Kickstarter is a platform for people to take ideas, get funding and turn them into a reality. It made it possible for me (and others) to apply an iPhone screen protector without bubbles and dust. It proved some people still really care about printed materials. It helped my cousin make a short film.
Businessperson icon by The Noun Project.
The argument against Kickstarter is that these kinds of meaningful projects are lost in the sea of idea spam that's currently being posted to the site. We don't agree. Here's why, and how you can make better choices when deciding whether or not to back a project.
It's not that hard to tell the difference between a good and bad idea — in your own opinion. Complaining that that Kickstarter is mostly crap and barely creme is like complaining about the internet, or the world for that matter. Most of what's on the internet is crap, but we manage to find things we like. Most of the people in the world are not people we're going to like, but we somehow end up finding people to love. This applies to almost anything. As a citizen of Earth, your job is to find the signal in the noise.
That Said, There's Still a Problem to Solve
When anything becomes popular, problems occur. I'm not saying that we should all be the hipster stereotype who loves a band until it escapes from obscurity, but that there is a legitimate issue with growth. When you love something in its early days, it's great because you're part of a small community that's keen on doing great things. Once people take notice and the size of the community balloons up, the quality is, inevitably, going to go down. This may be disappointing, but it isn't an insurmountable problem. Like with most things, you just need to take a new approach to Kickstarter. The small community let you be lazy because you could assume every project was a good one. Now you just need to think before you back an idea.
Next Time You Consider a Kickstarter Campaign, Ask Yourself These Questions
It's easy to get excited about a Kickstarter campaign with a good idea and instantly want to back it, but that might lead you to regret your choice. You know, kind of like when you rush into any decision. To help you make better choices, consider the following before handing over your money:
- How would I rate the quality of the campaign and its idea? Was the video well-made? Are the people involved in the project passionate?
- How reliable are the people involved in this project? Google their names, look at their past work, and decide if these people are the kind you want to do business with. Even though your contribution may be minimal, you're not just buying a product — you're investing in one. Don't forget that this decision isn't as simple as a one-click online purchase.
- What are the rewards for my contribution? Is the reward system good? Is it easy to understand? Is it something I believe that the creators of the Kickstarter campaign can easily deliver?
- What is the lead time for the completion of this project? If the people behind the campaign don't really have an idea of how long it's going to take, and that's something that matters to you, this may not be an idea you want to put your money behind.
- Is the project's goal realistic? Will they be able to accomplish everything they've set out to do with the money they're hoping to get? Is it too much, too little, or just right? Make your judgments and decide accordingly.
- Is this something you actually want or want to see made, or are you just excited by how cool it seems? Give yourself 48 hours to think about the decision before you dive in. Campaigns last 30 days, so you can take more time if you need it.
The bottom line is that you just need to take the time to think and decide accordingly. Gizmodo has — or, perhaps, had — the daunting task of digging through tons and tons of Kickstarter campaigns. Ultimately that can be a little disheartening, as the majority will be bad. But as someone who also goes through tons and tons of news stories and products every day, most of everything is bad (or, if not, irrelevant).
That's what makes the stuff that isn't pretty damn great, and I don't believe it's ever worth giving up on the possibility of something wonderful just because it's surrounded by a lot of things you don't like. So if you've been discouraged by Kickstarter lately — or anything else — don't give up. It's always possible to find the good stuff and avoid the bad if you think before you act.