’t a single product that everyone enjoys, except maybe air.

          • Jay says:

            I’ve known several smokers who paid an arm and a leg to make sure they never had to “suffer” with pure air. :)

      • Robot says:

        I find that the Rift works quite well. VR sickness is a complex issue, largely psychological and not dominated by lag less than ~50 ms. Nevertheless, it makes me ill :(

      • metis says:

        i’ve played with one that supposedly was “improved” and it was still remarkably unpleasant.

  5. Indyaner says:

    I’m currently a Baker of the Pixy (CMUcam5) and the Spark Core. The Pixy-Team didn’t published an update since over a month but last week or so did after some Facebook-Posts started to rise on their Page. They say it will arrive in January. The Spark-Team on the other hand, is going to charge my credit card again for shipping-costs tomorrow, as they said.
    Those are the informations I currently have. It’s not much but I thought I could share it here for others to know. Because my main problem with Kickstarter-Projects is: I know what the Projects-Hosts tell me. I wish there were like a Forum where every Baker could meet and share informations they have and – in a case of failure – could share their experience and act like a documention of failed Campaigns. Also: Grouphugs for the burned money.

    If anyone has any dirty laundry relating to the two campaigns I mentioned, feel free to let me know with an reply.

    • Sheldon says:

      Ooo, that’s kinda good to know (as a fellow Pixy backer).
      Alas I’m not a Facebook user so have been missing out on news, do you know if all the Facebook updates appeared on the Pixy pages? (or was there anything interesting that didn’t get mentioned?)
      The last update I saw was around Halloween.

      • Indyaner says:

        The informations you have are the same I have. I refered with “a week or so” to the email they send out to all bakers around halloween. I just post it here for anyone to read out of interest:

        =======================================

        Project Update #10: Pixy wishes you a Happy Halloween!
        Posted by Charmed Labs and Carnegie Mellon

        Hi everybody!

        I’m here to break the silence with a quickie update. When my 5 and 7 year olds are quiet, they are either fully engaged in some kind of project, or they are fully engaged in some kind of bad mischief (that they don’t want us to learn about.)

        We’ve been fully engaged in our favorite little robot vision sensor (Pixy). (and very very little mischief)

        The processors and imagers arrived and have been shipped to the contract manufacturer. The CM is almost finished getting the PCBs fabricated. Lots of back and forth with them to make sure all is correct. Making this many boards (5000) is stressful! Each mistake has such a huge multiplier! (good thing we don’t make mistakes! ha! seriously— things are looking good.)

        We weren’t happy with any of the pan/tilt mechanisms that we could buy off-the-shelf, so we contracted with a mechanical engineer to design a custom pan/tilt for Pixy. It’s compact, easy to mount, looks cool and it’s super zippy— should make for some great demos!

        While our mechanical engineer (Bill) was at it, he came up with some simple mounting brackets. These brackets will allow you to mount Pixy either as fixed perpendicular or with an adjustable tilt. The brackets will ship with all Pixys (yay!)

        Software development is moving along. We’re working on filling in some of less technically challenging (but still important) features, like flash programming, the Arduino API, and getting the USB drivers working on Mac. We will continue to focus on software/firmware over the next several weeks.

        In summary, all’s good! (and we’re still on track for shipping mid January.)

        thanks! and happy Halloween!

        –rich

    • six677 says:

      “I wish there were like a Forum where every Baker could meet and share informations they have and – in a case of failure – could share their experience and act like a documention of failed Campaigns.”

      Tada: http://thedaringkitchen.com/forum

    • adcurtin says:

      https://www.spark.io/status

      tons of blog posts throughout the whole project about different status updates. Spark is definitely one of the most open kickstarters I backed. Glowing Plants is also pretty good with updates, but those aren’t super frequent (then again, that’s more of a slow process).

  6. nelsontb says:

    In the iControlPad 2 updates he states that he wasted 10k$ on PCB with component alignment issues… who in hell orders 10k$ in PCBs without having a prototype first?

    • Zack Chapple says:

      Depending on manufacturer and die costs that might not be hard to do.

      • six677 says:

        I think its incredibly difficult to do. Normally you would send off to have perhaps 3 or 4 boards made, check them. Then order 10k’s worth.

        • Blue Footed Booby says:

          I can think of three possibilities:
          1. He won the un-lottery and got 3 or 4 working boards and then a shitload of non-working ones from the actual run
          2. It was a sleazy/incompetent company who, purposely or not, ran the prototype run with different quality controls than the real thing.
          3. The dude didn’t do the prototype run because he’s an idiot.

