Re: Where's the incentive
@ Humpty McNumpty oh, no, I was totally trolling the dude. 100%. He'd been douching it up so hard by the time I got to the thread that I decided to poop on him. I never claimed to be holier than the others who dwell here. I'm just a little more self aware. Thus when I'm being a jackass it's usually on purpose.
He didn't just offer his opinion, he went after anyone who disagreed with him, and completely ignored the fact that there already exist alternatives that do what he wants. I see him as demanding Kickstarter change because he isn't satisfied with the existence of alternatives: he wants his view imposed on the market leader, because it's the market leader.
And because, apparently, he's channeling Carl Icahn.
Under that circumstance I feel zero remorse about trolling his ASCII. In fact, I rather enjoyed it. A++++++++ would troll again.
As for your concerns: Kickstarter has all sorts of rules and regulations to prevent "exploitative capitalism at it's worst." It is vicious about scams and cracks down on them hard. Frankly, that's why a lot of the other services sprung up: to get around Kickstarter's more restrictive rules and enforcement.
Is Kickstarter perfect? No. But I honestly don't think that government regulation will help here. I'm usually down with my socialist brethren, but in this case A) there's no evidence that the model is broken B) there's no evidence that Kickstarter isn't capable of self regulation and C) there's a hell of a lot of evidence that if any government tries to "regulate" this industry it will get a lot worse in a hell of a hurry.
You ask the following question: "why are we prepared to give other people money for them to turn into profit for themselves?"
The answer - quite simply - is "because if we don't then the thing we want to happen or be built won't happen or be built."
Kickstarter exists to fund projects and products that in all likelihood would never happen otherwise. It's naive to say that this is some sort of magic hand of the free market making a moral decision about who should or should not survive. Anti-competitive measures exist in the form of artificial barriers to entry raised though everything from regulation to vertical integration that prevents startups from being bootstrapped in any number of industries.
Let's try a small hypothetical scenario:
I really would like a glowing plant. In fact, I want a glowing plant quite a lot.
Now along comes a scientist that says he has the skill to make me a glowing plant, but not the startup capital to make it work. He needs a Big Pile Of Money if he is going to make glowing plants. Making just one is only slightly less expensive than making several thousand, so he decides that if he is going to do this, he's going to make a business out of it. Fair enough. I can respect that.
So he turns to Kickstarter. He says that if he meets his goal then he will be able to sell anyone a bag of glowing plant seeds for $50. He figures he needs $65,000 or this isn't getting off the ground. He offers various things to funders from a free plant to a vase made out of old lightbulbs to the grand prize of having their name spelled out in the DNA of the glowing plant for the person who ponies up $10,000.
If I fund the project to the tune of $40, I get a bag of glowing plant seeds when they're ready. That's $10 off from the sticker price I would pay if I never took part in the project at all. That sounds like a fair deal, so i could do that.
Instead, I choose to give him $500. Why? I really want that glowing plant. He needs to make it to $65,000 this is how much I can spare. Did I mention I want a glowing plant?
I am helping him fund his business and in return I will be getting something I desire: a glowing plant. There is no rational reason for me to expect to own a portion of his company. There was never an expectation that I would own a part of that company and I paid my money in full knowledge that all I was getting was a bag of glowing plant seeds.
That's all i wanted. I'd have paid more than $500 if I'd had it to pay.
I don't know if you've ever started a business. I have. It's expensive. Far more so than just the raw costs of materials. If you have a moral objection to people making a profit then I don't understand how you function in our society. Businesses make profit. It's how our whole society works.
I - one of the most socialist commenters on El Reg - don't have a problem with these folks making a profit. They make me a glowing plant, they get profit. Win, win.
The market will determine if the cost is fair. If the cost is not fair people won't pay it. Nothing on Kickstarter is a natural monopoly or a good you just can't live without. Thus nobody is forced to buy anything: they are paying only if they feel the price is fair.
Because of that I don't think regulation is rational or warranted. I also don't think it's warranted to think Kickstarter should change it's model or try to become "all funding things to all people" just because it has name recognition. That's like suggesting that Coca Cola should sell coffee because they have name recognition and you like coffee.
Of course, you know, there is a way to decide this. Go start an Indigogo to raise enough money to lobby Kickstarter to change it's business practices. Let the market decide if your idea is fair and worth the money.