So, yeah, I can see how Flattr, a service that revolves completely around a community of people who actually appreciate others for their work, is upset at the company whose notion of "thanks" is a Cease and Desist.
As developers, we should be alarmed - we shouldn't be blaming people for 'not reading the terms of service' or saying that 'Twitter has the right to do what it wants'. These answers might be technically right, but they don't capture the true feeling of what is right, which is that developers should build apps that enhance Twitter's ecosystem.
So, that's it for Twitter for me. I only expect Twitter to get worse about their developer policies in the future, and I don't want to be a part of a community that treats developers poorly.
Why do people continue to develop to Twitter's API? It's obvious that Twitter doesn't want people to use their API. In my years of developing on top of 3rd party APIs from Microsoft, Oracle, etc, I've never seen such contempt for developers as I see from Twitter and Facebook. Developers should abandon Twitter en masse.
But they don't. Developers keep using the Twitter API and they keep getting shut down after spending significant time developing their app. Fool me once, shame on them, fool me twice, shame on me.
I think developers keep doing it because they are still hoping for that one app that will get them acqu-hired by Twitter or Facebook, so that they can become fabulously rich. It's the one big difference between now and 5+ years ago, and especially before the Instagram acquisition.
People keep developing against the Twitter and Facebook APIs because that's where the users are.
Twitter is far worse than FB in this regard. Unless you can figure out a way to generate revenue by putting content into the stream (eg content publishers), Twitter is not a good place to build a business.
Notwithstanding that, why would you want to build something that could have the rug pulled out from under it at any point? I build stuff because I enjoy building thing. If it wasn't working in the market and fails, it is my fault, and I can live with that. If it is successful in the market and fails through somebody else's actions (that I should have been cognizant of), that just sucks.
Tumblr is a CRUD application, yet it shares almost nothing with Basecamp.
Focusing on the technology does not make great products.
FWIW, I think there are a lot of potentially interesting applications that could be built on Twitter, but they've proven themselves hostile to the idea. I don't even trust them as an OAuth provider anymore.
We're not talking about users here; if you're a Twitter developer you are by definition someone who should at least pay passing attention to which way the wind is blowing in tech. If you want to try some ideas out by building against Twitter that's great, but if you are trying to build a business and you don't realize that Twitter is trying very hard to make sure no one makes any money from their platform but them, then you deserve to have your legs cut off when it inevitably happens after months or years of hard work building traction.
With Facebook or Google APIs you can make the argument that's it's worth the risk, but idealogies and diatribes aside, with Twitter you have to go in with your eyes open.
Yes, we are. Flattr works fine without Twitter. The Twitter connection is "just" a way to get more users. Flattr is not going to go bankrupt because Twitter blocks them (or, at least not as a direct result).
Therefore, in a thread about Flattr (or any other business that uses the Twitter API but does not vitally depend on it), a "devs that still talk to Twitter are stupid" rant is completely misplaced.
I've been watching since about 2008. I remember thinking that Contenture and Tipjoy would be serious competitors.
Perhaps the answer is to stop using apis.
I developed a reddit extension, and when reddit cut off my api access I was able to crowdsource a datafeed through an inbrowser extension. I'm not saying it applies here, but with some creativity I think some apps could be refactored to use a similar approach.
It is not a clean or easy technological solution, but it seems like the api route isn't clean or easy politically.
Imagine if Google tried to get off the ground by using apis to crawl or if Facebook had used approved apis to populate its initial database. They'd be quickly killed, just like what is happening api innovators right now.
I suppose if you are located somewhere where you feel like you are outside of the reach of their legal arm, you might be able to get away with it. Otherwise, you are in a legally shaky position, at best.
If you're a developer and you build on Facebook, or Twitter, or any other API, you now need to be ready for them to pull the T&Cs out and ban your ass and kill your project because damnit, we can't extract value from your additions that'll help us effectively monetize our customer base.
(p.s. flattr looks like a great service and I'm sure they'll find a work around, but they should have known this was on the horizon)
Beyond using Twitter for authentication I don't see why you would want to risk anything else on the Twitter API.
I can definitely see the argument from Twitter's side, even if I don't agree with it. But more than that: these are Twitter's terms! You can't roll in and start arguing for benefit-of-the-doubt with the people that wrote the terms for their own platform.
