On Not Being a Terrible Fan
Posted on April 13th, 2016
“I can’t believe the next movie isn’t ready, yet. They need to get off their asses and get it done." “Is she ever going to finish the next book? What is she doing working on other stuff instead of publishing the next book?" “Uhhh, I helped fund this game, why isn’t it ready, yet? I demand a refund!"
I am pretty sure you have heard a lot of statements like this. They come from a good place: we are excited about something that is being made! But they can also turn shortsighted, selfish, and otherwise problematic.
We do not own creators.
It is tempting to feel like creators owe something to us. But unless they have done something fraudulent or violated a contract, they don’t owe us anything. We are not entitled to direct how they spend their personal or work time. We are not entitled to direct what order they work on things. We are not entitled to define their creative process. And we are certainly not entitled to invade their private lives, dox them, or harass them.
This is easier for people to remember and understand when we are talking about a book or movie series. Yet, it still happens all too often. For a good example, look at how people treat George R.R. Martin.
This becomes even more difficult when it comes to crowdfunding, such as Kickstarter. I see these types of comments a lot in the gaming community. Today, there was a thread where someone was trying to round up people for a lawsuit and was also doxing not only the owner of the Kickstarter, but their sister. This is entirely not ok.
I understand that Kickstarter feels more like an obligation. After all, you have given them money. But even so, Kickstarter is not a store. It is not a pre-order. It is not a contract. Kickstarter is clear that their is risk of no delivery. We are technically owed nothing. It’s a risk, and a known one.
It is entirely possible for a project to earnestly run through all the funds when trying to deliver a project, and they may have nothing left for refunds. It is entirely possible for a project to become impossible in the current situation/environment. When these unfortunate things happen, it is painful and frustrating to backers, but it doesn’t entitle us to go after the creators, especially in victimizing ways.
We cannot force them into further debt for a project. We cannot force them to continue working on something untenable. There needs to be the possibility of project bankruptcy. Humanity has come to a consensus that (direct) debt slavery and debtors prisons are not acceptable.
Furthermore, the way we approach long-running or overdue projects needs to be examined. When we constantly pester for updates, bombard creators with requests, or make demands & insults, we are not helping the projects move along. If anything, we are making it harder.
So, if you want to help a seemingly dormant project move along, try expressing your excitement and encouragement.
Been burned by a project not being completed? Share lessons-learned on what works well for a crowdfunding project. Be more careful about which ones you back. But by all means, please treat creators like human beings.