Do you still want to give to get?

give to get To use Flattr’s system to get money, you have to first give.

While many like this, there have been complaints about it making the system more complex and that it might scare new users away from starting to use it. (It even took me 2 weeks or so to actually put money into it, back when PayPal was the only option, and I was longing to start giving!)

There have been quite a few discussions about this on our forum, ever since we started up Flattr. Not only on the forum, but in blogs here and there as well, on Twitter and so forth. The thoughts about it vary, some of them contained in texts such as:

Some of the early skepticism about Flattr suggested that people would be unwilling to pay for content they could already get for free. Others said that the only people that would use Flattr would be publishers.

Some people are trying out Flattr as an experiment, hopefully viewing it as a possible investment for their future with comments like:

One of the rules of Flattr is, you have to give to get. I can’t benefit from the system without first putting anything into the system. I have allotted 2 euros per month, and I put enough in my account to give me a 4-month stockpile of credits, so I will be testing this service out for a third of a year.

We now know that most of our users are givers. They are not here to get. Does this address some of the concern, or is it as simple as the people who just want to get aren’t bothering to sign up, since they’re required to give?

To that point, some really do dread having to give:

I don’t accept donations via my site, as it’s ad-supported and they more than pay my hosting bill. I’m not joining a service that wants me to pay to receive. I’m the talent, I should get paid not pay.

So with some of this feedback regarding “give to get”, is this how we really want it? What are your thoughts?

And please tell us if you’re primarily a giver or a getter!

19 thoughts on “Do you still want to give to get?

  1. I started to use flattr a few months after I started my blog. I had no clear imagination how much money I can get from it.
    Sure, it always depends on the amount, qualitiy and subject of the articles I write. By having a look at my revenue reports I see that in 50% of the months I get close to the amount I pay into my flattr account each month. At first, I just wanted to run flattr as a test. But now I don’t really care about my revenue for the moment.
    Flattr is a cool way to set yourself a monthly budget that you can give to content producers on the web. I will see if I can increase my monthly flattr amount.
    To sum it up: Currently I use flattr rather to give and mainly to bloggers. As I am a blogger myself and I love reading good blogs, I know that it is quite a lot of work to produce good articles. For me a good or helpful article is worth a flattr click :)

  2. I signed up in the hopes of getting money out of it. I put about 10 Euros in, and since then I have been getting more than the 2 Euros I give each month (so I took 30 Euros out and still have not needed to put new money in).

    I really enjoy clicking other peoples flattr buttons whenever they do something I like, and I get dissapointed that I can’t tell all my friends to get it, because it costs money.

    Maybe a trial period of like 3 months would solve that.

  3. I’m not sure what to think about it.

    Knowing humans, I’m very sure that there will be people who will stop giving. On the other hand, I think this number will be quite low.

    Without the 2€/Month “forced payment” there will be a lot more content creators who will just “try to get some money”. This will definitly create more “givers”, just because there will be more content to flattr.
    And hey, maybe the “I only want to receive” people will want to give some love back some day – There is still hope ;)

    Conclusion: Yep. Do, it! :D

  4. Not to be forced to pay would lead me to re-activate my account.
    I do not like to “have-to-give-to-get”, but agree to @SkaveRat, maybe, when i get enough, i’ll give some-thing back.
    So, please, give ME the choise, HOW to use this and don’t push me to give…

  5. I get a little less than I give. I hope that will change, as I am planning to provide some content.

    To necessarily give-to-get is a bar, but more an ideolocial, than a financial.
    I can’t imagine how 2 € can affect anybodys budget.

    I appeciate this principle especially for that “I’m the talent” …holes.
    Maybe they start to think about what the sources are, they are dending on and taking profit from.

    To lower this ideolocial bar:
    Some prominent success stories would help.
    Maybe you can build a feature, where I can easy-publish my income, as I am planning that to do anyway and some others do to. So you can create some optional income toplists and other bloggers may think “Hey, if he is on the profit-site with that crap, I should be too.”

