That’s the conflict at the heart of Kickstarter: While the company’s policy says creators have to give refunds on failed projects, the website doesn’t have a mechanism to do it. Barnett used PayPal.com to process $1,300 in refunds.
Ethan Mollick, a professor at the Wharton School of Business, says that while crowdfunding is a more democratic way to raise money than going to elite venture capitalists, it’s also a brave new world.
“Enthusiasm is ahead of [the] tools,” he says. “So, Kickstarter is a very minimal system in some ways. It’s not really built to police itself.”
I would actually adjust that sentence to “it’s a more democratic way to speculate in the market without any protection than going to elite venture capitalists who actually have a series of laws and regulations to protect them.”
This is why Kickstarter sucks. Not only does it give people the impression that this is a more democratic and effective process than, say, having publicly funded culture (I have a feeling that way more of the money invested in cultural policy results in project completion than KS. Probably around 90-100%) but it also is just a giant random unregulated speculation machine. Or maybe it’s as Ian Bogost suggests: a reality show. But it’s worse than reality show because at least advertisers buy your time in the form of advertisements and sure you are the product and all that but at least you didn’t put money into paypal or something to get it. In this case you just get access to a poorly produced documentary showcasing the hardships of “getting a product made” and maybe a poorly worded e-mail telling you about another delay and a series of unforeseen expenses that mean your rewards tier had to get cut. Or maybe they are successful and you get to look at a web page without any ads (SUP PENNY ARCADE). “OH WOW NO ADS THANKS A FUCKING BUNCH GUESS I CAN UNINSTAL ADBLOCK NOW LOLZ.”
Kickstarter might be a windfall for a few select people with a few select ideas, but for the most part it’s just a new way for us to speculate on things we wish had but don’t without any protection whatsoever, or anything to show for it.