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Mother raising money through Kickstarter to send daughter to RPG camp (playereffort.com)
73 points by jmount on Mar 24, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 113 comments



Just in case my title gets de-editorialized. I submitted this as 'Fraud: Millionaire using Kickstarter "girl controversy" to raise money.' (did have to edit out some typos on my part) The kickstarter isn't raising money for camp (as you might guess), but for single rich individual.

I am all for more funding to support young girls in computing. I would just like to see it applied to those that would not receive such benefits without additional help.

I am not for "shaming" in general, but I feel exposure is the only way to try to set this right. And this is ongoing, Susan Wilson has not withdrawn the Kickstarter which has collected over $22,000 to send a rich girl to summer camp.


I think this Kickatarter says more about Susan Wilson than it does about Kickstarter.


Somehow I am not surprised that her day job is running a debt collection company.


Why would you guess it's raising money for camp whe the title is "9 Year Old Building an RPG to Prove Her Brothers Wrong!"?

    I'm raising $829 to cover the cost of attending this RPG STEM Camp for kids
I think it's pretty clear. They could put the extra funds towards some kind of charity though.


There's the TOS violations:

"fund my life" - buying her daughter a laptop (camp provides IT resources" "fund tuition" - educational camp, pretty self-explanatory

And then the rest of the tastelessness - I'm fairly certain a nine year old isn't at all involved in beer cozies saying "I drink like a girl, keep up!" etc.


So is your problem that the money is going towards a training course, or is your problem that she could have raised the money some other way?

Where is the fraud, by the way? What is she lying about? Are the people who are choosing to give their money to this being totally fooled and they think their money will be spent on something completely different?


I'd read the course was already paid for before the mom started the Kickstarter, and in their TOS it says you can't use it for "fund-my-life" and charity purposes.


As I read the front page, it looks like a small amount (deposit?) has been paid and 1098 dollars are left to pay. I'm going purely on information on the front page; the rest of it is comments and people's private investigations and all sorts of other stuff with, frankly, as much weight as the front page itself.

I suspect a great deal of people's upset is caused by the fact that her mother could afford it. I've got no personal issue with people raising funds however they can. Other people's opinions differ, of course.

I don't consider a training course necessary to create the product "fund my life", but again other people do. Presumably they'd be happy with a mountain of textbooks and some expensive hardware (although some of them complain that she intends to also buy a laptop, brilliantly on the grounds that it's a common item in their particular social environment, which presumably means that it's something they had to buy with their own money so why should she get one for free).


My problem is rich people soliciting donations for their selves (under the sneaky implication they are somebody who needs this).

As to Fraud from the Kickstarter: "My goal is to raise $829 to cover the cost of RPG Camp." The fraud is the implication the girl needs the money and won't get to go if we don't fund it. Or any implication this will help other girls than this one. Additional fraud is the Kickstarter is being run by a minor who can't enter into contracts, set up Amazon/Paypall accounts and so on.

I guess it isn't fraud if you have enough after the fact apologists.


Isn't much of Kickstarter rich people seeking donations for themselves? It's not like Peter Molyneux, a multi-millionaire, needed to get Kickstarter donations, but he did anyway. Presumably he just didn't want to spend his own money on building a game prototype.

I guess I'd leave it up to the funders of a particular project whether they think giving already-rich people more money is a good use of their own money. Some kind of mandatory disclosure of existing net worth could be an interesting twist, to make sure people aren't misled about the requester's existing financial situation. But I doubt KS would go for that.


I haven't paid a lot of attention to this, but I don't recall encountering either implication, and I do recall that the kickstarter is technically being run by the mother, who is of age.

Personally, this sounds like people engaging in heavy amounts of wishful thinking and poor reading comprehension, then blaming the other guy when they find out they got it wrong.


Is it still fraud if you announce it in big letters on the front page? If there is no deception involved?

"My problem is rich people soliciting donations for their selves (under the sneaky implication they are somebody who needs this)."

Are you by chance a citizen of a major first world country? If so, have you tried to do anything about this already? Major industries constantly take subsidies and kickbacks and all the rest of it that they don't need, with the money being funnelled to wealthy people. Have you written to your representative to ask about this? If not, maybe you could start there rather than here.


If you had a problem with the Kickstarter, why didn't you take it up with the person who started it? Since we're all supposedly against public shaming, I only think it's right that we DDoS your employer's network until they fire you.


Most millionaires become rich by keeping as much of their income as they can ... I guess it's easier if you're willing to give up a good reputation in the process. When I read the KS campaign, I thought it was a bit weird that the mom was obviously doing the writing, but I hadn't researched Susan Wilson at all. Maybe she was really just trying to show her daughter how to reach for her dreams but she'll have to be careful with the extra money or she'll teach her the wrong things. I'd suggest using the extra money to send needy kids to the computer camp.