          • Z says:

            Suffice it to say he’s a bit of an idiot, and a bit unrealistic when it comes to sourcing companies for parts and managing money. Trust me this wasn’t the first device/kickstarter he killed/ almost killed. The openpandora was almost brought down and shelved because of him, hell he still hasn’t sent open-pandoras to a shit-ton of his pre-orders from way back when. Suffice it to say, this really isn’t news to me.

          • Marshall_R says:

            “3. The dude didn’t do the prototype run because he’s an idiot.”

            That’s pretty much how Massimo Banzi gave Arduinos the 0.16″ spacing between digital pins 7 and 8. Not that I’d use the word idiot to describe him.

            “when I put some finishing touches I managed to get the spacing wrong… We had 5 minutes before the deadline to go into production, the PCB guy was on the phone saying ‘send it now or it goes to next week’ [...] there wasn’t much time to think.”

            citation: http://forum.arduino.cc/index.php?PHPSESSID=r8u2n2umms11u4dnipdbs40p23&topic=22737.msg171839#msg171839

    • Rakyth says:

      Sony. I’m serious; a lot of the first model PSP’s don’t have a square button that aligns properly; not counting the stuck and dead pixels. I’m sure those helped the system sell.

    • Darron says:

      I managed to blow about half that on an ARM board design for a product of mine. Prototypes came in… I hand built two (2 BGAs on each)… they worked. I built 10 more with a CM, only two of those ten worked. There was a fatal flaw with the Ethernet interface that pretty much means I have all the serial-interface-only ARM boards I could need for hobby projects for the next several years. (I never have bought a Pi, ‘bone, or ‘cast).

  7. Banana says:

    The simple reason for those fraudsters getting rich is that you can’t fix stupidity/nativity. It’s the same as the ‘receive money from nigerian king by sending money to his bank account’. There are always stupid people doing it, otherwise this kind of spam mail would die out quickly. IMHO those people doing it, are quite smart, because it’s an easy way of getting quite rich. (If you can accept being hated by a few 100 people)

  8. ejonesss says:

    ok then dont hand out the perks until the money has long cleared.

    some studying of the system will be required to determine how long you have to do a chargeback.

    so maybe take a couple months to send out the perk.

    other things you can do is immediately download the money to the bank so there is nothing to charge back so if they do a chargeback they will find an empty kickstarter account.

    that is like if you are selling an item on ebay then as soon as you get the money in your paypal account then withdraw the money from paypal to your bank so if they do a chargeback then they will find an empty paypal account.

    • Greenaum says:

      One “transfers” money into one’s bank account. It’s great that people are starting to say “download” though!

    • dan says:

      The trouble with saying you’re going to wait 120 days at least so that nobody can charge back is that it doesn’t engender trust. you’re making an effort to try to put your customers in a bad positions, market protections exist for a reason. I’d be far more sceptical of a business that says that they will be deliberately removing any consumer protection I may have with my credit card, because it will suit their cause better!

  9. Pun says:

    The fact than anyone was stupid enough to fund that totally bullshit “quantum energy generator” reduces my faith in humanity considerably. Way to go.

    • Greenaum says:

      Unless that thing needed a lot of very expensive FETs etc, some of his component pricing is a bit over-stated. Still I wonder why he only asked for 7 grand? If I was going to scam people I’d make it worth my while. Unless he’s one of those poor free-energy schmucks who, like bad psychics, actually believes in what he’s doing.

  10. Sheldon says:

    I think it comes down to trust and visibility: either there needs to be enough information about the people/technology to allow backers to make a decent evaluation themselves, or the creators of the project are known & ‘trustworthy’. If the thing you want to buy falls outside of that (& this is probably a general principle, not specific to Kickstarter) then you need to decide if you can afford to lose the money and accept the risks you entered into.

    So, I’ve backed a few things on KS:
    - Pixy (CMUcam5) – they already have a large community from previous versions and appeared to be a reputable team (an acceptable risk even if I haven’t really been aware of them before backing)
    - Smoothieboard – well, I’d been wanting to buy the last version so I’d already done research on the tech – it was a no brainer when it appeared on KS :-)
    - HackRF – bit of a chance one but as the creator has presented the previous version at a conference, it makes it a) hard to fake and b) he had demonstrated he was more than competent at delivering.

    Okay, time-scales are always tough but if the creators have a track-record of producing the product (maybe in small numbers or more basic versions) then it should happen (just have to be patient).

