The importance of connections

Today we added another connection to Flattr, 500px. More connections will be over time so it’s time to explain why we are doing this and how it will be a core part of Flattr in the future.

Two core issues
Since we started Flattr we have had two big things we have been trying to crack. The first is how to convince creators that people do want to give them money for their free content. To us it sounded like the simplest thing in the world when we started Flattr, turned out to be the opposite. We needed a way to let users show creators they wanted to flattr them. So we created unclaimed flattrs, letting you flattr creators that still haven’t signed up. To date you have still not seen this system in it’s full blown strength, but that is changing right now when we have started to add connections.

The brilliance and headache of the cloud
The second problem we have had is that today people don’t host their own content. It’s in the cloud, like on Soundcloud, Instagram or Vimeo. All these services are totally awesome, but you can’t install our Flattr button there. So even if you want to use flattr as a creator it becomes almost impossible. With connections we can work around this and allow for some magic to happen. Just by adding a connection we can figure out the owner of all the content on that service. That means we can enable flattring of all your songs on Soundcloud, all photos on Instagram and even all your tenth of thousands of tweets on Twitter. No need to submit all your creative works on flattr.com any more.

Automatic flattrs based on activities
In the last post we showed a couple of services that let you auto flattr based on activities on a content site. Eg, “heart” on Instagram or “favourite” on Twitter. A lot of users thinks this is brilliant and we agree. The idea was first tested with Instacast (before Apple banned Flattr in Instacast). You could tell Instacast to flattr everything you listened to in the background. We questioned if people would like the idea of auto flattring, but it turned out to be loved. The real beauty of activity based flattering is that e.g. favorite a tweet can be done in any twitter app just like you can favorite a song in any embedded Soundcloud player. All of a sudden you can flattr right where you consume the content, without the need for an embedded flattr button.

Combining the magic
When you then put the unclaimed system together with the connections the real magic starts. Because we can store an unclaimed flattr for any account on any of the services we support. Meaning that someone can get thousands of unclaimed flattrs for tweets or photos by the Flattr community. The combined flattrs shows that people want to give and when she or he signs up, boom, all the flattrs are real.

We think this is a great step towards the idea of making any content out there flattrble and we hope you are along for the ride. Now it’s time for you to add all your connections, of you go!

15 thoughts on “The importance of connections

  1. The problem with connections is that the really big and popular sites aren’t probably interested. I have my stuff e.g. on Deviant Art, Launchpad, Sourceforge, You Tube, Flickr – sadly, I don’t think any of those will be interested in cooperating with you ;-(

  2. @Cyberkiller
    The thing with connections is, they don’t need to be “interested” for us to be able to make them.

    Facebook, Twitter and Github aren’t really, and we can still do it because of their API. :)

    That’s the magic of the internetz (and API’s)

  3. Another problem: Through APIs, browser plugins and hidden opt-ins at cloud services you probably cannot inform many new people about the existence of Flattr. I myself first heard about Flattr when I saw the button. Connections are great, but they don’t necessarily increase visibility.
    Maybe also useful to have some stats on how Flattr users first learned about it.

  4. Great idea, thanks for it!

    Will you also include connections to non-corprate networks such as diaspora, identi.ca?

    Also the stats as @Chris says, would be great to have. People love stats, charts, trends :).

    Is it possible to view all unclaimed things flattred by me?

    Thanks and Regards

    Filip

  5. As Maloki says, we don’t need the service to be “interested” just that they have an API that we can work with. And to Chris, yes making people aware of pending flattrs and get them to sign up is something we still need to crack in a good way. We hope that many sites will understand that integrating flattr for real will be a great idea when people starts to flattr content on their sites.

  6. We will add as many connections as we can and feel are something the community wants.

    Stats is great and we will try and make some.

    You can not see all your pending flattrs yet :(

  7. The problem is the people with unclaimed flattrs deciding to claim them. If they don’t get the idea behind it or don’t work actively on promoting Flattr to their own community of followers they will be disappointed with the low amount of flattrs (because most their fans don’t know about it or how to use it) which will cause them to drop out fairly quick again.

  8. Right now, the biggest problem seems to be that it is not possible to search for unclaimed things – or if it is, I haven’t found a way to do so.

  9. One more idea: Have you tried to become a “Verified Service” at Gravatar (see the profile settings there)? Would make it easy to flattr someone if you have the email address.

  10. Ah, now things are finally coming together! Flattr effortlessly everywhere!

    > The problem is the people with unclaimed flattrs deciding to claim them. If they don’t get the idea behind it or don’t work actively on promoting Flattr to their own community of followers they will be disappointed with the low amount of flattrs (because most their fans don’t know about it or how to use it) which will cause them to drop out fairly quick again.

    Yes. Without the fan base of the Thing in question endorsing (and promoting) Flattr, this is not going to work. But then again, if those people are not interested in it, that is kind of their problem. Not up to us outsiders to tell them. At least with all these “connections” things are getting easier for them to use and integrate.

    > Right now, the biggest problem seems to be that it is not possible to search for unclaimed things.

    Totally agree with that. At least your own (recent) pending flattrs show up in your timeline now, and you can see top and trending unclaimed things in the catalog, but surfacing them in search results would be nice.

  11. We have gravatar in mind and will check it, thanks for the tip.

    We have not yet merged the unclaimed things into the same search index or catalog, something that is planned.

    And yes the next problem will be to convince people that have received unclaimed flattrs that flattr is a great system that they should use.

  12. I was able to make two “Flattr”s since I joined. I put €15.00 in the account (cost me $35 US to do it) and after only two “Flattr”s I’m going to be down to €5.00. Those aren’t micropayments at all! I was thinking €1.00 per click, or even less. I was thinking “micro.”

  13. You can lower your monthly to 2 euros/month and if you don’t flattr anything the monthly budget wont be used. Sorry that you did not find more things to give to.

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