What’s Flattr?

Flattr this!

You will notice a strange lit­tle icon at the bot­tom of all my posts now:

This is just an image--the actual Flattr button is at the end of the post

This is just an image–the actu­al Flat­tr but­ton is at the end of the post

This is a link to a new web sys­tem called Flat­tr. It’s a way of enabling micro­pay­ments to be made via the web.

One of the great strengths of the web is the great abun­dance of free material—and this site is part of that. How­ev­er it’s also one of its great weak­ness­es, since it’s not free for web authors like myself to pro­vide this infor­ma­tion.

The usu­al way around this is for web­sites to take adver­tis­ing, and there are some sites that do very well out of that—but not many. Some web­sites try sub­scrip­tions, but this under­mines the first strength of the web—the infor­ma­tion is no longer freely avail­able.

Some news­pa­pers like the New York Times are try­ing an inno­v­a­tive com­bi­na­tion of the two—and I think their mod­el is quite a good one (up to 20 sto­ries a month for free, beyond that they’ll require you to be a sub­scriber). That could work for large gen­uine­ly com­mer­cial sites like theirs, but it’s an impos­si­ble method for every­one.

I’ve been hop­ing that one day some­one would devel­op a gen­uine micro­pay­ment sys­tem for web content—so that rather than being asked to fork out $50 a year for this site, and $75 for that and so on, it would be pos­si­ble to make tiny pay­ments for infor­ma­tion you real­ly appre­ci­at­ed. But the tech­nol­o­gy to devel­op gen­uine micro­pay­ments seems too costly—thus far—to make this fea­si­ble.

Enter Flat­tr. I have no idea how it will work in the long term, but one of the donors to this site brought it to my atten­tion a month or so ago:

Hi Steve
I heard about you via the auto­mat­icearth (Stoneleigh & Ilar­gi), and recent­ly gave you a dona­tion for your excel­lent work.
Have you thought of offer­ing flat­tr rather than pay­pal for dona­tions? See www.flattr.com.
Flat­tr is a site designed to enable reg­u­lar “micro-dona­tions” to good caus­es such as your own…”

Now that I’ve fin­ished writ­ing Debunk­ing Eco­nom­ics, I thought I’d imple­ment it on my site to see how it goes.

The idea is that, first­ly, you—the reader—have to sign up to Flat­tr, and agree to give a set amount per month (the min­i­mum being 2 Euros) to Flat­tr-enabled sites. If then, you click on (say) 100 of these sites over a month, each of them will get 2 cents. If you click on only one, it gets 2 Euros.

Of course there are deduc­tions from which the Flat­tr site makes mon­ey, and pro­vi­sions for when you don’t click at all in a month (it goes to a set of char­i­ties) etc. From a quick perusal of the site yes­ter­day, I like the way they’ve put this togeth­er and I think their oper­a­tions and inten­tions are eth­i­cal.

I have no idea whether the idea will catch on, or whether it will raise much mon­ey for those who imple­ment it. But I like its con­cept and I think it’s worth a try, so I’ve imple­ment­ed it here (and I’ve signed up to give 5 Euros a month myself).

If you’d like to “Flat­tr” any of my posts, then first­ly you have to go to their site and sign up:


Then when­ev­er you see a site with this icon, if you appre­ci­ate what you read on it, you can click on the “My Thing” but­ton you’ll see there to put some of your Flat­tr pay­ments towards it.

At the moment, most Flat­tr-enabled sites are European—the devel­op­ers are Swedish—but if it takes off, the num­ber of Eng­lish-lan­guage sites should grow.

You can check out more details on Flat­tr at their FAQ page.

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About Steve Keen

I am Professor of Economics and Head of Economics, History and Politics at Kingston University London, and a long time critic of conventional economic thought. As well as attacking mainstream thought in Debunking Economics, I am also developing an alternative dynamic approach to economic modelling. The key issue I am tackling here is the prospect for a debt-deflation on the back of the enormous private debts accumulated globally, and our very low rate of inflation.