- Whenever other people send you money, Flattr keeps 10% from that money.
- When you make money with Flattr, Flattr expects you to give this money back to other authors you like. And they will send them back to other authors. As the money are sent back and forth, and 10% are removed at each step, Flattr is the only one actually making any money.
Flattr takes 7.5%.
Their payment processor takes 9%.
Withdrawing costs you $3.
And people call Patreon's 5% (on top of Stripe's 3%) outrageous. I guess it's better than the walled garden 30%, for popular enough sites.
I'm not sure what the right solution is, but this is pretty gross as you describe it. Off the top of my head, the only thing that would make me feel better about Flattr is if they somehow tracked money as it flows through Flattr, and prevented double-taxing content creators.
I do find my perception interesting though. Generally, I'm pretty pro-company in the sense that, they need to pay their devs, they need to pay their bills, investors, etc. Yet, if a company moves itself in my head to the "we're here for the community" side of the line, suddenly they conceptually become a non-profit in my head, and if their profit feels like more of the pie than absolutely needed, it feels like the worst type of greed. Greed from the needy, greed from those we're trying to support, etc.
If the money then circulates then that's OK. If the money is withdrawn then take a good cut of that.
One downside to that is that the more popular it becomes, the more 'currency' the flattr-coin becomes, it simply circulates with people neither depositing it nor withdrawing it. However, flattr are then effectively become a central bank and that isn't a problem.
The real problem with not taking a cut of moving between flattr accounts is that people would sell flattr through side channels to avoid flattr taking a cut. So you'd pay me cash and I'd transfer to you the flattr coin on platform.
And if it took off in a big way then money laundering becomes a problem and the cut would not cover the cost of KYC etc.
Regarding keeping money in the system:
In the new version, there are separate accounts for "givers" (contributors) and "receivers" (creators / publishers).
So, just shuffling money around is neither the obvious nor the intended solution.
Flattr is neither a micropayment service in the sense that you make a "real" transaction nor is it an App store.
Not true, from the FAQ:
How do I withdraw money I have received?
You need to have a valid bank account associated with your profile. You can then request a withdrawal. This works worldwide as long as your bank accepts international bank transfers.
It is quite hard to make money with Flattr (you need to be really popular to get enough micropayments), and I guess that 95 % of Creators never reach the 10€ limit to actually withdraw their money. So giving money back to others is the "obvious" thing to do.
So, just shuffling money around is neither the obvious nor the intended solution.
What does this mean?
By the way, apparently the full fee is now quite higher: https://blog.flattr.net/2017/10/our-new-fee-structure/
Given that the amounts are going to fluctuate anyways, I wonder if tracking multiple currencies would really be so bad?
But America lives off credit, so nothing's going to change any time soon.
That is only true for cases where users credit their account only with $3. For every $ above this limit flattr will also pocket some additional money. For a 10$ account recharge flattr will keep additional 3.5%, for a $20 recharge they will pocket additional 5%.
* They use whitelist (visible in source) of sites, thus they do not record activity on all sites, but just the ones in whitelist.
* You can individually block sites from being tracked even if they are in whitelist (by click on the icon). This gets respected.
* They store a lot of data "locally". Things like timestamps, cursor activity, time spent on the page etc. This does not get sent to flattr, but sits in local storage.
* Once "site/page" qualifies for a flattr, path with title is sent to flattr. No other information (i.e. - no query string, no mouse activity etc.).
* They record things, that they should blacklist. For example - common cms paths (wp-admin/) is reported, but should not be. In some sites they report paths that should be blacklisted (like in twitter they report /settings/ ).
* In youtube.com icon for extension looks disabled (like nothing is being recorded), however they still store data in local db (browsing history, videos viewed). Nothing is sent to flattr though. This should be updated. Either show in icon that you record data, or do not record anything.
All in all extension does not look malicious at the moment. But it's not perfect either. And i'm not sure that there will be a point where i will feel 100% confident with it. Most likely i will try to use it, but will continue to inspect regularly to see if its still solid.
Edited: fixed some typos.
We have tried to be as thorough as we could with what data the extension saves in local storage, even with the first release. There are always improvements that can be done and will be done.
We are going to add to the blacklist to not send things like twitter settings or wp dashboards etc.
Youtube is a bug that sneaked in just before release, in reality the UI does not reflect that youtube is supported and used. It's being addressed right now.
From a technology point of view, that might have been a gain for them.
