Dan Misener, a public radio producer and tech journalist, recently made a stir when he wrote a post about Kickstarter, saying the crowdfunding platform made it hard to find failed projects. He wrote that projects are not indexed for Internet searches and there is no page on the site to find projects that didn’t meet their funding goals. The projects do show up in Kickstarter’s internal search engine and on the profile pages of creators.
Kickstarter’s co-founder Yancey Strickler has responded, explaining the decisions that go into Kickstarter’s approach to handling failed projects. He told me in an email that crowdfunding site isn’t hiding unsuccessful projects but ensuring people didn’t have a bad experience encountering projects they couldn’t fund. Listing failed projects prominently could also subject the creators of unsuccessfully funded projects to “unecessary criticism from the web.” Kickstarter has updated its FAQ with a shorter explanation of what it does with unsuccessful projects.
Yancey said the de-indexing of unsuccessful projects on Internet search engines came at the request of creators.
This was implemented about a year into Kickstarter’s life after tons of requests from former project creators. Because Kickstarter projects index very highly in search, creators were seeing their unsuccessfully funded projects ranking extremely high — in some cases as the #1 result — for their name. That obviously sucked, so we made the decision to de-index them.
Misener was pushing hard on the idea that others might be able to learn from failed projects, gleaning helpful lessons on what not to do. But Strickler said there’s not much to learn because most unsuccessful projects don’t generate enough interest because of lack of promotion. He recommended people review other successful projects and Kickstarter School for lessons.
It’s good to see Kickstarter address this. Ultimately, the service has every right to do what it wants with unsuccessful projects and with more than 20,000 active projects going, there’s probably not enough space right now to find current projects. And we’re talking about a lot of failed projects. In 2011 alone, there were 27,086 projects launched and more than 15,000 of them failed to reach their goal. It’s not like they’ve disappeared; they’re still there available in Kickstarter’s search results and on creator profiles. But for every person who’s looking for a failed projects, there are many, many more that just want to find the stuff that’s still available to be funded.