If Kickstarter doesn't stop this sort of thing, it will soon be overrun with this sort of thing. I'm not necessarily against soliciting charity for those who may not deserve it (after all that would mean I'm against most non-profits in the USA), and there may be a sustainable business model for it somewhere else, but if this becomes "a thing" it will detract from the point of Kickstarter.


My opinion is that if this were a more sincere Kickstarter that focused on the child, I'd give it a pass. Instead it reads as a mother's ignorant views on sex and sexuality ironically being used to generate sympathy for gender issues and, ultimately, profit. She even manages to hate on developers by saying "as a businessperson" she feels like she's "at their mercy" instead of taking some responsibility and educating herself before hiring people she feels used by. She says she's glad her daughter's getting into it so she no longer feels swindled. What a great attitude to have about an entire industry and one's own willingness to learn.

Regardless of her wealth, I'm not cool with people taking advantage of Kickstarter by exploiting children, people with different lifestyles and serious social issues. Her Twitter campaigning illustrates her intentions even further.

An honest campaign would have been much more driven by the child. When I was this girl's age, I would have pounced at the chance to show people the nerdy stuff I was doing so I could prove how badly I wanted to go to a game dev summer camp, especially because I was a girl. If my mom put this together, I would have been embarrassed and ashamed.

Do away with the weird over-produced secret agent PowerPoint template of a presentation and ridiculous TLDR written by the mother. Do away with the weird marketing materials (a beer koozie that says "I drink like a girl, keep up!"?). Like any other gaming Kickstarter, I want to know more about what I can expect from this game rather than vague bullet-list promises to be "unlike other games", especially when the original cost was only going to cover 5 days of development. The girl has an entire diary of game ideas she could help sell herself with, but instead of substance I get to read trying-to-be-funny commentary not at all written by a 9-year-old.

Caine's Arcade (http://vimeo.com/40000072) comes to mind as a much better way to tell the story of a child's passion through their eyes.


Lemme give a counterpoint:

What if the lesson here were to teach how to raise money? What if it were to go through the actual process of building a game (which includes far more than just writing the game)? Instead of looking at it as a scam, this is a mother who is trying to teach her daughter some valuable life lessons that I wish I learned when I was young (I'm male, but that's beside the point).

To put it in terms more germane to technology, she has a brilliant pitch (appealing to gender issues), really good reward items (lots of people get burned by underpricing those) and a really modest goal (even if she doesn't finish the game, everyone chipping money into the kickstarter feels good)


Is that how you want to teach your daughter how to make money? Throwing your own kin and women you see as lesser than you under the bus? Spamming people over Twitter and Facebook with those same hateful messages for attention? Guilt-tripping a young girl that she'll become some nameless plastic woman on an old guy's arm if she doesn't learn enough? It's shameful; putting one type of person above another is the exact opposite of appealing to gender issues. There's nothing wrong with being one of the women in the presentation if both parties agree to those terms; there are dating sites specific to it and some men (and women) honestly enjoy that role. Who are we to judge them? That whole part of her campaign is distasteful and doesn't do anything but emphasize discrimination. It has nothing to do with why that little girl should enjoy education and yet it was the most emphasized part of the video.

The rewards are continued proof that she has the means to fund the course herself. Having greater incentives means more people will pitch into her grand scheme of profiting off of above "gender issues".

There's no feel-goodery in helping a rich mom sell her daughter out when there are plenty of girls out there who want to do this without the money or mothers to exploit them.


"There's no feel-goodery in helping a rich mom sell her daughter out when there are plenty of girls out there without money or mothers to exploit them.'

If you didn't know the mother was rich, would you feel the same way? If the mother was destitute yet really creative, and wanted to teach the child certain lessons so that the child could avoid the same fate as the mother, would you be so offended?

"Spamming people over Twitter and Facebook for attention?"

When I was young, I used to go around town with a stapler and a bunch of flyers. Twitter and Facebook is the digital extension of that.

"That whole part of her campaign is distasteful and doesn't do anything but emphasize discrimination"

Suppose you wanted to teach your daughter the fundamentals of business. The fact still remains that there were at least 1100 people willing to chip money into that storyline. And if the lesson here is to find an underserved portion of the market and cater to them (many many many articles discussing this very matter brushed the front page), this project fits the bill.

"The rewards are continued proof that she has the means to fund the course herself."