But does this outweigh the loss of the "trust in advance" that they would otherwise receive?
Also, what's about the risk of being dragged into bad reputation? (Which might happen as soon as AdBlock Plus gets bad media coverage, once again.)
Looking at their "all-knowing, privacy-friendly algorithm", they are already there:
Even the title is an oxymoron, let alone the scary description.
Which issue is fixed by "acceptable ads" in a better way than a plain ad blocker that has no exceptions?
The former tries to "mediate" between ad providers and users, while the latter is an actual "user agent" in every sense of the word.
Maybe it is just me, but I don't see any shortage of the former. And I'm missing the latter one in many aspects of the internet. NoScript, uBlock origin and miniwebproxy all are just first steps to fix issues which browsers (in the sense of real "user agents") shouldn't have in the first place.
> The reputation they got are based on stories created by the ad industry, and yes, obviously they hate eyeo
Not sure which stories you allude to. I'm not aware of any such stories, being placed by the ad industry or any other entity.
However, I am aware of much criticism that is based purely on their business model, by well-known people far away from the ad industry, without involvement of any additional stories.
> and yes, obviously they hate eyeo
Almost nobody feels sorry for the ad industry, but it is quite a far stretch to argue that we (i.e. the ad targets) should like Eyeo because they are the enemy of the enemy.
Maybe my perception is wrong, but all people I know don't care, because they just see different flavors of shady businesses that happen to step on each other's feet.
What's noble in being involved in that game?
Is that in the manifest or in the source?
> With the Flattr button it was only possible to flattr creators that joined Flattr. The new extension does not use the button so it does not need to know if there is a signed up receiver or not for flattrs. So simply put, if there is an owner they gets your money, if not the flattrs become the statistics we need to convince the creators.
Yikes. Don't use this, they clearly don't care about privacy.
The extension keeps everything locally, only the information necessary to make payments is transferred.
There is even a blacklist in place that prevents any information about sensitive sites (online banking, mail accounts, other adult content) from ever being stored.
Here is a blogpost about it: https://blog.flattr.net/2017/06/key-elements-of-the-new-flat...
Same goes for the association with Adblock Plus. Both of Adblock Plus and Flattr are aimed at fixing the basic monetization strategy used on the web. Adblock Plus does it by removing overly intrusive ads while leaving less annoying ones, whereas Flattr aims to replace ads entirely by just paying the sites you visit directly.
If they are expecting me to _install_ something on my precious machine, they'd better be damn explicit what it is and what _exactly_ it does. I can see bits about this and that spread across their blog posts, but nothing cohesive and nothing on the home page itself.
All in all though - they appear to be wanting a real-time access to the browsing activity and its full history. That's, of course, an absolute NO regardless of how good the intentions are.
It can work for Safebrowsing because they can just have a gigantic list of hashes and it doesn't matter which specific site the user is visiting, only whether it's any site in the list. But for Flattr to work, you need to know which specific site it is.
This still isn't private for any URLs in the list, but it does anonymize any URLs which get transmitted in case your white-listing goes bad and allows all. It also makes it clear that you're only transmitting exact matches and not fuzzy matches. This also makes it clear only the URL part and no URL parameters are transmitted which is also important for privacy. (Otherwise any URLs in redirects are also hoovered up).
I haven't looked at the flattr code but if it's regex without going through proper URL parsing I also wouldn't trust it to go 'bad' at some point, there are too many edge cases from the tricky to the mundane such as matching on http://example.com#twitter.com , etc.
A side benefit to hashes for safebrowsing but perhaps a bad thing for this use case is that it also effectively allows you to anonymize a whitelist from your end-users because you can then compare client-side without leaking the list.
- With as many pivots as Flattr had, it should be called Flattr 5.0 (after reading the headline)
- Hmm, actually looks really interesting now, and they seem to have tought about the major pitfalls (after reading the blog post)
- Nope, not gonna touch that! (after finding out that flatter was acquired by the makers of Adblock Plus)
(Oh boy have I made many dismissive comments today...)
What's wrong with Adblock Plus? I use it. I thought it was supposed to be good. Is there something I've missed?
EDIT: Yep, it does - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghostery#Business_model
The redirect / social button blocker with the "allow once" option is really pleasant.
Personally I see it as a good choice. I don't have a problem with ads themself, but with aggresive or harmful ads. So educating the companys to use better ads is good for the users.
