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So I just signed up for a Flattr account.

For those who haven't heard of it, Flattr is a new sort of micropayment service, currently in beta. The traditional problem with micropayments has been that the simple act of deciding whether it's worth it to pay even a few cents takes a disproportionate amount of mental energy. More often than not, even if you could easily afford paying a dollar or two, you find the decision so bothersome that you end up not paying anything at all.

Flattr avoids this by creating a system where you never directly decide to pay extra money. Instead, you make a monthly payment (minimum two euros) to your Flattr account. When you encounter a person with a Flattr account whose work you happen to like, you click on a button they have up, and it registers an upvote from you (kinda like diggs on Digg, likes on Facebook, upvotes on Less Wrong, et cetera). At the end of each month, the payment you made is divided between all the people that you upvoted. If you gave two euros and clicked on two people, they get a euro each. If you gave five euros and clicked on ten people, they get half a euro each. And so on. (Well, slightly less. Flattr currently takes a 10% cut, which is a lot, but I expect it to get smaller as they get bigger. If not, similar but competing services should spring up soon enough to drive the cost down.)

I find the idea brilliant, and that's not just because I came up with it independently several months before I heard someone had created a company around it. As someone who's gotten used to upvoting things on LW and liking things on Facebook, I've for a while hoped that I could do that for everything. Now I can do it, and give cool people money as well! Not to mention that I can put up Flattr links all over my own sites and see if anyone likes my writing enough to give me a few cents.

I'm signing up both so I can get a Flattr button on my sites, and so that I can start flattring the people I like. Unfortunately, not too many people know about this service yet, but their website has handy lists of sites using the service. Maybe I'll find something interesting that way.

Annoyingly, they currently have some hick-up on their site that has all the payments disabled, so I can't send them my first euros and start flattring people (or add flattr buttons on my sites). But hopefully that should be fixed soon.

I very much wish that this service would become big soon. It has the potential to be totally awesome.

September 2017

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