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Kickstarter's New Rules: 'We're Not a Store'

The crowdfunding website tightened its terms of service in order to increase transparency and manage backer expectations.
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Crowdfunding website Kickstarter announced new guidelines Thursday, which aim to increase project transparency and prevent its platform from being used to sell finished products.

"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 make things," website founders Charles Adler, Perry Chen, and Yancey Strickler wrote in a company blog post.

Hardware and product design projects are no longer allowed to simulate how their completed products may function in the future. Instead, product prototypes must be presented as exactly that.

"The best rule of thumb: under-promise and over-deliver," the post stated.

Additionally, projects may no longer offer multiple units of a proposed project as a reward to backers. Offering more than one product falsely implies "that products are shrink-wrapped and ready to ship," the founders said in the statement.

The announcement comes amid growing criticism of product-based Kickstarter projects. Numerous entrepreneurs have received millions of dollars through the website to develop products only to miss shipping goals and leave backers upset.

To make Kickstarter visitors more aware of the inherent dangers of backing a project, project creators are also now required to post an answer the question "What are the risk and challenges this project faces, and what qualifies you to overcome them?" on their Kickstarter page.

The answer to this question will be visible in a "Risks and Challenges" secton placed on each project's Kickstarter page. Kickstarter did not change its policy of not holding successfully funded projects accountable for delivering rewards to backers.

Kickstarter decined to comment for this story.

Last updated: Sep 21, 2012

JOHN MCDERMOTT | Staff Writer

John McDermott is a business and culture reporter whose work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune and Playboy and on AOL.com. He recently moved from Chicago to Brooklyn, New York, to work for Inc.com.




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