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Kickstarter Leaves Project Ideas Exposed

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the i-just-had-70,000-great-ideas dept.

Privacy 56

netbuzz writes "Crowd-funding startup Kickstarter is taking a public-relations hit today after it was reported that some 70,000 not-yet-public project ideas were left exposed on the company's Web site for more than two weeks. Kickstarter insists that no financial information was compromised and that only a few dozen of the projects were actually accessed. 'Obviously our users' data is incredibly important to us, the company said in a blog post. 'Even though limited information was made accessible through this bug, it is completely unacceptable.'"

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"Exposed" defined: (5, Informative)

Bananatree3 (872975) | about 2 years ago | (#39997189)

TFA reads:

This bug allowed some data from unlaunched projects to be made accessible via the API. It was immediately fixed upon discovering the error. No account or financial data of any kind was made accessible. The bug was introduced when we launched the API in conjunction with our new homepage on April 24, and was live until it was discovered and fixed on Friday, May 11, at 1:42pm. The bug made accessible the project description, goal, duration, rewards, video, image, location, category, and user name for unlaunched projects.

Re:"Exposed" defined: (4, Insightful)

poetmatt (793785) | about 2 years ago | (#39997759)

So basically as TFA says, the hype is courtesy of the WSJ and vested interests that don't like independent businesses and new startups? Say it ain't so.

Re:"Exposed" defined: (1)

Dan667 (564390) | about 2 years ago | (#40005783)

I am actually encouraged by this. The more the marketing drones freak out that people are bypassing them and their flawed understanding of their markets (and greed) the better.

I so meta... (5, Funny)

x1r8a3k (1170111) | about 2 years ago | (#39997203)

Maybe they can setup a kickstarter to fund the software improvements.

Yo dawg (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39997405)

I heard you like kickstarters so I put a kickstarter in your kickstarter so you can kickstart while you kickstart.

Re:I so meta... (4, Informative)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 2 years ago | (#39997491)

Obligatory XKCD [xkcd.com].

Re:I so meta... (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 2 years ago | (#39997519)

I've seen this gag before.

I think it starts with "Recursion (n): See..."

Nonsense. Space is blue and birds fly through it.
-- Werner Heisenberg

Re:I so meta... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39997619)

The ultimate relevant XKCD, in that it was actually posted today.

Re:I so meta... (1)

makomk (752139) | about 2 years ago | (#39999275)

I have an odd feeling that I've seen a genuine Kickstarter campaign that's eerily similar to this joke. Can't quite place it though.

Re:I so meta... (1)

epine (68316) | about 2 years ago | (#40007935)

Slashdot would almost be cool if you could hover over the obligatory XKCD links and the hover text came from the cartoon itself.

So many ideas... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39997223)

Wow, that's like... $7 worth of ideas!

Re:So many ideas... (2)

coinreturn (617535) | about 2 years ago | (#39998039)

Wow, that's like... $7 worth of ideas!

At the standard rate of dime/dozen, that's $583.33. But since "only a few dozen were accessed," that's less than a dollar. If the Kickstarter people come to my office, I will reimburse them with a $1.

Revelation (4, Insightful)

MetalliQaZ (539913) | about 2 years ago | (#39997253)

As I read this I tried to analyze my feelings about this news. I have found that I am completely indifferent. Did someone get to take a look at unpublished, in-progress kickstarter ideas? May be. Does it matter? Not really.

I suppose that means I should expect the buzz around kickstarter to fade away until it settles into its niche. Sorta like eBay.

I'm sure one of those 7000 will flip out and try to sue somebody, but it would be meaningless.

Re:Revelation (4, Insightful)

arth1 (260657) | about 2 years ago | (#39997579)

As I read this I tried to analyze my feelings about this news. I have found that I am completely indifferent. Did someone get to take a look at unpublished, in-progress kickstarter ideas? May be. Does it matter? Not really.

Bear in mind that the US just switched to a "first to file" patent system, and since these projects hadn't hit the open stage yet, they were unpublished and thus not "prior art" unless published elsewhere.

"Only" dozens were accessed...

