Hackaday’s Official Kickstarter Policy

we don’t have one… yet.

We’re getting inundated with campaigns on crowdfunding sites like kickstarter and indiegogo. Sometimes they’re really cool projects, sometimes they’re not. Unfortunately, they are all basically appeals for coverage on hackaday so they can get money. That immediately puts a negative taste in our mouths. Then again, if a hacker legitimately makes something really awesome, why wouldn’t we want to help spread the word?

We don’t want to stop a really cool project from being shared with you just because it is on kickstarter, but we also don’t want to serve as a crowdfunding advertising platform. It ends up being complicated, especially if the idea is really cool, but the details are sparse.

So, what do you think? Share your thoughts on how hackaday should handle crowdfunding in projects.

p.s. This started as a rant about how sick of the constant pleas for kickstarter coverage we’re getting. We’re trying to stay positive and constructive here, please do the same in the comments.


217 thoughts on “Hackaday’s Official Kickstarter Policy

  1. I vote for the policy of no policy; if it’s cool, innovative, and has an interesting twist or exceptional execution, I’d like to see it. If it’s a rehashed (or rebranded) variation on something that’s been done to death… well… I think you try to avoid that anyway. Maybe the policy could be that there has to be a prototype or proof-of-concept. Whether it’s a crowdfunded effort should have little weight.

    I don’t have a lot of time to read HaD, LifeHacker, SANS NewsBites, OldTool maillist, etc, so I skip over what doesn’t catch my eye. For me, it doesn’t matter so much if you cover a lame crowd funded effort, but I’m sure you’d rather dedicate your editorial efforts toward meaningful content.

    For my part, I don’t generally have money for Kickstarter projects, but I bought into the Digispark when you presented it because it looked like a well thought out form factor that I can put to use. In that case, thanks for the tip!

  2. From Caleb’s description, it sounds like the HAD team is already doing a fine job of filtering what KS projects are covered. An official policy would serve mainly as a tool to *slightly* limit the number of pleas for coverage.

    I say slightly, because:

    1) Considering how poorly many KS projects are written, I expect the people responsible have limited reading and comprehension skills as well.

    2) Any official policy sufficiently limiting to prefilter these pleas, would also be very limiting to the HAD team as well. There is no way to exactly define what is of interest to the hacker community. We recently couldn’t even come up with a concise and universally agreed-on definition of “hacker”. There will inevitably be exceptions that would weaken the policy, as many would see them as arbitrary or also applying to their pet projects; see #1.

  3. Well, I think I have a solution. Keep covering projects like you normally would. However, if they want to talk about their kickstarter, have it mandatory that they have a webpage, blog, or a video for their project. You focus on how awesome the project is, using their site/blog/video as a link to learn more about the project, and they can plug their silly kickstarter on their site/blog/video somewhere. Don’t just link to a site/blog/video that only advertizes their product, though, and only link to it if the project is actually interesting to talk about.

    TLDR: Advertize the kickstarter through proxy, rather than directly link to it. Do it only if the project is interesting enough to post on here though.

  4. I stopped reading comments after a few post in, so i know one of my point sis already covered…

    1. it should have it’s own page aside from the kickstarter page

    2. It should be willing to part with the plans or schematics on a free/commons licence basis. the heart of hack-a-day is being able to go and copy someone else’s idea if you want to, or try to build on someone else’s idea. without having to worry about someone issuing a cease and desist.

    3. you aren’t an advertising platform for kickstarter. so unless kickstarter or the person on kickstarter want to toss you a few dollars per review or article, then they don’t get in. people can go to kickstart’s site themselves if they want to. (i’m not trying to be as much of an ass as i sound on that point).

    4. the project should be done and ready for them to show to the world, not just an idea about what they want to do with the money. “hey, i have an idea that i need money to get started for, can you post an article about it so your readers can pay for my prototype” should never even get a response from you. if they can’t show you a working prototype and simple plans (that we as your community can then go and see if they can better or build for themselves) then it isn’t something you should have on here. we like to see the actual item being talked about, not a 20 page pdf of text about what they are gonna try to make.

    those are just my opinion, and i’m sure i’ll get flack for at least some of it, but the idea of hack-a-day is about the hack, the project, the prototype and sharing. kickstarter is about part project, and part making money.

    we’re the hobbyists that take an idea and have fun with a challenge, they’re the entrepreneurs that take the hobby and sell it.

