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Flattr 2.0 launches to the public (flattr.net)
152 points by endijs on Oct 26, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 139 comments

I would like to point out two things about Flattr:

- 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.

It's a bit more insidious than 10%.

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.

Stripe charges 2.9% + 30¢. So on $3 that would be 0.387 cents that is 12.9% fee.

Stripe is not meant for smaller payments, but even then it's less than Apple's eye-gouging 30%.

Wow. I used to like Flattr (though, I only used it once), but this is a terrible design decision from them, imo.

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.

An easy enough solution might be to take a cut when money is moved in to or out of Flattr, but to take nothing when moved between Flattr accounts.

For optics they could take a cut only when moving money out. Then the consumers never feel taxed, they feel like the producer is getting 100% of the money.

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 If the money is withdrawn then take a good cut of that.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.

They could take an interchange fee. I'm not seeing why they take 10% instead of <1% like VISA does.

As others have commented, Flattr itself keeps 7.5%. The detailed fees are described here: https://blog.flattr.net/2017/10/our-new-fee-structure/ Hopefully the payment cost will go down again, but unfortunately micropayments come with high transaction cost. Compared to revenue streams like App-Stores or even advertising, this is still much more efficient.

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.

> unfortunately micropayments come with high transaction cost. Compared to revenue streams like App-Stores

Flattr is neither a micropayment service in the sense that you make a "real" transaction nor is it an App store.

"When you make money with Flattr, Flattr expects you to give this money back to other authors you like."

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.

Of course you can withdraw your money. But when you just want to make money, both Creator and Contributor profiles are crated (to make contributions super easy).

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.

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 expects you to give this money back to other authors you like

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/

As a European user, that surely is motivating me to sign up. yeah, we got rid of an efficient payment method so you'll be paying even more. But it's userfriendly that way!

Given that the amounts are going to fluctuate anyways, I wonder if tracking multiple currencies would really be so bad?

Yup. SEPA wire transfers are amazing, and it's scandalous how the credit card oligopoly keeps the US in the dark ages when it comes to banking.

But America lives off credit, so nothing's going to change any time soon.

Credit cards and paper cheques.

That their business model is to get the money move as much as possible, as they charge per transaction.

Flattr only keeps 7.5%. As a creator, % wise you end up with more in your pocket this way vs a lot of other revenue sources. Also, no fees are charged until end of Nov, so some time to test the waters.

> Flattr only keeps 7.5%.

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%.

It sounds like a pyramid scheme to try and monetize an echo chamber.

Not really, you can flattr others with it, but that is more because it would be strange if you could not do it.

I was big fan of original Flattr, that's why i was excited for 2.0 too. However that "extension" setup is something that still keeps me in evaluation phase, rather than 100% in. I inspected extension (not 100% of it, but a bit of code, storage, xhr calls). Some findings:

* 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.

Pretty good summary!

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.

I never understood why they decided to coorperate with the AdBlock Plus creators.

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.)

As Flattr 1.0 did not get any traction, my guess is that they went with AdBlock Plus creators (Eyeo) just because Flattr run out of cash and Eyeo was the one who offered to invest and later on to buy out. Simple math. Even though I'm not fan of what Eyeo have done in the past, fact that old team was able to continue to work on this, makes me hopeful, that this will not turn out to be some sort of malicious or grey area project. But time will tell.

> makes me hopeful, that this will not turn out to be some sort of malicious or grey area project

Looking at their "all-knowing, privacy-friendly algorithm", they are already there:


Even the title is an oxymoron, let alone the scary description.

Even though it's scary topic, currently they are still in good standing. At least in my eyes. Even though they collect data (how else can you evaluate who to flattr), its stored locally and they do not send it off. If there will ever be a situation where they send something more than they should, this project is dead and there will be no way back.

In reality it's the opposite and that is why we join their boat. There is no company that tries to fix the internet in the profound way eyeo does. They care about all the things most internet companies does not. The reputation they got are based on stories created by the ad industry, and yes, obviously they hate eyeo.

> There is no company that tries to fix the internet in the profound way eyeo does

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[1] all are just first steps to fix issues which browsers (in the sense of real "user agents") shouldn't have in the first place.

[1] https://www.tedunangst.com/flak/post/miniwebproxy

> 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?

> * They use whitelist (visible in source) of sites, thus they do not record activity on all sites, but just the ones in whitelist.

Is that in the manifest or in the source?

To view whitelist you can go to "background page" of extension and check out source for /lib/background/index.js . Whitelist starts from line 12440 and ends on 50262.

Some things to consider about Flattr: you have to install a web browser extension; the extension requires access to your full browsing history; it was bought by the parent company of Adblock Plus, Eyeo.

And they're explicitly tracking and logging it all to their servers:

> 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.

That is just plain wrong. Check the privacy policy: https://flattr.com/files/privacy_policy.pdf

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...

