Several interesting tech projects - from the Ouya Android game console to the Pebble smartwatch - have earned millions thanks to Kickstarter donors. But in about whether these efforts will actually come to fruition, Kickstarter has unveiled some new rules of the road.
The idea behind the move, Kickstarter said, was "to reinforce that Kickstarter isn't a store."
Most notably, Kickstarter participants will no longer be able to present product renderings or simulations. Going forward, they can only show images of how the product looks right now, not how it might appear once funding has been secured.
"Products can only be shown performing actions that they're able to perform in their current state of development," Kickstarter said in a blog post. "Product images must be photos of the prototype as it currently exists."
Project descriptions, meanwhile, must only include details about how the current product works. "Over-promising leads to higher expectations for backers," Kickstarter said. "The best rule of thumb: under-promise and over-deliver."
That includes rewards for donations. Kickstarter said those with hardware and product design projects can only offer rewards "in single quantities or a sensible set." Promising multiple products "feels premature, and can imply that products are shrink-wrapped and ready to ship," the company said.
Finally, creators need to outline the risks and challenges associated with their project.
"We added the 'Risks and Challenges' section to reinforce that creators' projects are in development," Kickstarter said. "Before backing a project, people can judge both the creator's ability to complete their project as promised and whether they feel the creator is being open and honest about the risks and challenges they face."
"We hope these updates reinforce that Kickstarter isn't a traditional retail experience and underline the uniqueness of Kickstarter," the company concluded.
The updated rules come several weeks after Kickstarter responded to a segment from NPR's All Things Considered that asked: "When a Kickstarter campaign fails, does anyone get their money back?" The answer? Maybe.
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