Kickstarter is Throwing Away Your Money

When you back a project on Kickstarter, you might as well think of it as throwing your money away. With the latest chatter about Pressgram, which ink spilled elsewhere is sufficient, one simplistic summary is some folks expected one thing and the end result delivered another.

I’m a Kickstarter fan. I’ve backed numerous projects (though, not Pressgram as I’m just not a guy who cares about filters on pictures and I don’t own an iPhone). I’ve had projects I’ve backed just to support the dream of the person behind the project, ones where I liked the spirit of the project and the end result, ones where I just want to get the end product as soon as it is released.

That said, Kickstarter is a gamble. Yes, you won’t cough up your money unless everyone else does too, but even when things are funded, there is no guarantee that the project will succeed, if the project will ship anywhere close to on time, that the project creator won’t turn you off before the product ships or if what ships at the end is what you thought it would be.

It’s only a step above having someone swing by your house, ask you to buy something off of a hand-drawn sketch, take your money, and promise to drop it off in the nearish future.

I’m not knocking Kickstarter, the projects, or those that back them. I do think, though, it is easy to forget the gamble involved. Many of the projects are awesome things that ship on time flawlessly—almost as easy as buying a book on Amazon. Even when things run a bit screwy—like a project I backed that realized the timetable was unrealistic and pushed it back a year—supporting independent projects is a great thing.

We should support independent projects, dreams, ideas, and the spirit behind Kickstarter. We should just remember it isn’t an online store. While it is laudable to open dialogue with the project creator when things aren’t going the way we’d expect or suggest, we can’t expect anything from them. We aren’t buying things. We aren’t investing, since no stake in the company is given to us in consideration of our pledge. We are giving money to something we think is worthy.

Why Not Open Source?

In the WordPress world, a recent piece of news is WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg cancelling his $10,000 Kickstarter pledge for Pressgram, an Instagram-style iOS app that would allow you to save your photos to a WordPress blog (that you own and control) instead of a third-party service that you don’t. Matt cancelled his pledge because Pressgram’s developer John Saddington announced that Pressgram, while free, would not be open source. If you don’t know anything about Matt, know that he is a very strong believer in open source software so this move isn’t surprising (to me at least).

The question burning in my mind, though, is why isn’t it being released open-source? Read More