    I think if HaD were to endorse/produce their own KS projects then I’d expect something relating to the above (maybe a video or interview with the creator, perhaps a demo of the prototype, maybe even a walk-through of the KS plans).

  11. jamdis says:

    I’m getting a little tired of people complaining about crowdfunding. It’s not perfect, but it’s a nice alternative for art or unusual technologies. In every other system of exchange, scams exist. Does that make them broken? The fact that many scams are called out by Kickstarter and its users before your credit card is charged strikes me as a sign that the system is working. It’s not a bug, its a feature.

  12. mikes electric stuff says:

    Considering the huge amount of money Kickstarter is making, they should easily be able to appoint an expert in the field to vet any technical project for feasibility, and interview and advise the project creators. The problem with this is that a “hands off” approach limits their liability, by doing checks to protect potential victims, they potentially increase liability for failures.

  13. nelsontb says:

    There are also projects made by people who simply don’t have a clue, look at this project http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/super-osd-lite , the guy requested very little money and didn’t have a prototype nor any idea of how to make one, some links to the forum below

    him trying to use ‘solder paste’ (that is flux)
    http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showpost.php?p=17755481&postcount=1045

    it doesn’t seem to work and ‘the problem is’ ‘the hotplate no longer gets to 500ºC’

    This is supposed to work
    http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showpost.php?p=20825811&postcount=1811

    the whole thread is a gallery of cringe pics

  14. Thanks for the mention!

    The comments section on KickStarter could do with some improvements. You can only comment after backing it with a credit card and address, which is not something you would tend to do if you can recognize that it is a scam. And I reported it to KickStarted way back, but they didn’t do as much as reply to my report. And even as everyone in the comments section was backing out of the campaign, a lot of new backers that had only watched the video kept buying in. A voting system that gets the top 5 comments to the main page of the campaign would fix that.

    If you’ve made popcorn, I wrote a script to flip the comments so they appear in order and are easier to read: http://lucid-code.com/P300/LUCI/Sorted.htm#Wake_Up_Call.
    ┬─┬ノ( º _ ºノ)

    I flipped the comments because I believe that I witnessed what appears to be a P300 event-related potential (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Event_related_potential) in the attitude of the crowd. On a much slower scale, of course, but similar to what happens when you recognize something . So I am trying to measure and graph the “brainwaves” of the crowd out of curiosity. About half-way there…

  15. ejonesss says:

    “What can be done to educate the public that such energy is not created out of thin air”

    uhhhh i dont know about that.

    i saw on a documentary about either patents or energy several years ago that someone did come up with a device that produced more than it used but it could not get a patent because of the missing 3rd prong on the power cord.

    they added the 3rd prong and now it got a patent but it also no longer produced more than it used.

    • Jason says:

      Seriously? I hope this a joke.

    • Jason says:

      Just to clarify, I hope your comment was a joke. I’m pretty sure nobody created a device that produces more energy than it uses. Mainly because this flies in the face of conservation of energy. Physical laws aside, if someone did manage to make a magic energy box, I doubt very highly that a missing “3rd prong” would prevent its celebratory announcement to the world.

      Again, like I said. I hope this is a joke. I assume this is a joke. I demand that this is a joke.

  16. rasz says:

    aww HaD, you forgot about scam you also helped to advertise, muoptics Mµ Thermal Imager
    http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/mu-thermal-camera-a-great-tool-to-save-on-energy-costs

    • I called that out as a potential scam but am now not so sure. They seem to actually be doing work and posting images of boards, even though progress is really slow.

      Their estimated delivery date they had at the start (may this year or something?) was straight up crazy though.

      To me, it now seems more that they really didn’t know what would be involved in making the product. My guess is that the first units will arrive middle of next year. I’m hoping they’ll make it as it might drive the price of commercial ir cams down a bit.

    • v00 says:

      Ahhh, yes. I was wondering if they were going to link that. The 50 something page thread on EEVBlog is rather entertaining, as are the comments on the IGG page.

    • adcurtin says:

      I just got my refund this past week. Doesn’t seem like a scammy thing if they’re still giving refunds. That said, I wasn’t pleased with the still lacking detailed updates. I’d rather jsut wait until they actually release the product and buy it for $300 instead.

