I’ve been keeping an eye on an interesting service called Flattr for awhile now. It’s a “social micropayments” service that had been in private beta for awhile, but is now open to anybody who wants to join.
Flattr’s premise is that you, as a user, choose a small amount of money to pay each month — anywhere from €2 to €100 — and split it up evenly amongst websites you like. Suppose you read an interesting blog post here and click my Flattr button, and do the same for nine other websites in the space of a month. If your monthly contribution is €2, each of those ten websites will get €0.20. The more items you Flattr, the less everyone gets, but they still get something. The general idea is that if enough people are in on this, web publishers could make some nice pocket change without putting a dent in their audiences’ wallets. It’s as easy as voting up a story or retweeting, but with a direct monetary benefit.
Anyway, I really like the idea, but it suffers from a lack of users. There are some large blogs and open source projects using it, but it’s not quite mainstream enough to be a big deal.
If you’re a publisher or open source software developer, add a Flattr button to your website. It’s a great way to get a small “tip” once in awhile. If more frequently-trafficked sites implement it, more users should surface. You have to be an active Flattr-er yourself if you want to receive Flattrs as well.