  5. I don’t care about the money. Newsflash, TI, MicroChip, AVR, Cypress, FTDI, all get our hacking money for the same reason. If the product is creative, innovative and a little left of mainstream, why not make people aware of it? Please keep the kickstarter’s projects, but put some parameters on such as is it more of the same (like yet another arduino clone) or is it innovative in some way that pushes the creative envelope (Teensy 3.0 comes to mind).

    To me the a lot of the kickstarters are little guys bringing innovation to the forefront and bypassing the big-company bullies. I am for supporting that myself.

  6. It doesn’t matter whether or not it’s on Kickstarter – the same criteria should apply regardless. i.e. is it an interesting hack, or usable for one? Products are out, but if there’s discussion of the hacking that went into creating it, then that’s fine.

    To those who say that a true hack has no business model, I’d like to point out something: when people post a truly exceptional piece of work, it is often said to be proper engineering, not just a hack. This site isn’t about random parts thrown together, it’s about doing something cool, interesting and novel with some tech (and then showing it off). Engineering obviously does involve business considerations, and if we restrict ourselves to hacks, then we lose the most polished and well designed projects.

  7. Hackaday is my ‘RSS’ feed of cool things including Kickstarters. I’ve backed a few projects because I first saw them on HAD.

    If anything I like the idea of a weekly or every-other weekly ‘Kickstarter Links’ post the best.

    I’d be disappointed if I missed cool Kickstarters because HAD only posted about them after it was over.

  8. Wow so many wonderful ideas!

    I think you’re on the right track. I was going to suggest deleting any kickstarter suggestions without reading them and simply covering kickstarter projects you find yourselves.

    But reading through the comments, there are better ideas. I like the “only promote fully funded projects” idea. It’ll amplify the bandwagon effect, but it’ll also let you show cool stuff that doesn’t need donations/sales to survive.

    I’d also appreciate a weekly crowdfunding update — something that puts Kickstarter in a separate “asking for money” category without ignoring it altogether.

    Ultimately, I WANT to know what’s going on on Kickstarter without having to scroll through 70 projects every week, so I do want to see coverage, but I also strongly appreciate your attempts to avoid turning into a Kickstarter sales team!

  9. My 2 cents is this. Hack-a-day is a site about hacks and not funding. Keep that focus and everything should be ok. If a project that is on kickstarter comes across the desk then evaluate it on its merits as a hack. If it is cool enough to talk about then write up an article about the hack itself, don’t talk about the Kickstarter funding. Link to a web page about the hack, but don’t link to kickstarter pages. If the only pages that exist about the project are the kickstarter campaign then I think it disqualifies it as an independent hack.

    Just do what HAD does best and ignore the other stuff.

  10. I think that it should be determined mostly by the quality and quantity of the documentation.

    If it is a link to a kickstarter page with some vague information and a fancy video that only promises coolness… Then of course, thats silly.

    If it is a link to a kickstarter with an in depth video that shows off the project AND has documentation somewhere then I think it fits perfectly. Basically if the quality of the content on the page is up to spec then it is basically a writeup with a donate bar on the side of the site (which people do anyway without kickstarter).

  11. At the end of the day, it’s your blog and you have the prerogative to choose what you post. You should not feel guilty or conflicted about this – it is ultimately your decision regardless.

    I use this process on my own blog with respect to comments. The blog is there to provide information about what I find interesting. Most comments I get on the site are written in broken english, generically praising my writing while also including a bunch of spam links. At the end of the day, I decide what’s worthy of posting.

    If it were me, I would ignore anything I get in email regarding Kickstarter. Instead, I would periodically browse the site and *then* choose what you wish to highlight. If you allow the emails to influence your process, you may end up choosing projects that are nothing more than a money grab which is what you’re basically trying to avoid.

