Seth Godin posted an appropriate warning to crowdfunders on his blog today.

While not directed specifically at crowdfunders, it’s a lesson anyone thinking about crowdfunding their project should be both aware and cautious of.

In his post, Seth talks about favours and the social contract they create – you do one for me, I’ll do one for you. But the internet is encouraging people to break that contract.

What the person looking for the favor is doing is actually undoing the tacit agreement we all live by, by seeking a favor when the recipient has no real (social) choice in the matter.

Seth Godin,

Crowdfunding in its very essence is about just such a favour – it’s an advance transaction: if you give me money for my project I’ll give you something further down the line, such as a DVD, a T-shirt or a Thank You on the credits.

That’s the – very successful – model upon which crowdfunding is founded. And it works. But crowdfunders must always be aware of their commitments to their backers and the implicit social contract they’re drawing up.

Are your perks/rewards good enough? Are you offering enough of a “favour” – enough value – in return for the cold, hard cash you’re asking people to support you with?

Crowdfunding is – and will continue to be – a great resource, but if filmmakers fail to pay attention to the unwritten rules and contracts they are creating, we are heading for the school days situation of a few ill-disciplined people spoiling it for everyone else.

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