Re:Revelation (3, Insightful)

MetalliQaZ (539913) | about 2 years ago | (#39997981)

This is kickstarter. It is meant for projects, not patents. If they were planning patenting something, they shouldn't have been pumping the details into website that is essentially public. Also, lets face it. If the innovations were so good, they could get funding through traditional channels. (saving up, selling car, mortgaging home, begging friends and family, venture capital firms, private venture capital investments. In that order.)


Re:Revelation (1)

ohnocitizen (1951674) | about 2 years ago | (#39998787)

It is sometimes used by people with patents to raise money. (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/254316145/hyquator-safe-drinking-water-anytime-anywhere). Its too bad this project didn't meet its goal.

"Used by people with patents to raise money" (1)

billstewart (78916) | about 2 years ago | (#39999919)

In those cases, the patent system is all the intellectual property protection they need. If somebody sees their Kickstarter campaign early, they're free to contact them to license the patent.

Most Kickstarter projects I've seen have been "I've done some cool art/music/OpenHardwareDesign, and I want to raise funds to print the book/CD/CircuitBoards", and those aren't really at risk if they're seen early either.

Re:Revelation (2)

arth1 (260657) | about 2 years ago | (#39998811)

This is kickstarter. It is meant for projects, not patents. If they were planning patenting something, they shouldn't have been pumping the details into website that is essentially public.

Well, duh - the kickstarters are unlikely to plan patenting something, that's fairly obvious.

But the people who scan through kickstarter projects before the projects go public may very well be, in the good old spirit of Edison.
And when the projects haven't been made public yet, they may very well be patentable by others under the new first-to-file principle.

Re:Revelation (1)

Sabriel (134364) | about 2 years ago | (#40000225)

Hmm. What defines "unpublished"? If Kickstarter was a dead-tree book company and their print-on-demand API had a bug that allowed stores to order copies of books the authors weren't planning to release until next year, would those books still be considered "unpublished" (as far as ideas went, since the topic is patents) despite the fact that several dozen copies were now sitting in the "new release" section of my local bookstore?

Re:Revelation (1)

LordLucless (582312) | about 2 years ago | (#40000575)

Have you ever looked at kickstarter? Find me one project that has enough technical information on its project page to even think about qualifying for a patent.

Nigerian kick? (0)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | about 2 years ago | (#39997293)

So, they got a Nigerian kick instead of the spam. Same idea, just a new path and new people.


Yes, I am and very sceptical to new ideas until proven, by others...

At least Kickstarter don't make a living from it.. (4, Interesting)

dryriver (1010635) | about 2 years ago | (#39997299)

When Facebook exposes the private data of tens of millions of its users to the Internet, nothing happens. Nothing gets investigated. Nobody is held responsible. Nobody goes to jail, or somesuch. In fact, the market value of Facebook only goes up as a result of it exposing more and more data to its commercial partners and the internet at large. ----- Kickstarter accidentally leave a few WIP funding projects exposed to API users? Ooooh, that's so terrible! Ooooh, that's so wrong! ------- In the age of Facebook, which Julian Assange quite accurately called "the most abominable spying machine created in human history", a little slip-up like this shouldn't even make the news. -------- Kickstarter is a genuinely useful website. I hope it stays that way.

Re:At least Kickstarter don't make a living from i (1)

rodrigoandrade (713371) | about 2 years ago | (#39997429)

> Kickstarter is a genuinely useful website.

Until someone pulls off the imminent millionaire scam and flees to Aruba, beyond the reach of any legal system.

Re:At least Kickstarter don't make a living from i (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39997617)

Isn't that the same risk one would take with any financial commitment to a speculative endeavour?
The great thing about kickstarter, is that would-be world-changers don't have to jump through the firey hoops & controls that one or two venture capital suppliers would leverage over them. I really see kickstarter as the impetus to a competition-based market, in a market bent on quashing competitive practices; the little guy can step up with out Big Money's restrictions. Unfortunately, there is not yet any escape from a legal system that can be easily leveraged to destroy upstarts, but it is a definite step forward.

Re:At least Kickstarter don't make a living from i (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39997849)

Until someone pulls off the imminent millionaire scam and flees to Aruba, beyond the reach of any legal system.

But then we start a Kickstarter project to fund a trip to go after them.

