Kickstarter: Friend or Foe
Kickstarter. Just a simple name can ignite a wave of frenzied devotion or a fire storm of criticism. The service allows users to set up campaigns to raise needed funding for various projects and endeavors. The varied uses of the service have come under fire lately for some campaigns that either don’t need the backing or seem to be a complete joke from the get go.
The most glaring example of this is is of Zack Danger Brown. He set up a site with a fairly simple goal. To gather the $10 he needed to assemble the ingredients to make his first ever batch of potato salad. Some may laugh. Some are probably scratching their heads and wondering why the guy just doesn’t wait until his next pay check and make a trip to the grocery store. The project was nonetheless approved and has gone viral. As of the writing of this post, the campaign has already amassed over $50,000. The big question is what is going to happen to all of the extra money collected. Some of it will go towards merchandise Brown has set up to be produced to commemorate the event. Likely a large chunk of money will still be left. Hopefully the extra money will be earmarked for a worthwhile charity, maybe something promoting the end of hunger would be appropriate.
Many have turned to crowd sourcing efforts to get new media to the public, fund startup costs for businesses, and raise money to help with the medical expenses of loved ones who have been stricken with sudden illnesses.
Some controversy has arisen as many have used the service to fund projects that some would say could be funded out of the persons own pocket. Some costumers and cosplayers have used the service to pay for trips to conventions, costume supplies, photo shoots and costs of producing prints. Many times the prints end up being used as part of the reward tiers for these campaigns. There lies the divide in the community. Many believe those that go that route are coming off as begging or trying to take advantage of their fanbase. Those that run the campaigns believe they are just pursuing another avenue to fund their business as some are trying to make a name with skills in construction of props and costumes or looking to start a modeling career with their costumes. It can be a hard line to tow when trying to decide whether to involve a fanbase into these kind of endeavors. Some do not feel it is right while others have no qualms about it.
The service has also brought about great contributions to society. LeVar Burton of Reading Rainbow fame recently launched and funded his own campaign to bring back Reading Rainbow as an online experience for the modern school age child. He raised over $5 million dollars to develop the interactive experience and to be able to provide the service to a large number of schools at little to no cost.
Personally, I feel if you have something such as a service that can be offered or expanded with the skills learned through these endeavors, Kickstarter can be a valuable tool in making an idea come true or following your dreams. A fanbase can be a great tool in getting a project off the ground and can help spread the word to help it succeed. Yes, some can use it for personal gain, but often times they are found out when projects get delayed and perks are never sent out. Those abusing the system will be found out and ruined. All services have their good and bad. One must look carefully at what they are doing and how they are doing it.