If you build your app on another company's platform to monetize their platform and they decide you can't, you're just falling into a trap you set for yourself. Even if it would be cooler if they allowed it.
The World Wide Web is dead. Welcome to the Internet, where you can inter-network between your favorite walled gardens.
Either way, the publicity via HN should shake loose a better answer and I -- as a potential future competitor, hello, nice to meet you -- will be interested to see which one it is.
And how do you get clarification, if I may ask?
I've been asking for over 2 years about a clarification on the iOS terms of service, no answer yet.
Those rules are now longer than the US constitution ...
e.g., if you are writing an iOS app, make sure you also have a desktop (or web) and/or android version which could survive a takedown from the appstore.
Flattr is the best of the microtipping services that has so far emerged. They removed one classic source of angst by capping the total monthly fee, so tippers don't get a little sting of worry every time they click the but button.
Compare fixed-rate mobile phone plans with pay-as-you-go. Even though PAYG plans are often cheaper, many people will pay a premium simply to avoid having to think about what they might or might not owe at the end of the month. Flattr get that part right.
> If there is anything that could be interpreted in any way to affect you get clarification.
I disagree, for two reasons. Firstly, it's easier to get forgiveness than permission. Second, even if they're kicked off Twitter, they got exposure during their time there and more since getting the boot.
This is true in many cases (and is fine for Flattr) but in other cases I've seen (AppGratis for example) their business is in serious trouble. If your entire business relies on an interpretation of the rules it's better to ask for permission because if you aren't forgiven the consequences could be serious.
For example, Flattr and Ribbon.co have recently run into trouble, but Chirpify, Amex and Dwolla look like they might have Twitter's blessing.
Can anyone give a good explanation of how it works?
I'm pretty sure Flattr's actions qualify for zero of these.
Note I'm not taking a position on whether any possible TOS violations rise to the level of a CFAA violation, or whether DOJ would care, just that waving around terms like "mens rea" does not an actual rebuttal make.
Or, if you prefer a high school civics sur-rebuttal, "ignorance of the law is no defense." :)
It does vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but strict liability is still rare and still largely constrained to summary offences, not indictable offences.
Regardless of whether you are in a purely code jurisdiction or purely common law jurisdiction or some hybrid, there usually has to be additional effort by a legislator to indicate that strict liability applies.
To be quite honest, I admire how far they've gotten. Of the various micropayment and microtipping ventures, they've been able to steadily plug away. I gave them about as much odds of success as the many other companies that have come and gone. (How this bodes for my own ambitions is left as an exercise for the reader).
Naturally, I think that their model has critical economic and technical flaws that put me in a better position. But they're in the market making money and I'm on HN being all hand-wavy and mysterious (sorry: pre-patent secrecy).
If I could give them one piece of advice -- and it goes for everyone who's had a crack at this -- 10% isn't enough. The incidence of the micropayment/tipping service's share doesn't fall on the user, it falls on the websites. So you might as well pick a sustainable rate, rather than hobble your cashflow.
I am not in a strong position to start a fence-swinging business.
I have no startup pedigree, no contacts in SV, no famous friends, no rich parents, didn't study at MIT/Stanford/UCB or work at Google/Facebook/whoever and I cannot move to SV for the foreseeable future.
I'll take every legal advantage I can.
And judging by the downvotes, applying for a patent is unpopular. I feel that it's more inventive than slide-to-unlock, but folk will have to take my word for now.
Applying for a patent is unpopular because (software|technology) patents are unpopular, wrong-headed, and generally used by companies like Lodsys to extort money from independent iOS developers who don't have the resources for legal staff.
I don't know anything about you other than vaguely recognizing your handle from around HN. It's possible your idea is extremely novel, even groundbreaking, and it completely deserving of legal protection. It's very unlikely. Chances are you're just going to waste time and money.
I suspect that if it ever gets a mention on HN, someone will say something like "Jacques Chester tries to patent logins" or "Jacques Chester tries to patent apache weblogs" or any number of things that don't at all describe what I developed.
Part of the trouble is that patentese is hard to read. While developing the technology to be submitted I wrote and refined what amounts to an RFC. It's a few thousand words with about a hundred lines of pseudocode near the middle.
This in turn blew out to about ten thousand words and 5 diagrams with ~200 reference numbers.
