Why We're No Longer Trying Flattr


Nearly a year ago now, I wrote this blog post about how and why The F Plus was trying Flattr to accept voluntary donations to the podcast. I explained my reasons for trying, and described the whole thing as "an experiment".

That experiment has now concluded.

Firstly, I want to start by saying that I recognize that a number of people did, indeed, push the Flattr button to contribute monetarily to the podcast, but not a lot. I also recognize that for the people who did, everyone who told me about the experience shared that they set up a Flattr account specifically for that purpose, and couldn't find other good sources to spread the wealth around to. That's unfortunate, because it really defeats the purpose of the principle.

It's not the system, it's the implementation.

Which is to say: I still am very, very much on board with the idea of a unified system for micropayments to websites or services that I like, but I don't think Flattr is going to provide that system

I don't envy the Flattr team for the struggle they've taken upon themselves. What they're trying to push is a different dynamic entirely where money is linked to social media-type actions. There's a lot of education and promotion that needs to be done, and as watched their progress over the last year-or-so, I've lost faith that they're up to the task. Updates to the system have been slow, and rather than seeing growth, the platform seems to be struggling to just keep the users it already has.

We then come back to the self-defeating problem of "I don't want to use this unpopular thing because it's unpopular", but when I jumped into the service, I wanted to see if it would take off. I wanted to see if there was a way for people to take it upon themselves to improve a web landscape that is positively riddled with horrible ads, data warehousing, and browser extensions that steal and sell your personal information. This is all happening because it's difficult to cover costs on an internet where "free" is the default setting for all content and services. To cover their costs, providers do a lot of dubious things, and your own personal information is the easiest target.

I hope this can change, I want it to. But the system to change that has to be better than the ones currently offered.

So, that's where we're at.

This change gave me the inspiration to outline the many ways you can contribute to the podcast, including setting up a page where you can choose to donate to the podcast via PayPal, and I'd appreciate it if you did. I'm keeping the Flattr account dormant for the time being, but have removed all the links from the site. To those of you who did join in on this experience, I really do appreciate it. If Flattr ever decouples itself from Skrill maybe I'll get that money you donated.

Thanks for reading.