By allowing the potato salad project to live on, Kickstarter stoops to Indiegogo's level
Paul Carr has already tackled the latest crowdfunding debacle, in which a Kickstarter project aimed at funding Zack Brown making some potato salad has raised an inexplicable $10,000. Carr notes how the campaign makes his own crowdfunding efforts "look like a bowl of crap." What he didn't say, in quite so many words, is that the project makes what used to be the premier crowdfunding platform look equally shitty.
Kickstarter used to be the premium crowdfunding platform where people could go to find serious projects. Unlike Indiegogo, which allows everything from the "Christopher Walken Rex" to unproven dietary bands to launch campaigns into its community, Kickstarter was known for its stricter rules. Thus, would-be funders knew that projects had at least some semblance of credibility before committing to backing them.
Then Kickstarter decided to become more like Indiegogo by allowing all kinds of projects onto its platform without worrying about their veracity or their founder's intentions. Anyone could pitch the community, whether that meant resurrecting hardware product campaigns (which used to be banned from the service) back to its pages or, evidently, raising more than $10,000 for potato salad.
To put this in perspective, Kickstarter's decision to play down to Indigogo's level is akin to a well-respected restaurant deciding to stop complying with health regulations in an effort to compete with the hole-in-the-wall joint down the street. Pando has roundly criticized Indiegogo for allowing "scampaigners" and numbskulls to use its platform as a tool to separate fools from their money; Kickstarter used to be different – used to.
Now it seems that anyone can put literally anything up on Kickstarter and solicit funding, if only for the novelty factor. The Christopher Walken Rex campaign raised $2,000 on Indiegogo -- now a project meant to raise $10 for a potato salad has raised more than 1,000 times its goal with 25 days to go. If ever there was a sign of trouble in crowdfunding-land, this would be it.
Of course, this project isn't hurting anyone. (Unless the potato salad is poorly made, in which case it might give poor Zack Brown a bit of a stomach problem.) Its supporters know that they are giving their money away for no reason, unless anyone actually thinks that someone saying their name out loud while they make a potato salad is really worth a $1, which I highly doubt.
But it does show that Kickstarter is no longer the bastion of gilded projects that actually stood some chance of rewarding their backers – or even contributing to society – whether it be with a finished product or the knowledge that they supported an artistic endeavor. It's now just as wild as Indiegogo, and based on the reaction to the GoBe campaign, that's the worst thing it could be.
[illustration by Brad Jonas for Pando]