Some of this money is also used to fight law-suits, keeping ad blocking legal (at least in germany ), something a free solution like ublock origin can not do.
 https://www.golem.de/news/adblock-plus-olg-muenchen-erklaert... (german)
The core of the lawsuit was about Eyeo's business model specifically, charging for being listed in a whitelist. This of course does not apply to uBO.
But imagine if uBO was used by 90% of all Users, so the big publishers would notice and lobby to get ad-blocking banned, there would be no one to defend it then.
Or if google took over ad-blocking by making it build-in in chrome (and of course whitelisting it's own ads).
edit: just realized you're the ublock author! I didn't mean what I said as an insult to you (like you wouldn't care to defend adblocking). I just think it might be beneficial to have a commercial player in ad-blocking (that isn't google) from time to time.
For the huge sites, a cut of the ad revenue is taken, more or less as for any other ad network/service really. The full info is here https://acceptableads.com
It's literally one checkbox to disable the whitelisted ("non-intrusive") ads.
They're wishy washy with language, but the long and short is that they charge companies to whitelist their ads.
I use ublock origin myself, but I don't think my parents will ever install it or even read about it.
And a company with an interest to make money might reach them and spread the usage of ad-blockers in general.
A few months ago I stumbled upon Flattr again (thought it was dead till that day). Couldn't log in with my old credentials, couldn't sign up for new ones, but was told that I can put myself on the waiting list for "Flattr 2".
Now that this Flattr 2 thing has launched I can't help but ask myself how badly you can fuck up a product that once had an enthusiastic user base. Not only that they told existing users to sign up for their product again, the product now is much more cumbersome (browser extension required) and costly because of the fees.
I strongly believe that there's a need for social micropayments done right, but I don't see myself ever making a deposit to Flattr. Someone should simply clone Flattr 1 and keep the fees as low as possible. It was a good and much needed product.
I don't understand how you can say that the product is more cumbersome.
Another reason that Flattr 1.0 failed is because it was too cumbersome both for tippers (that had to click yet another "Like"-like button) and for website developers (that had to implement the "Flattr" buttons).
And Flattr 1.0 already had fees, 11% IIRC.
And then Patreon swooped in with their much simpler model (X$/month to a specific creator) and ate Flattr's lunch.
Now with Flattr 2.0 you just have a browser extension you have to install, and it's automatic after that! How much easier can it get!?
They communicated almost nothing for around 3 years, and now they're back to relaunch. I just don't feel very confident about their organization.
So I'm disappointed that it seems I can't signup and contribute without installing a browser plugin that can read and change all my browser data and browser history... nope.
Flattr team, please fix that and I'll consider giving you another chance.
P.S. I've been keeping my eye open for someone trying to implement this subscription/contribution model using blockchain. I haven't been able to find anything -- anyone seen that yet?
(The change history is included in the history access scope in Chrome.)
The sad thing is you used to be able to do that. I can’t see why they would take that ability away...
What makes you think blockchain is in any form, a relevant, or good tool for this?
Brave browser does this.
This is failed from the get go. The whole idea that the program is going to determine where your attention goes, and how that relates to your contributions. Maybe I read a blog I contribute to, and it takes a lot of time, yet I download music from an artist I want to contribute even more to, but I spend 5 mins on his site to download the music.
For small creators I think this is dumb and almost deceitful. You're not going to make anything from hundreds of micro payments. You aren't an (fairly popular) artist on Spotify earning revenue from millions of streamings.
I have a small site on Patreon that people find useful and earn a little over a hundred USD a month atm, from less than 30 patrons. I don't even have any "perks" atm. I can't imagine earning even 10 $ from something like Flattr, much less Google Ads (but I digress ;)).
Point being for small creators the connection to the audience, and how meaningful their contribution is I think is key. Making micro payments in a way that's invisible to me as a contributor, that's meaningless and I feel no connection to the creator.
(Yes, I know, you can block ads, but adblockers, Patreon, and subscription efforts combined don't seem like they have put a significant dent in advertising revenues...)
- skim blog, yeah, looks good, heard of this before, hope they're successful, <insert privacy concerns here>, whatever
- click logo to try and get to main site
- sent to blog.flattr.net instead
- go to address bar, remove "blog."
- ugh, maybe they're one of those that only left "www." to go their root page
- add "www."
- Google "flattr"
- it's "flattr.com"
This is everywhere. FAQ pages, wiki pages, blogs etc. I hate this trend.
