My two Cents about Flattr

This blog post is in english because the Flattr subject is so piping hot that I felt everyone should be able to read this.

Today, Peter Sunde from the former Pirate Bay, introduced a new payment system for web content. The service is called Flattr and is in closed Beta at the moment. (heise, German)

The principle is easy and very intriguing: People who create digital content (everything from text to film, from comment to music) can become a Flattr receiver. Everyone who uses the internet should become a Flattr giver. Flattr receives a monthly money flatrate from each giver, currently starting at € 2 per month. Flattr itself takes 10% of that money for the service, the rest is kept until the end of each month.

The Flattr givers (ideally everyone) use the web like they normally do. But everytime they like something, they click the Flattr button next to it to give it a share of their Flattr money of this month. At the end of the month, that user’s Flattr money is distributed equally between all the Flattr button owners that were clicked by the user in that month. Watch the Flattr Video:

I really like the idea of this concept. But I see some possible flaws, so here’s my thinking:

  • If the number of clicks a Flattr button has received so far (its „Diggs“, so to say) is openly visible as proposed, its popularity can be measured. Also, web content can then be sorted by popularity, thus diminishing the chances for „Flattrs“ (Flattr units) for other, equally deserving content. Therefore, I think the Flattrs any digital content will receive, should be kept invisible to the general public so as not to create „heaps of popularity“ and „undeservingly underpopular content“, in other words, so as not to create (or widen) the gap between the rich and the poor. In German, we have a saying: „The devil always shits onto the same pile.“ (meaning that the rich keep getting richer.)
  • I also see a problem of content ownership. Think of icanhascheezburger: Who should the money go to? The million dollar Cheezburger network or the actual owner of the photographed cat in question? Maybe the Flattrs could be divided up in a flexible manner in cases like this.
  • What about stolen content, like opinion stealing that was quite popular a decade ago in all those opinion club websites?
  • Also, Flattr could become a precursor of an obligatory micropayment system for any web user with a internet access contract. It would be like taxes with the difference that the user has the say about where his money is going to. The idea of a flatrate is great, obligatory payment would be better. (I say this as a content creator who’s never seen a cent for anything, so I guess a few Euros per month wouldn’t hurt all of us internet users)
  • Maybe Flattr users should be able to preset Flattr uses, like „one share per month automatially goes to Greenpeace as a donation“. This would help specially selected organizations like Greenpeace and the money of all those little old ladies and gramps who set up Flattr and then forget (how) to use it would be put to use in a non-threatening way.
  • Better yet: How about a setting that automatically distributes your Flattrs to all the websites you visit in a month?
  • I may add to this article if more comes to mind.

Ein Gedanke zu „My two Cents about Flattr“

  1. Hi,
    You can try and install Rewrd buttons too. It is similar in concept, BUT different in execution. Rewrd is on the Simple side of things, and provides a „solution“ to your flaws:

    – It supports anonymous Rewrds. Add to that a scalable privacy setting: friends of friends, friends only e.t.c.
    – It supports content verification with META tags.
    – It supports one time payments only. NO subscriptions. Payments start from as low as 50 CENTS.
    – It supports donations to non-profits.
    – It takes only 3% of every payment, and it uses NO PAYPAL. It has it’s own CC billing system that is quite safe(from a pan-european retailer called


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