  17. While I was running the Teensy 3.0 on Kickstarter, around this time last year, an Arduino clone campaign appeared and generated a LOT of hype. It raised about twice as much money, funded about 1 month later than Teensy3. It also was a subject of much controversy when Massimo, co-founder of Arduino accused them of misrepresenting themselves as associated with Arduino, and also infringing the trademark. It was even covered here on Hack-a-Day.

    http://hackaday.com/2012/11/27/kickstarter-incurs-the-wrath-of-arduino-creator/

    At the time, there as a LOT of angry commenting, suggesting Arduino was getting “too big” or trying to unfairly compete. Massimo pointed on the project creator wasn’t actually in Italy at all, and had made a number of other dishonest statements.

    STILL, nearly 1000 backers with an average pledge of about $160 stuck with the project, despite all those warning signs.

    Predictably, the project did not go well, even though it required no software development and was mostly just copying the circuitry of well established Arduino products to a new form-factor. Just look at the backer comments!

    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/fairduino/smartduino-open-system-by-former-arduinos-manufact/comments

  18. lol says:

    Really, not even one person in the middle of that kickstarter knows that the brain wave signals that are picked up will be very, very small in amplitude, in the zone of micro-volts, that is totally buried in the noise floor of those audio amplifiers..

    Stupid people everywhere…

  19. Voobanahana Vopbop says:

    If you really want to get ganked, you might as well be part of a legacy that goes back 5 decades… (http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/actually-fly-the-m400x-skycar-into-history) Yes, it’s the (in)famous Moller Skycar! Moller’s been developing the skycar for 50+ years, but it’s only a few years from production now…

    I really don’t know why this article is directed at Kickstarter. Indiegogo has the majority of free energy scams and other Vaporware… And with flexible funding, your money’s gone whether or not the project meets its goal.

  20. Chuckt says:

    I think you need the credit card information from the person placing the Kickstarter campaign and put a hold on their credit card or credit if they don’t deliver. Do a credit check on them.

    Control or verify the foundries which produce the material and only give it to them if the campaign is successful. Do a credit check on them.

    Do not allow funds to go to businesses or individuals unless you have a contract and unless the campaign is successful. Without a contract, what recourse do you have?

    You are basically operating as a business so you may need to follow acceptable business practices and standards.

  21. kitsune361 says:

    I’ve backed *maybe* 5 Kickstarters, and except for the one that was a sure thing I only put forth what I was willing to completely lose. I consider things like KS a donation to a cause (sometimes w/ premiums, like your local PBS station), or a highly risky investment in the future; I don’t bother putting forth anything I don’t plan on losing.

    So far, only one project I’ve backed has gone off the rails and the owner of that project is still trudging away as of her last blog post a few months ago. At least I got a T-shirt for the not-yet-existant product.

  22. ameyring says:

    Maybe a way to improve kickstarter is for the inventor(s) to show the product in person to a Kickstarter rep. Put a rep or two in every state and they can check the product before it goes on Kickstarter. Should keep fraud to a minimum. To keep standards of qualifications consistent, Kickstarter needs to post requirements for every product and expect the reps to simply confirm they are followed. If the product works and is not a clone of a trademarked one, then that is a great first step.

    • ch00f says:

      But then Kickstarter would be liable for any scams or projects that fail miserably.

      I think they’ve been very careful to not get involved in all but the most egregious violations of their project policies. They get paid either way.

  23. Alistair says:

    “What can be done to educate the public that such energy is not created out of thin air?”

    Let them spend all their money on a box of old pinball machine parts. If that doesn’t teach them a lesson I’m not sure what will get through to them.

  24. marcelo says:

    All of this guys need project management, all of this guys have really good tech skills but by the time and money proposals is obvious that they dont have a plan and everything is made on the road.

  25. Freddy says:

    How do banks make sure they loan to real companies? Do the same.

  26. Greg Kennedy says:

    Kickstarter takes a 5% commission on everything that is “successfully funded”. Financially, it’s not in Kickstarter’s best interest to act as gatekeeper for projects or provide even a minimal level of scam screening. All this would do is impose additional work in order to cut their own revenue stream.

    One way to control Kickstarter indirectly would be to set up a competing site with review board, perhaps measuring a successful project by “investor satisfaction” rather than “funding goal reached”. This would send users to BetterThanKickstarter.com since it was more likely to result in a positive backer experience. In turn, Kickstarter would have to step up its game to compete.