  12. This is an important subject. I have actually taken the time to read all of the above posts. The majority are saying that they do not want a total ban of all KS projects, but most are advocating various limiting criteria for HaD posting of KS projects. The single criterion I find missing above is KS over funding.
    When a KS project is way, way over funded, a large number of people are saying with their money “This is an idea worth investing in!” If not an absolute criterion for posting on HaD, I would like to see over funding as at least a very heavily weighted factor in deciding whether or not to post KS projects on HaD.

    I would take the Digispark KS project (a wimpy would be Arduino at a price that makes it “disposable”) as an example. I would never have known about this neat project (I invested in it) without the post on HaD. At the time of that HaD post, the $5000 KS goal had been exceeded extremely, as the actual funding stood at about $70,000. Today, it has $313,000 of funding. This should tell the editors that a very, very large number of technically competent folks think that this is an important idea. Why not make considerable KS over funding a major criterion in the decision to post a KS project on HaD? I would suggest something like a 400 to 500% overfunding as a threshold for posting on HaD. What say, guys?

  13. As a long time reader since Hackaday’s inception I trust and rely on your “hack-worthy” judgement.

    Whether it’s from kickstarter, indiegogo, Amazon or Pizza Hut, if it’s cool to you post it and I’ll decide if I like or not. Usually you get it right for me so keep on the good work! :-)

    A happy HackaDay Customer

  14. Instead of looking at it from “crowdfunding” standpoint, look at it from “Self promotion” standpoint. Anyone who sends you their link, be it to a crowdfunding campaign, or to their latest hack, wants your readers attention.

    It has _always_ been your job to figure out which things deserve that attention and share it with us. I think that should continue. The only other option is to not accept self-promotion links of any kind. Which is possible I suppose, but it’s hard to tell sometimes, and, frankly, would cut down on the amount of awesome things you share with your readers.

    So, what are HaD’s goals? If it’s to share as many of the most wonderful hacks with its readers then allow them. If you goal is to cutdown on the work you have to do as editors at the sacrifice of quality, then disallow them.

  15. i really like the idea of posting projects that have their own web space aside from kickstarter. that way the owner of the project can advertise their campaign in a a small link here or there, without requiring had to do it for them. this would make it easier for had too, i would think. they would be able to easily filter out people whose projects are too vague, or are pushing their ks just a little too hard.

  16. Start a child blog called “hackstarters” or something where only crowed start-up projects go. Then say NO crowed starter projects on hackaday. That way you can still post cool start-ups and your viewers can pickup the child side if they are interested. This would be cool because then we don’t have to comb through kickstart looking for the cool ones and we can still get notices from a great blog review source like hackaday.

  17. Someone mentioned inspiration; I’d like to expand on that.
    A cool project may be posted on kickstarter, amature hobby site, darpa.mil. Absolutely anywhere – I don’t care a bit – as long as reading about it fascinates and engages my creative spark.

    No hobbyist can build their own Boston Dynamics BigDog, but how many amateur projects were influenced by it?

  18. Perhaps an easy way to limit it is to do something along the lines of ” Only projects by previously featured makers/hackers will be posted” It is pretty clear you guys work hard to vet submissions. You shouldnt need to go threw 1000 emails a day all wanting you to sell their product. Kickstarter as as much of a gamble as a slot machine in the end. If you post enough of them eventually there will be BIG problems. I’ve gotten lucky any thing I supported came threw in the end but others have not been so lucky (or smart about which ones to back you decide).
    I would say this is a case where actions are louder than words. If they are a part of the community here , frequently featured, you probably should post about them. More to show off what people here do than to sell product.

    There is probably a place for a “crowdfunding-a-day” but in the end it is not you unless something moves you to post it like it being active members of your community that are hosting the fundraiser.

    Create an option on the submission form just for kickstarters. Make a required field be a link to where they were featured on hackaday. Pay little attention to this type of submission. The ones we readers care about are the ones that got your attention , the same as cool projects do.

