The Flattr relaunch: What to expect!

The release is finally happening! On October 24th, we will launch the new version of Flattr for the public. Here is a guide to the new Flattr, for creators, publishers, and contributors.  

Image for the Flattr launch, Linus Ollson and team at republica Berlin. How Flattr works for publishers, bloggers, vloggers, creators, users.

Time to brace yourself, this is it. The evolution that aims to become a revolution. We have worked long and hard on relaunching Flattr as a product that has the potential to evolve the internet in just the way we wanted when we first launched Flattr. Our mission has always been the same: We believe creators need and deserve money, but on their own terms.

 

How to flattr content

Flattring content is now done automatically via our Flattr extension. The Flattr button is history.* The idea of Flattr from the start was to reward content you consumed and loved. Preferably without any user interaction. Now that has become a reality. You install the extension from your contributor dashboard: just sign in and it will prompt you to install it. The extension will flattr both the content and sites you engage with and visits based on your engagement, automatically. If you want to read more about how the extension flattrs content read this blog post.

 

Making your content flattrable

Simply add your sites and social channels to your Flattr account. As the Flattr button is history you should not add it to your site anymore. Something that is great as most places did not even allow you to do that. Now you just connect the social accounts where your content is and/or add the domains you have and we fix the rest. Much easier and better! You do this from your Flattr settings. If you want to know more about how this works read this blog post.

 

Subscription payments

As a product we want to be that thing you set up once and then can forget about. It’s supposed to run in the background to make you feel good and create a better internet. The old method  with the wallet meant that you used a certain budget per month but we have gotten rid of that. Sure, it was a flexible system but it was unnecessarily complicated. This is why we will drop the wallet in favour of credit card subscription payments. This simplifies the communication around the details of using Flattr and gives us more room to focus on what Flattr really is all about.

For easier use for non-europeans are we switching to USD. We have always used the European currency Euro (€). This was a conscious choice when we started. Being naive Swedes we thought that it would be “cool” to be extra European.**  But this was probably the single biggest mistake we made, the fact that Euros might be well known to Europeans does not mean people in general know how much a Euro is in their local currency. If there is any exchange rate people know besides their own, it’s US dollars. So again, to reduce the noise and focus on what we are, we are switching to USD. This means all Euros you may have in the Flattr system will need to be withdrawn.*** As a creator, starting from October, you will receive US dollars instead.

So we ask all Flattr users to do two things: Withdraw any remaining Euros from your account and set up a USD subscription. Of course you only have to do this once.

 

30 day distribution cycle

Flattr subscription will run for 30 days, not per calendar month. Until now we have always used the calendar month as the flattr period. It’s convenient for you as a contributor to know when the period ends. But it’s not so good for new users because the first period will almost never be a full month. It’s also very bad from a technical scaling perspective as everyone’s calculation and transactions happen at the exact same time. With millions of users and transactions, that won’t work. So from both a technical and a user perspective we are changing the period to the more standard approach: when you enable your subscription it runs for 30 days. As a creator you will now get revenue from your contributors when their period runs out and that could be any day of the month.

 

Fees

Fees will be paid by the receiver but separated into our fee and payment processor fee. To add transparency we are changing our fee structure. We will now charge creators that receive money a Flattr fee of 7.5%. This is our fee for running Flattr. Plus, to start, a payments processing fee of 9%. This is our cost for the payment processing that is carried over to everyone that receives money. For more info please read this blog post.

 

What can be flattred?

You can flattr “any” page because we need to know what you want to flattr. One of the core problems with Flattr has always been to prove to publishers and creators that people do want support them. With the Flattr button it was only possible to flattr creators that joined Flattr. The new extension does not use the button so it does not need to know if there is a signed up receiver or not for flattrs. So simply put, if there is an owner they gets your money, if not the flattrs become the statistics we need to convince the creators.**** In reality, the flattrs you make are equally important even if there is no one to receive them, yet. For more details please read this blog post.

Final thoughts

We have not made any of these product decisions lightly. We know for some of you this might be exactly what you want to hear, for others the opposite. Please know that the only guiding light we have is to create a product that has the potential to transform the creative internet from an ad-fueled swamp where creators are stuck, to something that carries them and unlocks their creative potential, as well as the full potential of the internet as a creative platform.

If you have any questions then let us know. You can find out more about joining Flattr as a creator here, and as a contributor here.
We are looking forwards to hearing from you, here in the comments, via our contact form, on Twitter or even on Facebook.

 

🎈🎈🎈Oh, one more thing: We are celebrating the launch with a special party in Berlin where we want to flattr you, the creators and contributors. Join us and get on the guestlist now! 🎈🎈🎈

 

* The button still works, but you should not use it.
** Despite the fact we actually had and still have our own currency in Sweden (SEK).
*** This unfortunately includes any money you want to give to creators. To become an active contributor and support creators you will need to set up a credit card subscription.
**** The creators in the system share your entire monthly subscription.

34 thoughts on “The Flattr relaunch: What to expect!