Then how can they be collecting statistics about non-participating sites?

Thanks for the info. That suffices.

You didn't used to have to have a browser extension, not for sites that participated. So for instance, I had flatr configured to follow all of my YouTube Likes...

The extension uses a lot of data points (including your browser history) to decide what to flattr. But we never get the full data, the algorithm runs in the browser and only the results (the flattrs) are sent to us. This is the most privacy friendly solution possible that still gives enough data for us to know who should get the money and for you to know what you flattred. As well as for creators and publishers to know what content actually generated the money.

The web browser extension part makes sense. In order to handle payments completely automatically without user intervention, there needs to be _some_ piece of software that keeps track of what users are engaging with and handles payments based on that. Makes perfect sense to use a browser extension for that.

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.

> Install the desktop extension

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.

There is [1] with a little bit about the privacy issue, but yes you have to trust them, not sending more than the urls to flatter.

[1]: https://blog.flattr.net/2017/06/key-elements-of-the-new-flat...

It shouldn't even be returning URLs, it should return URL hashes. Even returning URLs seems like a privacy nightmare.

Since the entire purpose of transmitting URLs is making decisions (payment, provide info to potential customers) based on the URL, hashing wouldn't do anything.

If you have the whitelist, you compare the hash on the backend to known hashes. That's how "Safebrowsing" things work, no reason why it couldn't work here too.

You'd have to know which site each hash relates to, so that you know who to give the money to. So the hashing wouldn't gain anything, since the system only works if they can reverse the hash.

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.

If you produce a list of hashes, you can reverse those hashes simply comparing against the hash.

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.

Or you can just check the code. Or European privacy laws. Hint: They take this stuff serious!

There's also the small problem of an ever-increasing percentage of traffic coming from mobile browsers with no or limited extension support.

My thoughts when reading that (in order):

- 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...)

> - Nope, not gonna touch that! (after finding out that flatter was acquired by the makers of Adblock Plus)

What's wrong with Adblock Plus? I use it. I thought it was supposed to be good. Is there something I've missed?

A lot of people have issue with the fact they allow certain ads through if the publisher pays them enough. They claim that these ads are not aggressive or distracting, but the optics are pretty bad. A for profit ad-blocking company that makes money from ads.

I think this is the main reason basically everyone has switched to uBlock Origin. Which, by the way, works quite well.

And ghostery

Doesn't Ghostery too make money from selling their hoarded user data to the very same advertisers and marketers?

EDIT: Yep, it does - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghostery#Business_model

"Millions of people use the tool Ghostery to block online tracking technology—some may not realize that it feeds data to the ad industry."


Which also has an interesting opt-in Business Model.


Ghostery also has some tracking built-in. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghostery#Criticism

I tried to switch to the open source Disconnect when I heard Ghostery was acquired by an ad company, but it wasn't on Ghostery's level.

The redirect / social button blocker with the "allow once" option is really pleasant.

Ghostery keeps trying to steal my attention with annoying popups.

Last time I read about it, it was still the users choice whether they wanna see those non-aggresive ads. Did it change?

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.

You are entirely correct PurpleRamen, nothing has changed.

They are a company so they have to make money (Most of HN readers should relate to that).

Some of this money is also used to fight law-suits, keeping ad blocking legal (at least in germany [1]), something a free solution like ublock origin can not do.

[1] https://www.golem.de/news/adblock-plus-olg-muenchen-erklaert... (german)

> something a free solution like ublock origin can not do.

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.

I think the lawsuits started before Eyeo introduced the whitelist?

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.

>I think the lawsuits started before Eyeo introduced the whitelist? That's correct. Publishers explicitly say that they don't want to have adblocking at all (Whitelist is just a sideshow). You can also see that from the lobbying activities in Germany pushing for an anti-adblocking law (https://netzpolitik.org/2016/informationsfreiheitsanfrage-lo...) and other proceedings with smaller adblockers. Plus, most obvious, it is way easier for a German publisher to sue a German company rather than a someone behind a project whom you don't know and obviously not seated in Europe.

If you're not a company, legality is less important.

Well that is actually not correct. 1. Only those publishers, which comply with the Acceptable Ads Criteria (www.acceptableads.com) will be passed through and only to those users who haven't decided to block all ads. 2. Only those publishers pay money, which get more than 10 Millionen additional ad impressions via the Accéptable Ads program. 3. Acceptable Ads Criteria are already handed over to the Acceptable Ads Committee (AAC): https://acceptableads.com/en/committee/. The AAC is an independent committee, made up of eleven stakeholders who represent three distinct coalitions: User Advocates Coalition (digital rights organization, ad-block user), For Profit Coalition (advertiser, advertising agency, ad-tech company, publisher / content creator) and the Expert Coalition (user agent, creative agent, researcher / academia).

