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Kickstarter addresses risk and bans project drawings

Emphasizing that the crowd-sourced funding platform isn't a retail store, the company tightens rules for project creators, banning proposal renderings and requiring qualifications.

Kickstarter technology projects. Screenshot by Dara Kerr/CNET

Kickstarter has been barraged by questions regarding its responsibility to people who fund projects on its platform, and today it addressed many of these concerns.

The crowd-sourced funding platform announced that project creators must now address the risks and challenges of their projects, can no longer use renderings of their proposals, and cannot give mass quantities of their finished products to funders.

"It's hard to know how many people feel like they're shopping at a store when they're backing projects on Kickstarter, but we want to make sure that it's no one," the company's co-founders, Perry Chen, Yancey Strickler, and Charles Adler, wrote in a blog post today. "Today we're introducing a number of changes to reinforce that Kickstarter isn't a store -- it's a new way for creators and audiences to work together to make things."

The co-founders spelled out each of the changes, starting with "risks and challenges." With this new step all project proposals must answer this question: "What are the risks and challenges this project faces, and what qualifies you to overcome them?"

Kickstarter is also beefing up creator qualifications by banning all product simulations and renderings. Here's more from the co-founders:

  • Product simulations are prohibited. Projects cannot simulate events to demonstrate what a product might do in the future. Products can only be shown performing actions that they're able to perform in their current state of development.
  • Product renderings are prohibited. Product images must be photos of the prototype as it currently exists.
  • Products should be presented as they are. Over-promising leads to higher expectations for backers. The best rule of thumb: under-promise and over-deliver.

Kickstarter is also banning any project that promises to give funders "multiple quantities" of what they produce. Project creators are still able to give single items, however.

Kickstarter is just three years old, but it's grown fast -- funding bigger and costlier projects and expanding overseas. To date, around 30,000 projects have been funded by more than 2 million people, including a handful of million dollar projects and one for a gaming console that recently pulled in $8.5 million.

Since its inception, the company has become stricter about projects' estimated delivery dates and creators' experience and backgrounds. Earlier this month, it addressed concerns about issuing refunds if a project is never fulfilled and basically said it was up to the project creator to give the money back.

Today's explanation seemed like Kickstarter was trying to hammer home that it's not a retail store and that funding projects shouldn't look like online shopping.