How the Flattr network effect works, and answers the big question “will people actually pay for content online?”

How the Flattr network effect works. A new payment system for creators and publishers. Illustrative image.

One of the core problems with Flattr has always been to prove to creators and publishers that people do want support their creations with money. We can claim that is the truth as much as we want, but in the end it’s still just a sales pitch for our product. We needed a way to actually prove it, and now we can.

As long as the creator needed to add the Flattr button to their site there was no way for someone to indicate that they wanted to support a creator. At least not in a tangible enough way to be some kind of proof. With the extension this is not a problem. The extension does not know or care if there actually is a registered creator or publisher for the page that gets flattred, it always sends us the flattr. This happens for two reasons.

Firstly, the extension can’t always know the owner itself. The lookup of ownership needs in many cases to be done via our backend. Secondly, to solve the problem above, we have to know what people actually want to give money to. This is the data we need to be able to prove to a creator or publisher that there are people that want to give them money.

Your money always has a receiver
It’s important to know that we do not keep any money waiting to be collected. The flattrs towards users that have signed up to Flattr become transactions, the rest do not. This means the creators and publishers that have joined Flattr will share your entire subscription. The flattrs without a known receiver are only used as the above mentioned proof.

So your flattrs can very well be the reason that a creator or publisher joins, which means from the next month and onwards, you could give them money.

In reality, all flattrs you make are equally important, because they prove the network effect that is one of the core features of Flattr. We can use your explicit wishes as proof for publishers and creators that this works. Also, when creators and publishers join you will start to support them automatically without doing anything differently. The same goes for creators and publishers, they just join and any existing contributor that flattred them will of course automatically continue to do that, but from now, with money, without any need for either party to change, update, or do any explicit actions at all.

Find out more about joining Flattr as a creator/publisher here, or a contributor here.

Stay tuned, more updates coming soon!

4 thoughts on “Network effect: Flattrs without known receiver

  1. Will there be a public tool where publishers and users can see how many times in an average month people have tried to Flattr a given domain? Or will you keep that data private and use it to reach out to the top uncollected recipients?

  2. You mean to say ‘recipient’ and not ‘receiver’ throughout the blog post. The same mistake is made on the label for a toggle control on the new Flattr dashboard.

  3. The plan is both, we want to show this publicly in some form. So people like you can help us out. But we can’t and won’t show it all. But we will of course use all we can to try and convince creators/publishers that they should join when we talk to them.

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