    At the risk of sounding too much like I’m proposing a stock market for indie projects, “investor satisfaction” has several ways of playing out that might improve the all around experience and make it more fun to be part of the crowd doing the funding:
    * do I like the product?
    * are the creators communicative with backers?
    * backer community: thumbs up / thumbs down?
    * for non-product items: do we get lots of nice pictures of the people helping feed the poor in return? Did we really get into Guinness World Records? etc etc

    • Sheldon says:

      I like that idea and wish that KS had a ‘quality track’ with the money it’s making (5% of some of the big funded projects is an awful lot of money) and it wouldn’t take that much to do just some of those things.
      Certainly if there was a quality alternative to KS then I’d be more inclined to use that (one of the reasons I don’t back things on Indigogo as I found the setup even less comfortable).

  27. ch00f says:

    Thanks for the Drop-Kicker shoutout!

    I’m not sure that we’ll do much for the tech-savvy and skeptical crowd here, but our goal is to try to point out the challenges of different Crowd-funded projects that the creators have omitted and the average backer may not know about.

    If you see any scammy looking projects, send us at tip using the link on the right.

  28. Macon says:

    I think a major source of “failure” is overly ambitious funding goals. For example, I’m currently obsessing over Lavabit’s Dark Mail Initiative. (Lavabit is the company that fought to keep it’s user’s SSL keys out of the hands of the NSA. They want to build an open source Email security system, so existing email clients can adopt it easily. If the users, not the companies, have the SSL then the NSA can’t read anything without due process)
    They have a $200,000 goal, and they’re half way there but halfway through their campaign. Because of their recent press attention, they have an advantage. If they don’t make it, things will be more difficult for a 2nd Kickstarter. It’s better to set low goals and overshoot them than to fail entirely.

  29. Whats better asking for money from the people and then fail?
    -> some kickstarter projects for example

    Or don’t even ask the people, just take the money from the people and then fail?
    -> tokamak for example

  30. dx says:

    “Even if [Craig] stated that he would document the entire production process on film and be open about all the project life steps, that didn’t prevent the project from being dropped (oddly enough) exactly one year after they received the funds.”

    By the way, quite good thought. Why not to represent work on the project in the form of a series of small consecutive steps or subtasks prior to work on the project and after start to publish small reports on that as there are affairs. The more in details there will be a task list, the burndown chart will be more exact, and users participating in the project will be able not only to interrupt with the angry comments, but also to help with the solution of any especially practical tasks. Quite often those who participates in technical projects on kickstarter or indiegogo, as a rule are rather qualified people in technical areas. It everything is in SCRUM methodology. To add the small backlog with the burndown chart and comments – not such complex challenge as it can seem, and on a kikstarter it could be made. Or to use another service for this purpouse. Of course it will not solve all problems, but this should help, I think.

    • dx says:

      And so the distributed net laboratory could turn out.

      • dx says:

        If open hardware exists, and open software exists, why open technologies not so famous now? As distributed projects, which goes from R&D collaborative project to working prototype and to well-tested product version with flexible and well described technological process, which can include individual production variants and mass production variants (in a crowd-funding company borders). Interestingly. Probably it is too obvious and simple thing that it was interesting to somebody by it to be engaged.

  31. John Locke says:

    Clearly, the most destructive element of a failed Kickstarter campaign is the continued use of emotional ukulele music in the pitch video.

  32. Vonskippy says:

    So I have a project, I think might, maybe, possibly, kind-of, could work, then ask a bunch of strangers to give me their money because I certainly won’t be risking my own money on such a hair brained idea, and then…….profit?

    People are surprised that this concept (i.e. Kickstarter) is full of fail?

  33. Techartisan says:

    okay so this wont be the most popular of opinions but……
    1. you are not an investor in a kickstarter, you are a donor.
    2. You are not a consumer making a purchase. You are a donor receiving a REWARD.
    3. You are backing the hopes and dreams of someone who, quite often
    __a. Has not completed their project
    __b. Has not mass produced the results of their project
    __c. Has only a rough idea of the true cost of accomplishing their goals.
    __d. Has little to no business experience

    So on these points, Donors give to causes they feel worthy in hopes of helping the individual, group or entity achieve some goal they see as worthy. Ultimately, the idea is not that you are preordering call of duty 17, but rather you are trying to help zyxczyx beta come to fruition.

    Very few of these projects are started with the intent to take the money and run, even the failures make this clear as they quite often end up crashing and burning in a mess of fail….rather than disappear to the lands of mai tais and honeys. There are of course exceptions I will not argue that point.

    What many people see as “too high a goal” is far more often too low a goal, impractically set by amateurs with no real knowledge of what difficulties lie ahead of them. Conversely, what many people see as a wildly successful campaign that reach X times its goal, is quite often a snowballing disaster of unexpected magnitude. These critical failures of not knowing what it will really take to accomplish either your original modest goal, or the resulting ambitious one is why, to a large degree, these projects are projects, and not ideas and products scooped up by venture capitalists or bought up by corporate interests.