There is no way of just paying eyeo to get your ads through the system. If you confirm to the acceptable ads standard your ads can be classified as that and visible to the people that has not chosen to block those too.

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

They charge advertisers to unblock ads. So actually you will see ads as long as Adblock Plus is making money. They are generally seen as untrustworthy compared to something totally free like uBlock Origin.

So actually you will see ads as long as Adblock Plus is making money.

It's literally one checkbox to disable the whitelisted ("non-intrusive") ads.

As long as that setting is opt-out and not opt-in, they deserve all the criticism they get for this shady business model.

I don't get that either. Eyeo is a german company, so the rather strict german privacy laws now apply to flatter. I think thats a good thing.


They're wishy washy with language, but the long and short is that they charge companies to whitelist their ads.

As I commented above, I think they're providing a service with fighting law-suits for ad-blocking.

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.

I remember Flattr from a long time ago, when some German podcasters made a push for it. Thought it was a great idea at that time. If I remember correctly, it was a small square button with the number of tippers below it and upon click one's monthly spending balance would in part go to the creator.

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.

The Twitter ban has killed Flattr 1.0 : https://thenextweb.com/insider/2013/04/16/flattr-twitter-pay...

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!?

I used to be quite excited about Flattr. The ideology they stand for is what makes them exciting, so I don't want to judge them by their brand, but still I can't help but feel that their communication and product design is honestly terrible.

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.

:( yeah, things took way longer than we wanted. It always does.

I was initially very excited to see this post. I have always believed that flattr's subscription/contribution model could be so important for supporting creatives and grassroots efforts.

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 extension is how we can make the solution without any need for integration into sites (and services) and without any effort for the contributor. This is what we learned during the years to be needed for this to work on scale.

(The change history is included in the history access scope in Chrome.)

> 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.

The sad thing is you used to be able to do that. I can’t see why they would take that ability away...

> 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?

What makes you think blockchain is in any form, a relevant, or good tool for this?

Might not be exactly what you had in mind, but you might want to check out Flixxo? https://torrentfreak.com/popcorn-time-creator-readies-bittor...

> P.S. I've been keeping my eye open for someone trying to implement this subscription/contribution model using blockchain.

Brave browser does this.

How are you expecting it to work without a browser extension? In order to know who to pay, the software needs _some_ way to know what sites you're engaging with.

Somebody correct me if I'm wrong but I thought using Flattr is not as easy on mobile phones. It requires using a separate browser app. (E.g. the Adblock browser app for Android). Since ~99% of smartphone users won't using anything but the default iPhone Safari or Android Chrome browser, this leaves out most audiences[1] that Flattr can't reach.

[1] https://www.google.com/search?q=majority+browse+web+with+mob...

I'd rather make few, but meaningful contributions to creators with a system like Patreon or Kickstarter, than make many "micro", meaningless payments without a clue where my money is going.

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.

What would you rather have : ads or Flattr 2.0 micropayments? This is what it is about.

(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...)

This might seem super nitpicky (I apologize in advance), but the domain and blog UX needs a little fixing. My 30 second experience:

- 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."

- 404

- ugh, maybe they're one of those that only left "www." to go their root page

- add "www."

- 404

- Google "flattr"

- it's "flattr.com"


> - click logo to try and get to main site > - sent to blog.flattr.net instead

This is everywhere. FAQ pages, wiki pages, blogs etc. I hate this trend.

For me, I have no idea what Flattr is and trying to read through their .com site gives me no insight really. I see it is supposed to be something that supports content creators and or creatives on the internet, but how and what?

Effectively, you allocate a portion of funds every month to Flattr. Over that month you can click the "flattr" button on any site that has one, and at the end of the month your monthly contribution is split evenly among all of your "flatter" choices. I don't know if they added recurring donations, last I looked at this service was a couple of years ago.

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 was Flattered 1.0. Peter Sunde let his connection to Flattered go to avoid issues with the PirateBay case, else there was the risk that the legal charges could have damaged flattr ... but Flattr 1.0 never managed to be really profitable (too few sites with a Flattr button -> not gaining many active users -> less sites with Flattr button) thus they sold out to those Adblocker Guys ....

Ok, that is not really what happened. But it's a too long story for a HN comment ;)

Yes, and the exact true story is only know by the ones involved :-)

Yes, like me.

It's like Brave payments https://www.brave.com/introducing-brave-payments/ but from Flattr

Came here to say this. Also reminiscent of Steem.

Ah, true. The reason the blog is on .net is for security reasons. We don't want to have a WP blog (with all it's flaws) on a domain that should be trusted by our own system.

That said, a FW from .net to .com seems logical, and a link to the site too, hehe.

i was going to say this, but you nailed it.

nailed it. nothing is more infuriating then blogs not having an obvious, direct link to their actual site.

