Kickstats: Do Private Profiles Matter?

Kickstats: Do Private Profiles Matter?

Photo by Dayne Topkin on Unsplash


A few months ago, a Twitter friend of mine made an interesting statement:

It got me thinking. Is that a common pet peeve? Are there other ways a private profile might hurt your chance of success? Does it affect anything enough to even be noticed?

Well, that's what I'd like to find out in this post!


On one hand, David makes a great point. A private profile blocks other Kickstarter users from seeing what projects you've backed. If another creator wants to return the favor and back your project, having a private profile makes it much more difficult to verify that you actually did back their campaign.

Private profiles also give the impression that either (a) you haven't really done your Kickstarter homework to realize that your profile is private by default, or (b) you don't really care about being a transparent creator. And if there are two things that Kickstarter backers value above all else, it's transparency and homework. Now, is it always true that private profiles mean a lack of planning and transparency? Of course not, but you have to admit those assumptions are understandable.

On the other hand, private profiles still let others see how many projects you've backed, even if they can't see what they are. So as long as you've backed at least a few campaigns, you should remove any negative effects of looking too self-centered. Maybe that's enough to counteract the negative effects of a private profile.


Thankfully, separating campaigns by the creator's profile being public or private when they launched is pretty straightforward. There's not really a lot of extra explaining to do with this one, so lets get right into graphing the raw numbers. As usual, these success rates are for all finished Kickstarter projects that have launched year-to-date 2020.

Kickstarter profile privacy vs success rate

So it does appear that creators with private profiles do worse on average than their public counterparts. Before we end there, however, we still need to look at any possible lurking variables that could be confounding these results.

First-time Creators

We've already shown that the number of projects you've launched affects your current campaign's chance of success. What I'm willing to bet here, though, is that first-time creators are also more likely to have private profiles. If that's true, then that means being a first-time creator is linked to both success rates and profile privacy, which makes it a potential lurking variable.

Previous Kickstarter campaigns vs percentage of private profiles

There's not a huge difference, but it's big enough where I lean toward accounting for it just to be on the safe side.

Number of Projects Backed

My last blog post already showed that a creator's profile privacy and the number of projects they've backed are linked both to each other and to success rates, so I won't rehash that part of the analysis here. All we need to know is that these two metrics are very likely confounding each other, so we'll definitely need to account for that as well.


After adjusting for the above two factors using a statistical method called "Coarsened Exact Matching" (which sounds scarier than it is), and then normalizing the results against the raw data, we can now say with reasonable confidence just how much having a private profile affects your campaign's success.

 Kickstarter creators with public profiles are more successful


I knew private profiles would hurt your chance of success, but I honestly wasn't expecting the effect to be quite this large! 7% is pretty substantial, and remember, that's after accounting for first-time creators and the number of projects you've backed!

Now, although it wouldn't surprise me that just the simple act of switching from a private profile to a public one does help your campaign, I highly doubt that the switch alone - without any other changes - is the real driving force here. What I believe this analysis shows us is just how much Kickstarter backers value transparency and even the smallest amount of homework before you launch your campaign. Backers want to know that you've planned, that you understand how Kickstarter works, and that you won't just disappear if the project goes south.

Anything you can do to help reassure them of those things could be what makes or breaks it with your project's success.


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David Miller

David Miller

What a great article and impressive stats wrangling (I have no idea what that stuff means, but I also have no doubt that you know what you’re doing).

Now you may have said this in a way that went over my head but . . .

Does this one thing, profile visibility also possible link to a person who has done more research (I suppose that’s in the “homework” category).

Not only does a person like me explore the in-and-outs of Kickstarter but I do—what seems like—a tremendous amount of online self-education. Standard things like reading all of Stegmaier’s posts, reviewing the writings of the late-great James Mathe, and just general BGG and online searching.

Does all this i-dotting and t-crossing also mean you value the info you share in the Kickstarter campaign?

For example, we paid a professional editor 7 hours of her time to edit our Mini Apocalypse campaign. Her editing doesn’t make up for our somewhat hoaky, but genuine, home spun content. But does that attention make a difference overall?

I dunno the answers to any of that and so many factors play into it all.

It’s really nice to read your post and break it down to discreet elements, makes it far more approachable from my perspective moving forward.

I’ll certainly rethink our page for Mint Tin LunaSyr which has been in the works for a year now (the page itself!).

Thank you for re-framing my perspective, not just about profiles, but overall. That’s quite a nice thing you’ve done—thank you! =)



I’m glad you enjoyed the post!

As to your question about profile visibility and outside research; I’m willing to bet that profile visibility does link to creators that have done more research or “homework”. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of the topics I’ve already covered are quite closely linked to creators that have done a lot of outside research.

Unfortunately, “how many blogs has this creator read?” or “how much planning have they done?” are almost impossible to get data on, so we’ll forever be stuck with using these metrics as proxies.

Essentially, we have a list of things that really cause success/failure, and a list of things that we can actually measure, and those two lists don’t often overlap, so we have to create some kind of mapping between the two and hope we got it right.

Does a creator have experience? → How many projects have they launched before?
Does a creator value community? → How many other projects have they backed?
Does a creator value transparency? → Is their profile private?

And so on. The hope is that, eventually, we have so many proxies that are all confirming similar results that we start to get a clear picture of what a good creator/campaign really looks like.

Red Cap Tom

Red Cap Tom

Hey David,

Tom from the Shopify forums here – happy to see that these blog comment notifications work!

Or rather, would be happy once you ping back and let me know!



David Miller

David Miller

Hi Red Cap Tom,

Which David are you giving a shout out too?

I use Shopify as our storefront and it works well (plus, I’m Canadian and like that Shopify is too! I lived in outside Aylmer across the Ottawa river from you and went to the University of Ottawa).

a David =)



I guess the two David’s thing might be a little confusing, haha!

Tom was helping me figure out how to get a notification system setup to alert me when any of my articles get a new comment. Right now, Shopify doesn’t have that feature built in, so I almost missed the original comment you wrote on this article. It took a little bit, but I think everything is running smoothly now!

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