NFTWatch: Comics Folk Boycott Kickstarter Over New Blockchain Plans

Earlier this week, it was reported that Kickstarter is to build a new crowdfunding system much like Kickstarter's but based on blockchain technology, as are cryptocurrencies and NFTs. And that when it's ready, Kickstarter will switch its own website to the new infrastructure, and the new company will make the tools available for anyone to create a competing crowdfunding site. Development is meant to start next year, according to Bloomberg. Kickstarter's open-source protocol will be built on the blockchain platform Celo which states that its network is carbon-negative, partly through the purchase of carbon offsets, and by planting trees. However many take issue with this, and criticism from comic creators and publishers, including those who do a lot of business through Kickstarter had things to say about that.

NFTWatch: Comics Folk Boycott Kickstarter Over New Blockchain Plans

Heather Antos: Remember when @Kickstarter was about supporting creators and not speeding up climate change?

Spike Trotman: So yeah, apparently, a whole bunch of people are waiting for me to say something about this? I'm not sure what you expect me to say. Like, how long have you been following me. What do you think I'm gonna say. I know the Hot Take Machine demanded an immediate response, but instead, I opted to actually read a bunch of shit first and try and make sense of it. In summary, I couldn't. Not in any way that actually benefits the creatives currently using Kickstarter. It feels like bandwagoning. It feels like buzzword overload. It feels like FOMO. It feels like opening the back door to potential looting and exploitation that Kickstarter never needed in the first place. And maybe it feels like anti-union backlash shell company bullshit. In short, I'm totally f-cking disappointed. @Kickstarter, there is still time to walk this back, with copious apologies. Read the room, this is NOT going over well with your current users and the only people dancing their happy little jigs are funny money speculators. And I can't figure out a way to say this without it sounding like a flex, folks, but if this goes through, @ironcircuscomix isn't who you need to be worrying about. Our biggest seller of 2021 was never on Kickstarter. We're in league of Random House sales numbers in distro. The people this is going to take out are the small and independent creators who have no other options. The folks running webcomics who put out a book once a year or every two years, and rely on Kickstarter for that cash injection to keep the lights on and groceries in the fridge. This is a decision that makes it clear the people currently running Kickstarter don't actually give a fuck about the opinions of the thousands of people who have come to rely on their service. Which, quite frankly, I never saw coming. For what it's worth, folks, if you haven't written to let them know how you feel about this mess, now might be a great time. They're not really gonna care about a tweet being ratio'd.

Andy Olive: One thing that Kickstarter has achieved today is driving in the worshippers to the Church of Whataboutism. Standing room only at all services.

Jody Houser: As someone who owes their career to Kickstarter-funded projects and who has backed over 100 Kickstarter campaigns to date, this is incredibly disappointing. I hope you'll listen to the multitude of users asking you reconsider.

Fraser Campbell: Until this whole Kickstarter mess is resolved, I will only be making new comics through the medium of dream. Look out for my next great adventure "Oh no, I'm somehow at school again and my trousers have fallen off" in 2022.

Fred C. Stresing: As someone who has been a part of numerous Kickstarter campaigns and backed many more, please reconsider your blockchain based support. You are making a bad decision that ultimately will make it harder to support creators.

Shaenon K. Garrity: I can't think of a reason for doing this that's not "get investors and crypto scammers to throw their money at the site before it implodes," and that worries me beyond the other problems with blockchain.

Jim Zub: I knew the ratio would be overwhelmingly negative, but it's almost awe inspiring how much goodwill Kickstarter is torching with this announcement.

Tyler Crook: The thing about @Kickstarter punching themselves in the dick to simp for the blockchain is that they can't describe a single thing that will be improved by throwing in with all the other techno dorks that think they will get rich enough to ignore climate change. The "blockchain" is not good. But it is just a distributed database. The advantage that it gives companies is that no one is responsible for it. It is harder to "hack" but easier to manipulate. And because it is so closely tied to all the earth destroying crypto currencies… everyone who simps for the less destructive forms simultaneously lift up and promote the most vile, nihilistic forms of crypto and block chain. And its only real advantage is that some programmers just think it's neat. Fuck off.

Bengal: Kickstarter isn't an option anymore for me unless they back away from blockchain

David Brothers: I feel like Kickstarter would've got better press today if they said they were pivoting to cooking crack instead of the blockchain

Greg Pak: My honest first impression is that Kickstarter has not explained things in a way that conveys a sense of actual concrete improvements for creators.

