A few days ago, I complained openly about how irritated I was with Bountee’s exclusivity with a post called Bountee doomed to fail. Sometime in the wee hours last night, Steve from Bountee left the following comment on that post:
Itâ€™s Steve from Bountee here – and I just wanted to say a few words in response to your post if I may.
Firstly, youâ€™re right.
Itâ€™s too much of an autocratic process at the moment and weâ€™re working on a more â€˜community ledâ€™ solution as I type.
We have been quite simply swamped with the number of designs that we have received; but that hasnâ€™t been the issue. What we have been more than a little surprised at is the content of a lot of these â€˜designsâ€™. Something which we had hoped that limiting our submissions to SVG only would have gone some way to resolve.
Over the weekend we received submissions that included (the perhaps obvious) crudely drawn penises, blatantly copyrighted imagery, text with arabic script (which we didnâ€™t have translated) alongside celebratory pictures of the twin towers burning, white power slogans and various levels of offensive material too numerous to mention.
We also fell victim to a lot of people testing out the the system with clipart and similar style artwork.
It appears that your line drawing fell foul to an over zealous team.
We havenâ€™t been transparent with our process – and that is a mistake (hindsight is a great thing right? :/ ) but just so that you know; every design is approved (or not) by a chain of individuals and the majority decision of this â€˜groupâ€™ is taken as the final decision of approval. Quite how your design didnâ€™t make it through the process is unclear to me – and Iâ€™ll be sure to go off and check – but we had hoped and still, genuinely believe that for the moment this is a system that is working â€˜okâ€™ for now.
Weâ€™re sorry that it has resulted in some â€˜rogueâ€™ refusals and we are frantically trying to make the whole thing more robust.
What I will say – in our defense though – is that we are literally 1 week old, and are not a multi-million dollar funded company with cash reserves and allusions to a fancy, cash rich exit strategy. Weâ€™re just a couple of guys who built a t-shirt site in our spare time and who wanted to share it with our peers.
And I hope that weâ€™ll learn as much as we share.
Apologies accepted! Here’s my unasked for recommendations:
1. Start a Bountee blog and be entirely and totally transparent about what you’re dealing with.
2. Don’t make excuses about being just a couple of guys. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak were once just a couple of guys building computers in their garages.
3. Build a community. Rather than policing each individual design, police the accounts. Make a clear set of rules about what is and what is not considered appropriate behavior for your community. Allow everything to be added as a shirt design, but only feature the shirts of people you handpick / who have been voted on by the community as cool shirt designs. If someone uploads something that violates your terms of service (like a penis or the twin towers burning etc etc) then ban the account (and thereby automatically eradicate their designs from your system) and blog about it without pointing fingers directly identifying the culprit (i.e., “Today someone uploaded Goatse, which clearly violates our ‘NO Goatse’ clause, so we had to ban that person’s account.”)
4. Rethink your rejection copy. It’s really off-putting right now with the lovey dovey robots playing thought police.