    How to fix the issue?
    First as an individual stop backing kickstarters at a level beyond your loss tolerance. At some level, crowdfunding is a gamble. Do not purchase expensive vaporware in hopes of it solidifying into something more. Make low level “supporter” donations to ideas you wish to see succeed, and buy the resulting product, if and when it happens. Or accept that you might not be rewarded.

    The kickstarter that goes 20X over its founders goal….shouldnt happen. Sure its exciting and it makes great media for KS. But its often the same projects that end up more than the founders can chew, leaving them choking on its magnitude. Id much rather see each reward level capped, fullfilled, and a second round of KS done.

    Id much rather see a more limited system.
    The first round limited to a number of beta test units, a tier of interest check donors, and perhaps a tier of supporters who can secure a serialized production position with a discount for their early support at a higher stepped donation.
    The second round, either a continuation of the first round, or a next level campaign, opened first to holders of positions from the first round, a limited number of production units based on manufacturing projections and contracts. Again with the interest check, and supporter positions available.
    Then for the third round, depending upon success of the second either repeat the second round dynamic, or allow this now clearly successful project to go into kickstarters current “its not a store” but “it is” model of presale and fulfillment.

    Ultimately, I feel that the technology and design categories of kickstarter suffer a significantly different set of issues than the dance performances, movies, etc that kickstarters model is more fit to manage. These creative endeavors which reward backers with tshirts, stickers, dvds, tickets to a performance etc are more in line with the Backer Donor Reward model than the next hobbyist iteration of a 3d printer, the designer sunglasses, or minimalized wallet. These design and technology projects give backers the sense that they are making a purchase, when in fact they are gambling…..and no matter how lucky you are sooner or later you will lose gambling. Only the house, Kickstarter and Amazon, win all the time. While it is easier to sympathize with all the people who have not received their rewards from various projects, The flipside to this equation is a number of good intentioned hobbyists whose dreams become a nightmare as they are publicly disgraced by their failure.

    I have watched several people unravel as they struggle to accomplish goals loftier than they had set for themselves. I have watched supportive groups of backers become lynch mobs, making threats, posting home addresses, and personal details. And while I understand that one puts themselves in this position by attempting to kickstart without full knowledge and understanding, I cant help but feel sorry for these people as very few seem to be ruthless conmen shaking down the internet for a free payday, more often then not, they just seem to be dreamers trying to share their vision…..their dream.

    • dan says:

      lets agree with what you’re saying for a second. you’re donating to a project.
      of buying a reward not a project…

      fine.

      so if I pledge $1 the reward for this is usuall name in readme file, or on website as a backer.

      fine.
      if I pledge $50 then I might get a t-shirt, again cool.

      if I’m told that for pledging $500 I will get some cool and high tech thing, then that’s the promise.

      no different from a tee-shirt, no different from buying anything else!

      remember the project founders set the pledge levels and the rewards! even if your analogy is correct and that the money you give is more like a doonation, then it doesn’t escape the fact that money is given with a promised reward.

      I agree with you that a better idea would be pledge now and get money off, when (and if) a project completes, or pledge now and get a tee-shirt. rather than giving a straight up statement that people are buying something that is not made yet.

      but you can’t get away from the fact that the reward system is a promise in return for cash.

      • Techartisan says:

        Yes, and this is why I propose more reasonable limitations to high level rewards. Why I suggest a staged multikick, rather than the snowball till avalanche currently the norm. The only perfect solution is to disallow rewards killing this whole concept….I dont really understand what it is you feel you have added to this discussion. My entire post was a proposition for limiting loss exposure in a more reasonable way. Your drawn out response….BUT THEY PROMISED!

        Personally, I think these “products not projects” in technology particularly would fall better within the SEC’s proposed equity based crowdfunding model, http://bit.ly/1cXCMAz but until there is a system in place to allow this sort of INVESTMENT, we are limited to the existing system, and the same risk of loss with a much more limited possibility of reward.

        • Dan says:

          The point was.

          Even if you think the money you give to a product is a donation, it doesn’t change that where rewards are offered it’s a buying situation.

          You tried over and over to say it’s not and that people shouldn’t expect to get what they paid for.

          The point was, project authors set their stall out and name their price. If there is a mistake, or a point whee that process breaks it’s not because the process is bad, or that people think it is something that it is not, it’s because project authors are making mistakes with the rewards process.
          Offering the moon on a stick for every $x pledge is going to leave you bankrupt when you try to deliver and your backers unhappy when you fail to deliver.