David Pepose: As both a superbacker and an award-winning Kickstarter creator, please reconsider this. Not only is the idea of carbon-negative blockchain dubious, but Kickstarter can't help creators if it alienates large swaths of backers from the platform. There's still time to walk this back.

Shan Manning: I've backed 268 projects to date, launched two projects of my own and ran or co-managed at least three more. But I'm done if you go this environmentally devastating ("carbon-negative" is some wild spin), substance-free route. Please reconsider.

Erica Schultz: We just finished fulfilling the @kickstarter campaign for #TheDeadliestBouquet, and there were several other campaigns we were looking to do in 2022 and beyond. Unfortunately, this decision is going to scuttle those projects.

Tim Pilcher: Looks like @Kickstarter have screwed the pooch on this one: "How can we take a successful model and then alienate everyone on it?" So, are we going to see a mass #comics migration over to @Indiegogo if @Kickstarter don't back down from their insane move to blockchain? Or another #crowdfunding platform? #Kickstartercomics #Kickstarter #indiecomics

Hiveworks tweeted the following statement;

Hiveworks is an independent, artist-run studio and publisher of webcomics and graphic novels, providing service to almost 200 creators for over a decade. Crowdfunding has been an important part in allowing diverse voices to flourish and maintaining creators' independence.
Since 2012, Hiveworks has been a long-time, returning client of Kickstarter, having hosted 17 successful projects and assisted with dozens more. Over time, we earned the trust of our backers and built strong, wonderful relationships with Kickstarter staff, which is why the platform remained the #1 choice for our company.
Unfortunately, we are disappointed to learn that Kickstarter intends to pivot into blockchain. As a company, we are strongly against blockchain, including its use as a facilitating token for crowdfunding artistic projects, most prominently in the form of NFTs. It's hard to view Kickstarter's pivot to blockchain as something that will truly help Kickstarter in its main mission– helping projects come to life.
If Kickstarter decides to move forward with blockchain we'll be shifting to an in-house pre-order system as per creator preferences, which will be rolled out paired with the next planned Kickstarters we have already scheduled.
Signed, The Hiveworks Team

Robin Hoelzemann issued her own statement;

As an independent comics creator, I have been grateful for Kickstarter as a trusted platform. It has been great to work with Kickstarter's dedicated comics staff, and to see the interest Kickstarter had in promoting and investing in that community. Fundamentally, I would not have been able to raise over f15,000 for the printing and distribution of my books without the trust that Kickstarter has built up with its community of backers. This has allowed me to reach audiences all over the world, many of whom were previously unfamiliar with my work.
By engaging with blockchain, Kickstarter has undermined this very hard-won trust with both creatives and their audiences. The response to blockchain from the creative community has been overwhelmingly negative, partially due to its impact on the environment, but also because we have been watching our control over our own creations slip away from us.
With blockchain being a decentralised system, we are often left with very little recourse outside of sending hundreds of cease-and-desist letters, in a legal environment that has not kept up with new digital trends and technologies. Our audiences see this happening, and we are being informed &a masse that future projects offered through Kickstarter under these conditions will not gain their support. They are voting with their wallets, and while it may impact your bottom line a year from now, it impacts small creators here and now.
It is easy to see the community's response and feel that concerns about the environment can be brushed aside through carbon offsetting. Setting aside for a moment that offsetting is not accepted as a viable solution to carbon generation, that is only a percentage of the problem. Our objections to blockchain are about accountability, about governance systems, about predictability, reliability, and -at their heart – trust. To run a successful project, we need backers to trust the financial model that underscores a platform. Blockchain does not offer that.
We are seeing platform after platform make it more difficult for us to keep up freelance careers, often with the best intentions. This year has been difficult enough, and many creators have not been able to carry their careers through COVID, BREXIT, a shipping crisis, and the latest NFT trend. This latest announcement is in many ways the straw that broke the camel's back. As such, I would respectfully ask Kickstarter not to join in a trend that harms us. I know that each one of us raising a flag here is a small creator, but together we are the backbone upon which Kickstarter built its platform.

And Tom Fowler asked:

Sooooo what are the alternatives to Kickstarter?

More on that to come…


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About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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