To put it in perspective, many of the projects on kickstarter could have been funded by the project creators. The Tim Schafer kickstarter could easily have been funded by the man, yet I don't see anyone complaining about that.


> If you didn't know the mother was rich, would you feel the same way? If the mother was destitute yet really creative, and wanted to teach the child certain lessons so that the child could avoid the same fate as the mother, would you be so offended?

It would still be against the TOS, so yes. There was also a KS for an artist who was invited to an art show she was being shown in, but she wanted to take her daughter with her and the artist stipend didn't even cover her own costs, no less her kid's. She used the plea that "if her daughter didn't make it, it would break her heart because everything she does is for her daughter." By pulling people's heartstrings this way, she was able to get enough money to cover not only both of their trips, but some excursions around the city and an additional large-scale art piece for her to bring to the show. Again, against the TOS.

I'm also changing my initial view that even if it were more sincere, I'd allow it. I don't believe that anymore. Indiegogo exists to fill the gaps that Kickstarter does not and allows for things like this. I think the benefit of trying to use KS over IGG is that more people know about it and are therefore more willing to put money into it.

To your point about a mother trying to give your child access to extracurricular activities, most of them have means for low-income parents to get their children into those classes.

> When I was young, I used to go around town with a stapler and a bunch of flyers. Twitter and Facebook is the digital extension of that.

Unobtrusive flyers aren't the same thing as soliciting door-to-door. The only reason this is getting so much media attention is because she's sending this story to all of the outlets she can.

> Suppose you wanted to teach your daughter the fundamentals of business.

"Please keep in mind, we started this campaign to raise about $900 because Kenzie was going to camp and her brothers were asking why she was going to RPG camp b/c it's not like she was going to be able to make a good game. Together, Kenzie and I decided to do this campaign to prove to them that she was smarter than they thought and she deserved their respect."

It wasn't to teach her anything except that her brothers are bullies and people will gladly pay to make them look like the douchebags her mother has no issue portraying them as.

> The Tim Schafer kickstarter could easily have been funded by the man, yet I don't see anyone complaining about that.

Because part of using Kickstarter is to get an idea of if it's something people want in the first place. No one has any issue wanting more females in STEM fields, but this is still an inappropriate way of using the site.


"this is still an inappropriate way of using the site." "It would still be against the TOS, so yes."

Ultimately that's a question to be directed to kickstarter who, as far as I can tell, has to sign off on the projects before they show up on the site. Regardless of the scruples of the mother, the site still approved this project.

"It wasn't to teach her anything except that her brothers are bullies and people will gladly pay to make them look like the douchebags her mother has no issue portraying them as."

... or to teach her the importance of putting together a really compelling story to attract investors.

"Unobtrusive flyers aren't the same thing as soliciting door-to-door. "

Wait, are you saying that twitter and facebook are door-to-door solicitations? It's far closer to putting up flyers everywhere.


> Ultimately that's a question to be directed to kickstarter who, as far as I can tell, has to sign off on the projects before they show up on the site. Regardless of the scruples of the mother, the site still approved this project.

KS does a minor sweep to see if the project meets guidelines, but we've seen what they've allowed through before. It has been linked elsewhere in these threads, but this comment really sums up all of the reasons this woman and this campaign shouldn't exist - http://www.reddit.com/r/Games/comments/1awnzx/so_you_know_th...


After seeing the other cases, I'm inclined to agree with your mentality, although I really would like to see more KS oversight or at least more options to flag what seems to be a violation of TOS


Two questions:

- What do you think about the usage and portrayal of the sons here?

- What do you think of the $10K reward where the boys apologize?

Followup question depending on your answers:

- Do you approve of teaching about dishonesty by behaving dishonestly?

My own answers:

1) Disgusting and manipulative 2) I don't believe she would do that, but if she did then... 3) That's repulsive


We don't know the underlying family dynamic, but the storyline that is being sold here is:

- Girl proposes idea of making a game

- Brothers were skeptical: "She tried with my brothers but they weren't interested."

- Brothers challenged girl, maybe saying something like "you can't do it"

- Girl says "watch me!" and asks mother about going to this RPG camp.

So if you believe that actually happened, the $10K reward where the boys apologize is a really clever lesson. The girl gets her money and the boys lean a lesson about not being overly cynical (after all, someone would have given her $10K)

Of course we don't know what actually happened here.

So my answers are:

(assuming everything stated is true)

1) Disgusting and manipulative (I never would want to cast any of my children in a negative light)

2) Brilliant if it actually happens: no better time than now to stamp out cynicism and negativity

But of course, that assumes the story line is 100% true.

If it turns out not to be the case, then I agree that the entire situation soup-to-nuts is repulsive.