Re:At least Kickstarter don't make a living from i (2)

makomk (752139) | about 2 years ago | (#39998755)

They don't need to. Kickstarter takes an entirely risk-free 5% cut of the proceeds of any successful funding campaign, and it's not like they have to pay credit card fees and chargeback fees out of that - those are entirely taken out of the project creator's share of the proceeds - nor do they have to worry about liability for the inevitable Kickstarter-based scams and failures to deliver thanks to some careful disclaimers in their TOS. If you take a look at the amount of money some projects have raised through Kickstarter, that means they have an awful lot of income.

Re:At least Kickstarter don't make a living from i (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 2 years ago | (#40000917)

That's because Facebook's T&Cs explicitly say that they are going to take anything you upload and sell it to anyone who wants to buy it. Every single Facebook user has clicked on something saying that they have read and agree to these terms. If they didn't actually read it before agreeing, that's not Facebook's problem.

Relatively quick disclosure (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39997425)

Discovered and fixed on Friday, publicly disclosed on their blog on Monday. While it's not good that they had this bug in the first place, it's refreshing to see them take responsibility for it and explain it publicly and promptly.

Re:Relatively quick disclosure (1)

Dan667 (564390) | about 2 years ago | (#40005801)

contrast that with the sony security breach. This speaks volumes to me who I would rather spend my money with.

The real story is... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39997497)

Based on our research, the overwhelming majority of the private API access was by a computer programmer/Wall Street Journal reporter who contacted us.

"Computer programmer/Wall Street Journal reporter"? Who knew that such a beast existed?

So what? (2)

longacre (1090157) | about 2 years ago | (#39997563)

This is obviously a bug, but if anyone is actually hurt by this, they shouldn't have been posting their idea to Kickstarter in the first place. Markets will not be affected by a pre-production, pre-funding idea becoming public knowledge earlier than it should have: Anyone who could act on such info would have done so when it became live, anyway.

Re:So what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39997705)

Let's say someone sees something really neat in there, then rushes to file a patent on it. Since the KS hadn't been published yet, the original project won't count as prior art, and since we have "first to file", the original inventor now will be infringing on the patent.

Re:So what? (1)

Algae_94 (2017070) | about 2 years ago | (#39997831)

I think a lawyer could argue that the original KS had been published as it was accessible to the public. It was published by a bug, but it's debatable that it was indeed published.

Re:So what? (1)

SydShamino (547793) | about 2 years ago | (#39998669)

If a company employee lets financial data slip to a non-employee (like, say, their personal stock broker), but does so on a public street, do you think any judge would then consider it public information? Just because it was briefly available to the public doesn't mean it's been published for the public to see/hear.

Re:So what? (1)

Algae_94 (2017070) | about 2 years ago | (#40001347)

The AC was talking about prior art for a patent filing not about financial information.

Just because it was briefly available to the public doesn't mean it's been published for the public to see/hear.

It does provide a valid basis to argue that the idea already existed for a patent case. I'm not saying it would work.

Re:So what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39997899)

The info was published without the owners' consent...that's what 'became available for the general public' means. It was published, therefore it is prior art.

And? (1)

Githaron (2462596) | about 2 years ago | (#39997691)

Does this even matter that much? Ideas are nearly worthless until they are actually practiced/produced. An idea for an amazing new device does not put one in anyone's hand. It is a starting point and goal. Besides, all of the ideas that are public on Kickstarter are there because they have yet to be implemented. They are there because ideas are cheap but their realization is not.

Re:And? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39998059)

Hey, fuck you! My idea to build a human-like AI isn't worthless! You're just jealous that you didn't think of it first!

Re:And? (1)

Cruciform (42896) | about 2 years ago | (#39999523)

Some of them are practically ready to ship, but now that Kickstarter is huge they use it for marketing and getting a cash injection from pre-orders.

Off-topic, someone make this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39998137)

I want a driving video game that uses road maps of the world along with elevation so that I could virtually drive on any road in the world. Toss in streetview for scenery where available.

PR hit over this? I can think of better... (1)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | about 2 years ago | (#39998201)

I love KickStarter and am a backer of various projects there. Also at IndieGoGo and RocketHub. Suffice to say, I love the concept.