    Just my two bits. I think it is a liability for you guys to reach critical mass of crowdfunding posts, as it is a given some will not deliver and given time and quantity of posts, it will eventually bite you.

    1. :D I do that at times with the expectation it wont be featured. My site couldn’t handle the traffic and to make it, would subtract from my project funds. Even using every trick like hosting photos and movies and files externally, still one (like you mentioned) found it’s way to one of the sites and now I get monthly plees from youtube to monetize my videos. Fortunately the site that found it linked to youtube instead of me.

  19. I’ve been sick of kickstarter since day one, leave it out of here. all i ever see at that place is a sketch or a rendered model at most and a gimme gimme gimme gimme gimme on some vaporware that will never actually happen.

    leave vaporware at kickstarter and only do real hacks.

  20. I think any cool projects should be covered regardless of what/where they are. You can make sure to include the Kickstarter tag if you want people to be able to filter those out. But cool hacking should be presented and discussed whether it’s for profit or just for fun.

  21. I read HackaDay every day just to see what’s new & cool. Even if it’s a kickstarter I appreciate the content. I think I found out about Kickstarter from HAD. I contemplated buying the Makerbot, but chose the Solidoodle, rightly expecting to get it quicker. Therefore found the posts useful.
    I also HACK on a daily basis, so much so I would need a documentation team following me around to even be able to post the best stuff here. I hack to save money, make money, but mostly for intellectual stimulation. I have some potential “product worthy” hacks I work on when inspired, some would be worthy of posting here as they stand, but not at all ready for crowdfunding.

    There is also a lot of stuff on here that DOESN’T interest me, but am grateful for that content as well. Some hacks aren’t much of a hack, but maybe you need the content that day. But someone is likely inspired by it, and I’d rather see more than less.

    I fully expect a hack that is advertising a kickstarter to be GREAT. And I think that should be the filtering method. A simple hack can be at the “there I fixed it” level, while a kickstarter should be more polished. Maybe a kickstarter hack should have a automatic demerit that must be overwhelmed with coolness.

    If I was to ever to send you a kickstarter linked hack it would have overwhelming coolness and be assured of passing the proposed criteria, even before it’s official. There are kickstarters worthy of HAD, and those that are not. I’m sure you guys know the difference.

  22. Everything that a hacker submits to you, hoping you will cover, is a plea for attention from the masses. That is what you provide to those hackers. To the readers, you act as the filter between crap and cool.

    I will say I don’t personally want to see links direct to crowdfunding pages. Most of those aren’t hacks, and have little detail on the hacks; unlike most of the other articles you post.

    Let’s consider it as programmers, as a matter of a corner case. When do you stop offering to cover a cool hack? I have some projects I want to finish and document as soon as I’m done with hospitals and doctors; if they are cool would they be covered just because I might sell them one day? Would you cover it if I offered to sell them on my own private website, as a high price commissioned work? What if I had offers from Ada or Sparkfun to sell my hack, would that disqualify me from being featured here? So what’s the difference in covering a cool hack that happens to be asking for funding to sell it?

  23. I’d say, this shouldn’t even matters. Pick if the project is a cool hacking project no matter it is in kickstarter or not.

    Everyone will be happy to pledge if the coolness is worthwhile, but that’s another topic. When a right project appears, why not?

    Staying neutral to business things (money) actually keeps the fun of hacking, in many ways.

  24. Personally, I’ve really had it with Kickstarter and there could be no greater joy than to not see it mentioned every other day on here or Kotaku.

    Last year I tried to setup a Kickstarter for just $500 trying to fund the making of cheap USBHID PCB so people could make their own game controllers. (Which could also be used as a V-USB development board, and probably an Arduino.)

    They denied my application with no specific reason given, and when I pressed them for details, they said that ‘Kickstarter is for creative arts projects and [my] project didn’t fit that mold’ which apparently the dozen Arduino clones with Kickstarters at the time did.

    It just seemed like hypocritical bureaucratic circle-jerking.