What do you think of the $10K reward where the boys apologize?

How much do we have to give for them to whip themselves like penitents while they apologize?


The only thing that -really- bothers me about this kickstarter is that people kept donating after it had passed its goal by such a ridiculous amount. I can understand it ending at a few hundred dollars more than they asked, but 20x the original asking amount? Really?

It's as if the people donating don't really care that donating more money may complicate things - they just want to donate so they can get their daily "I'm such a nice person" high.

I can't help but wonder whether or not this controversy would have even happened if the donators had stopped at the target amount of 800 dollars.


There are so many girls whose parents aren't millionaires who need our help that I am a little shocked that so many people were misled in backing this. I think Susan Wilson's comments on the kickstarter are a fine example of shooting yourself in the foot. It's actually a little funny to see the comments go from very positive at first to negative as more and more concerns are raised. It's She's clearly exploiting her children and the goodwill of the community. I'll be very surprised if Kickstarter doesn't put a stop to this very quickly.


some women would do anything for money.


Now I didn't, and wouldn't, say that. (That's a rather rude thing to say.)

I do think that Susan Wilson probably doesn't need the money. But more importantly, I think this kickstarter (and however much notoriety it generates) is more what Susan Wilson is after here. It's almost finely crafted to be controversial, just at an edge of what is acceptable, and will be something she can cite for the next decade in interviews. It's clear that this particular woman doesn't need the money, but the fame she generates in exploiting her child is priceless.

edit: for clarity


Yes, indeed, some people will do anything for money.

And, believe it or not, women are people too!


I don't think this is fraud, but I'm not sure it's currently allowed on Kickstarter. The problem is, this is "$829 so I can go to camp", not funding the game itself. So normally the excess money is explicitly for continuing to develop whatever is being funded, but in this instance that may be LIKELY but it's not explicit.

However, having a bunch of money and being able to afford something without Kickstarter is meaningless in this equation. The fact that the mom is a wealthy person has 0 pertinence.


The pitch copy explicitly says the money over the goal will go to extending her time at camp, up to the length of the entire summer.

I don't know how much that would cost, but I think we're probably past that now, and I don't see any indication what the rest will go towards.

I've wished in the past that Kickstarter required some sort of open accounting for projects funded through them. But in practice I don't know how that would work. There's no effective leverage outside of setting that as a standard. If someone didn't, nothing could be done other than community pressure.


I don't get it. Is it fraud because she already has enough money to pay for it, but opted to use Kickstarter instead?

How is that fraud? Is every millionaire startup founder who raises capital a fraud as well?


I think there's a fair bit of double standards here. Here's a short, by-no-means-exhaustive list of well received, wildly successful Kickstarter campaigns started by multi-millionaires who could've easily offered the funding themselves:

* Double Fine Adventure (Tim Schaefer): http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/doublefine/double-fine-a...

* Yogventures (the Yogscast): http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/winterkewlgames/yogventu...

* Veronica Mars Project (Rob Thomas or Kristen Bell): http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/559914737/the-veronica-m...

* Wasteland 2 (inXile Entertainment, run by Brian Fargo): http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/inxile/wasteland-2

* Torment (2nd Kickstarter run by inXile Entertainment, before even fulfilling Wasteland 2): http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/inxile/torment-tides-of-...

* Project Eternity (Obsidian Entertainment, a AAA games company, run by Chris Jones): http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/obsidian/project-eternit...

* Project Godus (22 Cans, run by Peter Molyneux): http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/22cans/project-godus?ref...

Why a nine-year-old girl and her ostensibly well-to-do mother get called out as "fraud" but not everyone else is something I don't really understand.


I figured out what bothers me about this Kickstarter- There's almost nothing about the actual "project", that is, the game.

This is all that's said about it:

"As I said in the video, I want to create an RPG that isn't too violent and isn't filled with bad words, still has a good story line & cool graphics, but has shorter cut scenes, less menus & fewer controls. And most importantly, I want a game that allows team members to face danger together and get hurt but doesn't kill team mates off & eliminate them from battle."

That's it.

There's tons and tons of stuff about...well, everything but the supposed project. The game itself is secondary, if that.

So it's hard for me to see how this is really about a project and not about sending someone to summer camp. If that's the case, it would seem to very clearly run against Kickstarter's rules.


I think that's a fair criticism: definitely one of the reasons why I didn't decide to back the project.

And I think the idea that this is may be really about paying tuition instead of finishing the game is something that's fair to report and let Kickstarter decide whether it violates their terms of use.

