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Web-Based Crowd Funding: Rhetoric of Success

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Purpose: To identify the main rhetorical techniques actually used to secure investors' support in some of the most successful (most-funded) Web-based crowd funding projects. The study serves to bridge the gap between theoretical research of rhetoric and the needs of business communication practitioners by identifying the means of persuasion that can be used by online crowd funding entrepreneurs.

Method: Qualitative analysis of thirteen crowd funding project descriptions posted on a major Web site——was performed to identify specific rhetorical techniques via text coding. The sample included the most-funded projects to date, one from each of the thirteen project categories on Kickstarter. Aristotle's concept of ethos, pathos, and logos served as a basic framework for developing a more detailed classification of rhetorical means of persuasion used in the projects.

Results: The most-funded projects have been found to contain all three types of rhetorical appeals (ethos, pathos, and logos), subdivided into a total of twelve specific subtypes most commonly encountered in the descriptions from the sample. The subtype definitions have been developed and refined over the course of several reviews.

Conclusion: The research data made it possible to create a “rhetorical profile” of a successful crowd funding project description representing a summary of the rhetorical techniques identified during the study. Although this summary reflects a hypothetical all-inclusive case, it can be used as a benchmark when drafting crowd funding project descriptions. The study also identified specific directions for future research that could determine the influence of project description rhetoric on donor decisions.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2014

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  • Technical Communication, the Society's journal, publishes articles about the practical application of technical communication theory and serves as a common arena for discussion by practitioners. Technical Communication includes both quantitative and qualitative research while showcasing the work of some of the field's most noteworthy writers. Among its most popular features are the helpful book reviews. Technical Communication is published quarterly and is free with membership.
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