Kickstarter issues new transparency guidelines for projects

Fresh off its 10th anniversary and under the helm of a new CEO, Kickstarter is shaking things up with a new set of guidelines targeted at seller claims.

A new page titled Honest and Clear Presentation in Projects notes:

The language you choose to present your project plays a critical role in setting expectations for backers. Your project description should give backers a realistic and accurate picture of what you’ve done so far, what stage of development you’re in now, and what you’re hoping to create with their support.

Among the bullets points here are presenting projects as ideas, rather than finished products and, notably, avoiding exaggerations and dubious claims — both of which are mainstays of not just Kickstarter projects, but advertising in generally.

Included among the latter is a dissuasion to “Use superlatives or puffery to describe your project, such as ‘the world’s best / smallest / fastest / first / etc.’ or ‘the ultimate / unrivaled / revolutionary / etc.’ ”

So, calling these “the world’s best rules” would be heavily frowned upon.

Kickstarter’s leaning heavily on the idea of guidelines. The head of the crowdfunding site’s System Integrity Team, Meg Heim, tells The Verge, “We don’t see this as a one-time quick fix, or even a crackdown,” adding that it’s intended to “help guide creators into setting expectations that’ll help them [and their campaign] in the long run.”

Community guidelines are, by their very nature, more difficult to enforce than, say, a crackdown. The main deterrent here appears to be that the service is less likely to promote those projects that don’t adhere. It’s a fairly soft consequence, though Kickstarter’s page and newsletter promotions do go a long way toward helping projects gain momentum.