Kickstarter is easily one of the bigger stories of the year in terms of Internet ecology, webcomics, even the larger arena of culture generally. Recently there have been several stories (especially this NPR story) on what happens when a funded Kickstarter project at some later date does not deliver on its goals. Enough bubble and squeak online that Kickstarter itself addressed the issue.
I think for the most part when I’ve backed projects on Kickstarter I had a good sense that the creator(s) was going to deliver on it. I’ve never backed a project that is more of a pre-order for a gadget though and I wonder if that’s just a different enough animal that it needs different rules. It looks like Kickstarter is edging in the direction:
In May 2012 we added additional guidelines and requirements for Design and Technology projects. These include requiring creators to provide information about their background and experience, a manufacturing plan (for hardware projects), and a functional prototype. We made this change to ensure that creators have done their research before launching and backers have sufficient information when deciding whether to back these projects.
I’m not so sure most backers have all that much leverage over the creator of a project through the legal system — to the contrary, the leverage is in the social relationship, the positives that can come out of a successfully delivered goal and the negatives that would come from essentially backers shaming a floundering project creator. Nobody is going to make a career out of a single Kickstarter project, it is critical to have a good “Kickstarter” track record if a creator hopes to be able to come back to that well in the future.