How we decide whether to cover a crowdfunded project
You know, Kickstarter and other crowdfunding websites are wonderful things. But you have to treat everything you see in these places with caution. That's why we're introducing some guidelines for articles in Redshark that cover any crowdfunded project.
It's always up to individuals whether they "invest" or not in crowdfunded projects, and of course our coverage can influence this, although we would never recommend using our articles as the sole basis for your decisions (or, strictly, as any basis for that matter!). If you do choose to be influenced by our articles, that is your choice!
For us, on the reporting side, the most important thing from now on is that we make it clear that the product we're writing about is just that: a project that has yet to see completion and is therefore not an available product.
A case in point is our recent mention of the Lily drone. It's an amazing idea, and we have no reason to think that it won't turn into a product at some point, nor that the claims aren't genuine. But I do think that we (the editorial team at RedShark) should have made it clearer that the slick, glossy footage is not necessarily taken from the product itself (maybe it is! We don't know). The material looks stabilised, and yet we assume the product has no on-board stabilisation (other than digitally, perhaps). This article has sparked some debate which is the reason for our tightening up our policies and procedures.
There are risks in reporting crowdfunded projects, just as there are in investing in them. For us, the risk is that the projects might not be completed, and that images, video or text in the articles might not be as portrayed.
For some time now, we have had a policy of not routinely writing about crowdfunded projects as a means to help them raise money. There may be exceptions to this - where, for example, we are so keen on the idea that we actually want to get behind it. But - before everyone writes to us to see if we'll support them (it actually seems like a lot of people do already) - our default response is that we won't provide coverage. The reason we take this stance is because we get so many requests that there would be little room for anything else on RedShark if we were to mention all of them.
Another exception might be where an idea is just so awesomely brilliant that it's worth writing about whether or not it ever turns into a product!
So, this, in outline, is our crowdfunding policy:
We will only write about a crowdfunded project if we feel it is truly exceptional and then we'll flag up very clearly that it is crowdfunded. Our default position is that we won't provide coverage.
This is a subject area that's evolving all the time, so we will monitor and review this situation.
We'd be interested to hear your views on this in the comments.