Monday, February 15, 2010

My un-Flattr-ing opinion

Reader GG asked in the open Sunday thread whether I would consider using a service like Flattr for this blog. Flattr is a new thing, now in beta, from one of the founders of Pirate Bay, which would allow readers to pay for content on the internet. It is a word play on both "to flatter", and "flatrate": Users pay a flat rate to Flattr every month. During the month they click on Flattr button on various other websites, blogs or other content, for everything they like. Then at the end of the month their monthly contribution (minus a 10% cut) is distributed evenly among all the sites they flattr-ed. So if they paid a $2 monthly fee and clicked on Flattr buttons for 9 pieces of content they liked, each of the content creators would receive 20 cents.

I do not think this will work. From the side of the content creators, this is basically the equivalent of them going round with a tin can to collect alms. And for the content consumers it gives them the choice of either consuming content for free, or signing up to pay in advance for content they haven't even seen yet. I would say it is rather predictable which of the two options they would choose. I'd have more luck with a Paypal donation button, and even that one wouldn't pay for more than a cup of coffee. Basic market economy: A price of something is determined by supply and demand, and if there are enough people offering written content on the internet for free, the price you can ask for that approaches zero.

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