Overall, it looks like a bad Kickstarter campaign to fund, but it's not fraud and the level of vitriol about it is over the top. Bad Kickstarters happen all the time[1], but they don't get this crazy amount of hate.

[1]: http://www.reddit.com/r/shittykickstarters


You don't see the difference between millionaires asking for significant investment for viable products vs. a millionaire asking for $830 for her daughter's non-viable product/camp fee?


The product, like all the other games-related Kickstarter campaigns, is the completed game. The whole "my brothers were mean to me so I want to go to RPG camp to prove them wrong" is the interesting story to get people to fund it. That's just good fund-raising: don't just sell a product, sell a story.

Whether or not the product is viable or that the girl will be able to complete the game with the funding requested is solely up to the people deciding whether to back it: is a nine year old girl with no prior experience who has to get training in the meantime going to produce a compelling RPG?

It may be an unrealistic campaign, but it's not fraud.


I'd say soliciting money from others for an unrealistic campaign is tantamount to fraud.


So is Tim Schaefer's Double Fine Adventure, which is now 5 months behind schedule (and not even close to complete) and has been soliciting even more funding through its website since the Kickstarter campaign ended[1] also fraud? He created a Kickstarter campaign that turned out to be unrealistic both in time and cost.

Kickstarter campaigns are ventures, not stores[2]. Everyone involved knows that, or should know that. If you think any specific campaign is too risky, then don't back it, plain and simple. Explain why you don't think it's a realistic project. But running around saying this specific Kickstarter campaign is fraud because it was overfunded and could've been self-funded, but none of the other wildly successful campaigns are, is such a double standard.

[1]: http://www.doublefine.com/dfapay/

[2]: http://www.kickstarter.com/blog/kickstarter-is-not-a-store


First off, I said tantamount to fraud and you are the one who said "it may be an unrealistic campaign". And trust me, I believe many Kickstarters are pretty much scams and frauds, not just this one. But usually, that is just due to humans' natural tendency to plan over optimistically. This case is different. It goes directly against the rules of no tuition funding projects. It misrepresents itself by claiming to be about creating a game when it is really about funding camp tuition. The original Kickstarter says she is going to camp already and this is all to prove some nebulous thing to her brothers. This is obviously an extraordinary case.


I don't know what the net worth of Brian Fargo is, but I would imagine a not-insignificant part of it is invested in InXile. He's also pledged 100k toward their current Kickstarter, Tides of Numemera. And I'd imagine the ratio the cost of a game to to his net worth is wildly different than the ratio of paying for your own child to attend RPG camp to Susan Wilson's net worth


I imagine a fair amount is wrapped up in inXile, but he is a millionaire several times over: he's the founder of Interplay, which went IPO in 1998 when he owned 45% of the company and he left in 2002, long before Interplay started tanking.

To be clear: I think it was a smart move for him—regardless of his net worth—to use Kickstarter, and I think it's an even smarter move—PR-wise at least—to put some of his own money into the Kickstarter (albeit in the end a bit pointless: he could've just cut that amount off the top of the asking amount). I just think it's silly to think people who can self-fund can't use it.


The problem is that hat the money goes into the mom's pocket and that rpg maker doesn't cost millions like examples you gave do.


She didn't ask for millions, she asked for $829 and clearly specified where the money would go. It got overfunded. That's what happens with successful Kickstarter campaigns because there are no caps.

Any of the people I mentioned could've easily fronted the amount they asked for, but they didn't, and that's fine: running a Kickstarter campaign means less personal risk, more publicity, and a chance to hit the lottery with overfunding. It's not fraud.


I can understand why people would think this is an inappropriate use of Kickstarter (I thought the Death Star crap was annoying), but the level of righteous indignation and hyperbole on this topic is extraordinary.

Not the first time this week HN has embarrassed itself, mind.


I think most people think they are donating to somebody who needs it or to a camp itself. Not to a single person. I presume that is how they got $22,000 in commitments for a $900 fee. That is the fraud. And the "it isn't fraud because it was written the kickstarter was pointless." That just makes it a particular type of fraud.


What made you arrive to that conclusion? The kickstarter text makes it clear it's going towards this girl's camp fees and a laptop.


I don't think this is fraud.

Looks to me like a mom & daughter made something together and put it on the internet.

I live in an affluent part of San Francisco (Noe Valley) and last week saw lots of rich moms selling girl scout cookies with their daughters, mom doing all the "work." Is that fraud?

Also, nowhere do I see anything in the article (or the CNN article it links to) about the mom's finances. Just because you have a business does not mean you're rich -- it often means the contrary.


"last week saw lots of rich moms selling girl scout cookies with their daughters, mom doing all the "work." Is that fraud?"

