Compromising principles for cash? Kickstarter relaxes approval process

Crowdfunding website Kickstarter is set for a shift in policy as it relaxes its rules and regulations to come into line with more liberal competitors.

The site's popularity has grown massively since its launch in 2009 but has also developed a reputation for being more restrictive than its rivals. Despite raising $981 million (£586 million) since its inception, this has come from a relatively small 62,932 projects.

As a result, the company has announced two major changes to its approval process. Firstly, a streamlined set of rules will allow previously banned submissions, such as sunglasses and beauty products, to be accepted. Secondly, the approval process has also been simplified, with users able to bypass it altogether with the new "Launch Now" option.

Read more: A guide to getting your Kickstarter campaign funded

The decision to change is seen by some as a response to the growth of more liberal competitors, such as Indiegogo. Slava Rubin, the company's founder, told The Fiscal Times, "Indiegogo has no opinions. It has no judgement." The website's less restrictive quality has been one of the keys reasons for its rapid growth, as the company has hosted over 200,000 campaigns in more than 200 countries, compared to Kickstarter's 149,541 in five countries.

By contrast, Kickstarter always seemed to have a particularly thorough vetting process, with the previous rules stating, "Everything on Kickstarter must be a project."

The new rules are aimed at only prohibiting things that are illegal, regulated or dangerous. Explaining the rule change, CEO and co-founder Yancey Strickler said, "For a brand or a community to have definition, there have to be rules. Every website in the world has a list of what's on topic and what's off-topic. But you want those to be as broadly defined and clearly understandable as possible, and I don't think that's always been the case."

Kickstarter's approval process can now be performed by an algorithm that uses information such as the creator's previous projects and the campaign's keywords, in order to check its validity. If the project passes, the user can decide to launch immediately or request additional human feedback.

Read more: Kickstarter far better for funding startups than Indiegogo, claim developers

"The world has changed in response to Kickstarter and we're changing with it," Strickler added. Still, it remains to be seen what effect these changes will have on the quality of the website's projects.