Last week I discussed the interesting economics underlying a social nanopayment service like flattr. And I offered the gift economy pessimists (me included) some food for thought: the widespread fear that such approaches could still fail to draw in enough of the read-only audience (instead of drawing in just the writers themselves) could eventually be tackled by a critical mass of very cost-intensive sites requiring their users to register with flattr.com before being allowed to view the content.
But even if I myself liked this theoretical thought, in the real world it would leave us with a kind of chicken-egg problem: the first chickens who decide to move in such a direction (restricting access) could experience even worse problems to get a daily egg laid (and generate some income). But does the real world provide us just with white and dark eggs? All or nothing?
Restricting access is still more of the same all or nothing, black and white thinking, isn’t it? What if we don’t think in terms of restricting but instead more in terms of attracting? If the fear that many people will in the long run not have enough incentives to share a small amount of their money turns out to be correct, we should consider to give them some more incentives, shouldn’t we?
The world of such incentives for paying users is already well explored in the field of software development: give away most of your software package for free but provide some really nice additional features for a paying audience. So why not consider similar things in order to give people a better reason to register with a service like flattr? E.g. let just users with a flattr account watch … the result of your latest user poll he or she just participated in? Well, why not. Or: let just users with a flattr account watch … the video embedded in your text and you are referring to? Maybe too harsh. Or: let just users with a flattr account watch … all comments to a text instead of just the ones older than 24 hours? Mmh, interesting. But there are probably much better ways.
Once flattr releases a (hopefully smart and capable) programming interface, the only limit to such things will be your sites content and your fantasy to take advantage of it. And you are requiring nobody to actually “pay” for anything on your site. You just suggest that a basic readiness to pay a little bit for the valued things would also give access to some additional benefits on your site.
The smarter such incentives and the more sites offering some well-balanced benefits the more readers who were not willing to pay before would then be willing to make a basic commitment by registering with a social payment service: just one flat fee a month for the ever growing amount of such benefits, globally? Bought.
And speaking about readers and writers: who is just consumer, reader and who is also contributor, author in the twenty-first century? Aren’t we heading more and more in the direction of a read-write culture anyway? Everybody who publishes a video on YouTube is an author? Fur sure. Everybody who shares his or her knowledge by contributing to Wikipedia is an author? As sure as eggs is eggs. Everybody who twitters valueable links on some special interest topic is an author? I believe, yes. And everybody who shares his or her valuable insights into upbringing children in an online community dedicated on the topic is an author? Of course. So why not having the option to flattr all those things in the future? One could easily find oneself having the flattr fee financed for lifetime after having published some boring afternoon video like this one with almost 400.000 views.
And if flattr one day also becomes a kind of a personal “transparency check” to measure whether you yourself on average actually “contribute more” or “consume more” in the internet, you can choose to either balance this with some dollars or choose to take time to write some more of your maybe already “famous” product reviews on amazon.com and let users flattr them…!
So. Just something (almost) completely different left to be said: after my last post, I got some free beta invite codes from flattr. And I still have some of them. Anybody needs one? (And no, I am not affiliated with flattr at all. )
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