Survey Results: Crowdfunding Project Creator Updates

I want to put together a nice infographic of results from last week's fulfillment survey, but it's been an eventful few days. I'll fill you in on the details of that soon, but for now, here's a taste of some of the anonymous comments regarding creator updates. In that survey, I asked:

Care to say a little bit more about your feelings about creator updates?

Generally the positive responses cited the necessity of updates to track actual progress in the job (or lack thereof)

Regular creator updates are vital, regardless of whether news is good or bad. Getting an update announcing a delay or problem in project completion and fulfillment, with an explanation of the reasons/causes of the delay/problem, is far preferable than not getting an update at all. Some creators have given the excuse that frequent updates detracts from their time available to work on the project; but I (and probably many others) consider this a very poor excuse for inadequate communication.   
I like them. They make me feel that the creator's still invested in her project, and it's neat to see the process in something like real-time.

I like them when they have something to show, or when there's a big breakthrough on the project, less so when it's excuses about timing, etc. In those situations, I'd rather hear less, rather than be reminded they've blown their deadline, so long as I get an assurance that they're working on it.

It's the thought that counts - if a delivery date has been delayed, regular status updates (whether it's "Hurricane Sandy left us without power for a week" or just "We've run into some delays but are working hard to finish the project") are the best way to make peace with backers. At least we'll know you haven't fallen off the face of the earth.

A handful mentioned their annoyance with updates in which there is no discernible progress with the project.

"When product is going to be delayed for what ever reason an updated should be posted to give the funders an idea of what is going on.

Essential, but frustrating when they're just fluff with no real indication of progress.
"Still no progress" updates are annoying. 

And that leads us to the negative responses regarding creator updates. Some of these responses called out grievances against specific project creators, but I don't want to make this a forum for any particular project's complaints. I do recommend you contact that project creator if you wish to find out the project's status. Unfortunately, no one is going to keep creators accountable but the backers.

I usually accumulate a number of updates for a given project before I get around to reading them. That said, I do appreciate communications from the creator. Even unread updates in my inbox let me know that the project hasn't been abandoned or something. 
Most of the projects I funded I kind of funded for the general good.  I read the updates, sometimes, and sometimes I didn't.  Once they got funded, it kind of felt out of my hands how they proceeded.

I find that most updates are pointless. They're either the creator whining about why fulfilling their project is so hard or telling us about awesome things that don't affect us. For example, it irks me that Goblins Drool is late to ship to me but there's tons of people who got to play it at GenCon. As a backer, I should be the first person in on the fun.

I don't need twenty-six updates in two months about a project. If there's a ton of stuff happening that's really cool about the development and fulfillment of your project, consolidate that into a weekly update.

Most of the time, they're kind of worthless fluff pieces. I prefer much more concere progress reports, just often enough for me to not forget about the project and feel like its actually progressing.

And a slight tangent to address video updates. First, a detractor:

I pay less attention (I skim) to ones that aren't about actual product delivery, "go here and download this", etc. They're high volume. Long ones, I just don't have time to read through. Videos, similar issue around time investment.

And a fan:

I usually skim them, to see if there are any updates about ship dates, delays or production previews. For projects with supplemental content (videos on the making of the product, for example) I pay extra attention.

But overall, the comments highlighted the mixed blessings of creator updates.

Without a doubt the most variable part of the crowdfunding experience. As the sites become more standarsized in their part of the equation it is this place where a developer's rigorous (or not) detail orientation as well as transparency position come out.

I always have to brace myself when backing a new project to receive way more emails, because I know that in addition to the updates I care about, many creator updates will just be advertisements for other Kickstarters or similar marketing.

Additionally, different creators use updates before and after funding success differently. I prefer creators who use post-close updates simply as a "here's where we are in our production timeline" rather than, "here's more information about the project itself." Wormwood Saga is a good example of the first, Project Eternity is a good example of the second."

Most Kickstarter creators are diligent about updates during their campaigns and directly afterward, but once we get into the long, dark, tea-time of the actual manufacturing process, the updates usually dry up.  As a prolific backer, I find that I may forget about a given project without regular updates.  At least until I go look at my history and review what I am still waiting to receive.

Updates that are simply new information, updates on progress need to be MORE distinct from updates that require active response from backer. I believe the current system of sending out surveys and NOT getting positive confirmation back from creators is problematic.

This list of best practices seemed to sum up most people's feelings on the subject.

I really appreciate updates, WHEN THEY ARE RELEVANT. To whit:

  1. You are telling us about a new stretch goal.
  2. You are informing us of an exciting new funding level!
  3. You are showing us a how-to-play, an instructions PDF, a Print-n-Play, or the like.
  4. You are updating us on how the game is shaping up, where we're at with regards to production, and shipping, etc.


But this was my favorite comment.

Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple was the only project I backed where I actually wanted to get updates.

Aw shucks! Thanks!
Daniel Solis
Art Director by Day. Game Designer by Night.