That said... they're getting a PR hit over this? Give me a break. As it is, perhaps it'd be a good thing so that the public can vet projects before they actually go live for funding. That way KickStarter could avoid some things that they really should have gotten PR hits over.

Like scam projects. They got very limited exposure for that recently with the Mythic project, but at least it resulted in it being shut down. Contrast that with the Projektor project which merrily ended - thankfully unfunded as the people leaving comments warned everybody off and caused others to withdraw (on the up side, KS only runs the charge if the project is successful).

Or like their inability to communicate appropriately. For example, to the KickStarter Mobile App guys. Approved on Day 1, suspended on Day 2. Or to the Glospex guy, whose first attempt failed so he closed early, re-submitted with a lower goal and better material, exceeded that goal, but a few days before close got suspended. Why? They won't tell them. Or, you know, to the public. Especially backers. Unless there's some privacy-sensitive reason for suspending a project, how about letting backers know?

That inability to communicate goes away right quick when you have a highly successful project, though. The Double Fine guys ($3mil+) got the KickStarter people to appear live in their ustream.

In fact, they're very willing to work with you when you bring in the big bucks. You've heard of Pebble, right? That project is still going - 4 days left. Oh, but you can't actually pledge at a level that would net you the Pebble watch anymore. They managed to wave a magic wand that other project creators couldn't in the past and closed all the pledges (except the $1 one) by marking them as limited reward pledges. Why? No idea - if you can have 85,000 watches manufactured, 100,000 is hardly a huge step over that.. you don't even have to worry about warehousing if you have things shipped in a staggered fashion. On the other hand, through their own store they will sell for $150+, while through KickStarter they get - after the KickStarter / Amazon deduction - about $105. More power to them, but what a crap maneuver to pull. ( For the curious, that project is still, currently, pulling in $400/hour.. People are crazy. )

And don't even get me started on whoever is writing their web code and killed their server-written static countdown, replacing it with a javascript one. With javascript disabled, you can now not even see how long the project will last anymore. Though I suppose not even the nerdiest of news sites would bother writing about that one ;)

Seriously, though.. the press are trying to hop on the "KickStarter is doomed to fail!" bandwagon. I was saddened that even xkcd decided to do a comic about it (because what comic hasn't yet?) in a somewhat negative light (really, there's not that much more competition post-Double Fine, which never even impacted any category outside of computer gaming anyway, and getting noticed doesn't require extremes - just some marketing.. as it always has).

KickStarter is thriving, and they're in the limelight, so I guess some negative attention after people trying to flaunt their projects all over the (popular) press is natural. But it all seems too much like knee-jerk reactions to a concept that's been going on for years, or a poor attempt at trying to marry their "I told you so!"-driven stories about KickStarter with their "Major Site Hack of the Day"-driven stories.

I can't wait for them to discovery Quirky. The press should have a field day with all the stuff they can conjure up about that one.

Re:PR hit over this? I can think of better... (1)

makomk (752139) | about 2 years ago | (#39999247)

I hadn't heard of Projektor before and had trouble finding it on the Kickstarter website. Here's their project page [kickstarter.com] - turns out that Kickstarter noindexes projects that have failed to meet their funding goal in order to make it harder to find them.

Re:PR hit over this? I can think of better... (2)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | about 2 years ago | (#39999753)

Yes, sorry - I had added links after previewing in a separate tab, but ended up submitting the original.

So here we go:
KickStarter: http://www.kickstarter.com/ [kickstarter.com]
IndieGoGo: http://www.indiegogo.com/ [indiegogo.com]
RocketHub: http://www.rockethub.com/ [rockethub.com]

Mythic: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/273246798/mythic-the-story-of-gods-and-men [kickstarter.com]
Projektor: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1747147409/projektor-make-your-mobile-devices-larger-than-lif [kickstarter.com]

KickStarter Mobile Phone App project: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/128239212/kickstarter-mobile-phone-app [kickstarter.com]
GloSpex (original): http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1816244302/glospex [kickstarter.com]
Go GloSpex (resubmit): http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1816244302/go-glospex [kickstarter.com]

Double Fine adventure: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/66710809/double-fine-adventure [kickstarter.com]
Pebble: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/597507018/pebble-e-paper-watch-for-iphone-and-android [kickstarter.com]

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/ [amazon.com]

Javascript timer with now-blank divs that once housed actual server-written content - view any project page source, look for "ksr_page_timer". The divs that follow once contained server-written data (e.g. "44 hours left") - which needn't have been removed for the javascript timer to work.

xkcd comic: http://xkcd.com/1055/ [xkcd.com]

Quirky: http://www.quirky.com/ [quirky.com]

Note that the example projects mentioned were but a few. There's so many more that would stand out as examples of things where better screening, intervention, communication and combinations of the aforementioned would have been thoroughly welcome and easily serve as material that could cause a 'PR hit' than the subject matter of TFA.

