About Flattr

Content creators have to be paid for their work – that’s been a prominent problem for the past few years. While the entertainment industry clings to dying business models, a few geeks from Sweden have come up with the, in my opinion, best solution to this problem. Flattr is one of those brilliant yet simple ideas making you wonder why you didn’t come up with it.

It works like this:

  • You sign up with Flattr and pay them at least €2 per month
  • You click on Flattr buttons installed by content creators on their blogs and such
  • At the end of each month, the amount you pay is equally divided among the Flattr buttons you clicked

Your financial situation doesn’t change a bit when clicking a Flattr button. When I see a donate button on the website of e.g. an open source project, I have a weak desire to donate a few bucks. But then my reasoning sets in: “Do I like it that much?” “Didn’t I plan to save money?”. When clicking a Flattr button on the other hand, I don’t lose any money. I lose my monthly amount anyway – even if I didn’t click any buttons, it’s given to charity.

You only pay for things you like. When you go to the movies and didn’t like what you saw, you’ve already paid the entrance fee and seen the commercials – you can’t take it back. Nor can you reasonably reward a movie you liked a lot other than spreading the word. This might have lead to an entertainment industry that produces a lot of cheap crap and focuses on marketing.

Nonetheless, Flattr is, in my opinion, not there yet. For instance, there is no mechanism to give a larger portion of your amount to one thing: Imagine there is a Flattr button on each article in a blog and there is a single one on the GNOME website. You can only click each button once, so the blog can get flattred more often, although GNOME was certainly much more work. Another question is how Flattr can be combined with social networking sites: Imagine you follow someone interesting on Twitter, but he doesn’t have a blog – how to flattr that?

Well, Flattr is still in it’s beta phase and it does look very promising so far. I really hope it spreads, it might boost great things like open source software and independent games.

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