I once had a college professor who was absolutely insane. He would give us an assignment on Monday meant to be due the following week. To keep from falling into procrastination, many of us met after class to finish the assignment that day.
Tuesday, he'd show up to class and change the assignment because, apparently, he'd covered the wrong material. Again, we'd meet after class and re-do the assignment that day.
Wednesday would be a repeat of the same. Thursday was a day off from class, but we usually received an email during lunch with similar changes. Then Friday he'd show up with "the final change, I promise."
One day I showed up to class and charted the insanity of his assignment policy on the chalkboard.[ref]No, this was not the argument with the professor that earned me a retaliatory D in the class. Yes, it was the same professor and I'd be surprised if this incident didn't help ignite the flame of our arguments ... but that's a different story.[/ref] It was a simple chart that plotted students eagerness to complete the assignment against the professor's apparent sanity.
At a certain point, student's eagerness dropped below 0 and leveled off somewhere in the negative range. Most of the class agreed with my assessment, and one student modified my chart to label this intersection with the x-axis the "point of ridiculosity."
When Kickstarter first launched, I was thrilled about the platform. I frequently dug into new campaigns and staff picks to find organizations and projects I could support. The quality of each campaign was impressive, and it wasn't long until I wanted to pitch my own projects.
The first project I had in mind was a WordPress-inspired storytelling platform that would allow editors to write self-reorganizing content. In a nutshell, every thought represented on the page would be tokenized in such a way that certain thoughts could be played out in any order, essentially leading to a story that could be told multiple times and have a slightly (or significantly) different meaning each time. I spent a few months working out the data structure and wire-framing the presentation. Then I filmed a video explaining the project and sent my campaign proposal off to Kickstarter.
They rejected it.
My second project idea was a play off the first, but this time left content in its original structure. Instead, it would allow readers to "fork" a narrative at any point and branch off into sub-stories and supplemental narratives. In practice, it would be similar to the in-line commenting seen in Medium, but would allow readers to submit their own branches to a given story (and in turn have their branches forked as well). Again, I spent a few months fleshing out the architecture and prepping a detailed campaign proposal.
They rejected it.
Each time, I asked for clarifications from the Kickstarter team. They pointed me to platform requirements that projects have an "end point" where some sort of deliverable ship. They also explained that each project should benefit the community in some way and that, despite my extensive background in open source software, they weren't convinced I was the right fit for leading such a project.
I was a bit frustrated, but lived with the decision and focused instead on backing other projects on the system. I've backed cookbooks, cafes, children's stories, movies, and software. It's been an exciting ride, and I've been privileged to be a part of it.
Yesterday, though, I saw a project on Kickstarter that completely changed my mind. In the past year or so (I'm not sure exactly when), Kickstarter removed the curation component of their platform - every project proposed makes it live to the site. The project that irritated me so much was a request for $10 to make potato salad. The last I checked, it had raised $17,000 in funds.
Take into account the number of projects that (in the past) failed to make the cut for Kickstarter. Think again on the number of projects that have failed to reach their fundraising thresholds (and therefore forfeited any backing at all). Take into account the number of people building real products and businesses using crowdfunding as a resource.
And Kickstarter lists a campaign to make potato salad. Not only that, the community overwhelmingly backs the campaign - giving the project leader several thousand dollars for something so trivial.
Kickstarter has passed the point of ridiculosity. I won't look at the site again. Ever. We all have better things to do.