Ideas are a Dime a Dozen - Issue fixed (3, Interesting)

pubwvj (1045960) | about 2 years ago | (#39998269)

1. Kickstarter fixed it. Good for them.

2. Nobody was harmed in the making of this joke.

3. Ideas are freely available on Kickstarter. They do make that point. If you can't stand your ideas being known don't Kickstart them.

We are building a nano-scale on-farm USDA meat processing facility for our farm. We're using Kickstarter to fund it in part (see http://smf.me/ [smf.me] for details - tomorrows the last day May 15th). I'm open sourcing it. Go see my blog and see the floor plan, read about all the neat things we've developed to make it more energy efficient, smaller, lower cost and useful. If you want to do the same thing then more power to you. Share ideas.

-Walter Jeffries
Sugar Mountain Farm
http://sugarmtnfarm.com/ [sugarmtnfarm.com]

Re:Ideas are a Dime a Dozen - Issue fixed (2)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#39998765)

We are building a nano-scale on-farm USDA meat processing facility for our farm.

I read your kickstarter page and think it's a great idea, but I take it when you use the term nano-scale you aren't actually talking about nano-tech. Buzzwords make me nervous, buzzwords used wrong make me even more nervous.

Why not just use the word "small"? It's not like you are doing molecular level butchering.

Re:Ideas are a Dime a Dozen - Issue fixed (1)

pubwvj (1045960) | about 2 years ago | (#40043451)

Because the USDA already uses the terms:
Meat Processing Facility
Small Scale Meat Processing Facility
Very Small Scale Meat Processing Facility

and ours is another step smaller by a large amount thus I use the term:

Nano-scale Meat Processing Facility

I thought about using milli-scale but while it would be a more appropriate term people, other than geeks like you and I, aren't familiar with the term milli despite the existence of millimeters. So nano it is. Eat small. :)

What one should I use? (1)

Jonah Hex (651948) | about 2 years ago | (#40003005)

I am really looking forward to attempting to raise some money, but I'm torn between KickStarter, RocketHub and Indiegogo. Below is a short description of what our project consists of, it crosses genres, fiction and non-fiction, essentially we have two main thrusts to the website and our efforts:

Non-fiction: Reality, science, medicine, psychology, sexuality, etc. We have artists, doctors, scientists, free-thinkers, etc. We do NOT have religious nuts, crystal druids, etc; we'll discuss anything but we won't believe everything! The Core Reality Hacker [hex.xxx] videos give you a glimpse at a small part of what the reality side is going to be, and the articles and commentary I have posted also is this side.

Fiction: Based on reality and all the above with extrapolations into the past, present, and future. Of our current videos the Maniac Loveseat [hex.xxx] plays most towards our irreverent style we bring to psychological and scientific ideas placed into a fictional universe, we are improvising characters and ideas that may be a part of the eventual fiction. We also have the Lovecraftian influence, for one because his works are Public Domain, but mostly because his universe incorporates the fantastic in a manner that avoids the good/evil dichotomy so prevalent in most fiction. The Unknown Truth [hex.xxx] is very heavy into this area, with the idea that the forces that play on the universal stage have drives, impetus, and powers beyond the understanding or definition of good/evil. While most of our collaboration is setup to be online or cross online/in person lines, certain aspects we really need folks local who can take that in person step. I will be setting up munches soon!

We are taking on education, discussion, collaboration both local and world wide, societal preconceptions and prejudices, and creating new art. I hope you enjoy being part of the ride, like I said communication channels are coming back online soon and the forum/wiki aspects of the site will be reinstalled also. - HEX
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