          Regardless of the project status the reward are a goods or services rendered for a payment. Not as you say a perk when you donate to a project.

          • Techartisan says:

            your point was not misunderstood…..”BUT THEY PROMISED” its quite clear your stance….a basic understanding of the problem at hand…. Kickstarter being used as a store for preordering amateur goods still at some level in the vaporware phase.

            The title of this HAD article is “Ask Hackaday: (How) should we control Kickstarter campaigns?”.

            My whole post, clearly lost on you, was an effort to outline a potential model to deal with the fact that kickstarter was not initially intended to be a “store for rewards”….but rather a platform to help fund creative endeavors by supporting the project founders dream to create something that they want to see exist in the world. (paraphrased from the KS FAQ).

            Youre arguing a moot point. Project founders are clearly making mistakes, most often out of ignorance of the true logistics of their proposals. Please stop arguing that….Ive said nothing to deny that. We all recognize that. The entire point of this Ask HAD is to make suggestions of how this situation might be improved.

            Perhaps my proposed modifications were too much for you..Instead of all of the perfectly valid ideas I have previously presented…here Ill make a new far simpler one……

            I think that all kickstarters should have to add the phrase “if we succeed in our goals” to every REWARD level so that under this new model backers ARE BEING REWARDED FOR THE CONTINUED SUPPORT THROUGH THE DEVELOPMENT AND MANUFACTURING PROCESS….rather than merely purchasing a reward.

            I hope this satisfies you, as I cant be bothered with further fruitless interactions.

          • Dan says:

            When you start saying that money given is a donation that’s where I’m saying you are wrong. You are of course correct that the site should include more ambiguity. Like saying rewards are only sent if the vapourware solidifies.

            Like it or not kickstarter reward system is a shop. When I donate I’m offered goods or services for my money. There are no ifs and no buts, everything is worded as a promise!

            If that doesn’t come through the complaint is valid. Because there was no warning.

            How do you make kick start work?
            Be realistic with how much you need. (Don’t ask for so little that you can never complete, don’t ask for so much that it’s impossible to justify) (e.g. $30 to make moulds for your new plastic thing clearly won’t pay for a mould $3bn is asking a lot.

            The more you ask for the more you need to break down and justify your time.
            A good example can be seen in the comments here from weeks back when a company writing drivers for older graphics chipsets said they want $300k to release work they already had. Sure it’s their work and they can name their price. But cash grabs are fairly obvious.

            Be serious about your time as well as money. If there is design work included documentation etc include time for that. Don’t stall your project and delay for the sake of documentation. And be serious about the time needed! It wouldn’t be unusual for a project that takes six months to need nearly a month of paper work.

            Be serious with rewards. You are telling people that you WILL give them something in exchange for their money. Not fulfilling rewards will make people think that you’re ripping them off.

            Even when you start shipping whatever you’re making, remember this will not keep people quiet. Customer 1 doesn’t know customer 2, and will not be reassured that you tell him or her that the device has shipped. Most customers will not post updates. So you’ll likely end up having shipped 100, have 5 people public ally saying that they have theirs and hundreds more customers asking whee theirs is, and asking if the five that actually have theirs are shills. (Avoid this by communicating properly with your customers. -and if the reward is your product then they are customers.

            Be realistic about what you can and cannot deliver.

            Basically. When writing the proposal (because your pitch is a proposal) get it right. Write it as if you were delivering a proposal inside a business to a customer.

            Have a proper project plan.

            Keep people updated.

            It’s ok for time scales to slip, but people will be annoyed if you don’t say why.

            An example of this is, consider these two scenarios.

            In September I think it’ll take six months to do something, so I say the product will be out by march.
            In December I have a month off for Christmas, now I’m incommunicado, work isn’t getting done, my customers are getting annoyed. And they see me taking a month holiday in their money.

            Scenario 2, in September I think something will take six months. Up front I know I’ll be away for a month, so I build that into my proposal, and timeline.
            Now my vague updates over Christmas are actually appreciated by customers, I’m going above what I said I would, the project still delivers in April, just as in scenario 1, but to happy customers, not angry customers who have been messed about and kept in the dark.

            If you’re doing a project that will take a year. Be realistic about having days off, because you will want a holiday.

            Basically it looks like a lot of projects fail because people don’t know how to plan or run projects properly. And over estimate their management skills, or people over estimate their engineering abilities.

