Flattr – A social payment service

Posted by Paltar on December 6, 2010 in Internet |

Some time ago I discovered a new interesting internet service called Flattr that seems to be spreading across the internet. A few days ago I finally created an account on http://www.flattr.com to see how it works.

First, what is Flatter? Well, it’s a social payment service. But  what does that mean? If you’ve been around the internet at all, you probably know the PayPal “Donate” button and Facebook’s “Like” button. Combine those two and you essentially get the Flattr button. By pressing the Flattr button on someone’s website you not only tell them, that you like, what they did, but also send them a small amount  of money to support them financially.

A bit more about how it works on the giving side: First you create an account on http://www.flattr.com . Next you have to put some money in your Flattr account. Currently supported payment methods are Moneybookers and PayPal. Then you set the amount you want to “flattr” per month – at least 2 € (about 2,64 USD) up to 100 € (about 132 USD). This is the amount that at the end of each month will be deducted from your account and evenly distributed to the people you “flattred” that month. So no matter how many things you “flattred” you will only pay the amount you set. Of course this means the worth of your individual “flattrs” varies depending on how many things you flatter in a month. At the moment the average worth of one “flattr” seems to be very roughly around 0,10 €.

And here lies the advantage of Flattr. Who would bother to make a 0,10 € PayPal donation, especially when the PayPal fee for one transaction is 0,35 €. With Flattr it is very easy to give a little something to creators of websites, articles, videos and more you like. Once you have set up the account it is just one click for you and for the content creator a lot of small amounts do ad up.

Which brings us to the receiving side. If you want your things to be “flattred” and receive money, you first need an account set up like described above. Only those who are willing to give may receive on Flattr. I’m not really sure that is the right way to do it. On the one hand it is only fair having to give at least a small amount and so supporting the system and the community, if you want to make money out of it. But is it really necessary to force people to give those 2 € a month? Wouldn’t it work as well on a voluntary basis?

Once you’ve set up your account you can submit “things”. Basically you can submit anything that has an URL. You can select a category for your thing, add tags describing your thing and enter a description. You can also choose whether your thing should be publicly listed on Flattr or not. After submitting your thing you get the HTML Code for integrating the Flattr button into your website.  After putting the code in your website it can be “flattred”.

Instead of manually submitting things, you can also use plug-ins, widgets and tools available for many Blog and CMS systems. For this WordPress blog for example I just installed the Flattr plug-in and connected it to my Flattr account. Now every article I post is automatically submitted to Flattr and the Flattr button is added to the post.

After every month you receive the money “flattred” to your things. Well, actually you receive only 90% of the money as Flattr takes 10% as fees for its service. That is one of the major points of criticism I have read so far. Some people think 10% is too high and they may have a point. But there is still hope the fees will be lowered once the service has more users. They are after all just a few month out of their beta phase.

So, if you want to support content creators on the internet or want to make some money with your own content, Flattr is an interesting new way to do it. So why not give it a try?

Update: Flattr changed the service a bit. Read more about it on Changes on Flattr.com

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