    But giving you Money is not as easy for common people, as you are not taking it from my bank account directly. For me PayPal is fine, but thats not common sense for everybody.

    If you really want to offer a “not giving you money first”-option: Maybe you can create an account with 25% charge on income instead of 10% until the 2 € limit is reached. It would have another advance. You don’t have to deactivate things if the money is out, you just change it to 25%-percent-receive-only mode.

    But I think it is essential to spread the meme of giving on the Internet, even with a little push at the beginning.
    Best regards

  6. I agree with the “Spread the giving-meme”. And I think this works very well at the moment.

    But changing the fee for under-2€-users will only make flattr more complicated again. This system has to be as simple as possible. That’s the strength of flattr, and it will lose a LOT of it’s power if we overcomplicate things

  7. i signed up for flattr because i wanted to give someting to the to the content i like and thats whats flattr is about . i started using flattr a year ago i think and first i didnt have the balls to put money in my flattr account but after some time i did it and now a love flattr. now i can support does that i love ;)

  8. How about a dynamic Monthly-Flattr-Amount-Minimum?
    If i get nothing, the Limit is 1 Euro. When I get something, the Limit could 10% or max. 25% i’ve got last month.
    So, if i get more, i have to give more. Thats fair.

  9. For me the 2 euros monthly minimum is fine. I’m a giver and I usually give way more than 2 euros because I visit a lot of sites that can be flattred and want my flatters to be worth at least around 10 ct.

    Decreasing the minimum amount might make users give less – that does not seem desirable. Decreasing only for givers makes me wonder how to tell givers and getters apart (and keep advocating giving at the same time).

    Maybe you could stop deactivating the flattr buttons of accounts that are out of funds so they can be flattered. If 0 < $means < 2, the first 2-$means euros of revenue would be transferred/linked to means directly. Users would still only be able to give with means of at least 2 euros (or can you also flattr with your last 1,99 euros?). This would of course give no money for accounts that have neither means, nor revenue, but maybe that's the very rare cases? That way it might be possible to create more opportunities to give attracting more givers later without having the getters feel like "paying" (vs. giving) in the meantime.

  10. I primarily use flattr as a donor. In the open source community I try and spread a variety of donations around various projects and flattr helps me do that easily, along with keeping me within my limits of expendable income. I think flattr work greats for both the giver and receiver and I for one hope that an even greater number of companies start accepting flattr donations.

  11. I think that flattr is a serious step in the right direction.
    I do wonder though if our culture is ready for it.
    It still seems that we dont fully understand that from a purely mathmatical approach, the best long term path to social prosperity is not through taking, or hording, or forcing through patents, but through social generosity.
    We still seem to think in terms of conditional capitalism, and consider everything an exchange, expecting to “get something out of it”. This really isnt the point. The point of flattr is to do away with controling capitalism, and move into a mindset of democratic gratitude. Flattr at its core is not about getting. Its about funding what is important and meaningful through un-regulated generosity.
    The only conditional at this point is the integrity of flattr itself.

  12. I started one of those threads on softening giving to get. I still hold that the problem with give-to-get is not the principle, but the practicality.

    It’s not so much that people would mind the principle that you have to give back; but that it makes it just that tiny extra little bit harder to use the site, that tiny extra little bit harder to explain how the it works and to convince somebody to give it to try.

    Now that we know that people joining flattr are mostly givers, maybe we should think about making the site a lot easier for people to sign and join. It’s got to be super easy with nothing to lose.

    People are busy, and the slightest difficulty can make the difference between “OK let’s try this Flattr thing” and “…oh sounds cool, I’ll get around to it some day.” If we want Flattr to take off, we need to push past that gap from pretty easy and not too painful into dead simple and painless. Just a tiny little bit of friction is lethal.