    Kickstarter doesn’t seem that maker-friendly anymore, and between the completely opaque approval process, and the constantly slipping signal-to-noise ratio on the site…

    And then there’s that whole insanity with ‘Kickstarter is not a store’. First Kickstarter is supposed to be for funding ideas you can’t execute on your own, and there’d be a big stink if you got a Kickstarter for something already in production…now they say you have to be able to produce it to seek funding? What?

    And if Kickstarter’s approval process is anything but completely random, how do legitimate attempts to make things get denied and they turn around and approve crap like some kid trying to get a million dollars to make a videogame so bad its ultimate fate can be nothing short of either being buried alongside the E.T. cartridges, or fired into the goddamn sun for the good of mankind?

    Yeah, I’m kind of tired of hearing about Kickstarter. :| IndieGoGo has no approval process, and by default people get the money whether they reach their goal or not, and yet somehow there’s less utter bullshit on it than Kickstarter.


    1. So of course, I say all that and forget the actual point of what I was saying… (Obviously there’s too much blood in my caffeine system.)

      If a project is cool, mention the PROJECT. It doesn’t need to be prefaced with “TODAY, ON KICKSTARTER…” We’ll figure that part out on our own.

      Hell, if possible link to the person/group’s blog posts or something, I’m sure there’ll be links THERE to Kickstarter.

  25. I vote link to blogs/youtube not commercial sales sites directly. Commercial items like makerbot, arduino, TI kits, Kickstarter, etc. need to be written up and reviewed not from a commercial, but from a technical or project viewpoint.

    If people are interested they will follow the links on those project pages to the commercial sites.

  26. I don’t think it matters whether it is on kickstarter or not. What matters is if you would have put it on your site without knowing about the campaign. And yeah, maybe don’t link directly to their kickstarter campaign – link only to the creators site, and let them link to their kickstarter if they want.

  27. I thought hackaday.com was about completed or almost completed projects. I do not want to read about someone’s pipe-dream that hinges upon how much more money they can get to complete it like someone who is on the verge of solving their hang-up in their perpetual motion machine. Also, aren’t hacks a great way to do something for cheap or hack something for another use? I’m all for linking to someone’s website that features what they are working on but NOT linking to kickstarter. Linking to kickstarter would be a blatant fund-raising attempt because that is what kickstarter exists for – fundraising for projects.

    1. I don’t see why there is so much angst toward kickstarters. You can’t just ask them for details? Most kickstarters would need a prototype before they try to really kick off. Tell them that in order to make it onto this site they need to provide the reader with content that isn’t related to marketing. Not just what a thing does but how it does it, how it was built, or why it’s more innovative than other things like it and even that isn’t a guarantee.

      If it’s simply just a new product, it probably belongs on engadget (unless it’s an incredible new debugger or tool or something). A good kickstarter example might be for instance the CAD assisted router y’all had awhile back. I don’t remember if that was on kickstarter but that would be something worth seeing if it linked out the the pdfs on how they did it.
      People don’t come here for what, they come here for how.

  28. I think the main requirement for publishing a KS project on HAD should be the availability of the sources after campain completion. Many project on KS use the open source community and don’t share back anything. If people want to be promoted on HAD they must endorse the “open spirit” !
    HAD KS digest one a week is a great idea !


  29. I don’t know why you’re upset about this? Isn’t being a popular place to post new technology hacks the goal here?

    Can you blame inventors for wanting to target their market?

    Take the obviously best approach. Post the innovative and detailed ones related to hacking. Tell the others that lack sufficient detail or aren’t really innovative or a hack to do better or offer them ad space if you’re into that…

    Aren’t those the criteria that you use already to filter through not-kickstarter articles?

  30. It seems to me like the fundamental question should be: Is the project a good or interesting hack?

    I think you are overthinking what Kickstarter is. Kickstarter is just a system for ordinary people to try to fund their ideas into reality. The fact that the hacking community has found this to be both a boon and a burden is representative of the general reality that only a slim percentage of ideas have the traction to be successful.

    For every game-changing project that makes our lives easier there are dozens of project that aren’t well considered. Kickstarter itself tries to weed out obvious scams and then allow the community to vote with their wallets based on what they find individually worthwhile.