  1. I really like the idea behind flattr. Continue!

    Some thoughts:
    -The fail with euro as a popular money might be also because most Europeans are not English speakers? I do not know for Italy and Germany for instance, but as a French person, I know that most of my friends stay on French web and are reluctant to interact with any English speaking websites (and that might shock Swedish people because they are all fluent in English). But I agree for now start to launch worldwide and keep it simple: English and usd only.
    -“Flattr fee of 7.5%. This is our fee for running Flattr. Plus, to start, a payments processing fee of 9%.” does that mean that the owners of the websites I like will get in total 83,5% of my money?

  2. The minimum monthly amount used to be 2 EUR. Now it’s 3 USD, which is considerably higher. I’m quite sad to see it increased, because that effectively cuts off users from non-rich countries from using Flattr. Since you do it presumably because of transfer fees, it would be fine if you required a minimum of 3 (5, 10) USD to be transferred from a card to the account. But it’s not fine to make it a minimum monthly payment. You should separate those two, otherwise you’re losing users.

    Also, will the current wallet funds be used for the “subscription” in the following months? Because I want the funds either to be used for flattering, or returned back to me. But I’m NOT going to upload my ID scan, no way. I don’t think you have the right to suddenly change how the money is used and withhold it from me. You should make sure the current wallet can be used for flattering, even though it’s a different currency (just convert it).

  3. 3 dollars is about 2.5 euros so the increase is not huge. But yes there are some areas where 3 dollars is quite much.

    We opted for subscription payments to reduce complexity, the wallet that you topped up and then needed to choose a budget from has proved a very complex concept. Many people thought it was a subscription. Paying for multiple months is also a hard sell for users that never used the system before.

    The ID scan is a EU KYC law requirement, not our choice. If you contact us we can look if it’s possible to refund the money if it was paid in with card.

  4. Linus, I understand the ID scan is mandated by law. However, I topped up with the knowledge that the money will be distributed to creators (and not returned to me, under certain conditions I don’t want to undergo). Now you tell me I can’t do that. That’s not right, I believe. I wouldn’t have topped up if I was informed in advance about this situation. It was paid by card, I’ll contact you and ask for refund.

    Another question. I used Flattr for sending money to various software developers as a reward for their effort. For example, sending money to GIMP even though I don’t ever visit their website. I simply subscribed to their button. With the new concept, it seems like only true online content can be flattered (i.e. websites, not software). Can you explain whether I’ll still be able to subscribe to non-online creations in the future, and how? (This would be a good answer to put to FAQ as well). I still see GIMP and others in “recurring flattrs” page in my account, but the question is whether it stays, and how to add new items. Thanks.

    And last question. If I use the browser extension, I see that some domains are enabled by default, and some are disabled by default (I can toggle both to opposite state). I first assumed that disabled means that the authors haven’t set up their Flattr account yet, and enabled means they have. However, I discovered that that’s not true, even domains enabled by default are marked as “can’t find owner” in the dashboard. I haven’t found any explanation in the FAQ (well, you mention there that some selected sites were whitelisted, but it’s weird that unowned websites would be whitelisted). Can you explain? I find it extremely confusing.

  5. Frankly speaking with this new concept of “passive” flattering you’ll lose me as consumer. This is for following reasons:

    1) I want to be able to actively decide, whom to contribute money. I don’t have a relationship to all the content creators out there and I don’t like the idea to spread my money among all of them. This would be like paying 50 cent to every shop that I enter regardless of buying something or not.

    2) I don’t want Flattr to track all my visited URLs. For the purpose of distribute my money to a small list of dedicated content creators (let’s say 10) I’m not willing to send the list of _all_ visited URLs (let’s say 500 each month). Even if it is just the plain URL list without further meta data this is out of all proportion to me.

    To sum up my perspective: I’m loosing control over my contribution for the price of less privacy.

  6. So while I undertand the technical reason behind it, I am not really in favor of USD… Bitcoin maybe :P

    No, I still have 3 euro in my account, instead of taking it back how can I Flattr some project or creator for that amount ?

  7. Thank you for evolving Flattr!

    I understand the scepticism of Mr. Großmann. These are concerns everyone should have nowadays. But, somehow – maybe it’s naive – but I do trust you, folks. And I believe that you are truly following your vision of a creativity-enabling internet. And since I am sharing that utopian with you, I am in. Still and steady.

    I wish you and us all good success with the launch and the new Flattr!

  8. I share both concerns mentioned by Benjamin (which is why I already told you in the past I’d never use that addon). Point 1 addresses the transparency you proclaim (which is gone here – as for a contributor it’s no longer transparent where to his/her Flattrs go). Point 2 addresses privacy – which is already “corrupted” often enough these days. To some, this will raise concerns of whether you might use the collected data for other purposes as well (not saying you do; but even if you don’t, someone might manage to break into your system and take those data, even if you’re not Yahoo).

    One more point to mention: there are people who don’t have a credit card (and for one reason or the other won’t get any), or are very hesistant to use it online. Those now can no longer contribute, reducing the user base (and the Flattrs of creators).

  9. You say: The ID scan is a EU KYC law requirement, not our choice.
    This is most likely not the case, so please show us the law that requires this. Just to let you know: I am not trying to set up a bank account – for this it is required. I’m just trying to get my money back – from an already existing account.

