Another look at crowdfunding data

In relation to the post on Vox Day’s comic being pulled from IndieGoGo and whether there were financial shenanigans, I thought I’d grab some data. Unfortunately, because the dodgy comic has shelved, the contribution data is no longer available at the IndieGoGo site. However, a different “Arkhaven” (aka Castalia House, aka Vox Day’s vanity press) comic still has a live campaign. This one is being run by Timothy’s number 1 client, Jon Del Arroz.

Contribution data is available by looking at the list of backers. Not all backers are named (which is fair enough) and not all backers reveal how much they contribute (also fair enough – not trying to invade anybody’s privacy). For those backers who don’t reveal how much they gave publically, the overall total can be inferred by subtracting the amount raised by people who do show their contribution from the complete amount raised. For convenience, I’ve shared that between all the backers who didn’t list an amount (of course, in reality, some may have given a lot less or a lot more).

NOTE: I’m using this just as an example of crowdfunding data. I’ll point out interesting or notable features but 1. I’m not saying they are evidence of anything dodgy and 2. to make any such claim would require looking at many other campaigns to get a sense of what was typical v unusual. Also, while many names are given publically at the site, no names should be referred to in the comments etc aside from the organiser.  Lastly I may have made errors 🙂


There were four donations that were set as “Private” and they occurred “24” and “23” days ago (the data on the site is given in that format – I’ve inferred dates). Together they amount to $70 or $17.50 each i.e. unremarkable*.

The graph looks like what I might expect. I guess some campaigns might be more S shaped with a slow start and then a steeper climb before tapering off. Yet, campaigns with a big burst of contributions in the first few days and then a slow increase after makes sense also. I would imagine campaigns that run a danger of just falling short of their target goal might show a big blip near the end as the campaign makes one last push. For comparison here is a graph I drew of a different style of campaign: (it looks smoother because I spread some of the day-by-day data out artificially).

The biggest contributions were from five people who gave $515 each. That’s a curious amount, particulalry as the tier reward is at $500 and there’s no other donation values around that size i.e. everybody who gave a lot of money gave exactly the same amount. How weird is that? I don’t know, hence my caveat above. That maybe something that happens a lot with crowdfunding campaigns or maybe it’s really weird. Drawing conclusions about what’s weid requires data from more campaigns but also models to compare data against. For example, there’s no tier reward between $150 and $500, so it is not actually surprising that there’s no contributions at around $200 or $300.

Even so, around the $150 tier there is a lot more variation. Like I said, I don’t have a theoretical distribution to compare this against but while there’s more kinds of values they are still oddly clumped to my eye:

  • 2 at $172
  • 3 at $170
  • 2 at $167
  • 1 at $165
  • 18 at $162 (?!?)
  • 6 at $160
  • 0 at $150

I’ve no idea why exactly $162 is so popular. Perhaps it is a round number contribution in some other currency (don’t know what though – doesn’t match Euros or Canadian $) It doesn’t seem to match a combination of tier rewards either.

This graph shows the frequency of each of the 23 different sizes of amounts that were contributed and how much money was raised by that category. Bars are numbers of people and green dots are totals amount of money. ($18 is actually $17.50 and that’s actually the “Private” amount and hence should be taken with a pinch of salt).


I’d have expected something a bit more Pareto like I guess.

So, no big conclusion just that there’s stuff to look at and with enough background data of similar campaigns it would be plausible to spot campaigns that were distinctly unusual.

*[Speaking of errors, in the first graph I drew I’d calculated these ‘Private’ amounts incorrectly by using the Goal of the campaign instead of the total raised. Luckily I spotted my error before making a fool of myself.]


15 thoughts on “Another look at crowdfunding data

  1. $515 is $500 + 3%, and I’ve contributed via some sites which say “add 3% to help cover costs of running this site?” so I went through the preliminary process of donating to a project, but it didn’t ask me to do that.

    I find it very strange that there would be recurrences of these bizarre odd amounts. It certainly does look suspect to me. I would expect that almost everyone will donate at the level of the perk they want, not some random number a bit higher than that. It really looks like someone is funding themselves and erroneously thinking that if they use random amounts, it won’t be obvious what they’re doing — whereas in a perk-driven campaign, you would absolutely expect almost no donations of random amounts.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Actually, it may be currency exchange. If some of these donations are coming from people using a currency in Euros or pounds, etc., then they make a donation of a rounded amount in their own currency, like say 100, and the currency exchange into U.S. dollars might then be US$162. So if you get several people using one particular currency on the same day or close to it, the exchange might then produce the same, not rounded amount in US$.

    I only bring this up because I’ve had my husband withdraw cash from ATM’s while traveling in foreign countries and that often creates the same, uneven amount in dollars, like three withdrawals of $274.57, and so forth. I don’t know how they process payments through IndieGoGo, though, so it may not apply.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. $15 is the amount they add for shipping to the US on that tier, so it really does seem that there are 5 lunatics willing to blow $500 on some tat and some signed books.

        Liked by 3 people

  3. The top graph looks like what I’d expect: big push at the start, then a steady rate later, with occasional bumps as maybe PR kicks in for a day here and there.

    The odd matching amounts would seem to indicate more than one person from the same country donating the same and then either currency exchange, the added 3% to pay for the service, and shipping. If you were going to juice the numbers, you’d use slightly different, even more random amounts. Say $161, $168, $171, etc. Even Jon’s smart enough to do that, if he was cheating.

    As this isn’t taken from a random sampling of humankind, I wouldn’t necessarily expect it to follow Pareto, insofar as I understand it, which is that I read the Wiki entry. The reward tiers would also bias that.

    So this looks legit, and hasn’t been shut down.

    You’d have to look at all the IGG campaigns (or have an algorithm that does) to know what is and isn’t shenanigans. Presumably IGG has just such a program that throws up a caution flag to get a real person to look at it and make the decision. A real person would have looked at Teddy’s dodgy one that was shut down and said “Whoa, that looks like self-funding, who is this? (googles) Oh, THAT asshole. BOOM.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I spent a good amount of time searching to see if 162 or a number in the 100s that could reach 162 with shipping charges could be part of the alt-right-osphere like fourteen and eighty-eight are, but no luck there.
      ** inserts Freemason sign-off code :::: **

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I’ve been getting the impression that Vox is feeling some financial squeezing. His confederate Roosh Valizadeh recently suspended the obnoxious ‘Return of Kings’ site because he couldn’t afford to keep it going anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. $515 is almost certainly $500 + delivery.

    I’m guessing that the cluster just above $150 are $150+delivery to a variety of different countries.

    Also, the way these things work, sometimes you can pledge in another currency based on the exchange rate on the date of the pledge, but it’s then converted to the target currency (ie USD in this case) on the exchange rate at the current rate. That’s an easy way to end up with lots of payments that are $1 or $2 away from a tier figure.

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