When my first examiner's report came back he'd found and rejected two candidates for prior art; in both cases it took me about an hour to make heads or tails of what was described.
If Flattr was really all about helping others, the fee would be much less.
I still remember when he spoke at a conference and he talked about how everything should be shared/free. It seems he's not being very honest with us.
With the amount of advertising on TPB (and traffic), I know he was making a profit (and paying his salary).
Why should he get to profit on the backs of hard-working developers and musicians and at the same time saying they shouldn't be able to earn a living?
When did he ever say the developers / musicians shouldn't be able to earn a living? Just because someone thinks culture should be shared for free with the world, doesn't imply that the creators (more like "remixxers") shouldn't be able to make a living from their work.
Find me a developer/musician who had to close up shop because TPB ran them out of business and I will eat my words.
How much less? Five percent? One percent? The only other micropayment processor I'm aware of that has better rates than Flattr is Paypal's micropayment service at five percent plus five cents. Given Paypal's massive size advantage I'd say Flattr's doing well so far.
>...talked about how everything should be shared/free.
I'd think founding a startup aimed at micropayments for all kinds of artists and other creators would indicate that Peter's ideas about distribution of art and creator compensation are more nuanced than simply "everything should be shared/free." He says as much in TPB AFK. He certainly doesn't believe that copyright as it stands has any place in a digital world and Flattr seems to be his manner of investigating ways to share content while still giving back to creators.
>With the amount of advertising on TPB (and traffic), I know he was making a profit (and paying his salary).
I've found no numbers on just how much has been made via adverts or what it was spent on, though I'd imagine the costs of bandwidth for coordinating the majority of the planet's bit torrent traffic could easily reach thousands per month. The recently released documentary has one of the prosecutors arguing that there were 64 unique ads on the site at any given time, each costing 500 dollars per week, coming out to about 1.7 million in revenue each year. Gottfried says in the documentary that there were four unique ads, and that even 110k annual revenue was bigger than they had typically gotten but a more realistic figure. I'd love to see the actual balance sheets, though I doubt anyone from the defense or prosecution has any to speak of.
>...at the same time saying they shouldn't be able to earn a living?
90% of flattrs that cost next to nothing for the creator to take advantage of constitutes an incapacity to earn a living? Sounds better than what an artist would get via itunes or an old-fashioned record deal. Of course, this is all operating on the poor assumption that most artists would ever be able to earn a living off their work, no matter how draconian copyright law became or how perfectly DRM was designed and implemented.
At the time when Peter Sunde operated it, Wikipedia had about about 3 times the traffic of TBP. Wikipedia also had about 10 times higher of the operational budget (not counting Salaries and wages). We get this by looking at the TPB advertising money as reported by the police, and comparing it to the WP budget.
One can then either assume that Wikipedia administrators are swimming in money and have all bought small island in the Caribbeans, or that running a services on that scale is actually quite expensive.
Link to 2006-2007 WP budget: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/foundation/4/49/Wikim...
Link to TPB budget for 2006: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_pirate_bay#Advertising
Running services on the WMF may be quite expensive but that tells us little about TPB - the WMF is not really comparable. They're running hundreds of projects, not just the English Wikipedia; their staff are living in one of the most expensive places in the world, San Francisco; they're developing & supporting an infrastructure much more complicated than 'upload a torrent file and a textual description box', due to editing pages by all sorts of users with different privilege levels and rich media and exploiting HTML5 and working with new MediaWiki extensions like Semantic and of course the truly enormous size of Commons' media database of millions of photos and images and videos; they work under many more legal pressures than TPB (which takes joy at thumbing their nose at any legal issues); coordinate dozens of chapter organizations worldwide (some with significant amounts of revenue like the de chapter); and do other things like the floating Wikimania conference or the DVD encylopedias aimed at Africa or surveys or editor-retention projects or third-world article writing contests etc.
What TPB does is impressive in its own way, but simply is not on the same scale of complexity or variety.
At that time, Semantic was developed and funded by Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Commons was just a year old and was of 1/16 of todays size. I am also not sure how many chapter organizations they had, or if the work towards any DVD encylopedias was in the works then.
I also intentionally excluded travel for the above calculations.
An other telling part can be seen in the Wikimeda fundation 2006 budget under the heading of "Internet hosting". To my understanding, that number is exclusive bandwidth costs.
edit: fixed a typo that inverted my whole point :)