What Flattr is and why you should be using it.

Malmö, Sweden

I like… things.  And I really like the things I like.  I want there to be more of the things I like and fewer of the things I don't like.

Things I don't like include:

  • mean people
  • news about mean people
  • derogatory speeches, hurtful words, slurs
  • violence
  • eye-for-an-eye mentality
  • fearmongering
  • discrimination (not to be confused with having discriminating tastes!)
  • "if it bleeds, it leads" sensationalism
  • focusing on what's wrong (a.k.a., cursing the darkness)
  • cruelty, especially animal cruelty
  • bullying

 

Things I do like include:

  • laughter
  • smiles
  • nice people
  • purring kitties and waggy doggies
  • random acts of kindness
  • new understanding
  • breaking down of barriers
  • growth
  • connection
  • compassion
  • justice
  • positive news
  • real people (vs. stereotypes and labels)
  • focusing on what's right (a.k.a., lighting a candle)

 

One of the ways that I try to live my life with integrity is to bring laughter to my posts.  I am not always a comic genius, but I do elicit my fair share of smiles and chuckles.  (I was even told recently, "You're quite witty — for an American."  Er, thanks?)  I watch my word choices carefully and I try to make fun of my perceptions and preconceptions, rather than people.

I also use my purchasing power, such as it is, to buy products from companies that do not practice animal testing.  This sometimes leaves me in the unenviable position of worrying if this all-natural deodorant goop will really work, or whether I'm in danger of killing my comrades with an afternoon of oniony armpit assaults.  (Sorry, comrades, the bunnies win every time, though I do hang my head — and arms — in shame when the temperature rises.)  And even though I'm still getting started with this whole blogging thing, I've already banned a couple of advertisers from my site because they endorse greyhound racing.

But much of this falls under the Things I Don't Like category. Let's focus on the positive, shall we?  I DO like making responsible choices, I DO like supporting good causes, and I DO like encouraging artists and other creators to bring more awesomeness into the world.  This is where Flattr comes in.

 

 

It was created by some of those crazy Swedish yahoos behind The Pirate Bay.  I applaud their move toward legitimacy, as I strongly believe artists should be paid for their work, not penalized because greedy DRM-touting a-holes make it difficult for people to legally access content.

I know, I know — I still haven't told you what it is. 

Flattr is a micropayments system that allows you to make tiny donations to the creators of work that you appreciate. 

 

The Flattr website explains it thusly:

Flattr was founded to help people share money, not just content. Before Flattr, the only reasonable way to donate has been to use Paypal or other systems to send money to people. The threshold for this is quite high. People would just ignore the option to send donations if it wasn't for a really important cause. Sending just a small sum has always been a pain in the ass. Who would ever even login to a payment system just to donate €0.01? And €10 was just too high for just one blog entry we liked. Flattr solves this issue.

 

"Great!" you say.  "I am all about supporting those awesome bloggers, musicians, and codemonkeys who make the things I enjoy!  I totally get that I don't have to buy Fruity Blergs With Marshmallows just because they launched a buhjillion dollar advertising campaign to get me to buy their faux flavored flakes. 

…But how does it work?"

The good folks at Flattr suggest you start with cake.  Or at least a deliciously comprehensible birthday cake analogy.  I mean, if you had a cake, you'd want to share it with people you liked, right?  …RIGHT?  *stern look* 

So, gentle reader, you set aside a small amount of money and add it to your Flattr account for the month.  When you find things to Flattr — blogs, photos, software, music, charities, etc. — you clicky the little Flattr button on the site.  (You can also find cool things on the Flattr site itself.)  The number of things you Flattr determines the amount that each creator receives at the end of that month, much like dividing a cake between a set number of people determines the size of the slices.

 

You can set up monthly Flattrs for your favorite creators, too!

 

And yes, once you set up an account, you can receive Flattrs, too — maybe bunches!  It may seem like a trivial amount at times, but as they say in Swedish, "Many streams will form a large river."  (You can watch the video linked on the front page of Flattr and hear one of the guys actually say that in Swedish, too.  Neat!)  It really does add up — and it makes a difference in the way we look at marketing and commerce.

 

[Clarification: According to Pelle Wessman, one of the web developers who works for Flattr (see comments on this post), you don't need to make a monthly contribution.  You can make one larger contribution and then choose how much of that you want to use each month.  This saves PayPal fees and makes sure that more of your Flattr funds go directly to the creators you want to support.  You can find more in the Flattr FAQ.  Thanks for setting us straight, Pelle!]

 

my husband does this all the time.  aww...

Geeks In Love comic used with the artist's permission (and duly Flattr-ed, of course).

 

My husband, Dario, is a founding member of both the Democratici Diretti (Direct Democracy) and the local money movement in Italy.  Here is his take on Flattr:

Flattr nicks the last rampart of secular power: the idea that, under a facade of equality, we have to renounce something to give to others, and we have to ask others to renounce to something to get it. It's a first step towards the gift economy, in a world distracted and made cynical by the current model in which everything has an exchange value. Anything of value is reduced to the comparison with its cost.
 
Flattr allows everybody to contribute to the community as much as they like – no more, no less – in a space where What, How and Why matter more than How Much. A wonderful exercise in freedom, that helps us to find new ways to interact and support each others' art.

In short, Flattr is a good step toward making the free market truly free.

So, do you like… things?  And do you really like the things you like?  Then sign up for Flattr and start changing the world!