    Mostly because I do not like the concept of a proprietary browser extension and not being able to control _easyly_ where my subscription money goes. Aside from that, i cannot really use that extension, since i will never switch to chrome and use firefox only in private mode. So Safari it is…
    Btw. is it even possible to withdraw 2,94 Euros?

  10. Personally, I would highly like to recommend “translations”, its very important to reach the local audience around the globe.

    Kavita

  11. Hi,
    I have two questions:
    1) I use flattr for podcasts. I visited the respective websites exactly once to start the recurring flattr subscription. Is it correct, that they will not get my money anymore because I don’t visit their website?
    2) I am pretty sure I had some budget left in my account, but it only shows the 5$ subscription. Looking at the transaction history, there should be 10€ left since I last put money into the account. Were did my remaining budget go?
    Regards
    Manuel

  12. Kamil. If the money was added by card and not to long ago we can refund it, no problem. Just drop a message at flattr.com/contact.

    The software case is a really hard one. Actually Flattr was never created with this type of “content” in mind to begin with, it was just something people started to use it for. But having a single recurring flattr for software together with the usage of the extension is not a logical usecase. Hence it’s not promoted or written about anymore. Recurring flattrs still works, but we can not see them as a good usage anymore. Neither can we see a good way of fitting software support in the Flattr product. Flattr is all about content and has always actually always been.

    The enabled/disabled states etc are now explained more in the separate blogpost (https://blog.flattr.net/2017/10/network_effect/), and the FAQ also covers it. Hope that makes it a bit simpler.

  13. Linus, why is the extension not open source, to alleviate privacy concerns? I can’t think of any, so unless it’s properly and well explained why it’s not open source, it’s suspicious. Also having it on Mozilla addons and Chrome store page would increase its trustworthiness.

  14. It will be open source, that has always been the plan, but we want to have in a somewhat “final” state first. It is in the stores, just not publicly available yet.

  15. Interesting. Flattr didn’t seem to take off for me. It just didn’t get any traction with my followers, and even with me. The user interface on the website was confusing and awkward to use. I’m very tech savvy, but I’m certain I wasn’t able to achieve the full potential of the old Flattr system. I hope this new version will do the job well.

  16. Andrew. Yes, that was one of the core problems. That is also why we tried to scale back and simplify with USD and subscriptions. As well a simpler integration for creators and automated flattring of content.

  17. Any ETA for Flattr extensions for mobile browsers (in my case, Firefox on Android)? Nowadays I consume half the content (if not more) on mobile devices. This won’t cover activities in apps, e.g. Youtube app (for that, a “share to Flattr” app could be created for at least manual flattering), but the mobile browser still covers a lot.

  18. I don’t understand why you do the party in Berlin, if you are effectively leaving the EU.

    For me Flattr just doesn’t make sense anymore when it is an American business.

  19. Kamil. Extensions are not possible in (most) mobile browsers. But it’s a problem we need to solve of course and we are looking into and doing some stuff already.

  20. Roddi. We are absolutely not leaving the EU. We are only making the service viable for the people outside of EU too. In the end, it’s not possible to change the internet to the better if only people inside EU are using Flattr.

  21. Jan. As always when you change things it’s not liked by everyone. The changes we make are to make Flattr viable for the people that have chosen not to use us before. We want to make the internet better and then we need a product that most wants to use.

  22. Andrew. We hope so too, and we agree to your feedback. What we do now is try and improve that. Flattr is though a complex product as it’s nothing people are used too, as with all products that does not exist already. Any feedback you have on what we do now are very welcome!

  23. Regarding the transparency:
    How did you decide to switch to the more expensive credit card method, which is not an option for many european users?
    Did you ask the users(both creators and supporters) of flattr about this?
    Have the results been published anywhere?

    PS: It’s pretty sad i now have to upload my Government ID to this MangoPay provider. I feel like being forced to show my ID to some strangers, i never heard about. Did i miss some kind of transition period where i could have used a bank transfer?

  24. Dear Flattr team,

    thank you for your continuous efforts and good work!

    For privacy reasons, I do not like you new concept. (I also think you are significantly underestimating the Euro.)
    I still have balance in my Flattr account. I would like to distribute that via the Flattr buttons, but now I can’t any more…
    It seems, now ONLY “A subscription with monthly payments allow you to flattr.” Why is that? What about my existing balance?

    Also, “Submit legal information to be able to withdraw revenue you received.” doesn’t sound right. We are talking about my money!

    I neither want you to have my credit card information, nor my ID. If you can’t help me distribute my balance to your publishers, please transfer it back to my account from which I sent it to you.

    PS: I also sent you an email.

  25. Frederik. We have tried to balance ease of use with privacy. And yes, we know some users needs to withdraw remaining euros, sorry for that. The need to do KYC is due to EU regulation, you can read more here: https://flattr.com/help/accountverification We don’t get either your ID or your card data it’s sent directly to our payment provider that is regulated by EU financial legislation. If your money was added via a credit card we can refund you, just contact us.

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