    Getting rid of give-to-get for non-profits was a step in the right direction. I hope we either do away with it or implement something like the softer variant I proposed (first 2€ people give you goes into your means, you can withdraw the rest; same principle without the hurdle).

    Also we should be careful who we talk to. People who already use Flattr or are fans of Flattr may not be the right ones to ask. These are the kinds of people who are already interested enough in the idea to happily bulldoze past that tiny little technical hurdle. The kind of people we should be thinking about are folks that are NOT on Flattr.

  13. When I first signed up, i was thinking myself, o Sh*t you have to pay something to get something, but now i understand why.
    I think the ideologial idea behind give to get is very important, it’s what makes flattr a _social_ micropayment service. I like the idea that you give away a share of what you earn with flattr, of course not everybodys revenue cover up his own flattr budget, but i think its one of the most important mechanisms to make shure there is money rotating inside the system.
    Plus it makes sure, the Publishers keep track of the Flattr-Universe, look after flattrably things themselfs und it is another drive to search for good content, that is flattr worthy. It keeps up the respect for the work of others.
    Users that just sign up to get their share without giving any contribution don’t bring forward the system and the idea of flattr.

    To say it clear, if you are not willing to give you shouldn’t get anything.

  14. Just got another idea, after finishing the last post: To connect the amount of what you have to give on what get. For example 10% of you revenues always go back into your flattr budget. If this is less than 2€ you can wait until you reach it and would still be able to receive earnings (you’re account won’t be set innactive), that means users who don’t make a lot won’t be “charged” extra. On the other hand users who earn a couple of euros woulöd be compelled to give it back to the community, a little bit more than others, cause they profit more from it.
    Would bemore social, buit on the other hand it would be more complex, and maybe some will perceipt it as another fee, because it is kind of a tax-system. Plus i don’t know what it would do to the cash in-flow, if it would lower them and by that lead to an even bigger circulation of the money just inside the system.
    But maybe its worth thinking about.

  15. Thank you all for your answers! :) It’s nice to see so much feedback coming in on this!

    In regards to asking other people, outside of the Flattr-universe: Just share this! And ask your friends, or whoever, that might not use it yet what they think. and do tell them that we’d love their oppinions on this matter as well! :)

  16. It’s awesome that you’re seeking feedback on this! And asking for comments from outside the flattrverse sounds like a good idea.

    Two note of caution though.

    First, the kinds of people we want to pay attention to may not be the kind of people who are sufficiently invested in Flattr’s attention to even want to think about this. We all are having this conversation because on some level we care about Flattr (whether because we want to use it, or because we want to see it succeed). So asking them to think about these issues may not be so useful.

    Second, we should avoid falling into the trap of asking our users to design the system for us. It may help to think in User Experience terms, that is, by trying to figure out who our users are, what are their goals and how we can help them to achieve these goals. But our users probably don’t think about what their goals are; they’re just getting on with their lives, so asking them won’t help. Research will.

    Inventing some pseudo-personas [the proper way to do this would be with some research, so apologies to any UX people out there], imagine Brad a global nomad, travelling the world on a shoestring, taking pictures, meeting people and blogging about it. Or Ellie a musician from Lubbock, Texas who went to university in New York and started a punk rock band. Ellie just started putting videos for her songs on YouTube to share with fans or new listeners. Brad and Ellie are content creators, but they’re not part of any sort of digerati; they don’t really care about social media issues or anything of that sort. In fact they don’t actually spend all that much time online, except maybe to catch up on Facebook, put up a blog entry/video and check for comments on their fans. I think we should help Brad and Ellie! But will we get anywhere by asking them what they want?

  17. How about giving get-only people a black flattr button, so everybody will see that they’re skinny? :)
    I started watching flattr long ago, but I haven’t put money into it because there’s so little content to flattr. Enabling get-only accounts would help that.
    By the way, I’m currently a give-only person, because I like that there’s a fixed monthly price for my donations. But unfortunately many projects (Wikipedia for example), are not flattrable :(

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