Creator Confessions: The Effect Of Kickstarter Trolls

by Frank Martin

As a writer of both novels and comics, Comicon contributor Frank Martin has a lot to say about the process of making fiction a reality. In Creator Confessions, he offers some of the discoveries he’s made in bring a story from initial idea to a complete, published reality.

Kickstarter creators share a strange bond with one another. Running a campaign is a unique phenomenon, and sharing the trials and tribulations of one with others is key to the experience. There are the obvious difficulties, such as coming up with rewards and marketing. But there’s a whole other set of problems creators share that happen behind the veil. The Kickstarter community is in constant discussion about these issues and what’s to be done about them. Things that backers might not have any clue about. And one such problem is the existence of Kickstarter trolls. 

Pretty much every internet user in this day and age understands what a troll is. But the idea of the Kickstarter troll goes against the very nature of the platform. Kickstarter is a place of creativity and support. A site where artists can find an audience who would like to see their work thrive. So the fact that bad actors come to the site to ruin that experience is kind of crazy. But it happens more than you think. 

The actions of a Kickstarter troll can take many different forms depending on the campaign. But the basic idea is simple. A troll pledges to a campaign in an attempt to throw a wrench into the works and just cause hassles for the creator.

I’ve never seen a Kickstarter troll be successful in actually derailing a campaign, but they absolutely make things more difficult. This can happen by pledging an exorbitant amount of money that makes the campaign look wildly successful only to have that backer cancel the very last day. Other things a troll can do is grab all limited quantities of an add-on or reward so that no other backer can get it. 

Why do trolls do the things they do? I have no idea! I think that question goes to the very foundation of human nature. But like I said, they typically don’t ruin the campaign. Creators are a resilient bunch and determined to see their projects succeed. We’re constantly in contact with one another to identify trolls and report them to Kickstarter support, which has more or less been helpful in limiting this kind of behavior.

Then there’s the Kickstarter community itself, which is always supportive in weeding out those that want to spoil the experience for everyone. So the next time you see a creator getting frustrated or overwhelmed with their campaign, just remember that for every problem you see on the surface there a bunch more behind the scenes you will probably never hear about.

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