Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Kickstarter - Thinking of Starting a "Project Evaluation / Consultation Tip Jar" at The Tavern

Over the course of any given month I get a dozen to a dozen and a half requests to either look at a not quite live Kickstarter for potential issues or "hey, this is my Kickstarter! Help!" This post is about the first type of request.

Evaluating a Kickstarter for potential issues can be time consuming if done properly. Admittedly, there are other draws on my time that actually pay (not much, but they do) and Kickstarter evaluations and consultations often don't get done or just get the most basic review.

Having folks pay to have me evaluate their Kickstarter just seems... I dunno, I guess it would put it on a priority over blogging and content creation, which I don't want to do. It could also put into question my impartiality if and when I post about a project that I was paid to consult on.

A tip jar, to me, allows for the potential of some sort of compensation for my time evaluating while still keeping the priorities of The Tavern as they are meant to be - my honest opinion. You may not agree with my opinion, but know that it can't be bought and I disclose all conflicts of interest as they may be. Which going forward, will include if I was asked to evaluate a Kickstarter project before it went live.

I know that some in the community have joked that I should start a Kickstarter Consulting Service. Although said in jest, there is truth to the idea. I'm just trying to find the proper balance to such.

Feedback is, as always, welcome :)


  1. I think if you're going to get compensation for evaluation, you should go whole hog, charge a fee and be completely open about having received money from the project. A tip jar seems like it would make for the appearance of shiftiness without any benefit you don't get already from Patreon. Someone who want to support you're work can do so through Patreon, and having a Kickstarter consultation specific tip jar would look weird, at least to me.

    Don't get me wrong, I trust your integrity (like, A LOT) it just seems that when someone with your reputation in the OSR community starts offering Kickstarter consultation, it's going to turn into an actual job very quickly, and that's how you should treat it.

  2. It's an interesting dilemma. Commenting here about appearances. I have no doubt that you would give your honest opinion in any case. In some ways, tips seem like they would make you (appear) more beholden to the person for whom you are doing a review. If you get paid upfront, then you can be candid. Worst case is you get a reputation for not providing useful/fair/polite feedback and the requests dry up. On the other hand, if the amount of your payment depends on whether the reviewer likes what you said, either directly or on your blog, there is pressure for you to say nice things about the product. Also, if something causes you to change your mind about a product, one might wonder--did he just get a $5 tip and now he's feeling friendly? (Or not get a tip and is feeling grumpy?) One resolution might be if all tips were anonymous, although this too is difficult to present to doubters.

    On the other hand, you could ignore the folks who think you are using this platform to get rich and are willing to lie, effectively, for a few extra shillings. This brings it back to the use of time argument, which seems to be a better one. If you want to review KSs, go ahead and see what the market will bear, or do it for free. If you don't want to review KSs, then stop. That's why you retired. Roll some dice.

  3. Well I believe the feedback you provide is very valuable and surely a bit more than a tip in a jar. I'm considering setting up a Kickstarter for Itza and I can tell you that your experience could save me hours if not days worth of work summarizing potential issues and their fixes. In my opinion you'd be getting paid less than your experience is worth, although I can see your point about having a prior commitment with the blog.

    That being said there's also the liability issue. I'm quite aware that kickstarters can go wrong due to issues not related to your consultancy. But will that be the case with everyone? Will some ass come around and say "Oh look, I hired Erik and all this shit happened"? When all that shit happened for other reasons not related to you. Or maybe they did happen for reasons related to you that could have been mitigated had the author fully disclosed everything.

    All this considered, maybe a good course of action is for you to publish "The Tavern's Kickstarter Guide to the Galaxy" and sell it for a few bucks online. Include a set of success and failure cases and a "Kickstarter checklist" and a "Am I ready to kickstart my project?" self exam, so people can work from there on their own.

    1. I had a similar thought about some sort of "Tenkar's Dos and Don'ts for Kickstarting" pamphlet around 7 seconds after I hit publish. Then I wondered if that was an example of it turning into an actual job.

  4. my thoughts. First you aren't going to get Reaper or TSR or Kingdom Death interested in ths so price accordingly. Also expect people coming to you know nothing about nothing so prepare to go over everything.

    1) a small PDF file with standard tips, maybe sold here or rpgnow or something. couple of bucks. basic tips, maybe a template, a schedule to set up and fulfill that kind of thing. Link to sucessful KSs as well as failed ones. also the evaluation tools taht are out there.

    2) consultation fee maybe $10 or something. offer to look at a kickstarter prelaunch and evaluate it. Prepare a standard evaluation form and use that.

    3) guidance package (non standard fee) this is for producers taht need you to step in from day one. lots of consultation from review of mansucript/product to discussion of fulfilment.

  5. I would have a set of rules to evaluate a potential kickstarter.

    1) product must be 97.5% finished and available for review - editing and printing is all that's left.

    2) pricing must be realistic

    3) roll out has as set date

    4) a physical copy of the final product is your reward for taking the time to review said product.

  6. I agree with Caleb, make it a job. Let people know how much your time and reputation is worth, stay transparent about which projects you have consulted with,and I think your integrity will continue to speak for itself. Gerardo's checklist idea is great, if you set up a tip jar for a PDF on "What You Need to Know/Checklist", that's pretty straightforward. Otherwise I think it seems more above-board to have a consulting fee for actual time spent. Vic's idea of you receiving a copy of the final product is a fair one, maybe that being in lieu of a consulting fee. I for one would be more likely to consider a Kickstarter who spent the time consulting you first.


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