Success of alternative funding for Alternativlos surprises show hosts

When two well-known German guys, Frank and Fefe, decided to launch a podcast called “Alternativlos” they scraped together some old spare recording equipment and started dissecting current affairs. Any topic is fair game for them, as long as it catches their interest.

What’s in the name?

Our project is called “Alternativlos”, which used to be a famous killer phrase in German politics. It means “there is no alternative”, and our government used it to argue for everything from parking tickets to bank bailouts.

Our title music comes from the title music of the Soviet main TV news show, so both indicate our show is broadly about politics but we don’t take ourselves too seriously and even call it a “boulevard podcast”.

Still, you’ve covered some pretty high profile news…

In several cases we managed to have a show about a trending topic out with very good timing, whie the topic was still gaining in notoriety. We did this for the Fukushima nuclear incident (when we had a guest who is a well-known nuclear expert who is consulting the German government on nuclear safety issues) and more recently for the Staatstrojaner affair about government malware that is spreading throughout Europe, with the Netherlands, Switzerland and Austria admitting got have used the software too.

Has you own background helped in the show’s popularity?

We are both well-known netizens in Germany. Frank (Rieger) has been a speaker of the famous hacker club and civil liberties activist group Chaos Computer Club for years, and Fefe (or Felix von Leitner) runs one of the most well-known blogs in Germany.

Alternativlos and Flattr – what’s the story?

When we started the podcast, we decided to do an experiment, use Flattr and see if we could make enough money to pay for good audio equipment.

To be honest we did not expect to get as much money as we did get. We were able to afford good audio equipment (including high quality headsets for us and two guests) after just a few episodes.

We have been pondering how to invest the money we’ve been getting since then. There are some expenses that we use it for but we’re taking in more than we’re spending. At some point we will use the money to do interviews with interesting people in foreign, far away countries.

Why don’t you use the dynamic button that shows flattr count?

For a privacy activist including 3rd party Javascript is not really acceptable, it means that Flattr could track every visitor we have, no matter if he’s a Flattr user or not*.

To alleviate our data protection concerns (more on that later) we decided not to use the Javascript from Flattr and put the static button on our web server. so only HTTP transactions that Flattr sees are the ones when our user wants to Flattr something.

The downside is that we don’t get a Flattr count on our webpage but it’s a price we are willing to pay to be a good example of how to protect the privacy of our listeners.

Here’s their Flattr profile if you feel like clicking that button.


* By the way – Flattr does not actively track user movement through the Javascript buttons. (Marie)

Picture Grant

5 thoughts on “Success of alternative funding for Alternativlos surprises show hosts

  1. > “For a privacy activist including 3rd party Javascript is not really acceptable, it means that Flattr could track every visitor we have, no matter if he’s a Flattr user or not. We decided not to use the Javascript from Flattr and put the static button on our web server. so only HTTP transactions that Flattr sees are the ones when our user wants to Flattr something”

    That is a great approach, and kudos (to Alternativlos and to Flattr) for bringing the issue up here.

    > “Flattr does not actively track user movement through the Javascript buttons. (Marie)”

    But do you also actively delete or anonymize the logs which you are probably passively collecting?

    PS: flattr.com also “actively” includes Google Analytics.

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