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.

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.
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  • Uriah

    Hi Steve,

    It’s a great idea, and I per­son­ally love Flattr. Espe­cially because they’re one of the few orga­ni­za­tions that still enable you to sup­port Wik­iLeaks.

    Good to see it gain­ing wider accep­tance.



  • Blot

    I think you would be bet­ter off let­ting us pre-order your book with a bonus gift (Koscuiszko Soup mug?) or dis­count or some­thing, and putting a link to that at the bot­tom of each page :o)

  • I’ll work on it Blot…

  • Unfor­tu­nately, these types of things do not work well for those of us who use anony­mous VPN’s as Aus­tralia and the US are actively track­ing web users, and all social net­works, mobile phones, etc, I’ll stick to the VPN.

    But I like the idea from Blot but I need either a PDF or Kin­dle ver­sion thanks.

    Para­noia keeps you alive!

  • sir­ius

    from the flattr FAQ page

    We do not data mine any data unless we ask for your per­mis­sion.”

    I hate stuff like this.

    Expe­ri­ence tells me to pay no atten­tion to what is writ­ten on “pri­vacy pro­tec­tion”. I have had sites that promise to keep ones pri­vacy and I know for a fact that this has been vio­lated sev­eral times. (I have a sure-fire method to know this).

    As an insur­ance lady con­fided in me the other week “peo­ple will do any­thing when times get dif­fi­cult”.

  • Steve,

    A sug­ges­tion for you to con­sider.

    Per­haps you could make up a wid­get to link directly to the direct sale of your book –some­thing that is slightly artis­tic and qual­i­ta­tive whilst pleas­ing to the eye of both the Gen­tle­man and the Lady — with the capa­bil­ity of vari­able heights and widths. I don’t do com­mer­cial activ­i­ties on my Blog but I would be delighted to emplace your Book link there­upon, free of any charge or com­mis­sions’ — in fact, I would con­sider it both an hon­our and com­pli­ment.

    Blogs are the future for goal for self-gov­ern­ment of integrity and sci­en­tific pur­suit and rep­re­sent the higher attain­ments of intel­lec­tual val­ues, while the trend is well set in the ‘philoso­phers’ stone’, to this end.



  • Hi Peter, Yes I’ll be doing some­thing like that for the book–linking to both the eBook and hard copy sales.

    For the ben­e­fit of blog mem­bers, here’s what the cover will prob­a­bly be.

  • Philip

    Great book cover, much bet­ter than the bor­ing cov­ers on most eco­nom­ics books these days (and those of the past).

  • LOL Serendip­ity, I believe.

    The shade of the colour blue which you use, is the colour asso­ci­ated with funer­als by the Can­tonese peo­ples of South­ern China 

    Most appro­pri­ate.

  • BR

    Flattr does look rather clever.

    Par­tic­u­larly inter­est­ing is the require­ment to donate a few euros (min­i­mum two per month) before you can receive any­thing. I’m sure we’ve all had the idea of giv­ing some­thing to help alter­na­tive media and other con­tent cre­ators but the clumsy pro­ce­dures of credit cards and pay­pal etc serve as an effec­tive bar­rier.

    Flattr is as sim­ple as click­ing on a ‘Like’ but­ton in Google reader or Face­book. And the total donated can be eas­ily con­trolled such that it is within anyone’s bud­get. So now there is no excuse!

  • ak

    On some­thing what seems to be an unre­lated topic but prob­a­bly might in the end be related.

    The elec­tions are near…

    So Syd­ney Morn­ing Her­ald is run­ning a mar­ket­ing cam­paign for this blog by “debunk­ing debunk­ing” in the usual way. The mar­ket­ing logic of this sorry times of the Post-Indus­trial-Era 2.0 is that it is irrel­e­vant why one is famous as long as enough clicks are gen­er­ated.

  • Excel­lent arti­cle from Mish

    and he doesn’t even men­tion Moral Haz­ard or those secret tun­nels from Bank to Par­lia­ment.

  • Some­thing that I have been mulling over for some time now:


    A new Epoch approaches…

  • What is the back­ground image of the Blog Steve? dutch tulips?

  • Yes Peter. A cor­re­spon­dent expressed alarm about the pre­vi­ous background–which was just the default for that par­tic­u­lar Word­Press theme. I thought this might be more appro­pri­ate, as well as colour­ful.

  • Derek

    I can’t see this icon at the bot­tom of your posts. Is it sup­posed to be before the com­ments or after them ?

  • It’s just below the post and above the link to the com­ments on the front page of the blog Derek–maybe your browser is hav­ing trou­ble dis­play­ing it? Check with another browser if you can.

  • Derek

    Okay, when using Chrome, I can see them but when using Inter­net Explorer (ver­sions 7 and 6), I can’t. No big deal now that I know. It’s just that I can see you miss­ing out on poten­tial dona­tions from IE users who aren’t aware that dona­tion is a pos­si­bil­ity because they can’t see the but­tons.

    I sup­pose it’s some­thing I should take up with the Flattr peo­ple or with the Word­Press Flattr plu­gin author

  • I can see it in Explorer 8 Derek; prob­a­bly best if you con­tact Flattr and report the prob­lem.

  • Steve, thanks for the expla­na­tion. I had joined and put money in my account.

    I am still try­ing to work out how to use flattr.

    I tied to flattr you about 15 min­utes ago. Can you tell me if I suc­ceeded.

  • Steve,

    If a flat­trer thinks that one arti­cle is par­tic­u­larly good, can she/he flattr that arti­cle more than once in a given account­ing period?

    That way a flat­trer would be able to pay more for arti­cles she/he like smore.