    I can understand why HaD would be inundated with requests from projects originating on Kickstarter; after all you have positioned yourself as a garage tech blog, and Kickstarter is one of the best places for backyard tinkerers to take their ideas and try to turn them into successful products. It is unfortunate that you view this as a terrible annoyance, but since you clearly do, the question should be: Why?

    If your objection to Kickstarter is that you feel you are not a blog that advertises commercial products then I would point to previous responses and remind you that you have put up many articles about commercial projects before. If instead you object to these commercial projects not paying you something for your time or buying adspace from you (as the SMD tweezers seemed to back in the day) I would say that you are being crass.

    If you object to Kickstarter projects because you think the threshold for quality is too low, I would argue that it is your job to curate the projects that are submitted to your site. There have been plenty of highly questionable projects on HaD and excellent projects on Kickstarter, and vice versa.

    Banning projects from Kickstarter seems like a poorly considered response to receiving an onslaught of Kickstarter projects. It would be like banning projects that use Arduinos, or projects that come out of NYC Resistor. You are the curator of this site. Be discriminating, not discriminatory.

  31. The simplest policy might be to change the sites code a bit to allow readers to opt out of Kickstarter posts.

    I’d recommend three categories:
    1.) Show all Kickstarter posts
    2.) Show only exceptional Kickstarter posts
    3,) Do not show any Kickstarter posts

    When an article is posted the author can choose whether or not it’s worth highlighting with the ‘exceptional’ category.

    This code could be tied in with the tags assigned to articles to allow people to opt out of any category of hack they’re not interested in. Alternatively it could also be set up to notify via email if hacks in a category they are passionate about is posted.

    It’s rough but it might be a place to start.

    1. Talen, this makes sense. #2 seems kind of like how it is now, but I would disagree with the editors about what is exceptional :)

      It would be great to see all the requests for funding in one place, why not here?

  32. I agree with many things already said, and with many rules you already have in place:

    1) Must be cool/innovative/awesome.
    2) Must have a WORKING prototype.
    3) Link to their personal page, not to the kick-starter.

    To put it another way, treat the hack as though kick-starter didn’t exist, and follow your existing process. In this case, don’t reinvent the wheel.

  33. I’m all for KS projects H.a.D. It would set some ground rules like:

    – If it another Android on Chip PC we’ll pass for now
    – Must have a working prototype
    – Must serious details (as suggested above) on a blog or data sheet
    – Must offer a way to purchase the device
    – Must be available in 6-12 months if fully funded
    – Must have a low cost version available in 6-12 months
    – Must have a plan to return the money of it it turns out to be vaporware
    – Must be open source or at least open enough to be tinkered

  34. At minimum, post things that are interesting, but also can have a benefit to the greater world. For instance, a project is the creation of some tech that can aid farm workers in developing nations…

  35. Lots of interesting opinions.

    Promotion is a powerful ability. HAD does a great job with projects / promotion. But I think this has a different spin to it because of money and potential liability for failed fundraisers. Even if liability is only in the effected’s mind. I really think this amounts to a vacuum that needs to be filled by a separate site/section. An opportunity if you will.

  36. Actually, I changed my mind on that. There is a place on HaD for kickstarter projects, and any other thing except for a product review where you or someone else was sent a product to review that is of interest to hackers. The advertising panels that pays to show advertisements, thus supporting HaD. If you want to start your own company, you need some skin in the game. Taking advantage of a tech blog for amateur hobbyists is immoral…

  37. I think HAD does a great job deciding what content to run or not. The problem seems to be you’re getting too much submitted from the fundraising sites to even look through.

    Could you not just make the submission process harder for those people? If they link to one of those sites in their submission make them fill in more information than usual so you can decide if it’s worth using or not.

    After all they are the ones trying to push their own projects, make them work for it.

    I don’t know how though. Perhaps a submission form of questions that are ranked and only the highest ranking submissions make it to HAD editors for selection?

    You could ask all those things people have mentioned above: do you have a prototype, is it open source, fully documented, etc, etc.

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