Good strawman.

Of course, girl scout money goes to the Girl Scouts, and not the parents or the kids. Whereas, the money collected from this kickstarter goes into Mom's pocket.

So they aren't really he same at all. Of course you knew that.


The moms told me that about 20% goes to the Girl Scouts and the troop keeps 80%.


The local Girl Scout troop. ie: a local branch of the Girl Scouts. That changes absolutely nothing about my criticism of your post.


“Just because you have a business does not mean you're rich -- it often means the contrary.”

Very true, but that’s not the card she’s playing on her corporate website:

“Prior to starting The Judgment Group, Susan was a founding member and the Executive Vice President of a technology startup that raised $12 Million in venture capital, became kinkos.com, and was sold in 2000 to the copy giant Kinko’s for $100 Million.” [1]

It could be that she had no shares and didn't gain anything from the deal, but at the very least, she included the experience to appear that she gained from it.

[1] http://www.judgmentgroup.com/About_Us.html


Fraud requires a lie, which I don't see. Apparently "fraud" now means doing something that you don't like.

Personally, I think this could be great, if the parents are doing it properly. The daughter is learning how to achieve her goals with assistance from other people who give willingly, instead of mooching off mom and dad. A lot of children are lucky if they can manage to learn this lesson by the age of 18 (or later... I wasn't exactly an early bloomer here myself), and, managed well, this kid is going to have a good handle on it much faster than that.


It's a lie by omission. As a backer, you're missing a critical piece of information which would cause a lot of people not to fork over their cash. The only hint you get that mommy is not living from government handouts is that it's said she "sometimes has to hire programmers and developers for her work", and that she is a "business person", which might as well mean a freelance web developer struggling to make ends meet.

So what is little Mackenzie Wilson learning? How to achieve her goals "with assistance from other people"? Or that you can find plenty of suckers on the Internet if you pull on their heartstrings just enough?


The default assumption now is that people are living off government handouts until proven otherwise? Huh?


The default assumption is that, when you have to ask money from strangers to fund your kid's holidays, you're not flush with money. I used "government handouts" to drive the point home.


Everyone is focussed a bit too literally on the word "fraud" when it's more about the fact that a 9 yr old did not come up with this: http://i.imgur.com/F03oG3e.png. Which begs the question, how much money is mom going to pocket from this?

The 9 yr old is also not spamming celebs & women's groups on Twitter - http://i.imgur.com/b4l2fI2.png.


Girl scout cookies don't cost $21,000+ and neither does RPG camp. You're right, it's probably not fraud, but it is a publicity stunt at Kickstarter's expense. I agree a good petition would be to redirect the funds to a real charity or cause.


A non-fraud would have promised excess collected to other children and causes.


Perhaps the proper appropriation of the raised money is a better thing to petition for than the campaign's banning?


Older siblings tend to give little siblings a hard time in general, regardless of their gender.

This is most definitely a publicity stunt at Kickstarter's expense. Millionaire's begging others to fund their child's camp is not something you see every day, and it most certainly doesn't belong on Kickstarter.


This reddit post sums up everything wrong with this, quotes the broken KS rules, and links to evidence: http://www.reddit.com/r/Games/comments/1awnzx/so_you_know_th...


Just skimmed the article and kickstarter page so maybe this is addressed already: (speculation) surely this isn't about the money, it's about publicity for the game camp? They don't need the money if her profile is to be believed (although the amount of supposed millionaires around that are dirt poor means it's plausible she isn't rich). She probably has some connection with the game camp.

Edit: actually I want to revise that statement, on looking through her website links I think it's more likely this is advertising for her, she's trying to build a brand. I assume she'll go a long way off the back off "next on USA Today, the crowd-sourcing mom!" or something. She's got her own female entrepreneur thing at fundher.com. Maybe that's it.


Then why don't they collect money for the camp instead of for themselves?


That sounds pretty plausible. Make a great example of crowd funding for Moms, then turn around and pump your crowd funding business.


Conversation already running here:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5427771

and here:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5425235

and probably elsewhere as well.


Out of curiosity, are you in any way affiliated with this Kickstarter? Your comment history shows 10 comments on the topic so far, mostly siding with the mother.


If your opinion was on the side of the mother wouldn't you find yourself commenting quite a few times given the bombard of comments on the other side, without the need for a hidden agenda?


Given the comments made, GP has a valid question.


If I was with Kickstarter, I'd simply tell you the official position and none of these threads would have happened.

I certainly wouldn't be engaged in this kind of back and forth when we'd have a company policy on it and probably someone whose job is to monitor and manage this kind of public discussion.


