Kickstarter campaign leads to cyber-bullying

kickstarter updateKickstarter is something of an inspiration. It’s a home for all the projects and ideas that otherwise would simply become legendary Reddit posts. The crowd-sourcing platform has given life to products that have won over consumers pre-production (pre, pre-production even) and raised millions of dollars. 

But it’s not all unicorns and rainbows — it appears that Kickstarter might have Boys Club syndrome. Anita Sarkeesian recently started a Kickstarter campaign to fund and produce a series of Webinars about Tropes vs. Women in Video Games. “I love playing video games but I’m regularly disappointed in the limited and limiting ways women are represented,” she wrote about the project. “This video project will explore, analyze and deconstruct some of the most common tropes and stereotypes of female characters in games.” 

Sarkeesian runs a site called Feminist Frequency where she blogs about women’s issues and the Internet. Her Kickstarter idea apparently hit a nerve, because her Wikipedia page were subject to attacks from a handful of video game forum members. 

You can see a screenshot of Sarkeesian’s Wikipedia page here (warning: graphic language). There’s also a variety of hateful comments left on her YouTube page promoting the project.

On the slightly brighter side, the ill will hasn’t hurt the Kickstarter campaign itself: Sarkeesian has surpassed her goal of $6,000 and then some. The Webinar series is a go. 

But it doesn’t overshadow the fact that this isn’t the first time a woman has been challenged on Kickstarter — or by Kickstarter. Blogger and artist Rachel Marone had her project shut down by the platform itself last year when a stalker targeting her using the site. “Everybody loves Kickstarter,” she wrote about the incident. “They have, after all, revolutionized the economy… Unfortunately Kickstarter recently banned me for circumstances beyond my control.” 

Marone was cut from the site because a person that had been cyber stalking her for 10 years had spammed her Kickstarter page with hundreds of comments. Her account was later reactivated, and her manager contacted Kickstarter asking how the issue could be avoided in the future (since there is possibility of her cyber stalker targeting future campaigns she runs). The response: “If there is any chance that Rachel will receive spam from a stalker on her project, she should not create one. We simply cannot allow a project to become a forum for rampant spam, as her past project became. If this happens again, we will need to discard the project and permanently suspend Rachel’s account.”

The good news is that Kickstarter keeps a close eye on its community, and any lewd or harassing comments aren’t going to make it very far on the site itself (you have to contribute to a project’s fundraising goal in order to comment anyway). The bad news? That an attack mentality on the Internet is still as much of a problem as it is. 

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