Flattr is a voluntary appreciation service that aims to help creators of original content on the web to get a little back from the audience. Based on a Digg style thumb this up system, a user can ‘Flattr’ the creativity of a ‘thing’ at the click of button and the provider of that content will receive a little monetary compensation. The site is currently in beta phase but is acquiring users quickly through invites and is looking to launch fully quite soon.
How Flattr works is everybody puts in a fixed amount of money every month, the minimum is currently 2 Euros, and at the end of the month the people you have Flattred receive a portion of that money. No matter how many likes you make each month the money you pay out will always be the same. If you only like one thing that month, the creator of that content receives all 2Euros. If you Flattred 8 things that month, each provider earns 25cents. In order to receive likes you have to give, this idea seems like it was designed to encourage a giving culture rather than having many bloggers assume they will profit just by having a badge on their blog.
I’m not sure about current payment thresholds or how Flattr makes its money, nowhere in the FAQ seems to tell. When adding funds via PayPal or Moneybookers you have to account for the fees charged by these services as it won’t all be added into your account. A handy calculator will help you work it out though. By the way, Flattr stems from the Flat Rate you pay each month and Flatter meaning praise.
The Purpose of Flattr
They call it Social Micropayments on the About page. One point in Flattr is to provide an alternative option instead of PayPal when donating to a cause or creation. They reckon many people are put off by PayPal because of the fees involved with small amounts of money.
Each individual item you can Flattr is called a ‘thing’. Whether it be a blog post, a music track, photograph or even software it can be appreciated. Obviously you can only submit ‘things’ you created and own copyright to. Categories include Written Text, Images, Video, Audio, Software and The Rest.
Free With A Clear Conscience
Ironically, one of the Flattr team used to be one of the PirateBay.org lot. As a famous advocate of getting software, music and video for free he is now encouraging a legal system of getting free content, it’s only paid for if you think as a user, it was worth it. Now that many online news services and magazines are converting to paid services (spearheaded with the technology of Apple), Flattr is experimenting with a system where content providers have to provide the best creativity to earn recompense. Flattr posted in the official blog that in the first months’ payout some providers earned over 100Euros. That may not sound great for The Times or the New York Times but for a brand new service in beta development, it’s not bad.
Flattr also has a live stream of Flattrable things which is great for exposure and traffic. You can use filters to see things from different categories, posted within a period of time, language and by tag. The new, undiscovered and popular things lists will help content creators get publicity. Based on a fact of real likes, this could see Flattr become the new Digg only with micro-payments.
Ease of Use
I had readily available WordPress plugins installed on Anphicle.org within minutes after signing up. Each page now has a Flattr button on so anybody who appreciates an article can show that appreciation. If you like this post you are welcome to give it a try all in the name of science. Signing up is easy as there is no real invasion of privacy, all you have to do is transfer some funds into your account via PayPal or Moneybookers. The only currency option at the moment is Euros despite Flattr being a Swedish entity.
I like it and I like the execution of the idea. Only time will tell whether it will be a useful service as a content provider and as somebody who likes to show appreciation. Because everybody who receives has to spend, there is a community of independent producers involved that will be a real alternative to the traditional media names. I think Flattr really could become a platform of its own.
Flattr is still in beta phase and requires invites to join. I currently have three invites to giveaway. If you want one, leave a comment below and subscribe (right sidebar) with the email address you want to receive the invite. Will be given out on a first come first served basis. Be aware you have to be willing to put money in though and a PayPal or MoneyBooker account is required.