I submitted it in good faith.

I didn't see it and I didn't try to alter URLs. And I don't want or need the Karma. I don't think it is getting enough attention, so I am trying to help.

Now that I have checked. The others submissions really didn't point out the kickstarter wasn't benefitting anyone but one rich girl. $20,000 for many girls would be a good cause, but this is very much not.



I don't know if it is alright but i made a new news item of this with a clear call to action and hope we can take this project off kickstarter. let's get it done, hack0rs


Save Kickstarter from scam - report this fake sexist project (kickstarter.com)


It's not fraud simply because the mother is a millionaire. But it's probably against Kickstarter's policies nonetheless:

> Kickstarter does not allow charity, cause, or "fund my life" projects.

I suppose one could construe summer camp tuition as "training" and the new laptop she'll be getting (see "Where is the money going" section) as equipment costs. But that's really not what is happening.


For those wondering if kickstarter will do anything about this:

It's pretty clear that kickstarter is happy with getting the 5% cut, and I wouldn't be surprised to see more of this in the future.


Yup. Just as eBay doesn't care about shill bidders that bid up the price, Kickstarter doesn't ~really~ care about their users getting scammed through violations of their TOS as long as they make their cut.


This is not fraud. If the basis of the campaign were that her family is just too poor to send her, that would be fraud. But that is clearly not in there. As far as whether she needs it or not, many kids with rich parents don't get to enjoy that money. Some rich parents are just downright cheap and selfish, and others want to teach their kids the value of a dollar. My guess is that the daughter asked for the money, and mom wanted to teach her how to go out and get it instead of just asking her. They worked together and created a successful campaign.

The people calling this fraud are jealous. They look at their own kickstarter campaigns that aren't nearly as successful and wonder why they haven't been as "lucky". Looks like the mother is successfully teaching her daughter how to make her own luck, and that isn't a bad lesson to learn.


I agree. The net worth of the mother does not somehow make it more of a fraud than if the family genuinely couldn't afford the tuition.

However, from Kickstarter's policies:

> Kickstarter does not allow charity, cause, or "fund my life" projects.

Summer camp tuition (plus a new laptop) are not good enough as a project goal, IMO, and may very well violate Kickstarter's policies.


"and others want to teach their kids the value of a dollar"

In this case, the value of a dollar being "I'll overproduce a PowerPoint, spam some celebrities and women's groups on Twitter, we'll include a few pictures of you being all cute and smiling, and people will just throw money at you!"

"They worked together" - BS. Their merchandise includes beer coolers with adult slogans. Their marketing includes spamming of women's rights groups, and celebrities. You don't honestly believe that this was driven by the nine year old, and not her multimillionaire debt collecting mom, who made her initial fortune squatting on kinkos.com, do you?


>In this case, the value of a dollar being "I'll overproduce a PowerPoint, spam some celebrities and women's groups on Twitter, we'll include a few pictures of you being all cute and smiling, and people will just throw money at you!"

In today's world, this actually seems to be correct.


I am a backer of this project, and after reading this post I am still very happy to be involved.

There is so much involved in this project that simply isn't financial.

Going through the process of putting up the Kickstarter project creates accountability and motivation for Mackenzie to actually build and finish the game because she now has a group of people cheering her on from the sidelines.

To me this is exactly what Kickstarter is about: supporting creative endeavors. The financial aspect of it is secondary...don't you think Kirsten Bell could just bankroll the $2m Veronica Mars movie herself? Probably. But with Kickstarter you get the benefit of a built-in support group, and I am just as happy to support Mackenzie whether she's from a rich or poor family.


This mom previously tried to raise $20k to make...capes. How much of this $20k+ do you think the 9 yr. old is getting? She's also spamming celebs and women's groups on twitter - http://i.imgur.com/b4l2fI2.png.

I'd be happy to back a child interested in tech but I don't think her daughter made this - http://i.imgur.com/F03oG3e.png.


...don't you think Kirsten Bell could just bankroll the $2m Veronica Mars movie herself?

Why on earth would anyone think that? It isn't hard to find out what work she's done [0]: on that page, I see a bunch of guest appearances on TV, roles in a few movies I've never heard of, and a starring role on one TV series, to which she was signed when absolutely unknown. (Unknown actors signed to new programs are typically locked in for years of low pay, because they're "lucky to be working at all".) Also she is listed as producer of one minor movie and one planned movie.

I certainly hope Ms. Bell has good financial habits, but I don't see how she could have saved $.2M from this body of work, let alone $2M, especially while living in Hollywood.

