Crowdfunding donations leap after bullying attacks

Anita Sarkeesian and Karen Klein have fond themselves in the middle of a whirl of crowdfund generosity after bullies attempted to intimidate and harass them.

Crowdfunding works not only for entrepreneur start up projects but it works really well for good causes too. Campaign sites such as Kickstarter, Rocket Hub and Quirky call on our generosity to get projects off the ground through microfunded donations.

Anita Sarkeesian needed funding for her Tropes vs Women in Video Games and asked to raise the cash through Kickstarter. Sarkeesian said she was:

‘Regularly disappointed in the limited and limiting ways women are represented’. Her video project will ‘explore, analyze and deconstruct some of the most common tropes and stereotypes of female characters in games.

The series will highlight the larger recurring patterns and conventions used within the gaming industry rather than just focusing on the worst offenders’.

She was subjected to a ‘coordinated online harassment effort including ‘a torrent of misogyny and hate speech’ on her YouTube video, as well as many threatening messages sent through Twitter, Facebook, Kickstarter, email and her own website.

She had hoped to raise $6,000 but raised $158,622 for her project.

Donations soared after the death of the London Marathon runner Claire Squires. She was running the London Marathon on behalf of the Samaritans charity.  Unfortunately she died before she could finish the race. So far, the donations on the site stand at almost £1 million.

People who might be unaware of crowdfunding, who are not specifically searching for donations can also find themselves in the middle of a storm of generosity. After a video showing abuse and bullying was posted on YouTube, donations have been pouring in to send a 68 year old bus monitor on holiday.

Karen Klein sits on the bus as a bus monitor in upstate New York. Middle school students recorded the stream of abuse directed at her for 10 minutes and posted it online. The video of the bullies taunting her went viral and support for her poured in from around the world.

The YouTube video makes for difficult viewing. Seeing fellow human beings behaving like pack animals is disturbing and unsettling. Klein is reduced to tears but behaves stoically throughout the taunting.

Although the bullies have been named online, Klein so far has decided not to press charges against her tormentors, some of whom are “deeply sorry”.  She did not want to respond as she reckoned that she 'probably would have been fired', and commented that everything they said was uncalled for.

However, others have been extremely generous in their support for her. The funding platform indegogo created a campaign page to support Klein and send her on vacation (in the video she is taunted for being poor).

The page has raised almost $500,000 so far with 29 days of the campaign to go.

It is hard to read trolling comments, and to view videos such as these, but sites like indegogo and kickstarter show that general public support transcends trolls, online and face to face bullies.

Karen Klein – I hope that you really enjoy the sum raised to send you on holiday. You deserve it for putting up with the abuse you suffered.

It is heartening to think that there are so many people who are trying to do the right thing -– and that they completely outnumber the haters, bullies and cyber cowards out there.