            Keep realistically inside the bounds of engineering and management abilities, time and financial possibilities and you should have a successful project.

            The minute you start down the road of trying to trim this or trying to inflate that to make things more attractive is when a project is setup to fail.

    • It would be better if the rewards were worded differently. For example: “If this project receives sufficient funding and is successful in manufacture you will receive..” rather than “For this amount YOU WILL GET…” Basically the way it is worded makes it a breach of contract and people ‘donate’ on promises that may not be.

      I do understand it is included in the terms of service on the pledge page, but most people pledging don’t understand what a pledge is.

  34. pusalieth says:

    I’ve got to say, I have read a single compassionate statement, when I know everyone that’s a true hacker has made the same logical fallacy as those funding scams. Is not experimenting before you understand, the same leap of faith. Is the acceptance of failure, the opposite of the morality of survival of fitest. I think people are missing a huge point, a person making not mistake is impossible. Read my name do think a guy or girl……….If you thought I was gl you were wrong, I spelled it wrong so you couldn’t sub-consciously read it before you consciously read it. You assumed based of previous experience and best resonable rational in the calculation of judgement of gender. If you make such a flawed assumption on something so simple, how could you know when big scams take ahold of you. Now I realize, hackers do not conform to society because they weren’t scammed into thinking its righteous, or right, but I guarentee no human is perfect. Just because we believe in survival of fitest, doesn’t mean we should disregard the reality, or the same logical fallacy that scammed the people you’ve persecuted and condemned, you just comitted, and are just as guilty.

    Feel compassion and mercy for those that have not been born with gifts we have inherited by design, and try to protect the inoocent from the wolves that wish to use the gift for malice. With great power, comes great responsibilty.

    • I assumed you were a guy before you even asked the question I did not even bother to read your name. I “assumed based of previous experience and best reasonable rational in the calculation of judgement of gender” and I was entirely correct.

      It is not a matter of logical fallacies, it is not a matter of “logical fallacies” rather a collective of my experiences. This is the same exact experience I use not to gamble on pipe dreams.

      >Feel compassion and mercy for those that have not been born with gifts we have inherited by design, and try to protect the *innocent from the wolves that wish to use the gift for malice. With great power, comes great *responsibility.

      No comment.

  35. Haku says:

    I am still waiting for my Double Fine Adventure game, you know, the one that raked in over 3.3 million dollars almost 2 years ago. I gave up following the update videos & text when they said they ran out of funds. They said they could make a game for $400k, but they’ve apparently blown through over $4m now.

  36. Praetorian_TMOTC says:

    The thing that annoys me most as an international backer is Kickstarter’s refusal to help claim a refund. Basically after putting in a complaint over a broken in transit item being received (and therefore I will never know if it ever worked at all) the staff told me to contact the creator.

    I had already done this and received no replies after one message saying that he would send me a new unit. After this message from him, never heard from him again. Anyway this was written in my letter to KS and they said they couldn’t do anything, contact the creator… what BS.

    As an international backer, I have no option other than to ask the creator to give me a refund, so what do I do when they don’t respond when neither Amazon nor KS can help me?

  37. tedmeyers says:

    Kickstarter and the like are bound to disappear eventually, and I won’t be at all disapointed to see them go. It’s just bad idea that is open to fraud, abuse, and just plain incompetence. The tried and true model works, Kickstarter doesn’t, its an evolutionary dead end. Lets compare the two models: normal online retail, you buy a product, if the seller doesn’t deliver in a few days, you can contact them and most established companies don’t want a bad reputation and will do something. Worst comes to worst, you can get your money back relatively easily via the credit card company. With Kickstarter however, you pay your money, wait 6 months (or longer), wait another 6 months and eventually realize you are never getting anything. so you go back to Kickstarter for your money; they have no interest in helping you, and good luck with the credit card after waiting a year to report a problem. And, Kickstarters only have to worry about their reputation for the 30 days before they get the money.

  38. ameyring says:

    What will be interesting to watch is how the campaign for castAR pans out. It was put together by, for one, a well-known hacker and the demo videos as well as the in-person demos at Maker Faire show a working product. I do hope it works out well.
    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/technicalillusions/castar-the-most-versatile-ar-and-vr-system

  39. Paul says:

    I have found (and backed one) a new trend in failures are patent infringements. The one I backed has not released the item because the company is lawyer locked. I have added this to my lost of things to look out for when pledging.

  40. JimBob says:

    A fool and his money are soon parted. Stupid can’t be fixed.

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