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[Said In A T-Rexian, Uninflected Monotone] What.

They use the phrase "a rising tide lifts all boats", but it seems to me that the battleship and the little dinghy are both raising about half a millimeter and it's making no difference to either.

This is definitely one of the weirder Look at this awesome thing we’re doing! emails I’ve ever gotten. Usually, those emails are garbage from start to finish, from creators or companies that haven’t really accomplished anything, desperately trying to get attention and grab traction; maybe it’s an interesting and worthwhile project, and the announcer is just not skilled in the subtle arts of self promotion. Sometimes it’s damage control. Sometimes it’s fluff.

And sometimes, I can’t tell what they’re trying to do, which is all the more puzzling in this case, because it’s from BackerKit. You know, the after-campaign pledge manager app that lets your crowdfunding folks modify their rewards? It just works like it’s supposed to? Nice part of the modern creative community’s infrastructure. It starts out reasonably:

The BackerKit team is proud to announce the official launch of The Creative Fund! We believe awesome ideas come from everywhere and everyone.

They link over to a post at Medium about what their new venture is attempting to do:

A driving force for independent creators over the past decade has been crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter, which provides a space for ideas to get funded. However, we believe there is room for the online creative economy to become more diverse and accessible to all creators, especially those just starting out. This is why we are launching The Creative Fund, which supports the entrepreneurial spirit of all independent creators, one dollar at a time.

I get it so far — a fund that supports crowdfunding projects, which contributes to the health of the ecosystem and coincidentally may prompt some campaigns/creators to reach a size where they need BackerKit. Win/win, right? But that last line? They mean it literally. From the email again:

The Creative Fund supports every independent creator that launches a Kickstarter project for one dollar.

Or, per the Medium post, more precisely:

After carefully considering what was in our ability to support creators on Kickstarter, we decided to pilot The Creative Fund by pledging $1 to each and every project on the platform. After one month and thousands of heartfelt responses, we felt the need to make this pledge a reality.

One dollar to each project on Kickstarter. Wow. I just … what?

One dollar is not going to be the make-or-break for anything. A bunch of no-hope projects that are poorly conceived will see BackerKit (they’re big time important!) dropping a buck in and figure they’re doing much better than they really are. It reminds me of the geniuses that think they can game the KS algorithms by all pledging a buck to each other’s projects in a ring of mutual success, all suddenly getting elevated to the front page as widely funded, or newly popular, or whatever.

And I’m not sure it’s as simple as one project = one buck. Back to Medium:

Now, we are kicking things into high gear and we invite everyone to join us in making a difference. That is why we are launching The Creative Fund on Patreon, so supporters like you can easily join the cause. For every $2,000 we raise, we will pledge an additional dollar to each new project. 100% of the funds raised goes towards independent creators around the world.

Okay, there’s a possibility to actually have an impact here, where if they make absolute amazing bank on Patreon, they could be contributing potentially tens or hundreds of dollars to KS projects. Not sure what that’s going to accomplish, honestly, if everybody gets that much as seed money, it doesn’t help to distinguish worthy or interesting projects from chaff. In any event, they aren’t making amazing bank on Patreon. As of this writing, the Patreon is currently getting US$192¹.

I mean, giving a buck to a project that’s already succeeded (since non-successful projects will have the pledges returned) is a kinda nice gesture, but that’s all it is. And if it ever does become an amount that a creator might notice/appreciate², it’s not because BackerKit/The Creative Fund is doing so, it’s because they’ve convinced a bunch of other people to give their money not to specific projects or creators, but to the idea of Kickstarter.

It feels like they’re trying to get some feel-good PR off of the contributions of other people. At least they’ve got some guidelines so that if you decided to participate, your money isn’t helping to (in a small way) support a projects that’s (their words here) not evil.

Anyway, the Medium post is here, the website is here, the Patreon is here; I can’t help but think I’m overlooking something pretty basic, because honestly, I can’t see what this effort accomplishes, except to move money around in very small increments at some considerable effort. If I’m radically misunderstanding things, please let me know.

¹ On the Patron page, this make it clear they mean US$2000 per month, not US$2000 raised.

² Say, an extra twenty, with no reward to fulfill, meaning you can get a couple pizzas for your friends that are helping you with a pledge mailing party? Nice.

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