Soon we are officially launching a completely new, hands-off way to Flattr. So it’s about time to explain how it works and why we decided to do it this way. This is the first of a series of posts where we will also go into more detail about the internal work process around the new Flattr, as well as developer updates for some technical aspects.

Problems of the past

Flattr has up till now been a service demanding explicit user action – a click on a Flattr button. It was a technical solution for how to “mark” content that should get a part of your monthly contribution. It worked, but it had two major issues: First, the button needed to be implemented on the page you wanted to flattr. And second, you needed to remember to click the Flattr button. The button was a Javascript code snippet and nowadays it’s nearly impossible to add that at most sites. One click is not a big deal, but you needed to remember to do it or a site wouldn’t receive anything. We’ve needed a better solution for a long time; the new Flattr aims to solve these two problems.

Goals of the new Flattr

The first challenge was to create something that flattrs “automatically” so there is no need for the user to perform a task. The way forward was to create a clear connection between consumption and payment, something that actually was the origin of the Flattr idea almost 10 years ago. The logical solution was to let a flattr happen once enough engagement with the content has been made. This will make Flattr users flattr everything they care enough about by giving it their attention. Implementing such a simple idea is not necessarily a simple task. But that’s what makes it fun!

A browser extension

The solution to this problem is your browser. The browser knows what page you are on and what you are doing there. It can locally, and in a privacy-friendly way, make independent decisions based on that data, without us knowing the data itself. We understood that this was the way forward. The result was an algorithm that figures out what to flattr based on your local browser information. It then sends just the URL once a flattr happens. This keeps all the private data used for the decision on your device but still allows an automatic, smart flattr to happen. Of course you will always be in charge of where your contributions go. It’s a quite complex area so in a coming blogpost will we go into this in more detail.

Content ownership

The second problem to solve was to make flattring possible on any webpage without the need to add something like a special button to the page. Moving ownership lookup to our servers opened up simpler options for the creators, through the extension, we only receive the URL that gets flattred and than our servers look up which creator added the site to Flattr. Creators and publishers can easily link their sites and all their social accounts within their Flattr profile.

These are the core elements of the new Flattr system. Stay up-to-date by following us on Twitter and Facebook!

3 thoughts on “Key elements of the new Flattr – a status update

  1. Will this replace the current “button” option or will people still have the possibility to flattr via the button?

  2. Hi Alias,

    the extension will replace the button as implentation of the buttons became an obstacle for many content creators. But existing buttons will still be working!

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