Kickstarter simplifies its rules, relaxes its oversight

In an effort to simplify the process of starting a campaign, Kickstarter is easing up on the rules and restrictions attached to the service, the company announced today.

Kickstarter's set of rules is now much more concise — the company has boiled them down to three fundamental guidelines: projects "must create something to share with others"; projects cannot be used for charitable causes, involve anything the service prohibits or offer financial incentives; and creators have to present their pitches honestly and clearly.

In the culling process, Kickstarter removed some specific, long-held restrictions. Previously banned items included sunglasses and bath and beauty products, and under the new rules, hardware projects will be allowed to offer multiple quantities of the item as a reward.

"Many changes were simple housekeeping — clearing out rules that didn’t feel necessary anymore. Others open Kickstarter up to new kinds of projects," said Yancey Strickler, CEO and co-founder of Kickstarter, in a post on the company's blog.

Until this point, Kickstarter also vetted every project with a team of community managers. The initial review will now be handled by an algorithm that compares the wording of the pitch with previous campaigns to see if there's anything in it that might raise a red flag. Once the project passes that check, creators will have the option to launch their campaign at the time of their choosing, or then get some detailed feedback from one of the community managers. If it fails, then the creator and Kickstarter will have to review the project together. Kickstarter refers to the new setup as Launch Now.

"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," said Strickler in an interview with The Verge.

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