Slog Music

Music, Nightlife,
and Drunks

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Some People Just Shouldn't Be Allowed Online

Posted by on Wed, Dec 4, 2013 at 1:49 PM

Even I, a Kickstarter skeptic, think this is just reprehensible: Heidi MacDonald at The Beat has published two posts explaining the growing trend of Kicktrolling. Cartoonist Thom Pratt explains his experience with someone going by the name Lee McAllister, who at first pledged $500 toward a collected edition of Pratt's new comic on Kickstarter:

...over the holiday weekend, he suddenly raised his bid to $1,000. “Well, okay,” we thought, “maybe he reeeeaallly wanted to see the project get funded.”

And then we woke up to suddenly find ourselves at 65% of goal, up from around 25%. Why?

Well, “Lee” suddenly increased his pledge to $10,000. And bragged about it in the comments.

Pratt says that McAllister's big-money bids on other Kickstarters have since disappeared from the site, and he's unsure if his Kickstarter is going to be funded by its deadline. Now other people who have been Kicktrolled are stepping forward to tell their stories. This kind of phony pledging hurts artists because they have to pay fees on the pledges regardless of whether they actually collect, and the higher-pledged totals affect the number of rewards that artists are obligated to send out.

I assume people who do this sort of Kicktrolling thing enjoy the momentary feeling of beneficence that pushing a button on a website gives them, and they just don't give a damn that they might pull the plug on someone else's dreams because that thrill is so powerful. (It makes me think of Cienna Madrid's great feature about people who lie on the internet about having terrible diseases for sympathy.) Obviously, Kickstarter needs to do something about this before it spreads any further on their site. This is the sort of thing that could ruin Kickstarter for small projects.


Comments (17) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
Fnarf 1
The only time I've ever contributed to a Kickstarter appeal I had to pay then and there. Is this not always the case?
Posted by Fnarf on December 4, 2013 at 2:01 PM · Report this
Pick1 2
@1 Kickstarter charges only if/when the project is funded. It says it charges you but the charge doesn't actually go through until the day it closes.
Posted by Pick1 on December 4, 2013 at 2:05 PM · Report this
Pick1 3
A close friend of mine was able to pursue his dream of become a board game publisher because of Kickstarter. As of 2 months ago he was able to quit his job and publish board games full time.

The idea and the potential of Kickstarter is so freaking amazing and stories like this kicktrolling make me furious.
Posted by Pick1 on December 4, 2013 at 2:08 PM · Report this
Dougsf 4
I also didn't know this was possible. The hold on your card should be verified, just as it is when you rent a car (or similar). What am I missing?
Posted by Dougsf on December 4, 2013 at 2:14 PM · Report this
MacCrocodile 5
I need $10,000 to travel around slashing tires and/or Achilles' tendons of the people who do this.
Posted by MacCrocodile on December 4, 2013 at 2:15 PM · Report this
@5: I pledge 100 BILLION DOLLARS…
Posted by Hanoumatoi on December 4, 2013 at 2:36 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 7
@4: Exactly.

And how does this work?

"they have to pay fees on the pledges regardless of whether they actually collect"

No, you should not have to pay fees on charges that were reversed.

You shouldn't be able to dispute these charges, especially when the evidence is collected on the persons' intent to defraud.

Agreed with the persons in the article's comments that you ought to be able to decline specific offers from questionable characters.
Posted by undead ayn rand on December 4, 2013 at 2:37 PM · Report this
brandon 8
It should be like Ebay, if you pledge, then you damn well better be ready to pay. In fact, Kick starter should hold the money, and if the project does not get funded then kick starter is the one who should be responsible for giving refunds. The pledge and pay if it hits the goal doesn't make sense. Not when people on the internet are notorious assholes.
Posted by brandon on December 4, 2013 at 2:38 PM · Report this
watchout5 9
Kickstarer the company is rewarded when someone makes a $10,000 pledge that doesn't go through? What in the actual fuck? So this money you can't even have any access to you have to pay fees on because, what, company policy? That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard. I'd much rather use that one service that pays you regardless of how much people donate, this feels like kickstarter trying to find a new way to squeeze a few dollars out of their customers, even if it's just trolling, kickstarter has quite the obligation to stop this shit. If you get $0 from kickstarter your bill from kickstarter should be exactly $0 as well.
Posted by watchout5 on December 4, 2013 at 2:45 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 10

Um. Ebay doesn't actually work like that, as I learned one holiday season when I was trying to sell a Kindle.

Kindles had just come out and were sold out on Amazon's site, so you could make bank selling one. (I had received one as a birthday present, but was too poor to afford any books, electronic or physical.) I sold mine for several hundred dollars, the buyer never paid. I contacted him directly to ask him if he'd at least release me from my obligation so I could resell. He never got back to me. A week later (and one day before Christmas), I was finally free to put it up for sale again.

A complaint to Ebay yielded nothing. There are no consequences for deadbeat buyers on that site. I couldn't even leave negative feedback for that buyer.
Posted by keshmeshi on December 4, 2013 at 2:45 PM · Report this
The problem with holding the money and then refunding is Kickstarter is going to be making thousands of refunds a month. The percentage of successful campaigns is pretty small. The cost to do that is just going to be passed on to the successful people. Any strong method of verifying that people will actually pay will just be a barrier to people participating. It may end up coming down to something like this, but I hope not.

I've been very successful using Kickstarter to collect playing card decks (and a few other things.) So far nothing like this has happened to any of those projects.
Posted by viiless on December 4, 2013 at 2:49 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 12
@11: The "hold" is not in escrow, it is ensuring that there is sufficient payment on the card, AFAIK.
Posted by undead ayn rand on December 4, 2013 at 3:01 PM · Report this
There is so much misunderstanding and misinformation in this thread about how these platforms actually work.
Posted by Mr John on December 4, 2013 at 3:31 PM · Report this
rob! 14
So explain it all for us, Sr Mary Ignatius.
Posted by rob! on December 4, 2013 at 3:42 PM · Report this
Clara T 15
How much in fake pledges do I need get my new business charging people for fake pledges up and running? We also take fake bitcoin.
Posted by Clara T on December 4, 2013 at 4:15 PM · Report this
@12: yeah I understand that, but that's not how Kickstarter works, though I guess you mean that you, et al. consider that a solution, but I don't think that will work either. Will a credit card company let you place a hold on someone's account for 30 days? And, then take another 30 days (or whatever they theoretically allow) to get your refund if the project failed? That scenario would probably end my participation.

I don't know that there's a good solution. Maybe the answer is to manually or cleverly algorithmically monitor large or unusual pledges and not display them until they've been vetted.
Posted by viiless on December 4, 2013 at 6:13 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 17
@16: Yes, I mean it would be a "solution" for that issue. I know auth holds can last 30 days, but I'm not sure about any extensions.
Posted by undead ayn rand on December 4, 2013 at 8:07 PM · Report this

Add a comment


Want great deals and a chance to win tickets to the best shows in Seattle? Join The Stranger Presents email list!

All contents © Index Newspapers, LLC
1535 11th Ave (Third Floor), Seattle, WA 98122
Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Takedown Policy