EDIT: Apparently they've made it an extension that tracks your browsing history. That's just ridiculous. It's also a shame -- Peter Sunde used to be quite pro-privacy. But they _did_ say they wanted to liberate the extension.
That said, a FW from .net to .com seems logical, and a link to the site too, hehe.
Don't get me wrong. I love the idea and was trying to pitch people for funding on this almost 10 years ago and never hit anything but a brick wall.
1. Why should a creator subscribe if it's not going to be a relevant revenue stream?
2. Why should a consumer subscribe (at a fixed fee, no less) if their favorite creators do not support it?
It's basically the same model Brave is using with their Basic Attention Token platform.
... Had to dig - nope:
> Pornographic or highly suggestive content or images that violate the applicable laws.
Their "Types of websites not permitted" list is fairly long: https://flattr.com/files/terms.pdf
For users: because it'll spread your contribution between people who made the content you consume, without individually selecting them and managing that distribution over time. It'll automatically distribute it between sites you visit.
It doesn't handle the exact same thing as Patreon, nor are they mutual exclusive.
A sale/donations says "this is cool." A subscription says "I want to see more of this." For the former, there are sites that popped up and got better established while flattr was twiddling its thumbs for 7 years. If I were going to ask for donations, I'd post a ko-fi link or a bitcoin address, not ask people to install an extension.
Speaking as someone who used flattr for years before I heard of patreon, this question sounds rather backwards to me.
That said: I’m pretty sure I dislike the changes done here, and it will definitely cause me to reconsider my usage of flattr as a whole.
I mean its bad enough that an ad network knows when you goto a participating site, but this would have access to so much more. With zero benefit over using the same techniques google and facebook use to track you.
We keep all your private data on your device where the algorithm runs and makes decisions on what to flattr. Instead of sending it all to us and then do the same on our servers. This is very conscious choice to make the service privacy friendly.
2. Basic Attention Token
3. Cryptocurrency browser mining?
That being said, I think the general model of Flattr is really great and I've always wondered why the Flattr button wasn't more widely adopted. It seemed like the perfect solution to publishers' monetization crisis.
- The transaction happens directly between consumer and creator, without a detour through ads (yes, there is a payment provider involved, but it's a lot more direct through Flattr)
- I can pay after I actually consumed the content, when I have full information about its usefulness for me (unlike subscription models and paywalls)
- There is a feedback mechanism built in, that lets content creators know what consumers consider pay-worthy.
What I would have loved to see was an analysis of key inhibiting factors and then a few well-researched product decisions and how they will remove these inhibitors.
I'm worried by Flattr's statement in this post, saying (paraphrased) 'we're not sure how many of you are going to like these changes, but we don't really have any guidance to go by'.
Creators still have to sign up with Flattr, so the only thing that's easier for them is that they don't have to add the button to their sites anymore.
Consumers still have to manage their payment details and amount per payment cycle, what's easier for them is that they don't have to press the button anymore. But this removes the conscious act of explicitly supporting something I liked to a default mode of supporting everyone on whose site I spend a certain amount of time, no matter if I actually liked what I found there (if I understand the new model correctly).
Yes, I can go in afterwards and remove sites from the list of sites I give money to, but that seems much more tedious than pressing a Flattr button once per article/post/whatever that I actually enjoyed and want to consciously support. Now I need to be careful about who I give money to.
I'd like me spending money to be a conscious decision, not an automated process running by default in the background.
That what you liked was actually exactly why we failed so far.
1. Users needed to do a conscious choice, clicking the button. Our research and data showed that was not what people wanted or did.
2. The button was to hard to add to a site and also visible and promoted a brand etc. All things publishers don't want. Besides the button does not work on any social network or content platform. The new solution works anywhere and is when it's hardest to use adding a meta-tag.
The new solution is a "fire and forget" solution. You set it up ones and then it just work. For both contributors and creators/publishers.
Neither would it give us enough data to create what we have done. The algorithm in the extension is smarter about what it flattrs than a cookie could ever be. And more privacy friendly too.
In general, I don't think it works that way.
If you want people to install your code in a privileged position (such as a browser extension), you need to appear trustworthy.
You essentially ask your users for a credit of trust. And yes, being able to say "just read the code" is absolutely necessary, but it is not sufficient. You usually get trust by having a great track record in the past, or by cooperating with others who do have such a track record.