Flattr - Initial Impressions

Today, I got my first ever tip, via Flattr.

It was (predictably) for vCardSplit. My gift that just keeps on giving... the cockroach of software!

Flattr isn't quite like other payment systems. This isn't a donation of a fixed amount - with Flattr you put money into a tip jar on a monthly basis, and go round "Flattring" things.

The act of a Flattr is kind of like a Facebook like - it can be public, which is why they call it "social micropayments". People can wander along to my profile and see what I've Flattred. If I chose to allow it, they could even see the amounts.
(But I don't. And yes, there's also an option to simply hide all your activity as well - including past activity. The company is run by Swedish folks, who seem to understand privacy.)

The clever bit is that at the end of each month, Flattr takes your monthly allowance and divides it equally amongst all the things you Flattred. So you don't get to determine the amount - it's just taken care of.

Didn't Flattr anything? Nothing goes out!

Want to Flattr someone more? Just go back next month. Or click twice, and set up a monthly subscription to their work...

The idea is that, on grander scales, it'll all even out for those being Flattred - some people give proportionately small amounts during busy months, and some people give proportionately large amounts during slow ones.
But it's better than nothing, and more likely to happen because the costs are fixed for the person giving.

Plus, it's a simple click to say "this is good enough that I want to give you some money".
How cool is that?

Flattr take a cut, of course - and at the moment, it's a fairly high 10%. The hope is that as it scales up, their costs will drop and that rate can be reduced.

Frankly, that 10% is the only thing I'm not too keen on - but nothing's free, and I really like the idea. Up until recently, I'd only experimented in using it to give, and the main problem was just finding the time to experiment in using it to receive.

So on Sunday, I integrated Flattr with my website as a test.

It was pretty easy! Especially as there's a Drupal module for it, so it was pretty much "install module, configure permissions, configure module, done".

So then I started looking at PayPal donate buttons etc.
I wanted to put all methods of donation live at once, so I thought I'd turned Flattr off, but I evidently didn't!

But this was probably a good thing. I've crossed the Rubicon - I'm not just (very occasionally) using Flattr to give to others, but now I'm offering them the chance to give to me.

I really like Flattr, both in idea and implementation. Really, if anything, what it's mostly missing is that critical mass of people using it.

I hope that it gets the scale it needs, and am happy to be adding my +1 to the party.

And remember, I don't know if I've got tuppence or a tenner from this first Flattr, as this month's payment dividing hasn't yet been done. So I'm not biased, and can honestly say I've not been paid for my thoughts here!