Click to register.

 


Update:

Since writing this post, Flattr has been updated and you can now "Flattr" anyone with a Twitter account.  This is great news for content creators everywhere on the web!

"The big news – Now you can flattr almost anyone. Since the beginning of Flattr times you, our users, have asked us for more great content to flattr. So we’ve brought you the whole internet. Or almost the whole internet, since we’re starting with enabling flattrs to Twitter user names. Almost everyone who’s someone has a Twitter account, so it’s tens of millions of creators you can show your support to now."

You can read more on the official Flattr blog.

 

18 thoughts on “What Flattr is and why you should be using it.

  1. Flattr is a wonderful concept but I’m afraid it still lacks marketing power. It’s not like people register, charge their account and then start flattring stuff, i.e. give tipps for relevant content. Today it’s mostly bloggers that run Flattr accounts (in order to be able to receive money) but then they end up flattring other blogs and the money is transferred within the blogger community. Nice, but not necessarily what bloggers were wishing for.

    I hope the Flattr concept will gain more track in order to also attract people outside the blogger community.

    1. Hi, Walter. I can see why you might think that, since it’s being embraced by certain communities, including bloggers, early on, but I believe it is more than redistribution of funds from a limited pool.

      I checked with some of the folks at Flattr about your concerns. Unfortunately, they were unable to share exact numbers with the public at this time, but they assure me that this is not the case. (Forgive me if I sound like a corporate shill with that statement — I am not a sock puppet, I just dig this stuff.) That is to say, there is lots of new money coming into the mix and reaching content creators.

      Additionally, with the implementation of the ability to Flattr anything on the internet, not just Flattr account holders, the possibilities are endless. I am really looking forward to this bit, I have to tell you — it’s like a tip jar for the web! Up until this point, the most I felt I could do for a site, story, piece of music or software that I liked was to tell my friends about it, leave a comment, or maybe tweet out the info.

      All these things are still fantastic, but often meant relying on the old model of advertising dollars or full-time cubicle work on the part of the creator. The work would maintain a hobby status with, perhaps, a distant dream of becoming self-supportive. Now I’ll be able to put my money toward things I support and believe in much more directly, bypassing and changing current revenue models. Since I am a bit new-agey, too, this also feeds into my belief in the idea of plenty; fear and scarcity are the way of the past, and fruitful fecundity is the way of the future! Also, as someone who prefers direct communication, integrity, and efficiency (efficiency makes it easier to be lazy, you see ;), I LOVE this!

      Thanks for the opportunity to wax optimistic about the future, Walter. Cheers!

      1. If Flattr was to grow their reach that’s just fine with me ;-)

        Given their latest announcement about opening the system to a wider audience I will try Flattr also on my English travel blog travelmemo.com.

        So far I had only used it on my German travel blog reisememo.ch since Flattr first picked up in the German speaking world for some reason…

    2. Hi Walter,

      Just a quick note: I am not a blogger. Flattr is a fantastic tool for social entrepreneurs too!

  2. Hey, loved the post, as you already know since I’ve tweeted about it ;)
    But I wanted to add a notice about the plugin, for wordpress at least.
    THe guy who’s been developing it is finally on his well deserved honey moon, and we know that there are some issues with it.
    Try and just report it as an issue via the plugin support forum at wp, (there’s a special part for these) and he’ll see it when he gets back! :)

    1. Thanks very much, Maloki! I will make sure Phil gets the info.

      Really appreciate all the attention from the Flattr crew on this. I was in Malmö about a year ago. Shame I didn’t know about it then, or I would have stopped by to say hello. If any of you make it to Ireland, be sure to let me know! Cheers. :)

    1. Thanks very much, Meliha. I’m still figuring out how far to go with sharing my various philosophies here on the blog. I like to keep it lighthearted and upbeat, so it’s nice to know that the personal stuff is appreciated. :)

  3. Hey Katrina,
    I love flattr and I think it’s a great concept. I need to do something about the plug in though, it was going haywire. You mentioned the plug in was acting funny on your site at one point. What did you do to fix it?

    1. Hi, Phil! I went through several tweaks with the plugin. Some of it depends on what other plugins you’re using. I think some of the compression and script combining plugins were mucking with it, so I ended up turning a few of them off. You can also try the Flattr shortcode plugin, which allows you to manually insert the code (into the CSS, I think).

      I suggest starting by turning off your other plugins one by one (making sure any caching plugins you have are disabled first, so you can see the changes) to see if that helps. If not, uninstall, then re-install the plugin, and/or consider the Flattr shortcode plugin. If none of that works, try the wordpress.org forums.

      Oh, and if you individually submit an article on the site, you do get code to put into the post itself, though I haven’t tried that angle.

      Thanks for the comment, Phil! Look forward to Flattr-ing you again soon! :)

    1. You do not need to put money into Flattr each month – you can put a few months worth of giving into Flattr at once and only the amount you have specified to be given each month will be distributed between the things you Flattr – the rest will be kept for the next months. That way you can keep Paypal fees down :)

  4. This is very interesting, Katrina. Never heard of Flattr — thanks. I need to think about this, but you have me intrigued.

    And yes, you do have a wonderfully humorous style to your intelligent and interesting posts. I always enjoy!

    1. Aww, thanks, Cathy. Really makes my day to hear that. I’ll probably come back to this page a few times today just to read your comment. ;)

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