Unrelated: Bees and Kickstarter

Two unrelated items.

First, I mentioned in my post about the big storm that both our beehives were knocked over by a falling branch, and have since gotten questions about how the bees are. We reassembled the hives on the spot, but weren’t able to take a full look at the hives until this past weekend. I can report that both queens were spotted (get it, it’s a pun because queen bees are typically marked with a spot of paint) during the inspection, so all the branch did (to the bees at least) was put a massive dent in one of our outer covers and riled up the hives. They’ve been devouring sugar water at a high rate of speed, but that’s a good thing at this stage. Got to get the stores together to overwinter.

For now, we’re filling up the feeder jars as quickly as the bees empty them, both otherwise letting them live their lives. Once we saw both queens, we removed any need to go deeper into the hives for the next few weeks.

Second, anyone who follows Kickstarter is probably aware of the controversial new project wherein Penny Arcade is using the site to raise $250k (though they’re really looking for $1million) in order to remove all advertising from their site. No one has asked, but I still wanted to share my thoughts on the project.

Thought the first. I don’t believe this is within the spirit of Kickstarter. I’m not going to say that Kickstarter should only be for the unknown and unheralded, it shouldn’t. I’ve seen many established products and brands use the site as an end-round of the games making process (such as for Double Fine and Ogre) or drives to fund reprints (such as for Order of the Stick). However, the Penny Arcade project strikes me more as a company seeking business expenses, not creating a product. As quoted from the Kickstarter guidelines:

A project has a clear goal, like making an album, a book, or a work of art. A project will eventually be completed, and something will be produced by it. A project is not open-ended. Starting a business, for example, does not qualify as a project.

I can’t help but wonder if the name “Penny Arcade” is what got this project green lit by Kickstarter. Obviously I don’t know Kickstarter’s reasoning, and I won’t pretend that I have an encyclopedic enough knowledge of past Kickstarters to know the precedents. However, in spite of my thoughts on whether it should or shouldn’t be within Kickstarter’s guidelines, I’m not joining the outrage because…

Thought the second. I don’t believe that Kickstarter is a zero-sum game. That is to say, I don’t believe there’s a set amount of money that is going to be donated to projects on a given day, and that the Penny Arcade project is taking money out of the mouths of projects that are less ambiguous about their adherence to policy. The people who are donating the Penny Arcade are donating to Penny Arcade. Hell, it could even be a net positive if people are funding a Kickstarter for the first time, and finding other projects while browsing around the site.

There’s one exception to the zero-sum issue, the staff picks. Currently the Penny Arcade project is taking one of the three Staff Pick spots within the Comics section, an exposure that it clearly doesn’t need. So do I think that it’s strictly within the rules? No. Do I think that makes it inherently a bad thing? No.

But I’m just me.

  1. avatar

    #1 by Jeff Xilon on July 12, 2012 - 11:13 am

    Interesting. I’d not heard of the Penny Arcade kickstarter yet. I have to say that I always have the same personal conclusion about these sorts of controversies. Also, in two points.

    1) I may be mistaken but I don’t think Kickstarter itself owes anyone anything when it comes to projects like these. If they want to allow a project then I pretty much see it as their right. I mean, it’s their business right? And if they think that a project like this is going to succeed then they’re looking to make good money on their cut. Also, they may feel as you point out that a big name project like this will bring them more exposure and benefit everyone.

    2) The big one. For me, even if a project like this was taking money from small unknowns trying to make it I still wouldn’t raise a cry against it because at the end of the day people have a right to choose how to spend their own hard earned money. If they want to spend it on Penny Arcade instead of something else then that’s their right. People who are pissed about that are, in my opinion, missing the fundamental sense of democracy and freedom in crowdfunding. Which of course is something those same people probably crow about as long as it benefits something they personally approve of.

    As for you bees – glad they survived your storm. I find this beekeeping thing very interesting.. Something I wonder about it – are there, I don’t know, zoning laws or some such about something like that? I mean, if you have neighbors can keeping bees become an issue?

    • avatar

      #2 by DLThurston on July 12, 2012 - 11:25 am

      Yeah, it’s their site and their rules, but I can understand the disappointment I’ve seen online with those who feel Kickstarter has sidestepped their rules. It’s awkward, yeah, it’s their site, but legitimacy comes through consistency.

      As for the bees and zoning, yes, there are rules. I’m in Fairfax County which allows 4 hives for any residence, and more hives on lots larger than half an acre based on size. Some HOAs in the area disallow them, but we don’t have an HOA in our neighborhood. Our neighbors are at worst indifferent and at best thrilled.

    • avatar

      #3 by Jeff Xilon on July 12, 2012 - 11:35 am

      I can definitely understand that worry. I’d hate to see Kickstarter ruin their reputation, because then it would hurt everyone who uses it. I just tend to worry that when people rally against something like this (for example I understand some argued against the Amanda Palmer album kickstarter) that it also becomes an attack (intended or not) on the people who choose to support those projects.

      I wonder if, in future, Kickstarter might consider a transparency feature where they responded to such outcries with an explanation of why they greenlighted something. Of course, as you point out: they probably can’t easily do that in this case.

    • avatar

      #4 by DLThurston on July 12, 2012 - 12:01 pm

      And like I said, the occasional mega project like Palmer, or Double Fine, or Penny Arcade probably does more good in bringing new people to the site than bad in terms of perceived reputation problems. It’s a site that will live and die on how many eyeballs it pulls in, and since people are putting their hopes and dreams on it, Kickstarter living or dying is of huge import.

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