[0] http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0068338/


"Going through the process of putting up the Kickstarter project creates accountability and motivation for Mackenzie to actually build and finish the game because she now has a group of people cheering her on from the sidelines."

Guess you missed the part that originally, there was absolutely no mention of a game or result in the rewards - that was only added after the tornado touched down.


This comment on Reddit is quite interesting: http://www.reddit.com/r/Games/comments/1awnzx/so_you_know_th...


Strong argument for a 'maximum' cap on kickstarter funding.


How would it be decided, though? By the person posting the Kickstarter? Despite claiming to be about raising less than $1,000 this Kickstarter allotted up to 5 rewards for $10,000 donations -- so I'm going to guess in this case they wouldn't have voluntarily put a sane cap on this.


It could be a multiple of the original amount, perhaps. That is, at a 2x multiple, say, an attempt at raising $800 could go no further than $1600.


Terrible idea. That would have severely impacted all of the high-profile projects to date.

Whoa, HN double-posted my comment. Never seen that happen before.


The thing is, the big heavily funded projects I can recall all got to that stage by essentially selling something (the OUYA stands out in this regard). And Kickstarter now seem to be making the point that it's not about selling stuff but just raising enough to produce something you can sell separately later. So while I don't actually agree with my own idea, it would seem to fit with the new line of thinking over there IMHO.

(Happens to me every now and then, but the software is smart enough to [dead] the dupes, somehow.)


Sure, they sold something. This is the first "high-profile" (whereby that I mean I'm actually seeing it on HN or some other aggregator that I read) Kickstarter I've seen that isn't really about the actual thing being created. That said, backers are actually getting a copy of the game, plus other perks, just like any other video game kickstarter. The only reason there's any controversy seems to be the fact that the mother in question could presumably have afforded to do this without the kickstarter. But as others have said, just because she could have afforded to do this another way doesn't make the kickstarter somehow wrong.

(And yeah, HN did [dead] the dupe, which I then deleted, I've just never had this happen before).


Let's look at this from a game theory point of view. A self-imposed cap is a signal to potential contributors that you don't intend for this particular project to exceed some specific aim.

Sending this signal lets contributors differentiate between these types of kickstarters, which seems to be the problem here.


Why? It's not like the people who caused this to go way past the goal had no idea that they had exceeded the original goal. Kickstarter makes it perfectly clear how much money has been raised so far, and what the goal is.


It's not like you can stop it happening either.


Can't really see the fraud here.


Fraud? No. Distasteful, dishonest, stupid and incredibly callous? Yes.


Why was the title rewritten and the thread effectively killed?


If it's the mom saying "hey look kid you need to earn your way in this life, but if you really want to go to this camp, one thing you could try is kickstarter" then that's great! I had plenty of super wealthy friends growing up and the ones that tended to be of solid character had parents that led them in such ways. Why does a parent having a ton of money necessarily mean the approach advocated for the child to take/learn should be different than for less wealthy parents?

Though I do agree kickstarter ought to disallow this sort of thing regardless.


Brilliant way to capitalize on recent news by this mom. Smart lady. Her daughter will be thrilled when she finds out enough money was raised for her to attend the camp. As for the rest of the money...


they have spent more than 1000$ to pay for the video and want less than 1000$ funding. clearly marketing for mothers business



oh my...


i just contacted kickstarter via email.

i hope they take down this cheating fraud bitch. she has a lot of nerve to be so blatantly stealing other people's hard earned money.


Is it still theft if you tell them in advance what you want it for and they choose to give it to you? Our judicial system says no, but your opinion is considered valid too!


A thief is a thief, it doesn't matter if she pimps out her kids to Johns on the internet willing to pay the cash for a fuck. As long as she takes the money she is guilty, and human trash too.


Perhaps you don't know what theft is. Theft is taking something that belongs to someone else (without permission) with the intent of keeping it.

She is not taking anything. People are choosing to give her money. She's not (obviously) defrauding anyone either; she explained what the money is going towards. Maybe it is all a scam and she doesn't exist and it's going on coke n' hookers, but you don't know that any more than I do.

You, however, don't like this, and you don't like that people are choosing to give her some money, but you are unable to express yourself clearly.

All you have is your pathetic rage and your inability to explain what you don't like about the situation. Does it make you feel like a big man? Are you going to start issuing death threats now? You're safe to do that; this is your new throwaway account, yes? So you can let you inner rage out without losing any of your precious social approval.


What about those people who invest money in an unknown ponzi scheme? Bernard Madoff stole billions yet the victims gave to him willingly.


Am I really going to have to be an online dictionary? That's fraud.


He lied. She didn't.


You are adding nothing here. Please leave.




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