Kickstarter Puts The Kibosh On Crowdfunding Hardware That Doesn’t Exist Yet

Them’s the rules, folks.

We’ve written before about critics of Kickstarter who feel the crowdfunding site should do more to make sure that the proposed projects that get funded actually come to fruition. Kickstarter’s earlier stance had been to have a mostly hands-off approach, but in a new set of policies it seems the company is tightening the reins. From now on, inventors can’t use computer simulations of promised hardware or boast of “future capabilities.”

Basically if you’re promising a product can do something, it has to actually be able to do that thing right now, whether it’s a spry robot that sings a little ditty about housework while ironing your shirts or whatever else people come up with these days.

The new rules come via a blog bost (hat tip to CNNMoney) called “Kickstarter is Not a Store,” and also include a smackdown on multiple amounts of an item, known as “reseller packs.” Those reseller packs are some of the most popular projects as funders can gobble up a bunch of a cool new invention and then make money from selling them off. But you can’t do that if the project never ships, right?

Along with the rules about gadgets having to actually exist and do what they say they can do before they’re funded, Kickstarter lays down the law for entrepreneurs, saying they have to explain very clearly the risks involved in funding their products.

In talking about risks and challenges, Kickstarter writes:

Today we added a new section to the project page called “Risks and Challenges.” All project creators are now required to answer the following question when creating their project:

“What are the risks and challenges this project faces, and what qualifies you to overcome them?”

We added the “Risks and Challenges” section to reinforce that creators’ projects are in development. Before backing a project, people can judge both the creator’s ability to complete their project as promised and whether they feel the creator is being open and honest about the risks and challenges they face.

The new section will appear below the project description of projects that launch starting today.

As CNNMoney points out, all of this is a pretty major shift for the site. In the product design category, nine of the most popular 10 items had offered multiple-unit packs and many had photorealistic or computer renderings of their inventions. No more.

While some funders were willing to wait and be patient for the products they sunk money into to become a reality, many others will likely find the new rules a welcome reassurance that their money is actually being put to use to create something real. Now how about that robot who loves doing housework? Someone get on that.

Kickstarter clamps down on nonexistent products [CNNMoney]