Having run and backed a decent number of Kickstarter projects, I've been thinking about how Kickstarter might be improved. One thing that is very clear to me is that any Kickstarter project is risky for the backers. Whilst I accept that risk, I can't help feeling that Kickstarter could make some small changes that could improve things.
I've run six Kickstarter projects myself. All of them were delivered on time, and feedback from the backers has been positive. If even my smallest project had been subject to a delay of more than a few weeks, I would have found it very stressful. But knowing that before I started meant I put a lot of effort into the planning stage to make sure it didn't happen. The other Golden Rule I set for myself was never to start a new project until the previous one is completely finished.
I've backed 14 projects on Kickstarter, though 3 of those are not yet due for delivery. Of the other 11 only 3 (Random Dungeon Poster, Games & Gears Brushed, Adventures Dark and Deep Bestiary) managed to deliver their rewards on time.
If I look at the other 8 projects I backed, 4 (Reaper, Cornish Smuggler, Maelstrom, Sedition Wars) were late but I'm happy with the rewards. The other 4 (Dwimmermount, Appendix N, Tome of Horrors 1, Call of Cthulhu) are all late and ongoing. In the case of Dwimmermount and Appendix N they are very late. Even if these 2 projects are finished they will still, unfortunately, be epic fails in my book.
So what should change?
The biggest single change that Kickstarter should introduce is a policy where Project Creators must finish one project before starting the next. There could be some flexibility in the definition of finished, but I would suggest that about 80% of rewards being delivered would be about right. If this rule had been in place then creators like Mike Nystul would not have been allowed to start multiple projects without any sign of completion in the earlier projects. This would mean that Kickstarter staff would have to make decisions on whether a previous project is finished enough to allow a new one to start. However, they already have check boxes for backers to confirm receipt of their rewards. Here's a screen grab of my own:
Why not enhance these check boxes so that backers can display their confidence in the project. This could be a simple traffic light system that defaults to Amber, then backers change switch it to green when they get their rewards, or red if things run late, comms dry up, etc. That would allow a Kickstarter member of staff to do a quick spot check before approving a new project. Kickstarter could also look at an eBay or Amazon reseller style feedback system.
I'm sure we'll see some changes to Kickstarter in the next year as the platform continues to grow. I hope to continue using it for as long as I have ideas that people will support. What changes/enhancements would you like to see made to Kickstarter?