The key to a concept like this is massive, massive adoption by content creators. Flattr has been around for 7+ years and it's still relatively non-existent. Heck, the subreddit has 63 subscribers.

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.

Classic chicken-egg problem.

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?

Patreon solved this problem by being developed as a solution to the founder's own problem (getting paid), and priming it with his own fanbase. Do flattr's founders use it for their own creative work?

My problem with patreon is that (from my recollection) everything is a subscription so you are committing to not just a fixed payment now, but a recurring payment to a bunch of different sources. I can't just pay $X/month and have it divided among the recipients that I actually patronized in a given month. Patreon is great for things like supporting a band or podcaster or something there there is not an easy way to tie it back to actual usage, but the recipient has to make a sale up-front.

I actually think Flattr is doing a good job of solving this. Consumers can simply sign up without worrying about who supports it, and creators that don't support it will be notified that they're leaving money on the table by not accepting payments via Flattr.

It's basically the same model Brave is using with their Basic Attention Token platform.

Previously Flattr was quite niche, but the new release appeals more to creators of all kinds...seems like this could solve the adoption issue

Any word on their content limitations? With the recent kerfluffel between Patreon and adult content creators, is this an alternative? I'm going to guess not, given the association with Visa and MC only.

... 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

Yes, this is correct. In general payment providers has these set of rules/policies, that because the large institutions like Visa, Mastercard and banks does not accept these areas of payments.

Seems like a lot of hassle. Why shouldn't creators just keep using Patreon? None of the buzzwords in the post would convince me to switch.

For creators: Because (assuming it gains a decent userbase) Flattr will give you money from people that not explicitly subscribe to you.

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.

That's a good distillation of the issue. I have been noodling this idea for a good decade now as it's a huge problem to solve. Even micropayments are still payments that you have to decide to make. Really there should be a 'meter' on your media consumption and your $5/mo (or whatever) gets doled out to the creators of the content you consumed over that month. The problem is how do you equate a small single-authored article that takes me 5 minutes to read versus a 4K professionally-produced video that takes me 5 minutes to watch? Also, how do you handle the rise in fake content that will be even more incentivized to scream for eyeballs?

I always appreciate one-off sales/donations, but they aren't really dependable the way a subscription is. You can't plan or invest around it unless the thing you make is the kind of thing that gets a hobby/business-sustaining amount of sales or donations.

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.

It's automatic distribution (with the option to also trigger one explicitly if you want). I and many other of your visitors are just about as unlikely to donate to you as to subscribe (well, in my case even more unlikely, since I can't think of any comfortable one-time donation thing I use), so if we use Flattr you can choose to get a piece of our collective pool or nothing from us. Time will tell if it's worth it, but I don't think the framing as an alternative makes sense. None of the things currently in use do the same (except Brave, I haven't kept up what they are doing exactly).

It doesn't really need to be an alternative, creators could easily use both alongside one another. Since Flattr works automatically and doesn't require the creator to do anything additional:)

> Seems like a lot of hassle. Why shouldn't creators just keep using Patreon?

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.

They now charge a massive 16.5% fee.

Personally I like platforms like https://liberapay.com and https://gratipay.com which fund themselves via themselves. I certainly think that 7.5% is too high for the kind of service that Flattr provides.

Are they claiming that installing local spyware is somehow more secure than if they just used third party cookies to track their users usage?

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.

Absolutely the opposite!

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.

Hi, I'm Linus co-founder of Flattr. Will try and answer any questions you might have!

Which will win

1. Flattr 2. Basic Attention Token 3. Cryptocurrency browser mining?

4. North Korea

My guess is something like STEEM will eventually become mainstream, and people will be able to upvote/like posts on the internet with real money.

Patreon with less features but a browser extension?

Nope, Patreon focuses on person and fame, and is one to one payments. We focus on content and divides your money to any number of creators.

What is it with so many new sites and companies give such a vague description of what they do. I am literally clueless.

I used to love Flattr's general concept, but from a product management perspective, I'm more than skeptical these changes will drive adoption. They don't make it easier for creators, and consumers now have a default-spending process running with questionable privacy implications, instead of making conscious decisions about whom to support.

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.

You hit the head on the nail, but from the wrong angle ;)

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.

I looked for 2 minutes trying to find out what "Flattr" is.

Couldn't you just use cookies to track which creator a user visits and how often? I doubt many people are willing to install a extension for that.

Nope, not possible on any content site (eg youtube) and it also needs the site to add it.

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.

So, does monthly payment works now ? I tried flattr years ago and it didn't even do it, that's a pretty obvious feature...

Yes, now it's a subscription service.

install a software? i think im passing on this one. too much spyware floating around these days

There is nothing like that in our extension, feel free to check the code =)

Not now, but what about the 10th update?

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.

I just don't see this being worthwhile.

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